Today I received a letter from my sponsor child. It was the first letter since our visit. I was so excited as I am with every letter I receive but this one was even more special because now I have more than just a face to put to the letter - I have a hug and a smile. I have heard her voice, heard her laugh, seen the expressions dance across her face. I also know who she is talking about when she says she lives with her mom and sisters. I have met them and prayed WITH them - not just for them.
One of the best parts of the trip was being invited into her home, meeting her mom and all the other family and friends that were there to greet us. She was so proud to show us around her modest little house, with only a couple of plastic chairs that they insisted we sit in.
Our sponsor child is 6 years old. She is very bright and full of spunk! We took a puzzle of the U.S. that I found at the dollar store and the time spent working on that puzzle was such a highlight for me. Seeing her work through it, completing it and then sounding out the English words to us was amazing. This girl is smart! The other highlight was meeting her mom, hearing her story and finding we had many things in common.
This was my first missions trip and I pray it won’t be my last. There were so many reasons why I had not gone before - none of them any good. But now that I have Katherine and her family, I know I will make the trip again - if not this year then the following year.
I also can not say enough about Compassion International and all that they did to inform, educate and come alongside us in every way during our entire trip. It was absolutely incredible to learn and understand how the program works and their transparency was like nothing I have ever seen. The programing and itinerary were fantastic!!
All I can say about the Mission Trip to Ecuador is that it was one of the most amazing and rewarding experiences of my life. The opportunity to serve about 750 children and receive their warmth and love was something I will never forget. Even though we witnessed impoverished living conditions and lack of material things, the children and parents of the three Church projects we visited are richer in many ways than we in the United States as they exhibit true joy and love of God. My facial muscles were sore from all of the smiling during the week.
There are many highlights to reflect upon from the trip. The first was seeing all of the children and parents welcoming us on Sunday night in Encheandia, lining the 400-500 yards of a gravel/rock walkway to the Church with lighted candles. They swarmed around us giving us hugs and smiles like we were some kind of celebrities. The singing and dancing during the subsequent service brought smiles and tears for many of us as we realized how much simple joy they have and the deep love they have of the Lord. Pastor Alex led them in singing “Fuego, Fuego” which was a great worship song. It was so obvious that Pastor Alex and his wife Marina just love these children.
We spent the morning on Monday playing games and engaging the staff of all three projects. This was very special as we got to know them personally before seeing them in action the rest of the week as we collectively served the children healthy lunches and entertained the children with games, drama, and crafts at all three project sites. Their dedication to the children is truly inspiring. Monday’s events were at the Encheandia project, Tuesday at the Cameron project (the Church that Discovery planted), and Wednesday at the project in Sabanatillo.
On Tuesday morning we drove an hour up a mountainous road with numerous switchbacks to a remote extension planted by Pastor Fernando and his wife Karina of Cameron. It is one of two extensions he has already planted to extend Cameron as a Church and spread the Word to more people in the rural areas. We got to witness firsthand the “return on investment” made by Discovery Church in planting the Church in Cameron and the vision Pastor Fernando has in growing the Church and becoming more self-sufficient.
On Tuesday afternoon in Cameron we served about 200 children lunch and then played games with them. For the group of little ones, ages 5-8, I was able to play “Simone Dice in Spanish” (Simon Says). The reaction of these little ones when we caught them if “Simone no Dice” was precious. Their eyes would get real big and they would giggle, smile, or laugh.
Besides bringing soccer balls, volley balls, and other assorted sports equipment with us for the projects, I also brought an NFL football. The kids were totally infatuated with the football as I am sure they had probably never seen one before. The biggest kid, however, was Pastor Fernando who I taught how to grip and throw the football. After about three tosses he was throwing spirals. Through our Compassion International interpreter I told him that the football was his to keep. He was so appreciative and promised to send pictures of himself teaching the kids how to throw. We became “amigos forever” which is what he kept telling me the rest of the week. The love he and Karina have for the children of Cameron is also inspiring.
Wednesday was a special day as our Team spent the morning building a bamboo fence and garden for Pastor Mary at Sabanatillo. She was so appreciative and promised to send pictures when the tomatoes and cucumbers we planted start to grow. She deserves all of our prayers and encouragement as she is struggling. I am sure being a female pastor in a male dominated environment brings her difficulty, combined with the fact that she is going at this all alone. Her family is in Peru. That being said, she just loves all of the children she serves, and they love her.
Thursday had to be the best day of all as we got to meet our 10 year old sponsored child Nicole and spend the whole day playing with her during the fun day at the waterpark. Although we have about 6 letters over the past two years from her, my wife Jennifer and I were not sure what to expect when first seeing her. All of our concerns were immediately dispelled as she ran right into my wife’s arms as soon as we got off the bus. She then jumped into my arms to levy a big bear hug as I picked her up.
She is an amazing young girl - beautiful, vivacious, smart, and feisty. She was accompanied by her mother who also had to tend to her 3 month year old sister. We met the project director Marcia from Guaranda where they are from (about an hour’s drive down mountainous switchbacks) who told us about how excited Nicole was when she found out that we were coming on the trip. There was some concern as to whether Nicole’s mother would be able to bring her because of the 3 month baby, and Marcia told us that Nicole said she would come by herself if need be. That’s our girl!
Even though it was rainy and a bit chilly, Nicole still wanted to go and play in the pool. Because she doesn’t know how to swim (although we did spend some time teaching her to puppy dog paddle), she and I settled for the shallow pool where we commenced in a rigorous squirt gun fight. She would circle around in her inner tube, laughing and giggling as she fired on “Padrino”. She then changed tactics where she would come up behind me, give me a big hug around the neck, and then push back and fire away with the squirt gun from close in range. We really had a great time laughing.
It was very difficult saying goodbye to this precious little girl at the end of the day. She hugged on Jennifer (“Madrina”) and then wrapped her arms around my waist like she was holding on for dear life. We definitely have to come back to see her again.
The experience of meeting your sponsored child is something so special that it is difficult to really put into words. It alone is worth doing the mission trip. Although not everyone has the resources to do so, they should at least communicate regularly with their sponsored child through letters. You cannot understand how much it means to these children until you see it firsthand.
Thursday evening we had a goodbye celebration in Cameron with all of the staff from the three projects. We worshipped together, with Pastors Alex and Fernando leading us again in “Fuego, Fuego”. There were lots of hugs and kisses around the room and plenty of pictures to remember everyone by. It was difficult saying goodbye to these wonderful people that are dedicated to spreading the Word of the Lord and administering to His children. Jennifer and I are already talking about when we might come back.
I truly believe this was God’s plan for me. After seeing Pastor Scott Kim in the lobby after he returned from Ecuador, I told him I wanted to go. He said a person had cancelled out and there was an opening. After much prayer and my husband Bob’s blessing, I signed up. This all happened one month before the trip.
We had our schedules and teams. I can’t believe how well we all got along. Each day was an adventure! Compassion International had sent a team of exceptional staff who worked alongside of us. We ate our meals prepared by an amazing cook. We stayed at hotels and had our own rooms. We went to three churches to help serve lunch to children after singing and acting, spoke to parents, helped with building our sister church on its grand opening, prayed alongside pastors and their congregation. Each evening we debriefed. We shared and learned so much from our experiences.
The day I met my seven-year old sponsor child I instantly fell in love. I was very humbled by her large family and living conditions. Though I could not fix the issues I knew I would pray very hard for her and her family. I also knew I needed to write more often to give her encouragement and prayer. On our play day, I gave her gifts and saw a smiling face throughout the day. We both had a great time. Leaving her was very emotional for me. I am so glad I listened to God and pray I will be able to visit again soon.
I keep the photo of her and me together on all my devices and it will be forever in my heart.
Going to Ecuador changed my heart and outlook for the better. I think of my sponsor child every single day now, and write to him often through Compassion’s app because I know now how important those letters are to him. I had no idea how impactful sponsorship really was until the only question they repeatedly asked me was “when are you coming back?”
I highly recommend going on a trip like this to meet your child. You will gain insight into their daily life, their community, their family and how you fit into this picture. You will foster a deep bond with your child and their family. You will come back understanding more about how to keep that relationship alive. And you, like me, will be blessed to carry the message forward to inspire others to participate actively with their child.
WHY DID I WANT TO GO?
My very first Sunday at Discovery Church was the Sunday when they introduced our church plant in Ecuador and had 300 children that needed sponsors. Being very new to being back in church on a regular basis, this was not the service I was expecting and it was not what I thought I needed at the time. As usual, I was completely wrong and God was perfectly right.
When the Ecuador trip was announced I didn’t hesitate in wanting to go. I wanted to see and experience for myself what it was like to live in poverty on a daily basis so I could understand, if only for a week. I wanted my sponsor child to be able to meet me and know that there was an actual person on the other side of the world that really does care about her. I wanted to meet her. I wanted to get to know her and her family. I wanted to meet new people from another country with another culture and share in loving Jesus with them.
WHAT WAS I EXPECTING? WHAT WAS THE REALITY?
I expected: to be quite uncomfortable. I had never been on a mission trip before. In my mind I had pictured us all sleeping in one room…in a hut…on a dirt floor…in the tropical heat…with no air conditioning…and no modern bathrooms.
The reality: Aside from most of us being without hot water for most of the trip we were all so well cared for and looked after. We were treated as very special guests. I felt guilty. I felt guilty for living so well while I was there.
I expected to meet a little girl who may or may not recognize my name and face, but didn’t really know who I was. I’ve watched the Compassion videos about how excited children are when they get a new sponsor, when they receive a letter, when they are enjoying the meals and activities in the centers. Quite frankly, I thought much of that was most likely “advertising” and embellished in order to pull at my heartstrings. I really did not know how my little girl or any of the other children there would actually feel about us when we arrived.
The reality: These children really, truly, wholeheartedly love their sponsors. We met and spent time with literally hundreds of children. Only a very small percentage of these children were lucky enough to get to meet their own sponsor during our trip there. Many had asked us if we know their sponsors. Regardless, all (and I mean all) of these children showed us so much love that it was overwhelming. My little girl’s name is Nahely. She and I were blessed to find each other our very first night there. Actually, she made it a point to find me. I was over the moon to see her standing right in front of me and to be able to hold her in my arms. It’s not an overstatement to say we were instantly connected in love. A strong bond was there before I was. The rest of the time I got to spend with her was a blessing bonus I couldn’t possibly describe. All of the children there showered us with so much love that, once again, I felt guilty. I felt guilty for being blessed with so much love when the whole point of my trip was to go there to give it to them.
I expected to meet families living in poverty, the likes of which I’ve only really been exposed to via images on television. I expected to visit homes that we in this country couldn’t imagine having to live in. I expected to see understandable despair and sadness and desperation. I expected to be heartbroken and be exposed to so many “problems” I would want to solve for them.
The reality: Going through the neighborhoods I did see several images that I would see on television. I did visit neighborhoods and homes that I’m not sure I could live in. I did visit homes that were tiny, cramped and housed only the bare necessities, if that. BUT (a big one), the difference is that when I went through the neighborhoods and into the homes, I did not see the despair or sadness or desperation. I did not see that they had nothing. I did not see the suffering I thought I would. I wondered why. It was because of the people. When I walked into the homes I saw them. They had smiles. They had each other. They had what they needed. They seemed free of many of the burdens that we carry with us here while trying to keep up with the Joneses. They seemed free of suffocating from all of the superfluous clutter we have here. In this case I didn’t feel guilty. I felt a little jealous.
I feel like I have a “daughter” now along with a new family with her mother and sister. I think about her all the time. I write to her much more often in the short time since I’ve returned. I daydream about the time we may meet again. I imagine what she’s doing now. I think about all of the children there…and I don’t normally consider myself particularly “kid-friendly”.
My thought process has a new freedom that it didn’t have before. I’m free of thinking I need unnecessary things. I can’t wait to get rid of all the clutter in my life. I no longer spend so much time worrying about what I can and cannot afford because truthfully I have all I need and so much more. And I know I will always have what I need. God will see to that. I came home to a barrage of holiday commercials trying to convince me that I need to buy stuff to show my love to others. In all honesty, things like that were a bit difficult to come home to.
In going over this short memento, I want to emphasize so many points. I want to underline, italicize and bold thought after thought. There was also SO MUCH MORE that I want to shout to anyone who will listen, like how extraordinary the Compassion organization is or how incredible the church staff is and how very very very (very) hard they work every day or how much they all truly care about the community and the children and what they do and how much they all love God. The bottom line is that it’s simply not possible to put words down on paper that could do justice to this experience. It is quite simply a bucket-list item that every single person should have. If everybody knew what an experience like this entails, it would be the #1 bucket-list item for us all.
Having never been to South America before I was naturally nervous and excited when I signed up for Discovery's first trip to Ecuador. However, having the chance to participate in a Mission trip for Discovery as well as having the opportunity to meet our sponsor child and her family, far outweighed any concerns. Upon arriving in Ecuador any trepidation I had was immediately taken away. Not only had Compassion International done a fantastic job of arranging all the details of the trip, but I immediately felt welcomed by the warm and friendly people. Being the adventurous type anyway, I jumped into the experience wholeheartedly, wanting to soak in as much as possible of the culture and the people. The 3 hour trip from Guayaquil to our base in Echeandia passed quickly, talking amongst our group and getting to know the translators who accompanied us and enjoying the sights of the countryside. Arriving in Echeandi, we were introduced to the very friendly managers of our hotel.
The first night we drove up to the church in Echeandia was a humbling experience. The families of the church were all there to meet us, with the children lining the stairs that led to the church, holding candles, and welcoming all of us. That was an emotional and wonderful experience that will be with me the rest of my life.
The celebration and worship that night was touching and enlightening, with many of the children participating in music and dance. There is such a love for God among the families in this small community that the feeling of joy is in every corner of the building. Working at the churches in Echeandia, Sabanatilla, and Camaron, helping wherever we were needed and then celebrating with the children in the afternoons, gave me more than I could ever give back. This was truly a blessed experience and never once did I ever feel anything but welcomed and valued.
The highlight of the trip for me though was meeting our sponsor child, Jordana. Jordana and her family live in the small community of Camaron, the location of Discovery's partner church. After meeting at the church, I went with Jordana, and my assigned translator, to her family's home and was able to meet her parents, aunt, brothers, sisters, and some cousins - a joyous experience. Among other jobs, Jordana's father manages a dairy and takes the milk from the dairy to a cheese making facility near their home. While at the house, Jordana's father went to the cheese maker and returned with a special gift for me, a 2 kilo block (that's 4.4 pounds) of Mozzarella cheese. The cheese looked wonderful. Though I couldn't bring it home with me, I gifted it to the church in Echeandia, who could certainly put it to good use. All the churches that we worked with offer lunches to the kids who attend their programs, so the cheese, I'm sure, was well used.
After 3 days of working with the various churches and meeting so many wonderful families, we had a fun day with all of our sponsor kids at a local water park. Where we were able to relax and spend the day swimming and playing games with all of the sponsored children. Another detail that Compassion provided for was bringing in a large group of translators so that communication was never a problem. This made the day at the water park even more special for Jordana and her mother.
This experience has motivated me to not only participate in more mission trips in the future, but to learn functional Spanish so that I can relate directly to the kids and their parents.
Again, I gained much more than I could have ever imagined on this trip, and would urge anyone who has ever considered going on a mission trip to definitely do it!
November 14th will always carry a special place, much like an anniversary or the birthday of a loved one. You see, on November 14th I finally met Darli Alexander Jimenez Rendón face to face.
I have known this boy for over a year. I would see his face every morning on my refrigerator as I loaded my Dunkin Donuts K-cup into the Keurig. I would be reminded of him when my 3 year Paisley would grab his picture and come to Ashley and I asking, “can we pray for our boy?” I would eagerly await opening the mail any time we received envelopes from Compassion, hoping there would be a newly drawn picture, a new photo, or any type of correspondence. My family and I have known Darli Alexander for some time in these intangible ways, but today he was an actual 8 year old boy in my physical presence.
At first he was one of 60 kids running around and playing. He blended in, having fun with his friends, not really noticing the group of Americans aside from the fact they were serving lunch. Then I was called over by one of our interpreters, Angie. In Spanish Angie asked this young boy, “do you know who he is,” while pointing to me. Darli (who going forward I will refer to as Alexander as that is what he prefers to go by) quietly shook his head “no” and continued eating his rice and fried chicken. Angie then responded, “el es tu Padrino.” (he is your Godfather). At this announcement, Alexander stopped mid bite, grew a smile from ear to ear, and from that point to the end of the day he became my shadow. If I went outside, he was by my side. If I played soccer, he was there on my team. No matter where I went he was never more than an arm’s reach away. During the day our conversations were limited. Not limited due to a language barrier, as I have always been confident in my Spanish and if worse came to worse we had interpreters at our disposal, rather it was limited as he seemed like he didn’t know what to say or was being shy or even more simply he wanted nothing more than to be in my presence.
Fortunately our day did not end at the church. Thanks to the wonderful partnership and planning of Compassion International a visit to Alexander’s home was prearranged. After the children’s events for the large group ended, a small intimate group including team members from Discovery, interpreters, and I walked with Alexander to his house. We were greeted by his mother, step father and one of his two younger sisters (the youngest was napping during our visit). The family invited us into their home, which was not more than 14ft by 14ft in size and completely constructed of bamboo. It was here we spent part of our afternoon asking each other questions about our lives. I learned that the man Alexander calls his “padre” is not his biological father, but his step father that is raising and loving Alexander as his own. I learned that his mother takes care of the house and kids while his father works on the farms in the area and anywhere else he can find work. I learned that Alexander shares a room with his two sisters, him on the top level of the bunk beds and his sisters on the bottom. I learned that Alexander has only fallen off the top bunk twice. They learned about my family, about my beautiful wife, mi hija Paisley y mi hijo Levi. They then asked me when I was coming back and if I was going to bring mi esposa (wife). Sadly, I couldn’t give a definitive answer to either question. And finally we prayed together.
And then our time was over as soon as it seemed to have started. Both Alexander and I didn’t want the day to end as neither of us seemed to want to break from our final embrace.
Whether I do come back, or will never have the opportunity to go again, my commitment to remaining a part of Alexander’s life will not change. I have faith that God will care for Alexander and his family, and I know I have been shown an unconditional love by someone who simply wanted to be in my presence.
What an amazing journey! Nothing could have fully prepared me for this experience.
The welcome we received our first evening was overwhelming. The warmth, joy and love brought tears to my eyes. Meeting and serving alongside the Pastors and Staff was an honor. We saw firsthand how tirelessly they work everyday and they do so with joyful hearts.
We also had the opportunity to see our sponsorship money at work in the Projects. Feeding, teaching and caring for these children and holding parenting classes. We witnessed the love that these children have for the Pastors and staff. We were honored to serve over 700 children and create a garden where they will grow vegetables. Conducting the games portion of VBS was such a treat. Laughing and playing with the children.
We had the privilege of attending home visits with our team members. The families are so appreciative of the support and love we are showing their children. They were so gracious offering snacks and welcoming us into their homes.
We still smile remembering the worship services where they sing and dance in praise. The joy they express fills my heart and puts things in perspective where my life is concerned. I want to experience that kind of joy on a daily basis.
We also had the opportunity to meet our sponsored child. Our relationship blossomed as we watched her smile and laugh. She is articulate, beautiful and fun loving. The day was everything we could have hoped for and we already miss her.
We also created very special connections with the members of our team, sharing this journey together. I will treasure these relationships forever.
Lastly, the Compassion Staff who led our trip and served as our interpreters were fantastic. They kept us on schedule which was no easy feat. Everything was coordinated so well and they were our lifeline for communication. We shared time, meals, stories and laughter.
I want to encourage all sponsors to write often to your child and send photos. These letters really mean the world to the children and their parents. And if resources allow, I highly recommend joining the next Mission trip. It will be the trip of a lifetime.
We made deep connections with these people of Ecuador and think of them every day. We cannot help but smile as we remember how full of joy these people are and witnessing the Lords work being done.
There is no question, we will return. It’s just a matter of how soon.
Traveling to an unfamiliar place to participate in a mission trip and finally meeting my sponsor child who I had been communicating with through letters for the previous six months. All this led to many feelings and questions.
But all of the anxiety and doubts were assuaged the moment I saw Solanda for the first time as she waited patiently in line for a meal at church.
I walked over to her and without hesitation she wrapped her arms around me, squeezed me tightly and said “Madrina” with such joy. It brought tears to my eyes and it was then and there I realized how thankful I was that I trusted in the Lord in sending me to Ecuador.
Before I met Solanda, I worried about many little things like what were suitable topics to write to her about. Will she be excited to see me? Will she recognize me or what will we talk about?
I went on to serve Solanda her meal, play “pato pato ganzo” (duck duck goose) with her, meet her family and visit her home. We bonded very quickly that first day and the conversations flowed so naturally. Our environments are drastically different, but our love for God is the same.
I was so humbled to sneak a peek into her life. Letter writing has so much more meaning after meeting her. If you've never been on a mission trip before I encourage you to consider the benefits of serving the Lord in new ways in Ecuador and stepping outside of your comfort zone. God will use you, as he did me, in ways you might never imagine!
I traveled to Ecuador with 10 acquaintances and many questions, but I left with joyful memories, a “daughter” and 10 brothers and sisters in Christ from my church.
Being a member of the 2018 Ecuador mission trip was an amazing experience. I was sad to say goodbye but I long to return. God has given me a desire to extend the many relationships that have only just begun -- the 3 pastors and their families, the staff, and the children of the Compassion Projects, specifically my sponsor-child, Nahomy Jholibeth (9).
God nudged me to go and I am so thankful I followed through and signed up for this mission. There was a strong possibility that I wouldn’t be able to go this year, so I am extremely grateful that circumstances fell into place allowing me to participate. When all the pieces fell into place, I felt assured it was a sign that I was meant to be part of this team.
The preparations offered by our team leader, Pastor Scott Kim, and Compassion International were exactly what I needed to have my heart and expectations ready to serve. The team meetings with discussions, prayers and educational videos taught us about “Helping without Hurting” in a poverty environment.
The Compassion group leaders and translators guided us while also blessing us with the ability to communicate. I am so thankful to have gotten to know these amazing people of Ecuador while being able to share experiences, serve and pray with them. These fellow Christians own so little possessions compared to us in the United States yet, they are joyful, happy, loving and eager to share what they do have with us. It was truly humbling to witness.
It would be impossible to retell all the amazing experiences I had in such a brief week. Time flew by and each day was packed full as we experienced God’s love through all that we met. I wish every member of our congregation could experience the excitement in their eyes, smiles on their faces, the many hugs and holding of our hands as we walked together. I never imagined I would be setting foot inside the church Discovery planted in Ecuador just a short time ago, or that I would be witness to the growth of that church. It was a privilege to see the expansion that reaches more children and families with the knowledge of Christ while sharing his love. It is my hope that our church continues to nourish the roots of the church that we’ve helped plant in Ecuador.
Ecuador was a life changing experience that brought me closer to God. It has impacted my spiritual journey immensely. I encourage you to think and pray about being a mission team member. In closing, thank you to Discovery Church for continuing to grow and reach outside our church and for allowing us to have such experiences to serve and love God’s people.
Once it was just a portrait of her on our refrigerator door and a letter with drawings of a river and trees. Now I was in her dilapidated home, surrounded by her family and being offered some cheese. I see her and her sister's room and it takes everything in me to hold back the tears. There are makeshift ceilings and walls. It appears to be made of wood and cardboard and you can smell the rotting mold from the constant rain and humidity. I can't help wonder how this impacts the health of Daniela and her family.
Leaving her home, a part of me wants to save and rescue Daniela from these living conditions. My heart breaks for this child and for so many others living in extreme poverty and I wrestle with the fairness of why one is born into privilege while others suffer abject poverty.
Yet, with my head pressed against the window as the bus drives away, I hear a faint whisper. Perhaps it's the gentle voice of Jesus showing me that Daniela and her family will be alright. I must do what I can do by praying, writing letters of encouragement, and advocating child sponsorships to help release children from poverty. But the rest is in God's hands. His hands hold the world and the hands of all the children.
Heavenly Father, while dads on earth may walk away from their family, You will never walk away. Be with Daniela and her family as you bring comfort, peace and strength. May we trust that Your hands will hold them together and may you use our hands and feet to share your hope and love to others.
I have tried to sum up my experience in just one or two words and it is just impossible to do. Nothing really can prepare you for your first mission trip. For myself it was an absolute reality check. Words that come to mind: Life Changing, Eye opening, Awakened, Heart filled, Humbling, Joyous, Clarity, Purposeful, Guilt and Sadness.
Meeting my sponsored child and his mother was probably the greatest life experience I have ever had next to bringing my own two children into this world and raising them. The church communities are filled with selfless Pastors who give their lives and families to making their communities safe, happy , healthy and God filled. The JOY in the children's eyes and hearts was so unlike what we see in the eyes of our own children here in America. The gratitude that they and their families shared was a true gift to experience. They do so much with so little. Heart breaking and soul filling all at the same time. I feel like I got more than I gave that is for sure. Now when I receive Kelvins letters I feel like writing a book back to him. I so look forward to learning about what inspires and motivate him every time I read one of his. It is interesting to observe how my trip has impacted so many of my friends and families lives. When they asked me "how was your vacation", I had to explain to them that is wasn't a vacation....There were many pictures that I didn't post on FB because I felt it would have been disrespectful. Pictures of just really sad conditions. I have so many friends and family members that want to join me on my next trip to see Kelvin and his mother. My adult children included. They want to be a part of impacting this beautiful little boys life. I have definitely seen the "Ripple Effect" that God has created using me as one of his disciples. I feel that the work I have done within my career has not been nearly as meaningful or important than the work that I accomplished while on this mission trip. It has paled greatly in comparison. The impact that my presence and help has had has been life changing for both the people that I was privileged to serve and for myself as well.
In addition to experiencing the people and their communities, the bonding with our Ecuador Team and the Compassion leaders was also very special. It was nice to share such a personal and spiritual experience with others who felt the same nudge to serve by doing a mission trip. What a great way to connect with complete strangers all working towards a common goal.
In summary I feel at peace, I feel hopeful, I feel even more driven and inspired to help others as much as possible while I'm here on this earth. And lastly, I feel excited that one day we will all be able to live in harmony in the kingdom of heaven. My purpose or my goal here on earth is much clearer to me now. It is to reach as many folks as possible by loving them like Jesus loves us, so they too can share in the Gift of the eternal Kingdom of Heaven someday.