“You should blog about getting things to Ecuador,” one of our daughters said recently. “People can’t imagine not using the mail.”
The Ecuadorian mail has been notoriously unreliable in our time here, with mail taking two, three, or four months to arrive. Checks and credit cards are routinely stolen. Packages have shown up two or three years later (fi they show up at all). But since COVID-19 arrived in March 2020, the mails have almost stopped functioning.
This daughter, who receives our U.S. mail, knows what she’s talking about. Most mail she just scans to us, like our Oregon election ballots (Oregon is awesome for easy voting from overseas) or our Christmas cards and letters. But sometimes a scan isn’t sufficient and we have to get creative.
A good example is a credit card we applied for last April. It was mailed to our daughter and she gave us the number and security code over the phone so we could start using it (it was an airline credit card and we needed to charge a certain amount within three months in order to get the bonus miles).
So far so good. But we also needed the card here. So, in May she mailed it to our mission’s U.S. office in Colorado so the next person coming to Quito could bring it down. Only, because of COVID-19, no one was coming. “Hold on to it,” we told our office, “We may be in Oregon in July and you can mail it back to Oregon.” But we cancelled our trip to the U.S. and the missionary who had planned to travel from Colorado to Quito in August had to cancel his trip.
Meanwhile, co-workers from Shell were in Texas in August for three weeks. “Could you bring down a credit card for us?” we asked. “Sure,” they said. So the U.S. office mailed the card to Texas and our co-workers took it with them to their home in Shell (five hours from Quito). In September, another missionary came up from Shell to Quito and brought it to us. Success!
Not so successful was our attempt to repair Jody’s laptop, which started having problems in November. The CPU fan was not working, and a replacement couldn’t be found in Ecuador. So, Scott ordered one (yay, Amazon!) which went to Colorado. But the missionary who was coming to Quito in early December got COVID and postponed his trip.
What to do? We had missionaries in California who were returning January 3. So the package was mailed to them and they brought it to Quito. Sadly, it didn’t solve the problem. Our IT guy thought maybe a new motherboard might be the answer. Missionaries in Oregon were returning to Quito soon and were willing to bring it. So Amazon helped again and the motherboard came in early February.
When this still didn’t solve the problem, Jody’s laptop was declared officially dead. Scott brought home a loaner from the office and Jody is now set up on that laptop. Lord willing, we’ll be in the U.S. this summer and will buy and bring back a new laptop. (It’s a bit more challenging to find someone to bring back a laptop, as people can only bring one laptop into the country duty-free and most people are bringing their own.)
The bright side? Our occasional need to get something here that we can’t bring ourselves certainly builds patience, helps us not take for granted what we have, and sometimes shows us what we can do without.