Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ecuador: Adventures from the land of Guineas!!

Hello dear friends! Well, it has been 5 full days since I've returned stateside and I'm still recouping from lack of sleep... but then I realize I'm a full-time multi-tasker (work, school, volunteer, babysit, aunt) that sleep isn't really one of those things I do anyway. I wanted to hit some highlights about our trip (and promise not to bore you with every detail... that's what coffee talks are for).

Overall, we had a great time and an even greater team. A team of 13 of us went and spent 2 weeks in Cuenca, Ecuador with Steve and Bobbie Clark. Steve and Bobbie are not missionaries with my home church (Trinity Church Dallas), however their daughter (Krissy) is on staff and a great friend of mine as well. We became the first team that Trinity has sent to Ecuador and I have to say I truly believe we set the bar pretty high ; ) The people of Ecuador were so gracious, warm, and welcoming....

... okay, so maybe they weren't there to greet us, but I think we are way cooler (and cuter) than some crazy soccer (or futbol...whatever) team they were really waiting for. Our first day was spent sight seeing in Quito, Ecuador (the capital) as were unable to get to Cuenca until that evening. We had a great time taking team pictures and exploring the center of the world...

It's a little difficult to see, but we are all there and lined up along the Equator line. After spending a day in Quito, it was time to get down to business and head to Cuenca where we worked with Steve and Bobbie and their church for 2 weeks. Every person on the team brought such excitement and talent and it was truly an honor and blessing to travel, sleep, eat, laugh, and work with these 12 other guineas for two weeks. We did quite a few projects at the Clark's house. I started off my trip by cleaning Bobbie's kitchen for 2 days straight... she says it sparkles : ) But don't tell my mom because then I'll have to clean her kitchen too : O The boys worked diligently on building a sidewalk and extra classrooms for the church... here is what we left behind as a reminder...

... so you kinda have to tilt your head to the left, but you get the point. We also worked on washing the tent (inside and out), wiping down chairs, and painting classrooms that were already existing (word to the wise, painting cinder blocks not an easy task... oh and it might be a while before I enjoy the color blue again). We truly enjoyed working together and with the assistance of many different iPods we even brought a little karaoke to Ecuador. We were constantly laughing with and at one another. In addition to all our laborous work we held a few workshops in the evenings for the worship team, children's church team, and drama team. I got to work with the drama team and that was awesome (I know, I know... you're probably not surprised that I worked with the dramatic teens). Friday night of our first week we split into groups of 3 and went to 4 different small groups to speak. I had the opportunity to share what God has been doing in me and through me since the loss of my nephew, Billy last year. It was truly an honor to share with these people, despite the language barrier. So many warm, welcoming hearts and homes... it was truly a blessing to be there.

I have so much more to share, but yet I feel like I need to leave something to talk about over coffee. I will leave you with the end as that was pretty interesting. With only one flight (meaning one plane) out of the city we were in at the end of our trip (Guaygil, Ecuador) we found out early Friday morning (Sept. 18) that we would not be heading home at our allotted time. Oh well, that meant we got to stay a wee bit longer and American Airlines put us up in a pretty swanky hotel... the Hilton. It was beautiful and the buffets of food were never ending... so much food, so little space for me to fit it in. In addition, upon arrival at the hotel we found out that the Ms. Latin Americas beauty pagent was occurring that weekend and the contestants were staying at the Hilton as well.

After a hearty second breakfast (we had already eaten before traveling to the airport to find out our plane was no bueno) we ventured out to the pool area. Of course at the same time the contestants were filming and being photographed. The boys were ooing and ahhing, the girls were just laughing at the whole experience... what a strange way to end a mission trip. Here is the photographic evidence so you'll see I'm not making this up....

You may not even care that much, but never in a million years do I believe another trip will end the same (unless another team goes the same time next year and ends up in the Hilton as well). In addition the President and Vice President of Ecuador were supposedly there, however the secret service was so minimal you would never have known (except someone told us).

There you have it... lots of adventures, lots of stories, and so much more to share. Let me know if you want to hear more. Thank you for the support as we traveled, your prayers were greatly received and appreciated.

With My Utmost Gratitude,
Cristyn : )

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