As of Wednesday I have just 3 weeks left in Ecuador. I love it here. My heart is forbidding my body to leave... to leave to say the least. I have had the time of my life! The time has gone by much faster than I would have ever imagined it to and it's sad to think about it. So, for the time being enough of my complaining about leaving and more about why I'm here, what I've learned and who I am becoming.
I left Utah a confused 18 year old girl. Unsure of school, work, and life in general. Come June 19, I will leave Ecuador almost just as confused but, a whole year older. :) School, work and the problems from back home pale in comparison to the purpose and meaning I've found here.
I am surrounded by girls who are from all over the country, with different problems and backgrounds. But, what we all have in common is an incredible amount of love for some of God's most special spirits.
The children are more than just newborns and toddlers. They are teachers, examples and the perfect combination of cute, fun and love. I have learned a lot from these kids. I have learned what it is like to discover true happiness. Happiness is not bought in a store. It is not found in the shoes you wear, the boy on your arm or the size of your house. It is a choice. It is a state of being that is entirely dependent on you. You choose to be happy. These children have nothing to their name. They own nothing and can claim nothing as their own. They share all their clothes, food, toys and friends. The only thing that remains constant day in and day out is their shoes. But, even then when their feet grow and it is time for new shoes... they get hand-me-downs from someone who has recently outgrown their own shoes. It's heartbreaking, and yet these kids are happy. They are happy with nothing. They choose to be happy. And in turn they have shown me what happiness is really all about.
Another major thing is love. And not the love you read about in stories or see in movies. They show unconditional love. Love that is shown by parents to their children and the other way around. They do not hesitate to plant a kiss on your cheek, dive into your lap for a hug or give you a quick smile in a passing glance. They don't care if I wear make-up, drive a nice car or haven't showered in 2 days. They love me regardless. And, I love them. I love them with snot running down their faces, spitting sopa in my face and even with a blowout diaper and "caca" up their back. I love their little hands, sleepy smiles and big eyes. I, for the first time in my life, have the slightest inkling at the amount of love my parents have for me.
I am forever grateful for the opportunity to be here serving "the least of these." I do not feel as if I am serving them but, more that they are serving me. I am a better person because I met them. I am a stronger person because of their sweet examples. I know I am infinitely blessed and I hope I can remember the lessons I have learned. These children have my heart and when I leave... it stays in Ecuador.