Our incredible week here in Misahualli ended with a celebration. It was the end of the school year for the children at Antioch School and they invited us to attend and be a part of their promotion ceremony. I believe I can speak for the whole team when I say that we were almost as proud of “our” kids as their own parents.
Our hearts swelled with pride as we watched them perform skits, sing songs and receive their diplomas all neatly dressed in their school uniforms.
It was such a blessing to meet the families of the children that we had come to love during the week. The families graciously shared their special day with us, foreigners whom they had never met before this week. We were invited to take pictures with the families and exchanged addresses so that we could keep in touch.
One of the neatest things was the realization that some of the parents were people who had served us all week long. For example, one of the ladies who prepared and served our meals had two daughters at the school and even one of the men that drove the taxis that transported us daily to and from VBS and our worksite was a father of one of the children. As the celebration ended, many tears were shed as we said goodbye to these children who had captured our hearts. The bonds formed with these children were so strong that it was hard for them to leave us. In fact one of the children who lives in Tena (about 30 miles away) came back to the hostel in the afternoon in search of one of our kids. When we told the child that the team was hiking to the waterfall she and her grandmother tracked them down there!
After a delicious lunch prepared and served by Eunice and her amazing staff, we had a rare free afternoon. Most of the group joined Nelson and Marisol on a hike to the waterfall and enjoyed a refreshing dip in the pool below the waterfall. The less adventurous members of the team enjoyed a quiet afternoon at the hostal and walked into town to enjoy some ice cream and the view from the bridge over the Rio Napo.
We closed the week with our final dinner at the hostal and a beautiful time of worship and reflection on the week. We each went around the room and shared what the week had meant to us.
Rene shared that as she watched the promotion ceremony she had a vision of the future leaders of Ecuador. Nelson shared how impressed he was with the leadership of the kids on the team who planned and led worship and VBS all week long. As we were sharing I had a vision of the future leadership of our church, our community and our country, and it was beautiful. Barry challenged the kids to continue to show the same unconditional love and servanthood when we returned to the United States and specifically in our own community of Alpharettta. What a wonderful week we had, we have truly been blessed to be a blessing.