It has been quite a year. A year of new reunions and new goodbyes. That is part of a pattern of life I suppose. It has been quite an interesting past few months. At the end of July our family flew out to Ecuador to fulfill Scott’s Make-A-Wish. He had decided to use his wish to provide humanitarian aid and service in another country. Through many miracles, it was arranged for us to work with OSSO, an orphanage support organization. Here’s some fun things about Ecuador:
- Do the buses have a limit to how many people can get on at once? No of course not!!
2. Poncho and Panpipes (yes this is Elder Merling! After completing his two years of missionary service in Mexico he returned home in May. It was nice to have someone who speaks spanish with us in Ecuador)
3. The beautiful markets… Ecuador loves fruit and flowers
And one of my personal favorites: the view. No matter where you go there is always something beautiful. In this picture it looks like there is some kind of ocean around the mountains, but it’s actually clouds. We were so high up that we looked down and face to face with the clouds.
But by far the most wonderful thing about Ecuador has been working at the Orphanage. I wish I could show you pictures of the kids, I want you to see the faces that now have taken up a place in my heart. The first night we came we were placed in the apartment right next to a room full of kids. The next morning we were awakened by their voices, soon they discovered they had new nighbors. Here’s Mom’s account of the story:
“We woke around 6am to the sounds of children playing next door. We were ripe with anticipation to lay our eyes on the children we had flown through the night to meet. We were scheduled to meet all 26 of the children in the OSSO orphanage at 9:30 am. But that seemed so far away.
We watched as the tiny shadows of our Ecuadorian neighbors passed by the gaps in the beautiful wooden door connection our rooms. 8 year old, blonde haired, blue eyed Katie appointed herself lookout at the door.
A few minutes into the watch Katie squealed excitedly and ran to announce loudly that a crayon had rolled under the door that adjoined our room with the kids. We had wondered if our little neighbors knew we were there. Now we began to think they might have heard us.
Katie rolled the crayon back under the door to the mysterious room next door. In order to make Katie a bit more comfortable at her lookout point we moved a little sofa that had been placed next to the door. When we did we discovered a small pile of dust and a load of long-lost toys that had also made their way under the door. Katie shoved them all back through to the other side.We heard the little OOOH and AHHHs, along with a spanish greeting. Pretty soon there was a load of questions coming from little spanish voices under the door. “What is your name? What is your name?”
Katie replied “KT” again and again as the little kids next door tried to comprehend an unusual name they had never heard before. Although her name was a challenge to say, they did seem to hear the youth in her voice. “Are you a little volunteeer, or a big volunteer???” Colin translates for Katie and she tries to form the words she needs to say in Spanish that she is 8 years old. A friendly game ensued of shoving back and forth the toys and crayons. She had made friends with kids already, and they hadnt even met.
We could already tell this was going to be a wonderful experience.”
Our whole family worked in the orphanage for two weeks together. Many of the children are special needs, most of them in wheelchairs with limited communication. But we fell in love with them so fast. There is something special about serving someone who cannot do it for themselves, afterall, isn’t that what the Savior did for us?
After two weeks the rest of our family flew home and Scott and I stayed to continue working for another two weeks. It was interesting, living in a country without knowing the language, but it’s been fun. As we’re getting ready to leave now my heart is a little sad to go. I wish I could freeze these moments forever. I want to always remember the feeling of a little Ecuadorian hand in mine, the feeling of little five year old kisses on my cheek, swinging in the hammock, nights playing ukelele and guitar, trying to read stories in spanish outloud to little children while they laugh at me and my accent, wandering through markets and watching the sky. They have such beautiful skies here. One minute it will be the brightest blue with dark clouds like it can’t decide whether to laugh or cry. The next moment the clouds will catch the sun and turn gold. I could watch for hours.
There are things that soften us and our hearts, this has softened mine. I want to never again take for granted the things I have. I have everything. We so underestimate the thriving importance of a family. A family. What a marvelous thing. I’ve lived for two weeks with children who know one another as the only family they’ve ever had. One afternoon after lunch I sat out by the swings. One of the kids came over and threw their arms around me and kissed me on the cheek and said “I love you, mom.” I felt my heart break a little as I realized the word held such different meaning to them. I wrapped that child up in my arms and blinked tears back because I wanted so badly to change everything for them. I wanted them to know what it was like to have a real mom, a real family. Life is unfair. That’s a fact. These children did nothing to deserve their situation, it is simply because we live in a broken world that they have their circumstances. But the perfect truth is that the Savior makes all wrongs right, if not in this life than most certainly in the next. In only a few years I have witnessed some of the most unfair things this world has to offer. In our first few weeks here we got the news that one of our best friends in Memphis, Chealsea, passed away. She fought the same cancer as Scott in the same arm.. She went to prom with us twice, and we spent many hours together causing trouble in that hospital. Goodbyes are hard, but renuinions are sweet. I think we will look back on this life and realize that it really wasn’t as long as it seemed. It will seem a small price to pay for the joy of spending eternity with our family afterwards. Good things are to come.
Good things are to come.
We’ll make another post soon with more pictures and things from Ecuador. Much love for you all, thanks for your examples to us.
- When in Doubt, Help a Scout