I want to start off by saying thank you so much to all y’all who sent my questions, this would be so difficult to do it I didn’t get good feedback, so thank you!!
Let’s get start,
What was your favorite part?
Gosh, there were so many parts of the trip that were fantastic but I think my favorite part was seeing the friendships that were planted two-years ago blossoming into these beautiful connections. I got to see my sweet friend Kimberly, whom I really bonded with last trip. It was wonderful seeing how much she had grown and changed over that short amount of time. Another friendship that completely bloomed into one of the most beautiful friendships was the one between one of our co-leaders Susie, and a sweet young lady named Naila. These two amazing women of Christ became friends during our last trip and have remained in contact via Facebook over the past two years. This homecoming between them is a perfect example of the mission of Jesus Christ. Mission work is about making those connections, making the people know Jesus loves them and so do we.
What was the strangest food that you ate?
This trip actually didn’t have too many weird foods like the last trip did, although two members of our team that ate grubs (yes, you read that right) may disagree. But probably the weirdest thing was this fruit we had on the last morning, we weren’t sure exactly what it was but our guess was dragon fruit. The flavor wasn’t bad but it was soft and full of seeds. Everything else was pretty tame, but everything was absolutely delicious. I think I miss the food as much as I miss the people!
What was difficult?
Personally, the thing that was most difficult for me was Satan’s counter-attacks to all the God moments that were happening. One day it just felt like the devil had chosen me as his target and wasn’t going to let up. For starters, I went into this trip with some things on my heart that I continuously prayed to God about. Things about my future, needing guidance, and just really needing Him to open some doors for me. I’ve been praying for these things for a while and I FINALLY got some answers and guidance I was looking for. I guess Satan doesn’t like that. The VERY next day Satan took his aim on me. I woke up in the morning with a really upset stomach, I pulled a Charlotte from Sex in the City and most have gotten water in my mouth from the shower. I was so sick I almost didn’t even make it to the community we were going to that afternoon but I muscled enough strength to get through it. Once at the Montaneros, we did our normal music time and skit with the kids and were just getting into our free time where we simply just play with the kids. I was feeling a little better and was playing and taking pictures when I looked down and had stepped in dog poop. Ugh, annoying but it happens, life goes on. I turn around to walk down the sidewalk and a bug flies in my eye. GREAT! Another team member sees I’m struggling to get poop off my shoe with only one eye open and asks what was happening. As I told her the series of unfortunate events that had just occurred MY BACKPACK STRAP BROKE AND FALLS TO THE GROUND. Okay, now this just feels personal at this point. I somehow make it to dinner in one piece, just grateful to get to the end of the day. After dinner we have some free time before our debrief and as one final kick in the butt from Satan I roll my ankle and it swells up like a balloon…. I would definitely say that was the most difficult day of the trip, for sure.
Tell us about a moment when a teammate surprised/inspired you with their actions.
The most inspiring moment of the whole trip (and no surprise here) was Taylor’s devotion our first day in Ecuador. We had got in late the night before so we were all super excited to get going and get started on this amazing trip that was about to begin. And Taylor’s devotion helped me get mentally prepared for the week ahead. It was just what I needed to hear to get my mind and heart where it needed to be to take on the week ahead.
What do you miss most about your host country?
The food!! Holy moly I miss the food we had in Ecuador almost every single meal. Anyone who knows me knows I absolutely love Hispanic food so getting authentic Ecuadorian food every day for 9 days was the icing on top of the already amazing cake Ecuador is. I’ll touch more on this later.
One of your most inspirational moments with a child from Ecuador?
The most inspirational moment I had with a child was with a little girl named Juliette. Juliette is 3/4 years old and the last time we were in Ecuador she was pretty stand-offish to all of us. Many attempts were made but nevertheless Juliette never seemed to warm up to us. Fast forward 2 years and here miss Juliette is now playing and chasing me around, laughing uncontrollably. I hadn’t played chase since I was a little kid but in that moment I felt 6 years old again without a real care in the world. Juliette let her guard down and we were able to make that connection and create an amazing memory together and I cherish that deeply.
What did I learn about myself on my trip?
The biggest thing I learned about myself this trip is what God’s plan for me was. Before the trip I really prayed for God to reveal a plan for me or to give me a sense of direction on where take to my career. I had been feeling a little lost and went on this trip for two reasons: 1) because I had been feeling the desire to serve for a long time and 2) I wanted to reconnect with God. For some time now I’d been trying to get MY plan to work and I wasn’t listening to God’s call for me. I was reminded in Ecuador of my love of helping others and from that bloomed this wonderful idea to start a business where I help others with their social media content and marketing strategy. And thence, the idea for Agape Social Consulting was planted.
Did anything go wrong that seems funny now?
The most important thing you need when going on a mission trip is FLEXIBILITY. Being flexible is super important because any little thing could and probably will go wrong while on a mission trip. With that being said, we had to be flexible when we realized we forgot supplies for the crafts one day and had to think of another project for the kids to work on. We ended up painting rocks and it turned into a mess pretty quickly. Paint everywhere, water cups spilling left and right and the kids getting more paint on each other than on the rocks, but they had the best time doing it and loved showing off their finished product to anyone that would look. In the moment it was chaotic but it all turned out alright after all.
What was a typical day like, or was each day different?
Although each day was kind of different, the structure was the same. We would work at the church in morning. Then had lunch. Then spent the afternoons in the communities connecting with the kids, playing games, doing skits, etc. The first day we went to the Montoneros community, the next day we went to the Rio Verde community, the following day the Santa Martha community and spend our last day back in the Montoneros community. Each one was unique and I was super excited to go into their community and see how they act in their home environments. Getting to see the kid’s in a familar environment were they could really be themselves gave us a great insight into everyday life in Ecuador.
Tell me about one person you met.
My favorite person I met on the trip was this wonderful man in the yellow.
I never caught his name while we were there. He is a member of the church in Santo Domingo where Sharon & Graham serve and he drives a taxi. When Sharon & Graham were technically living in Ecuador illegally for a few months while their visas were being approved (which is VERY risky) he graciously drove them around whenever and where ever they needed. I had the pleasure of meeting him one day when Sharon needed to go to the Supermercado and needed a few people to go with her. I volunteered along with 3 others and the 6 of us squeezed into this tiny cab to head downtown to the mall where the Supermercado was located. Along the way we got to learn about him, his family, and even a little about his walk with Christ. He knew a little English and whenever we saw him he always yelled “HELLL-OOO” or “GOOD MORNING”. He always had the biggest smile on his face and was one of the friendliest people I met there.
Where did you see the face of Christ?
This is a tough question because I saw His face everywhere. I saw him in each child that smiled at me, I saw him in my team members faces each morning as we were all so eager to get the day started, I saw him in our bus driver’s faces as they had to deal with our crazy team all week, and I saw him in Mrs. Doris & the rest of the wonder staff at the Kasa Dasa where we were staying. And of course, I saw him in our host family’s face. They’re both shiny examples of Jesus Christ. It’s not hard to find him on a mission trip. What’s hard is finding him once we come home and get back to “normal life”.
What was different on the second trip there?
The biggest difference I realized on my second trip was how hard I took the culture shock. Last time I had a REALLY hard time coming to terms with leaving the people I’ve met in Ecuador and coming back to my nice house, and nice car, etc. It was so difficult saying goodbye not knowing when we’d see that child again. Although I wouldn’t say it was any easier this time around, but at least I was expecting it.
What was the funniest thing that happened while you were there?
This story will always be a classic for this trip… After dinner the first night in Santo Domingo my roommate Emily, her brother Evan, and a youth team member Katie were hanging out on the porch to our rooms. We were having a good time laughing and trying to get some of the oranges tree right outside the porch when we saw a frog on the side of the wall. It was really close to Katie so she tried to get it to move by touching it with a close hanger. It hopped along the side of the wall and up on to the railing…. then it jumps straight out off the third story porch into the jungle! We were all shocked and dumbfounded by what had just happened we all burst into tears laughing.
I also wanted to showcase all the wonderful food we had in Ecuador because, after all, this IS a food blog. And boy oh boy the food there was FANTASTIC!
My trip back to Santo Domingo not only strengthened my faith but it also made one thing VERY clear, I will return to Ecuador again and continue to build on the relationships I have already started in this beautiful place.