WINNERS of our Mundial!

WINNERS of our Mundial!
smiles all around

KATIE in Ecuador!

KATIE in Ecuador!
meeting pastora´s ducks! hahaha

The 5 crazies of arbolito house

The 5 crazies of arbolito house
retreat at the beach!

Mamá y Yo

Mamá y Yo
looking at all of Lupe´s great jewelry :-)


yazul and little bro


Finishing up a day at Semillas with 10 seconds of silence to calm everyone down

Villanova Retreat Group

Villanova Retreat Group
After climbing Las Peñas (at the top of the light house)--that´s Durán out in the distance


Sitting listening to the Charla

a chill afternoon at semillas

a chill afternoon at semillas

now not so chill...

now not so chill...

hairstylist Mechet

hairstylist Mechet
probably how i got lice...

park at semillas

park at semillas

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

so long, farewell.....auf wiedersehen, goodnight

well...this is it year is ending.

to be quite honest i don´t even know where to begin. how did this happen? where did the days go? these past two weeks have been an absolute rollercoaster of emotion....some of my highest moments and some of my most poignant moments of the entire year. it´s really mentally exhausting.

i know that while going through it, this year felt LONG. sometimes it felt like it would never end. when i look back to the beginning of my time here, and see how i was really keen on crossing out days on my calendar(it was a habit that gave me a little strength...just trying to make it through each one), i am reminded of how hard "this" used to be. how homesick i was. but´s like i´m trying to stop time....trying to make it go as slow as possible. savoring every moment. having those beautiful "thin place" experiences. i have no idea what is ahead of me, or what this whole "goodbye" process is going to look like. i can only imagine that it is going to hurt like hell. i always said, i would come to ecuador in tears, and probably leave worse off then i came---everyone knows the llorona that i am. but i know it will be okay. these friendships, these relationships i have here. i know they´re real. and this is not the end. it can´t be. ecuador will be a part of my life forever, there´s no way i could let go that easily.

and heck, everyone knows i´m the best letter writer ever(come on, at least i got that). but still i can´t help but let my mind wander daily to what it will be like when i have to leave this place that has become my hogar.

on sunday we had our final despedida party with all of our friends and neighbors. now, let me just give a little background on this---i was literally stressing out, while i do love to entertain, throwing a party for over a 100 ecuas, didn´t quite sound like it was going to go over smoothly, and on top of it, 5 very different people in charge of coordinating it...yeah, not so fun.....however, this fiesta went off without a was a freaking awsome party....on top of it, the mundial was on, so of cours ppl were pumped. so here was the scene:approx 100 degrees, small little tent, tiny little tv, 50 or so ecuas crowding this tv, melted candy, greasy fried maduros, lots of waka waka dancing, lots of waving the flag dancing, musical chairs, penetencias, rifa prizes, screaming children, laughing children, balloon popping, cola pouring, did i mention it was hot as hell??? reggaeton dancing, yeah it was ridiculous---however, probably one of the best parties i have ever been too....i didn´t anticipate myself enjoying it as much as i did, because i just accepted the fact that i was going to be a hostess----but i guess thats what happens when you don´t have expectations....just so much fun. a day i will remember forever.

and the week goes on. we are in the midst of so much planning. planning for the newbies coming, cleaning the houses, organizing their orientation, leaving our job sites, how we´re going to say goodbye....what we "might" do when we go can imagine how stressful it all is. transitions are really hard for me, but i know they always work out. i just have to keep reminding myself that God brought me here for a reason, and because of that, He´s going to help me figure the rest of "this" out---going home, reaclimating to life in the US, and figuring out where i´m headed next. when i keep that mindset, i can breathe a little bit easier.

another little addedum to my time here as well, is that i´m actually going to be leaving earlier than my housemates. most of you might know this already, but, for those of you who don´t, my best friend leslie is going to be getting married August 7th! and after many conversations and talks with my community i´ve decided that i cannot miss this wedding. for me this whole year has been about relationships, true friendships, and being there for those people in my life that i love and care about----now, while it´s going to be really hard to get on a plane alone, leaving behind so many people i love, this moment in my friends life is so special and important, and it would be such a shame if i missed it. i will eventually have to leave ecuador, no matter how hard it will be. at least now, i will have the opportunity to jump right back into life, sharing in a beautiful moment with some of my most special friends. :-)

and until then, it´s literally this idea of "no regrets"---there´s no time left---i´m trying to do everything i possibly can in the amount of time i have....spending afternoons with all my favorite friends, tejeríng with pastora, coloring with my neighbors, eating all the ecua food i love so much, hugging as many ADHD kids as i can each day (even though they´ve been driving me crazy!!!--semillas numbers have been in the 90´s for the past week, i´m ready to leave this behind....) and just hanging out with my community mates. it´s now or never. even though i know i´ll come back to ecuador, it will never be the same as how it is now.

emotions have been really fragile in our house lately because we´re all a little on edge, but these past few weeks have also probably been the most fun for us as well. it´s been a constant comedy show in our house. lots of crazy freak outs, but also a lot of kodak moments....recently tom has been sharing with us new insight into his "Abs diet" (he recently found the book buried in a pile of old books...and to be honest, that´s where it should´ve stayed)--he really loves the superfoods these days, and if you´d like to know what they are, you should ask him, he´s an expert by now...dan and i have probably had about 3 huge fights in the past week, like screaming matches (well i guess i was the only one screaming) but then we make up until the next day when something else sets us off, and theresa is actually leaving next week because she´s off to med school, so everytime i see her start crying i start crying, she´s so funny though because sometimes she just can´t handle our craziness and walks out of the then we call her in and say "THERESAAA, THEREESSAAA come hang out with us" and she goes..."ya know what... you guys are just a little to much for me right now", and heads to her room. she´s far too sane to be around us 24/7....and karla, well karla´s been pretty normal too i guess, a constant normal this whole year. she´s definitely the buffer of this whole equation. i don´t know what we wouldve done without her this year. the whole lot of us are a bunch of nutjobs really...but. living together for a year, you start to just become accustomed to everyone´s craziness. i think one of the hardest parts of leaving ecuador will be leaving my housemates, who i have grown to love so much. they have been my support system this entire year, regardless of how often we fight or scream at each other...i am going to miss them so much. but at least in the states we´ll have cell phones...won´t that be a new adjustment?

so anyway---that hodgepodged blog was a little bit of insight into my life these past few weeks/ begins all the "lasts" moments---which will be hard, i know, but we´ll make it through. i started writing this blog thinking it would be my last too, but now that i´m thinking about it, i feel like i´m not ready to end it yet. for all my loyal readers out there, i think there will be one more--no i promise there will be one more. it might be even messier than what i usually write, but there will be a "last".

so to send you off, i just want to say thank you again for all of the support. for the hundreds of letters i´ve received, the sour watermelons that never ceased, the endless amounts of prayers and love that you have shown to me throughout my time here. i would not have made it without you all. you have shown me love in it´s most raw form, and i appreciate every bit of it.

when i come home, i look forward to having conversations with everyone. god knows i´m going to need to process this year, and "what" exactly it was.....but until that time, know that i am still praying for you and your wellbeing. i love you all so much. stay joyful and present to the moment you´re in.

love always,

Sunday, June 27, 2010

ahhhhh ecuador, sometimes ya just kill me!!!

hello all!

so it´s june 27th, JUNE 27!!! can you freaking believe it?? i certainly can´t. almost a year has passed, and it´s still really hard for me to comprehend. i STILL feel like this culture and this country are so foreign to me. yes i´ve learned a ton, but there is still SO MUCH that i can´t seem to grasp. everyday new challenges, new adventures, new "cultural customs" i encounter--that blow my mine. karla and i were just saying this morning, "ecuador, why do you continue to frustrate me...." let me try and explain. this whole weekend has been a sequence of mishaps that fortunately, have ended positively, but nevertheless, have been completely stressful.

it started on friday with our paseo. we were so excited---taking 13 kids to see Toy Story 3. heck, we were probably more excited than the kids....but let´s take a look at what happened. while organizing the kids we realized, oh wait, we´ve got one extra, Ivan brought his little brother Diego, 5---now, let me pose this to you all, how do you tell this little child he can´t go?? how? seriously, i couldn´t do it. he was so excited, and again here we go with the miscommunication, he thought he was going, was ready to go, and excited to go....we had no choice but to bring him along. blip number 1, and now onto number 2, Raul, one of our oldest kids, who we have slowly but surely gained the trust of, told us he couldn´t come because he had to watch his little brother Josue.....ughhh dilemma, we wanted him to be able to go so badly because he really deserved it---so what did we do, we took both of them.... now we have 13 other kids looking at us like, and probably wondering, what the hell are these gringos doing----ya know what, you just can´t´re never going to please everyone right? so much stress, so much anxiety---bringing 15 kids into the city of Guayaquil is anything but enjoyable. crossing streets, holding hands, trying to get there on time...i swear, i felt like i was going to have a heart attack by the end....but long story short, we got there, the movie was HILARIOUS, even in spanish, so witty and clever--i recommend it to anyone---josue actually wanted to sit on my lap while watching the movie, and that for me was probably one of the moments that made the whole day worth it. he was so cuddly and cute and watching him laugh and smile made me relax and realize, ya know what it´s all gonna be okay. i just wish the the stress of the whole day didn´t have to be so ingrained in my head as well....

now onto saturday----another day of crazy ecua disorganization, if that´s even a word.....our parish, virgin of perpetual help, had it´s feast day, so in honor of that we put on one of those church festivals, minus the carnival, minus the cotton candy....our group, rostro that is, was in charge of making popcorn to let´s remind ourselves, here we are in ecuador, there are no microwaves, so thanks to karla who slaved away in the kitchen for about 4 hours, we made 5lbs of popcorn, on the stove, in a pot, trying at best not to burn obnoxious...absolutely obnoxious....and the thing is we probably spent 5 dollars making all of it, and sold each bag for 25 cents....i believe our profit was about 2 dollars!! ahhhhhh are you kidding me?? so frustrating....anyway, the event was fun last night, lots of ecua singing and hand gestures----even some reggaeton which is always surprising at a church function. but all in all it was fun, just inefficient i felt....but again who am i to judge...

and today----so while karla was busy making popcorn, i was doing 8 loads of laundry from all of the donations that retreat groups leave behind. reason for this being, today a group of high school students from nuevo mundo was sponsoring a tag sale, pulgero, to help raise money to renovate the park we use at semillas....again great idea, but so poorly organized. and doing freaking 8 loads of laundry in one day is enough to make anyone cranky(maybe that´s partially our fault, but who has time??) yeah, we got all the clothes cleaned, then brought them over to the tag sale which we were told would start at 11, however, low and behold, they decided to start at 9!!! wtf? seriously ecuador? if anything, we were expecting a late start time, but oh no not this really can´t win---so every person that we had told about the tag sale was extremely upset at us because we told them 11, and basically all the clothes were gone by 10am.....ughhhhhhh YOU JUST CAN´T WIN!!!

so yeah, that was my venting session at the frustration i´m feeling right now in regards to this country. i just feel like everytime we try to do something "good", it either a. turns into a ridiculous amount of stress b. turns into something we can´t even participate in or c. well i guess a and b suffice.....i´m finding that it´s just really hard for me STILL to acclimate to the culture here. things are done so differently, i see things as very unorganized and i´m constantly getting stressed when it´s really something i shouldn´t stress about.....i´m ready to come home. and do things in an orderly manner. to speak my own language and organize events in the way i would like them to i know that sounds extremely egotistical and self-centered, but i´m just really tired. and i think that my type A personality just does not coincide with life here. seriously it doesn´t......

okay so let me end on a few positive notes, because that rant was probably unnecessary......1. i just had my final retreat group seattle u with me for the past week, and they were awesome....i had somuch fun with them, and they were truly a great note to end my year on. 2. dan´s parents are here for a few days and they are providing all of us with much needed laughs and parental comforts, not to mention they brought the entire trader joe´s stock to our house in about 4 suitcases---very much appreciated!! and 3. due to the lack of time i have left in ecuador, i feel very free, in the sense that i am just trying to enjoy every minute i possibly can with every person i want to spend time with---obviously there have been a few road blocks this past week, but all in all, things are really great. i am just a the point right now where i feel excited and ready to come home. of course goodbyes are going to be so painful, but i knew this was coming, and i signed up for it. so as with everything in my life, i´m going to take it a day at a time, and just enjoy where i´m at right now, in this moment. because let´s face it, this moment is the only one that matters....

just breathe.....period.

love you all so much,

Thursday, June 17, 2010

so wave your flag....

ya know what, i don´t even know where to begin....this entry is literally going to come out like word vomit, so i apologize in advance---let me start....

MANY MANY things have been happening here, SO many amazing experiences, life has been incredible. and i´m loving every minute. just recently i had the absolute pleasure of having my college roommate katie come here to visit me, and it was such a blessing! her being here was such a gift because essentially i know i´m going to struggle coming home and trying to explain this year to people. as hard as i try, there really aren´t words for what i´m feeling and experiencing. and now i know at least one person will be able to understand what i´m trying to convey by my stories and reflections. and as always katie is such a calming presence, very comforting, putting all my worries at ease.

from the moment katie got here, i knew we were going to have an amazing time. although almost a year has passed since i´ve seen here, it was like we just picked back up where we left off, and started again. it was so normal! catching up on so much, eating reeses and sour patch kids, and laughing at the most ridiculous things---ahhh such a breath of normalcy. i know that i have so much support here, but having katie here made me realize that i also have support back at home---and that has calmed my nerves a ton! such a great visit, that i know i will always remember! THANKS KTO!!!!

the great thing was too, this past friday, all of our afterschool programs had a huge soccer tournament in honor of the mundial---and it was EXCELLENT!! i mean there was so much intensity and spirit and pride! our kids were awesome. i literally felt like i was at a world cup game, okay maybe not, but i was like a crazy mom at a sporting event! jumping and screaming, singing and running! ha i was a freaking nut, but it was soooo much fun. god help my future children for the embarrassment i will probably cause them! no, but seriously, it was a great event, and fortunately, SEMILLAS WON! they were so proud and ya know, it´s little things like this that really mean the world to them, so i was just so happy that they could have their moment in the spot light. i´m beaming right now as i write this!

so let´s see what else----well i have another retreat group arriving tonight, so i´m going to be crazy busy again for another week. it´s hard because i´ve had two amazing groups so far, and i just pray that this group follows the trend....fingers crossed!

yeah, things have been really great here, but poco a poco, i´m getting ready to go home. as awful as it sounds, i´m really looking forward to life being easier back in the states---just taking a warm shower in the morning, not having to take meds to ward off this zoo i have living in my stomach, checking my email whenever i feel like it! drinking REAL coffee!!!, not having to cook meals for five people--ughh, i know it sounds silly when my neighbors here live this life everyday without complaining, but i´m just really tired.....i can feel myself burning out slowly and it´s hard. i am not sustainable here, and that´s the realization i´m coming to. as difficult as it will be for these new volunteers to come and us to leave, i know that it´s not fair for me to stay here. my creativity is lacking, my energy is dwindling, and i´m just exhausted. i just pray for the endurance and energy source to keep me going these last two months because i´m really going to need it. as my leave date gets closer and closer, i start feeling more and more ready----kind of like, okay, i´m done, get me outta here!!! but not as extreme as that.

anyway, that´s where i´m at. i am just so freaking excited to see everyone back home. with katie here, i was just like okay, i wanna see everyone now, i want to hug all my friends, chat for hours, and catch up on life!! it´s about time right?!?!

alright, semillas time awaits me, oh a little anecdote before i go---so i was working with the chiquititos yesterday and we were pretending to be cooks, making all sorts of food, talking about colors and tastes yadda yadda, so when i yelled out, chiquititos, que color son las uvas!, what color are grapes?, i was ridiculously surprised when little josue (4) screamed out PURPLE!!! in english that is---i was like well yes that´s right but that´s english! (i think he shocked himself too) ha i swear these kids surprise me everyday---- especially because this answer came from the kid who walked behind the playground last week and took a poop in the middle of recess...ha, when i asked him why he didn´t use the bathroom, he told me he had no idea haha--all i could do was laugh!

so on that note i´m out! love you all, sending you so much happiness and positive energy!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

so little much to say

SO MUCH has been happening, and i´m literally so busy i can´t even go into details, so here i go again with the bullets---because i feel like i want to tell you as much as i can in the little time that i have!

1. i became a godmother for the first time in my life on saturday. of course, it was ecuador, so it was a little strange, the ceremony i mean, but as a whole, a really beautiful experience. i was asked about a month ago by my friend lucy for her son andrés, and at first i was shocked and wasn´t really sure if it was something i should commit to (seeing that i´m leaving in 2 months) but she said she understood that completely, and just respected and loved me like a daughter, and always wanted me to be a part of their lives. she also said that she just likes my "forma de ser", who i am, and how i live my life. i just respect lucy so much, and really love that family. it was definitely something i prayed a ton about, and ultimately i just felt like this was something i needed to do. this family i have spent so much time with, so having her ask me to take on that responsibility was something i honestly felt honored to do. the word madrina in spanish actually means "spiritual mother", what better role to fill in someones life? and having ecuador be a part of my life forever is something i know i am ready to commit to.

2. i won at bingo this week! ha, no literally, so exciting. this past sunday, my friend saira´s high school class had a bingo to help raise money for a retreat next year. a bunch of us went to support her, and here in ecuador bingos are HUGE, so we went all out. i had 5 tablas (bingo cards), bought snacks, made banana bread to sell---it was so much fun! and the bingo was a huge success. we spent the whole day with her and it was just hilarious. we were laughing and joking with all the students, eating great food, it felt so normal. we were so ecua! oh and my prize was a bottle of hand lotion---you would´ve thought i won a flat screen or something ha!

3. this week a medical team is here from the US performing free pediatric orthopedic surgeries (mainly spines--scoliosis, club feet, malformed legs, etc) there are about 40 people with the group, and their spanish is ehh not so i have been working with them translating between the patients, parents, and doctors. wow. what an amazing experience. these kids are having these amazing surgeries that otherwise wouldn´t be available to them, or they couldn´t afford them, and their lives are changing because of it. so beautiful. they are so grateful, and so humble. i am loving my role in this whole process. i have had such amazingly profound experiences this week being with these patients. little four year olds who are so brave, and 13 year olds who for the first time will stand up straight. it gives me goosebumps just thinking about it. and i am so confident with my spanish. for the first time since i´ve been here, i finally feel like my spanish is a gift. like i can provide so much to a patient just by being able to speak the same language as them. being with this team this week has also made me realize that i chose the right vocation. as much as i questioned myself through college, it´s true, nursing is definitely for me. and i am so excited to get started. i literally can´t wait.

alright, i really do have more to tell you all, but i guess it´s going to have to wait. semillas will not wait for me, there will be children at the gate by the time i get there. but i miss and love you all so much!! mom i cannot wait to get to the beach with you! we are going to have so much fun! and xaverian boys---how does it feel to be graduated??? are you ready?

gotta run people, so much love i´m sending you,

Monday, May 24, 2010

first ecua haircut!

i finally did it. i cut my hair after ten months. it was absolutely necessary---any day now an animal was going to start nesting in it. so i got up the nerve to have francisca cut it, one of our neighbors. now its not that i´m picky about my hair, but i just had these horrific visions of someone getting a little too cut crazy and chopping off far more than i wanted, and then having to come home with a mullet or something. which let´s face it, no one would have said "your hair looks like shitt", but they all would´ve wondered what the heck happened down there in that country. so i asked francisca to do it, and now ya know what, i´m actually considering coming back to ecuador everytime i need a haircut, so simple, so easy. not like having to go to a salon and having to make small talk with a hairdressor you don´t know, while listening to middle aged women gossip and complain about ridiculous things. here i just sat in francisca´s house as she cut off about three inches and angled the front in a matter of 10 minutes---so easy! and i didn´t have to pay an arm and a leg to get it done!

the funny thing too was that after i was done, her daughter, genesis was like okay well now you can cut my hair-----HA! if anyone has ever seen genesis´s hair, it´s absolutely ridiculous, i´ll have to post a picture of something----long, long black, curly hair all the way down to her butt----and she goes to me, just take off like 2 or 3 inches! i´m like uhhhh, i´m not sure if you want me to do this......but i did! francisca walked me through the whole thing, and while there was a little bit of unevenness here and there, it didn´t turn out half bad ha----although i did have to deal with all the commentary from the peanut gallery---lupita, fix that part, cut more there, that sides uneven, that side you need to wet more, yadda yaddda-- from her 3 other children who were sitting there watching me. the pressure was definitely on, but i think it all turned out okay. just another ecua memory to stash away. another example of how easy going people are here, and how little stress can be involved in activities that we sometimes overanalyze. within a half an hour two of us had new haircuts, and were feeling much better! and that was that.

i may even have her do it again before i leave.

alright, gotta run peeps---sending you a big hug and lots of love,

Saturday, May 22, 2010

¡gloria a dios!

this has been the strangest day ever. literally. well, the week was also strange...good and bad, but overall just strange. i just have to say though, that as i sit here and write this, there is a HUGE evangelical sermon happening right outside this cyber----and all i keep hearing is "gloria a dios" repeat, repeat, repeat---it´s definitely an experience! they LOVE God, and i feel like saying to them, good for you! you go praise the lord! i´m certainly not going to stop you!

so yeah, about today---i guess the strange factor started when i had to help my little neighbor Belén chase her lost pig. She comes up and asks me, "Lupita si ha visto mi chanchito?"(lupita have you seen my little pig) and i´m like uhhh, no why? has he escaped? and she´s like yeah, will you help me catch here i am, trying to find a pig, catch a pig, and get him back in his fence. it was literally one of the funniest things i´ve been a part of this year. i couldn´t help laughing at the ridiculousness of it all. "oh lupita what´d you do today, oh yah know, just helped catch a pig, nbd" but yes. it was a success, we found him in a marshy swampland next to my house and made here piggy piggy noises, to get him to come to us. so funny.

the week too---i was just in such a strange trance. like some days really high, others really low---but i think it was just from coming off my best week ever, ya know? and i think this whole transition thing is really starting to take a toll on me. i mean the new volunteers are picked, they´re coming in two months, and this is just a very odd concept for me to grasp. hence, my feelings of strange. neighbors keep telling me, this is so sad you´re leaving so soon---and i´m just like hold up! i still have two months! let´s not dwell here people!

alright, this cyber is going to close soon. i´ve got to run, even this entry is strange---there was really no point to even write it, i´m half considering just not posting it, but that would be a shame! so i´ll just end on the note i always do and tell you i still miss you all so much, hope you´re enjoying life to it´s fullest everyday, and laughing a ton! just think of me trying to catch that little piglet, that´ll certainly give you a chuckle!

love yous!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Best Week Ever

ha, so i know it sounds ridiculous, but if i had to rank my weeks here in Ecuador, I think this week would top the charts. so much to tell, so little time, and so many memories to recap! i think i may do this in bullet form, so here goes:

1. SUSIE AND JIMMY B DO ECUADOR!---all of the hesitation, the anxiety, the nervousness immediately dissappated once i saw their faces in the airport--it was a reunion like no other---and the best part was....THEY BROUGHT BRANDON! okay so i´ll set the scene, they walk out and into the crowd and start telling me this story how they forgot two of their suitcases in customs, now i´m thinking to myself, are you kidding me?, how spacey can they get? not one but two suitcases?? so i´m completely distracted and trying to come up with ideas for entering back into customs, when out walks this tall kid with a hat---now i must´ve stared at him for about a whole minute before i even realized it was my brother--bc why would my brother be in ecuador--anyway, so much excitement, tons of screaming, and then security moving us towards the exit ha it was incredible!

so my parents and brother spent four full days with me and my housemates---and all of their questions were answered, both that is, those of my parents and those of my housemates as to why i´m so freaking crazy. i mean the curse words definitely increased this week, and the sarcasm was also upped a notch, but it was so much fun, i don´t think i´ve laughed that hard in a really long time. my mom was such a trooper too--although she came with her own bottled water and power bars, she went with the flow the whole time! waving down buses, eating ecua food, and handling 60 screaming kids---her tactics: miss merry mack, hangman, puzzles, and jump ropes--worked like a charm! it really could not have gone better. i was in a state of complete joy the entire time they were here, and on top of it they took us all out for dinner which was so very much needed!

my mom even said it was the best mothers day she has spent in like eighteen years--so that was huge. on top of it they had the opportunity to meet all of the people who i constantly talk about, lupe and lucy, lourdes and pastora---now they can finally put faces and names to all of the families i have come to know and love. so yeah, amazing visit, so much love exchanged and so many memories created. i will forever remember this. and as dan says now, "well at least we can all say we survived hurricane Buller" ha!

2. ya know i guess when i think about it there really isn´t anything else that spectacular to comment on. i guess my parents visit just held so much weight that i can´t really even think of anything else. today we did just get back from an awesome paseo to parque historico en guayaquil. we took 11 of our sweetest kids and it was the best paseo of all time. our kids were so well behaved, so respectful, and acted like real human beings. i was so proud of them. and even shocked by some of the questions they asked to the tourguides. at the park there were animals and gardens and the kids absolutely loved it. i mean these kids live amongst dirt rodes and barbed wire, and here they got a chance to see green grass, beautiful flowers, and cool creatures. it was a great day that i loved spending with them.

3. well now that i think about, i guess i just have had more of those amazing moments where you´re like "wow, i am so blessed to be exactly where i am" like the other day when karla, ricardo, daniel and i got coco ice creams and sat on the curb recounting the day, or when dan, karla, and i watched the sunset from our roof last night, or this morning when theresa, karla and i went out to coffee in the city (our first real cup of coffee in a really long time, and it was sooo good) i keep having these moments with people i really care about and when i´m in them i feel so much love and joy. it´s all so beautiful. and it only continues with our neighbors too. sitting crocheting with pastora and talking about crazy health remedies, laughing till my stomach hurts, or with lupe and her daughter joshua, eating chocolates and talking about boys, just like i would with anyone else. it´s so real here. life just feels so good.

and for that i had to award it: best week ever in Ecuador. and it just keeps getting better! next month i have my last retreat group and my two roommates from college are coming to visit me! can you believe it, at the beginning of the year i had no visitors, and now look at me! i am one lucky gal.

anyway, i´ve gotta say chao for now. i love and miss you all so much---especially my cousin lindsey who graduated with her masters in speech and language disorders!! you are awesome linds, i am so proud of you and miss you so much! sending love to everyone back home!
con paz y amor,

Monday, May 3, 2010

what´s your love language?

just came back from a BEAUTIFUL weekend at Playas spending our third retreat together as an entire community. i honestly could not have asked for a better weekend. great beach time, awesome conversation, hysterical memories, and plenty of time to think and reflect. (side note as i sit here writing this, the afternoon school kids are just getting out of school and sending me kisses through the glass windows, it´s making my heart melt-- i am so in love with all of them!)

anyway, back on track--so yeah, this weekend. so perfect. well, after a stressful start (we kind of forgot theresa, whoops!) but don´t all travel days start like that--everybody´s yelling at everyone--f bombs are flying, who´s late, who forgot the keys, who has to turn around to go get the keys, who´s gotta pee, who´s carsick--oh wait that was me---yadda yadda--BUT we made it! and were finally able to breathe once we got there.

our retreat was led by a former volunteer, and she did an amazing job. her theme for the weekend was "the five love languages"-- really focusing on which ways we share and receive love---understanding that not everyone gives and accepts love in the same ways. i had kind of heard of this before, but never really dove any deeper. so after doing a little self analysis, i felt like i best identified with receiving and sharing love in forms of affirmation and acts of service. most of my housemates will tell you that if you clean the kitchen for me, i will love you forever, the same goes for the bathroom, taking down laundry from the line, picking up crap etc. it´s little things like that that say to me, "hey, we´re in this together, let me help you out".

on the other end, i also realized that something i truly need to feel love is for people to tell me they love me. now, while that sounds a little self absorbed let me try to explain. i think that one of the most powerful things that has helped me get through this year has been the letters and emails i´ve received from all of those people i know and love back home. receiving letters and words of encouragement has been so life giving. something tangible that i can look back on when days can be so hard is one of the most empowering experiences because trust me, there have been some hard days. But knowing and seeing, and hearing that i have love and support from back home has meant so much to me. and i know that everyone doesn´t feel that way, but for me, it is so expressive. so those were the two basic conclusions i came to at the end of the weekend--the other three types are gift giving, quality time, and touch----i mean we all know i love LOVE, so all five of the types do fit me at times, but those first two were my primary and secondary. i feel like it´s a really important thing to figure out. because not everyone loves in the same ways, and let´s face it, we´re not mind readers. so yeah, definitely a great topic of conversation for our weekend away--and they should probably do it in marriage prep or something too--wouldn´t that be helpful?

let´s see, what else....well---the padres will be coming in this friday, and let´s just say someone is pumped!! it´s been so long, and i can´t wait to see them. let alone share this experience with people back home. already neighbors have been bugging me, "when are you coming by? what do you want to eat?, where are you going to go?, you have to come to my house"...and the requests continue! it makes me excited to know that so many people want to meet my family---i can already tell this is going to be a beautiful experience. i also just can´t wait to see my mom in ecuador---sometimes i wonder what she´s going to say ha, or do---there should be some comical moments for sure!

shoot, but i gotta run--i feel like they´res so many more things i want to share with you but it´ll have to wait dinner will be ready soon and i don´t want to be late! missing you as always--loving you so fully! my heart stretches everyday for you all, i hope you know that!

love you un montón,

Sunday, April 25, 2010

ya´ done son---j.b. said to c.q.

hello again.

so sorry for the delay. i know i´ve been slacking---but seriously, i have been SO busy. most recently with my retreat group--a bunch of high school boys from Xaverian Brothers in Westwood, MA. let me just say, i had a lot of fun this past week---these boys definitely brought the energy, and were absolutely hysterical. i haven´t laughed so hard in a really long time. but not only were they funny and witty, they were also so loving and kind-hearted. their mere presence throughout our community brought so much warmth and compassion. sharing ecuador with them was truly a privilege for me, and i was pretty sad to see them go this morning. they reminded me a lot of all my boston friends, and kept me on my toes all week. not to mention their exquisite singing ability, i mean i haven´t heard backstreet boys like that in a really long time. these boys definitely re-energized me for what i hate to say is basically my "home stretch" here in Durán.

so yeah...this home stretch....i feel like i keep finding myself looking at the calendar and saying---but where is the time going? already it´s the end of april---how did that happen? didn´t i just get here? this time last year i was deciding what i would be doing with my life, and here i am again, at that same point saying---well what the heck am i supposed to do after this? didn´t i already go through that whole discernment process? aren´t i already supposed to "know", to be in the real world working....ughhh i guess i took a rain check on that huh?

sometimes i wonder though, if when i come home in august, this whole year, all of this, will feel like a dream. i´ll be picking up exactly where i left off---still recently graduated, with no "real" work experience, still apartmentless, still counting pennies, still unsure of so much.....and yet, ALL OF THIS has happened.

my whole year, filled with so many amazing experiences, feelings, and memories--this is now a part of who i am. does that change things? i mean, i think i´m okay with that. this may come as a shock to many of you, but i truly am a much calmer person down here. and if it´s one thing i´ve learned it´s that, really, we´re in no rush to get anywhere. my life WILL unfold as it will, whatever that may be. however, sometimes i do revert back to that nervous jamie, anxious in thinking about the "what´s next" on my life agenda.

spending time with these boys this past week helped me focus a lot on the present moment. here were a bunch of 17 and 18 year old boys ready to set off to college. so excited about what´s ahead. they have so many amazing experiences awaiting them, and while i was a bit nostalgic, it just reminded me that i really do have to savor every moment. time´s flying, and i can´t get it back---even as hard as i try. pretty soon, ecuador will be part of my past tense vocab, and that´s going to be okay. maybe hard at first, but if i keep reminding myself that i still have time here, keep focuing on the present, keep loving with my heart open, it´s going to be okay. it always is.

ya know, i don´t even really know what i just wrote about. i feel like my mind is really all over the place. so i apologize for that. well, anyway, maybe you get my drift, maybe you´re thinking, this girl has really lost it over there---either way, thanks for reading! ha--i still miss you all so much, especially the XB boys----don´t forget to email me! hope everyone is having a great sunday!
back to work on monday.....
love you un montón,

oh p.s. les and katie....only 45 days, not like i´m counting or anything!!! ahhhh get ready!

Friday, April 9, 2010

movie recommendation

this is more of a PSA. last night, after banana smoothies and grilled cheeses, we watched a movie called Sin Nombre. very violent and hard to watch at times, but just so thought provoking. there are a lot of themes woven into this really well done movie, but the gist talks about immigration and crossing the border, gang presence in both latin america and the US, and a whole lot of other stuff. after watching it, we all kind of just sat there in silence. there weren´t words. i was just thinking so much about all of the immigrants i know from back home, and all of the people who have made that journey. so powerful. and then thoughts about the US´s idea of immigration and comments i have heard throughout my life came into my head too, it´s just so sad really.

i just thought i should pass it on, that´s all. i think if you have the opportunity to see it, it´s something worth watching. having a great morning here in Durán. today we´re going on a field trip to the historical park of guayaquil--the kids are really excited. our numbers have been low this week due to back to school routines, but hopefully the numbers will pick up. ha i can´t even believe i´m saying this---8 months ago and i would´ve been thrilled by our 15 census numbers, and now i´m wishing for more kids....what´s gotten into me? oh that´s right....i´ve fallen in love with all of them :-) crazy how this year is going....

sending you all lots of love, and so many happy thoughts,