I didn't blog on Tuesday because I couldn't. The words were too hard to say. The poverty we served on that day was more than my emotions could handle. I know it sounds dramatic, but, it's the truth. I've only seen that kind of poverty on television. The last time I felt that strong of an emotion was when my father died. It was terrible and the only thing that makes it worth speaking of are the phenomenal smiles that came from the children. They made us feel like we had the power of the President, the admiration of Princess Diana, the fame of Michael Jackson, and the prestige of the Pope. If I could have brought one little girl home...
Wednesday had nowhere to go but up. We went to a school where the kids were in terrible conditions that would never be allowed in the US, but, they still had potential. They had Facebook accounts. Each day our team leaves about 8:15 am and rides the bus to a community school. We do a program for the children including drama, dancing, skits, and a lot of prayer, then work around the school either painting or picking up trash. The afternoon is filled with walking street-to-street in a nearby community announcing a crusade happening that afternoon at the local church. During our time at Wednesday morning's school Casey and Lauren met a little girl named Michelle. Keep in mind that our girls have a wonderful ability to make every child feel special. Michelle was one of many. For the purposes of this blog, though, remember the name Michelle from the Wednesday morning school.
Thursday was similar to Wednesday. Another school where the children were in bad conditions, but, will probably still make something of themselves (as much as possible in Ecuador). We did our program that morning then painted the school wall. Lunch was in the bus on the way to the community church. Soon, we were walking the streets of another community far from the school and especially far from yesterday's school.
Here's where things get really interesting - we were walking down the street and a little girl about 40 yards away was screaming at us in Spanish, "Keh-SEE!"
I didn't know what that word was in Spanish, so, I turned to the interpreter and asked what the little girl was screaming.
She then said it louder, "KEH-SEE!!!"
The interpreter still didn't know what she was saying, then Casey said, "I think she's talking to me!"
Unbelievable. The little girl saw her blond-headed heros coming down the street towards her house. What are the chances? We got closer to her house and Michelle, whom Casey and Lauren had met at the Wednesday morning school, ran out and gave them a bear-hug. It was as if Michelle's angels had found her. When I looked at Casey's face you would have thought that she had found HER angel in Michelle. It was literally unbelievable. What are the odds? There are nearly 4 million people in Ecuador and Casey and Lauren walked up to the house of a child they met the day before at a far-away location. Casey said she and Lauren had taught Michelle a lot of words in English and that Michelle had tried to teach them some Spanish. These little girls obviously made a connection.
Now it's Thursday night and the Ecuador Mission Trip is almost over. I must admit that Tuesday I thought we were useless. When we rode up the kids were in unspeakable poverty and when we left they were still in unspeakable poverty. All I could hope was that the smile that was on their faces for those few hours would at least tuck them in that night and help them feel better about the day. Now I realize that the Ecuadorian missionaries from College Park have made an impact that lasts more than a few hours...it's been proven that it last at least until the next afternoon when they see their heroes walking down the street.
It was hard to get Michelle to let go of either Casey or Lauren's arm this afternoon. I think she is in every picture that they took at the street crusade.
I've come to the conclusion that the ray of sunshine we bring to these children actually does last for more than a few hours...and I'm absolutely certain that the impact they have made on me will last a lifetime.