When I decided to venture to Ecuador, I felt the nudge of God telling me to step outside the boat and outside of my comfort zone. I reluctantly followed the nudge in faith that all would turn out well. I had a lot of expectations…I expected to fall in love with the Ecuadorian children within hours, I expected to see a beautiful part of the world (and just maybe have a close encounter with a monkey…please?), I expected to do some kind of manual labor, I, unfortunately, expected to be fearful as we drove all day away from Quito into the jungle away from traditional public services like healthcare and clean water (we have to buy bottled water for everything including brushing our teeth because their faucet water is not safe to drink)…I expected to be fearful on the flight from Atlanta to Quito…these expectations lead to excitement coupled with anxiety…I don’t like to fly (at all), I’ve never been to a non-English speaking country, I’ve never ventured out into the jungle (aren’t there really big bugs there?), I didn’t know the majority of the team going…would I gel with the other team members or just feel an outsider? Only SOME of these expectations have come to realization.
I am not surprised that I have totally fallen in love with multiple Ecuadorian children…oh my…I cannot tell you how much my heart has been filled with their smiles, their joy, their silliness…my heart melts when they call me by name and come running when they see me come in the classroom in the mornings. I am not surprised I have seen beautiful landscape, and yes, I have had a monkey climb on me and try to snatch my hat! I am not surprised I have physically worked harder than I ever thought possible in hot, humid conditions (I had no idea how tired my entire body would be at the end of every day).
What has surprised me is the lack of fear. If you know me at all, you know I like to have the illusion of control in life (yes, I know it is an illusion…I am certainly NOT in control…). I like to know what is coming before it happens and if there is uncertainty, I worry. I have asked many, many people to partner with me specifically in prayer for this very reason. I want to thank everyone (not just those that I specifically asked, but EVERYONE) who has been praying for this team and for this trip. I have felt a true sense of peace since we stepped foot in the airport. I wasn’t terrified on the plane. I have been COMPLETELY at peace in the jungle…your prayers are truly appreciated and felt by me personally, so thank you.
What has also surprised me, is the determination and dedication that this team has displayed day in and day out. We have worked hard, and I mean HARD…This team is full of amazing kids. I didn’t expect to fall in love with each one of them. I didn’t expect to be welcomed in, encouraged, and inspired by each one of them. I didn’t expect that I would grow to love each of them as much as the little children we are working with. I am truly impressed with these kids. If you have a son or daughter on this team, well done, my friends, well done.
Hey friends, it’s Hayley! Wow, it’s really been quite a trip. It’s amazing to be immersed in a different culture and to experience new things. Honestly, it feels like the students are teaching me more than I’m teaching them! Working and teaching at the school has been really beautiful, but I want to talk about an experience that I had tonight after worship. Our bus driver, Willy, asked me if he could play my guitar for a moment. I said yes, so he took it to a corner and started playing. Willy doesn’t speak much English and I speak a little Spanish, so we couldn’t communicate super well. But when he started playing my guitar and singing quietly, all of those language barriers became less important. I’ve always loved music because some feelings are so strong that you can’t speak the words, you have to sing them. And that was the feeling that I felt in that moment, feelings of friendship and community. Even though we didn’t speak the same language, music brought us together. But in the parts where we did talk, it was interesting to see how much I could understand and how we could communicate. Then a couple of other people on the team came over and started talking as well. I loved getting to know him and making those connections with him and the other people in the conversation. We ended up talking for close to two hours! All of us had some difficulty trying to understand one another, but when we overcame that, it felt wonderful to have that communication. This whole experience reminded me of a quote from Buddha, “True love comes from understanding”. I thought that quote fit really well because when we both understood each other, we all felt love. Understanding through music and language and love for each other.
What is up everybody its Grayson. Wow today’s was an amazing day, I got to wheel barrel bricks about a half mile back and forth. But also got to do my devotion I have been waiting for a long time to do. One thing that stood out to me while I worked today was that even though I was so hot if you have the right mind set to get things done you will. That’s why I was able to take a whole pile of bricks from one side to the other. And also I have the goal to finish what I am working on tomorrow so I can go home feeling accomplished but also living with the fact that I didn’t just help one person I helped so many more. And in my devotion I talked about how one bad day at the golf and one good day listing to someone speak has changed my mental issues with god and in life. So I hope all the parents out there liked this and peace out!