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.
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!
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.
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!
Getting ready for some hard work.
Our boss for afternoon work parties, the legendary Louis…
Hard at work in the Ecuadorian sun…
Hey everyone! Today the team and I had our first full day in Misahualli, and it was clear that nerves were getting to most of the group; the newcomers were coming in with no experience while the “veterans” were coming in with certain expectations, so anxiety was flooding our hostel during breakfast.
At around 7:45 in the morning, we load up into our bus and ride up Antioquia, the school we will be at for the next few days. Stepping onto the campus was truly a surreal moment—as someone who has been to Ecuador two years in a row prior to this trip, looking at the school’s advancements over the past year was an incredible feeling.
After a few minutes of preparation and orientation, we split into our groups and headed towards our classrooms. As I was walking towards the classroom, I hear my name in the distance. I see none other than the amazing Gustavo, a kid I met last year that I keep in contact with through WhatsApp. He ran towards me and gave me a huge hug, completely reinstating my confidence and excitement for the week.
Just as Gustavo heads back into the classroom, I hear a myriad of high-pitched voices shouting my name. “Abby!” comes from the entire sixth grade classroom as they run out of their classroom to greet me. This moment, this one moment, was worth the whole trip.
Throughout the rest of the day, my teammates and I connected with kids in our respective classes. I was assigned to the fifth-grade class and reconnected with one of the girls I met the first year, Keyra, and my child that I sponsor, Fabian.
It is always surprising how much these kids have an effect over me. Although most do not live in the luxury, they are still such beautiful lights with full hearts, and I am honored and privileged to know them.
Thank you all for reading and keeping updated with our blogs. I speak on behalf of the whole team when I say that we are having a wonderful experience and appreciate all your support!
Hey! Today was our first day working and teaching at the school, and it was such a fulfilling experience to be able to interact and have fun with the kids. I have been working with the 4th grade students who aren’t completely fluent in English yet, so it was cool to communicate with them in Spanish and English. I think it’s so amazing that all these kids are so accepting of mission teams like us even though we are not there for a long time. They love on everyone! I can’t wait to see the connections that I have made with the students a few days from now! Another part of today I really enjoyed was construction because I really loved to see and hear everyone encouraging each other and working hard. I was wheelbarrowing rocks and cement, and it was very satisfying to see the progress we made throughout the work session. Lastly, I LOVED worship. There’s something about being outside all in a circle that makes it seem so natural, raw, and even more beautiful than normal. I love looking around the circle while I’m playing the guitar and seeing everyone so deeply invested in worshipping in their own way. That’s it from me! Can’t wait for you guys to hear more fun stories from this week! Adios!
Hey y’all! Today was our first day working with the kids at the school in Misahualli and it was awesome! Something that stuck out to me involved one of the kids I was paired with to teach. He’s a sweet little 4th grade boy named Andre, and he was assigned to read a book about the aquarium. After we finished reading, he had extra time and began doodling. He drew the sweetest picture of all the sea creatures he read about. He also wrote down all their names in English, which he’s really good at by the way :). I asked him what some of them were called in Spanish and he got really excited to get a chance to teach me. He wrote out all the Spanish names and let me take the sheet home so I could learn them. I can’t wait to teach Andre more this week and for him to teach me!
Another thing that has been a big part of this week so far, for me, is worship. I’ve been leading worship with Hayley and Brittany and we’ve had a blast. Planning out songs, practicing, and actually carrying out an incredible night of worship is so rewarding. Knowing that I am a part of something crucial to our experience in Misahualli is so uplifting and it keeps me motivated! I’m so pumped to share more stories and pictures with y’all! Thank you so much for your love, prayers, and support ❤