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Monday, September 24, 2012

Reflections on Ecuador

I wish that I would have taken the time to reflect every day on the different experiences.  There is so much that I could say and so much I want to say. This trip was given to me as a gift from God.  My trip was paid for by a generous family.  I wish I could convey to them how much this trip has impacted my life.  I want them to know how grateful I am for this experience that has turned my life upside down.  If it wasn’t for them, I’d have nothing to reflect.   So, thank you, thank you and thank you.

From Fear to Wonder
I hate it that I struggle with fear, but I do.  Yes, I feared that my planes would crash and we wouldn’t make it back.  I feared that the plane ride would give me a bad headache or motion sickness.  I feared that I would get malaria, since that is the one vaccine I didn’t get.  I feared that I would get sick from the water or the foreign food.  I feared that I would feel awkward and uncomfortable in a foreign country.  UGH!  I type the words and I think “REALLY?.”  It embarrasses me that as many times that God has proven Himself to me in my life, as many times that God has stepped in and provided for my many needs, and as many times that God has protected me from many harms, I still wrestle with fear.  I can report that God faithfully covered my every fear – again.  

He replaced every fear with His peace and joy.  Not only that, He blessed me with awe and wonder.  As I was flying in the plane I looked at the top of the clouds. God is His infinite wisdom created the clouds to stop at some point in the sky.  They become this magnificent covering for the earth.  It was beautiful – a small reflection of God’s creative genius. At one point in the flight I looked down and noticed the thousands of homes and was blown away that God knew the intricate details of every person in each one of those houses.  The whole experience of Ecuador would be new to me, but God formed the country and its inhabitants. He knew the coming and going of all Ecuador's affairs since day one.  UNFATHOMABLE!!  How does God keep track of every person in the whole world at the same time?  God blows me away.  The more I see and learn, the more I grasp that He is way bigger than my mind can imagine.

The People
Oh my goodness!  The people were amazing!  I am not understating or exaggerating when I say that we were treated like royalty.  It was so humbling to be loved on by the Compassion leaders, the mothers of the children we sponsor, and the beautiful children.  In the first fifteen minutes of meeting with the children, one of the girls took off one of her bracelets and put it on my wrist.  I didn’t want her to give me a gift – I wanted to give her gifts.  This is how it was the whole trip.  From day one to the very end, they were giving so much to us.  The hostess prepared feasts for us.  The mothers made us gifts. The children gave us themselves.  At the very least it was humbling.  I could not help but feel guilty for my lack of contentment with my life. These wonderful people who had nothing compared to you and me were the most grateful people I have ever met.  On the last day, we met with just the mothers.  Many asked why we would travel so far just to see them.  One mother started crying and asked how long would we support them.  It broke my heart to realize that the small amount of money that I don’t even miss to support just one of these kids means so much to a family across the world.  

I know you’ve heard it many times before, but it was true – these kids who had nothing were the happiest, the most loving kids I have ever met! When I was playing with the kids, I was brought back to a place I’d long forgotten.  They had something that I had lost along the American dreamy way - a place where I was safe and free of all worries and fears.  They gave a pure love of total acceptance.  No one cared what their clothes or hair looked like.  They had untainted joy solely from being with one another. It was a picture of what I imagine God purposed for His church all along.  

I didn't have the skill (speaking Spanish) to get to know the kids like I wanted, but I managed to find a small way to connect with them.  There's a little hand game called "Double This, Double That".  I played it literally for hours with the children.  It was so endearing throughout the week to have a little kid come up to me and hold up his/her two tiny fists and in a Spanish accent ask, "Double, double?".  Ahhh - it blessed my heart.  Even though I couldn't communicate with words to these kids, I was able to show them what all of us really want in the long end - someone willing to take the time to jump into our world and share it with us.

It's Time
In my next blog, I want to take the opportunity to tell you about my experience in sponsoring Ivan.  For now, I want to leave you with an opportunity to change your life and the life of not one child, but a family across the world.  Visit the Compassion International website at http://www.compassion.com/ and look through the many kids who still need a sponsor.  If God leads you to sponsor, I can guarantee that it will be one decision you won't regret!

1 comment:

  1. I felt the same fears, Jill. I know that we are supposed to put all of our trust in God and His wisdom and that He will protect us, but it's HARD. Human fears keep creeping in and taking over my thoughts...not just about Ecuador, but in my everyday life. I'm trying to be really intentional in my battle against these fears.

    I was so thankful to have you and Tom and Aaron and Kathy on that trip with me. I really do think that God put together that team in a very intentional way. We all had different strengths and really helped out the weaknesses in the group. I can't think of a better group to have gone. I'm so thankful for all of you and the experiences we shared!