I am convinced that the best thing my grandparents have ever done for me is give the gift of sharing their love of others. Throughout my childhood, I watched my grandparents go on multiple missions trips, listened to their stories of the people, the places, and the ways it changed their worldview and their love for other people. It began a burn in my heart to do the same -- to love others, to give as much as I could to others, and to help in any way possible. I didn't know what it meant, and I didn't understand the passion, but I knew it was there. Then, when their graduation gift to me was my first missions trip to Ecuador, they gave me more than just a trip. They single-handedly set me on a path to change my worldview, began a spark that would kindle into a fire, and allowed me to see beyond my narrow scope of life. Going to Ecuador was truly the best thing that could have ever happened in my life, and since that first trip in 2005, I've had the immense honor of traveling there 4 times, with this last trip being the first time my husband, Matt, experienced these beautiful people.
Ecuador is one of the most dearest places on earth to me. It was where I discovered my love for people. It was where I met two of the most fantastic people, Jon & Karen Lambert, who have become my mentors, and have opened my eyes to so much. It changed my worldview, and it changed my heart. Ecuador is most definitely home to me, and to be able to share it with Matt was such a joy.
It's taken a while to create this post, simply because it never feels like I can provide the words for the feelings that the people of Ecuador give me. For the emotions I feel when embracing these people who have become like family. For hearing their stories, how they've grown over the years, and seeing the children I once held in my arms as they slept while their father delivered a sermon, now telling me mischievous tales of their adventures and running around with my camera, taking photos (good ones!) on their own.
This visit was focused on revisiting friends, helping with the Children of Promise program, and simply taking a step back from the busyness of life to focus on what's most important. It was a joy to spend time with Jon & Karen in Quito, walk the narrow pathways of Otavalo, watch the hummingbirds dance, and witness a stunning sunrise in Mindo. It was a beautiful reminder of how precious life is, to hear stories from so many of the people I love who call Quito home, and see how they have overcome obstacles and triumphed in their lives.
Being in Ecuador makes me remember how important it is to simply "be". Be joyful. Be in the moment. Be thankful for everything. Be a better spouse, friend, and storyteller. There are so many stories to be told. My hope is to tell some of them about the people of Ecuador.