“Where’s home?” A fairly normal question, but one that’s never a short answer from me. By the age of 10 I had moved more than 10 times, and unless you moved out of a state, I didn’t even consider going to a different house a “real move.” Yet still, at the age of 27, I always consider Ecuador as part of my home.
I lived there from ages 3-8, 6 months in jr. high, several summer trips, and taught there in the 2012-13. Trust me, it’s much more than just a place I lived. My childhood wasn’t a “typical” American tale, but I love the story God wrote for our family.
I didn’t meet classmates going on the bus to school, but I remember my first best friend. We had the biggest imaginations and would travel the worlds through the old metal monkey bars and yellow slide in our neighborhood that was just our size. That park was just around the corner from our favorite tienda where dear Señora Virginia would sell us our favorite candy. She was always happy to see me and my little blond curls – although her kindness did not always extend to the adults.
I didn’t have to watch my mother in tears as I left for my very first day of school. I simply walked upstairs to the attic where Miss Kim was my 1st grade teacher. She made me fall in love with teaching and writing, things that are still very much apart of my life today.
I didn’t learn to ride a bike in my backyard, but I did learn the joy of walking everywhere. Whether it was the downtown shops, the markets on San Francisco, or the little panderîa where we could always pick out our favorite bread, walking was our main means of transportation. Even now, walking and talking with a friend is one of my favorite things.
I didn’t have a lot of mosquitoes to kill on hot summer days -I did learn to kill tarantulas though! I have been the residential spider killer for many a roommates since the “big ones” in Iowa are definitely smaller in comparison. And I grew up with the beauty of the mountains all around me. I felt protected as a kid, surrounded by these great Peaks. Even as I’ve traveled to places like Colorado or California, anytime I see mountains, I am instantly reminded of my home in Cuenca.
I didn’t have classmates that I knew from kindergarten to graduation- many of my friendships started with few words because of the initial language barrier. But in Ecuador I learned to love people because they first loved me. Homes were always open to our family, and we learned from them. Our home became a haven for many people. Whether it was a jovenes get-together, a college movie night, or a holiday celebration with the missionaries, my siblings and I always loved it when the house was full of people. Our familia was large indeed, and we wouldn’t have had it any other way.
I was a stubborn, selfish 14 year old, but in Ecuador God softened my heart. He opened my eyes to see how limited and small my view on life was, and how much I needed Him as my Savior. My friends still loved and cared for me despite my less than gracious attitude, and Tia Ruth still taught me Spanish when I had no desire to learn. Little did I know that God was going to have me be a high school Spanish teacher for 2+ years!
These are just a few reflections on the people and places I love so much. As most of you know, the past week has been awful for many people in Ecuador. I don’t understand the timing of these dark days, but my prayer is that the Gospel goes forth like never before. I will end with a few links where you can give, if God so lays it on your heart. Or maybe this will remind you of the stories from your own childhood- maybe those people could use some encouragement too.
(This is an organization that was started in Manta… they will pass on all the funds to help others)http://www.feedecuador.org
Bible Baptist Fellowship International – BBFI
(This is the mission organization for a church here in Manta) http://bbfimissions.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=197
(This is the organization that work closely by the coast and have already gotten some supplies to those in need) http://incalink.org
Association of Baptists for World Evangelism – ABWE www.abwe.org/give and designate the gift for account #0717411.