The team reunited to work at Antioquia’s farm Thursday afternoon with a brief stop on the way there to visit “the big tree.” In a jungle filled with many large trees, this one stands out from a distance for being considerably larger than any thing nearby. And after a final afternoon working hard picking guayusa (a type of indigenous tea), working on the fencing for the pig pen, and finishing a path down a steep hill to the stream on edge of the property, we enjoyed relaxing in the shade and the cool mountain water.
Thursday visit to Pasuno
Greetings all! Lucas here. Today (Thursday), we were presented a meaningful opportunity to take some of our older students to serve a small school in a river town called Pasuno. This is a chance that our teams have not had in recent years and one that we jumped at the opportunity to lean into. We were tasked with preparing on the fly some music for the students, a bible story, and some crafts that went with the bible story (we brought snacks for everyone also!). Nancy Malone and Stephanie Newton did an amazing job putting together some programming for us and off we went. We were excited and anticipating a special experience but what we encountered was beyond inspiring. Immediately after getting off the boat from the road, we were on the school property. It consisted of a huge soccer field and a one room schoolhouse. Inside the one room, we met one of the most faithful teachers I have ever encountered and some of the most precious students on the planet. The teacher of these students travels 2 hours each way to work with this group of fifteen students. She also prepares either breakfast or lunch for them everyday to make sure they can eat daily. She was an inspiration to us all and we were amazed at how each student respected her and viewed her as a mother figure. We quickly realized that each of the student’s lives were immensely better because of the teachers influence and care. Even more amazing, the fifteen students all ranged from first to seventh grade and the teacher taught all subjects for all those grade levels. She instantly has become one of the top ten most inspirational leaders I have ever met. We also were so honored to have the chance to work with those precious students. They sung with us, listened to our stories, and allowed us the chance to color and make crafts with them. It was an extremely special morning. Lastly, we were able to talk about ways that we could partner with the school for some upcoming construction and supplies that they need. I can’t wait to look into the chance to help support this teacher that has given so much to these students. Furthermore, help get her further resources she needs in her quest to give these young students an opportunity for high level education and an adult who loves them and cares for them passionately. Praise God for the unique opportunities to serve he has provided us this week. We are honored that daily we have had the chance to advance God’s kingdom.
Thursday thoughts from the team
Hey guys its Olivia! This week has been a blast so far. I think I can speak for everyone on this team when I say this trip has been a wonderful opportunity to just slow down, sit in God’s presence, and listen; even when we have been surrounded by some crazy kiddos. Something I think God has been showing me repeatedly this trip is just the love these kids have in hearts; they love so easily. Today I was blessed with the experience of travelling down the river to a small school of about 17 kids where we sang, danced, performed a skit, and did lots of coloring. However, there was one obstacle in getting to know these kids, they barely even spoke Spanish. While this had me a bit concerned at first, God quickly showed me I had nothing to worry about. Even though we might not have spoken the same language, we were still able to connect through God’s love. I am so thankful to have had the amazing memories made and can’t wait for the rest of the trip!!
Even though this year was longer than last, it feels like it has gone by so much faster. This group of people has been really amazing, and everyone works so well and hard together. Throughout the week I’ve been working on destroying a concrete slab with sledgehammers and carrying the rubble to piles. Over the span of those three days, I have gotten the opportunity to learn about everyone I was working with. It warms my heart that in such a short time we could all get on the same page. The next thing is in the classroom. The moment I walked in the room and saw all the kids just smiling and having a great time really brought a smile to my face. Their energy is overly contagious, and it touches close to heart. The first couple days I was paired with Luis and Lucciana. They were both so excited to and so engaged even though it was their last week of school. Luis was just an energetic ball of fun who when he put his mind to something, he got it done. We really connected and the second day that I walked into the classroom, he instantly ran up and hugged me. During the second day I also started to connect with a kid named Johel. He was really funny and we had played a bunch of games together. The final day, I decided to take Johel for the day, which was one of the most important choice of mine this trip. He was so excited to see me and after reading with him he ran off to ask Abbie how to ask someone to play soccer with him. Abbie pulled me aside and told me which almost brought a tear to my eye. Now today we were at Tyler’s house for prayer and after thinking about it I made an amazing choice to sponsor Johel alongside Avery. It makes me so happy just thinking about it. Overall, this entire trip has been something so special. Every minute, even though we may be hot and sweaty, we’re all enjoying every single minute of it. It means so much to be a part of it and I pray that I can be a part of it next year as well.
Peace out, Brock
Hey you guys, this is Brooklyn. It is my first year on this trip and could not of had a better experience thus far. My expectations for this trip were all over, but this place has erased those and surprised me more times than I can count. Today was our last workday and along the way I have discovered my true mental and physical strength. Whether we were digging holes, painting a wall, or moving concrete it strengthened my understanding of teamwork as well as the value of encouragement. The love I have found here is immense. The kids and workers at the school could have not treated us with more compassion. I had the opportunity to work with a little girl named Jaelyn and got to connect with her despite coming from such different places and battling a strong language barrier. I’m so glad I got the experience the joy in these kids. I was also lucky to be apart of a group that traveled to the indigenous town of Pasuno, we got on a river boat and traveled upstream till we reached the community. Getting off the boat and seeing the one tiny structure where these kids attended school, hearing the teacher’s story, and seeing the love she pours into these kids, despite circumstance, reaffirms God’s work here in the jungle and I couldn’t be more grateful and excited for the rest of the trip! Thank you all for the prayers!
Wednesday thoughts from the team
Today was our last day in the classrooms with the kids, it was very bittersweet. A couple of my favorite moments were when we were making an edible craft and one of the girls named And said to me “it’s so pretty, ITS ART!” and they were so excited to make and eat the craft, and it gave me so much joy. After that, when we went along with the regularly scheduled class lessons and the day was going smoothly until the last 10 minutes and then all the kids went crazy and we were lifting them up in the air and swinging them around, it was sheer chaos. In that chaos I stepped back and saw all the smiles on the kids faces. I was happy that our team could contribute to the excitement and allow the kids to just be kids and have fun. I’m so thankful that I have been lucky enough to experience it firsthand. That is just a quick synopsis of our day.
The past three days here Misahualli have been amazing. Of course, the kids and the work have been a big part of why I am having such a great trip. But what really is making this trip so AMAZING is the fact that for the past 3 days I have held monkeys…yes you read that right monkeys. On Monday a monkey put its hands on mine, and I thought that was amazing, but no it gets better. On Tuesday we went to the beach and there were a ton of them. One monkey was playing with a lighter which was kinda scary, and a guy was trying to get it back, but the monkey almost attacked him. I was safe though so don’t worry Mom. Anyway, we started walking back after many attempts to hold monkeys. That’s when the most amazing thing to ever happen did. A monkey climbed on Mrs. Nancy and then on me I was the most amazing experience. I was so happy, if you want to see how happy I was I’ll show you the pictures when we get back. Anyway, fast forward to today and we went to bought fruit to feed the monkeys to get more pictures. There were even more monkeys today, and it was so much fun feeding them. They climbed all over me and I was just as happy as I was the day before. My goal for the rest of the trip to touch a monkey every day after lunch. Going to miss the monkeys the most after we leave Saturday.
Tuesday afternoon fun in the sun
So far very little rain since we’ve arrived in Misahualli and this afternoon – not a cloud in the sky for our work projects. Days like this you can tell very quickly that you’re at the equator!
Tuesday morning, teaching math and science at Antioquia
Mission team sponsors an Antioquia student
Meet Margarita. She is in the fifth grade here at the school (equivalent to 4th grade in the US). As we have been working with 4th and 5th grade students during our mornings at the school, we have had the pleasure of working directly with Margarita. A portion of the funds our team raised helps pay her tuition at this wonderful school.
Tuesday thoughts from the team
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!