Monday, June 15, 2015

That's when everything changed for me.

I'm currently sitting here in a cute little coffee shop trying to cool down before I order a coffee. To get to this coffee shop you have to go uphill just a little bit and even after living here 4 months I am still not used to the altitude. Any type of incline and I am sweating and huffing and puffing my way up. One of the downsides of coffee shops here is that most of them don't sell any type of iced coffee, which is a bummer since its my absolute favorite. Especially after you've sweated your way into a coffee shop a nice cold coffee would be nice. So instead I'm writing this hoping I can cool off enough to enjoy a cappuccino soon.

 The last month here has sort of been a blur. I keep meaning to write a new blog every week but whenever i sit down to do it i just don't really know what to say. I am trying to savor every moment here because the end of our time is rapidly approaching. I don't feel like I need to express all the work we do here during the week but I'm afraid if you are only looking at my social media accounts then you probably think I'm here only here for an extended vacation. Some of the girls here have been asked if we are really here doing missions and taking classes. Not that I feel i need to justify my time here i just want you all to know that during the week we are working really hard. I only usually put pictures up of the fun things we do on the weekends because I'm not usually worried about getting my camera out while I am writing a brand new curriculum for our children's ministry every single week. I'm not even allowed to take pictures when we go and serve the boys at the juvenile prison. And I'm definitely not taking pictures during class.

I think the lessons I've learned here will drastically change the trajectory of my life. Have you ever had that season in your life that makes you look at everything in an entirely new light? That's what this time here in Ecuador has been for me. I think I'll be able to look back at this season and say "that's when everything changed for me." It may be slow and suttle but there will for sure be some change happening. I've gained a new found confidence while being here. I don't feel like I have to apologize for who I am or the things I want. Some people might not understand some changes I need to make and that's ok. I finally feel like I have given myself permission to do all the things I've always wanted to do.

Ps. I did finally cool off enough to enjoy that cappuccino........and also a cronut :)

Sunday, May 24, 2015

6 weeks left in Ecuador.

I feel like it was just yesterday I was writing the post about only being in Ecuador for 6 weeks, and now I only have 6 weeks left here. Where did the time go? I felt like it was high time I updated everyone about what I have been up to the last few weeks here. Almost 2 weeks ago we all got back from spring break. If you have been following me on instagram or facebook then you know my spring break did not end as well as it started. I was able to travel to Tena and Banos which was so much fun. My hair did not quite agree with the jungle weather lol but it was really neat to travel and see different places in Ecuador. I finally was able to go to 'Casa de Arbo' also known as the swing at the end of the world, which I have wanted to go to since I was in Ecuador last year. After Banos we took a 10 hour bus ride to Mantanita, which is a beach town on the coast. On that bus ride is where I got robbed of my camera and ipad. I didn't really allow myself to be upset about it at all when It initially happened because i knew it wouldn't help anything but I ended up having a little bit of a meltdown while at the beach because I just let my emotions fester until I couldn't contain it anymore. I just felt so violated and taken advantage of, if you've ever been robbed then you know what I mean. As a photographer having my camera stolen has made me almost feel like I am missing one of my limbs, my camera was my creative outlet and now its gone. I refuse to let the situation steal my joy but I would be lying if I said I don't randomly get upset and angry about it.
Our awesome hostel in the middle of the jungle.

After we all got back from spring break I think we were all in some sort of funk. I'm not sure what it was exactly but everything seemed a little off. This past week though we had a good talk (or kick in the pants, whichever you want to call it lol) with Greg and Christa about our attitudes and I think we all kind of kicked it back into gear and I think our week went so much better. I think we all want to finish these last 6 weeks we have really strong.

I am still enjoying our classes so, so much! We have been getting into building websites this past week which I am so excited about. I am always wanting to learn new computer skills and building websites is a really handy skill to have these days. I am trying to soak up as much as I can in my classes because I know I will really miss the learning environment we have here in Ecuador. If I could take classes and them be just like the ones here I would be taking all kinds of classes at home. I'm sure I will have a lot more to share for my last few weeks here. It's so crazy to me that I will be able to say I went and lived in a foreign country for 5 months at the end of this. Here's to finishing strong!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Feeling all the Feelings.

Where to start?
I went from trying to blog twice a week to not blogging at all for a couple weeks.

I haven't really know how to put into words how I've been feeling the last few weeks so I just didn't. That's one thing I am really learning while being here, how to express myself. I've always just kept feelings and what I'm thinking mostly to myself, but here I am sort of forced to express myself more.

We've hit the halfway mark of our time here in Ecuador, which seems absolutely insane to me. It went by so fast which makes me think the 2nd half will go by even faster. I feel like this is the time where the rubber meets the road. At this point life here in Ecuador now seems pretty normal. I'm not just here visiting, this is where I am living life right now. This is where it can be really easy to start to get lazy about everything we do here because it isn't so new and exciting anymore, its just what we do now. My type of personality has to really fight against this, when things aren't as exciting to me anymore I tend to naturally put less effort into them and start looking towards whatever my next "new and exciting" thing will be. Although I am starting to plan for when I get home and what my next steps will be after I finish this program I don't want that to take away from the here and now.

We start spring break on Friday and I think its the perfect time to step back and have a time of refreshing so we can all come back and finish strong. Honestly it's a little scary to start thinking about what to do when I go home. I feel like because of all that I have learned and have yet to learn it has given me a responsibility to do something with it. It's a bit overwhelming and exciting all at once. So that's where I'm at right now, kind of at a crossroads, feeling all the feelings if you know what I mean.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Pixel Campaign.

On Easter Sunday we spent the morning/afternoon in the historical district doing our pixel campaign.
We partner with the catholic church there and they let us use the side of their building which is an alley way that a lot of people walk through. We stopped people and asked them if they would like to participate in our art campaign. 

We had little black sheets of paper and we asked people if they would like to write down something they would like to be forgiven for or something that they want to forgive someone else for. We explained we would stick the papers up on the wall which would eventually turn into the face of Jesus.

It was really neat to see the different reactions we received from people. Some people wanted to just stop and watch what was happening and when we asked them if they wanted to participate ended up walking away and wanted nothing to do with it. While other people opened up to members of our team and shared some very heavy stuff with them. We had the opportunity to pray for many people that day too. 

I love all the different campaigns we have the opportunity to do while we are here.You never talk to the same people at the campaigns so even if we do the same campaign a couple times its always a different experience. This weekend we will be doing a campaign called 'Let Go' which is one I have never done before so I am very excited about it and cant wait to share :)

Monday, April 6, 2015

Life and Death Campaign.

I almost forgot about posting a blog today! We did two campaigns this weekend so we kept pretty busy over here. On Friday I had the opportunity to be a piece of living art in our Life and Death Campaign.

Since it was good Friday we thought it was the perfect timing to do a little bit of a darker campaign. We caught people's attention with our art display and then asked them to grab a flower petal and write what they believed would happened to them after they died. It seems a bit of a heavy topic to talk with strangers about but the fact is that one day we will all die, no matter what your beliefs are everyone can agree on that one thing. We just challenged people to really examine why they believe what they believe about the afterlife.

No matter what you think happens (or doesn’t happen) when you die, when you pause to reflect on this truth there are always a few things that come to mind:

Death can motivate us to live.
Life here on earth is short, or as the bible so aptly puts it in James 4:14, “For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appeareth for a little time, and then vanishes away.” When we reflect on the fact that one day we will die we can find purpose in the way that we live each day.

Death makes us question what we believe.
When we ponder the mystery of death we grapple with the stark reality that we could be wrong about what we think happens when we die.  It’s easy to say pat answers like, “I don’t believe in anything.” Oddly enough, even that statement in itself is a belief. All of us have beliefs and those beliefs will one day lead us somewhere...the question is where?

So those are the topics we spoke to people about during the entirety of the campaign. I myself did not get to have conversations with anyone because as you can see I was an actual piece of the campaign. I stood still just like in the pictures above for 2 hours while the rest of my team held conversations with people who stopped to take notice of what it is we were doing. From where I stood though I could still hear lots of conversations going on, there was a crowd gathered the entire 2 hours we stood there. It was really neat to just sort of be a fly on the wall and watch the whole campaign unfold. This was a brand new campaign and our first time doing it and overall I would say it was a success. You never know how people are going to react to things when they have never been done.

On Sunday we did our 'Pixel Campaign' which I am editing photos from tonight so I will post about that one later this week!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Don't wait for an invitation to start dreaming.

Saturday for our GOYO (go on your own) ministry we took a soccer ball to the historical plaza where many young boys spend their days shining shoes to make money. We kind of stood around for a while not really knowing how to engage the children we saw walking around. We finally decided to just pick a spot and start kicking the ball around with each other and see if any kids looked interested in playing and then we could invite them to play with us. It's funny how we sort of over analyzed the whole situation and made ourselves think it was going to be much more complicated to get some kids to play with us then it was. As soon as we kicked the ball around we had 3 or 4 kids instantly start playing with us. We ended up getting kicked out of that spot by the cops but that didn't stop us, the kids led us to another area where we could play soccer together (where we also eventually got kicked out of too)

I was just thinking about how the kids immediately jumped in and started playing with us. They didn't wait for an invitation, they saw an opportunity and grabbed it. We have been learning a lot about dreaming recently and how kids don't have to be taught to dream. When you ask a child what their dream is or what they want to be when they grow up they usually will answer you very confidently. They don't need to be convinced that they are capable of their dream, as a kid anything is possible. As we get older though we start encountering 'dream crushers' whether it be people, obstacles or the reality that pursuing our dream won't be as easy as we thought. I think we then get into this habit of waiting. Waiting for the right opportunity to fall in our lap, waiting to meet that certain someone, waiting for our dreams to be handed to us. It's as if we are waiting for an invitation to pursue our own dreams. We need to be like these kids, see an opportunity and grab it. Look for opportunities, don't wait for them to happen.

Don't wait to be invited to start living your dream. Just start.

Monday, March 23, 2015

6 weeks in Ecuador. #ishouldhavebroughtmoretissues

Well its officially been six weeks of living in Ecuador! It has really flown by, especially the last two weeks. They told us that once we got into our regular weekly routine that the time would go by even faster and they weren't kidding. This week was a little bit different then our normal week just because it rained every single day so we didn't end up getting to do a couple of our outreaches because they are normally held outside, and apparently the second it starts raining all the Ecuadorians go into hiding lol, they hate the rain here.

So I figured I would just give you all an update on some things I've been learning here. A few months ago I shared a blog post on facebook by a woman called "stop singing oceans"(you can read it here) and she talked about how most of us sing the words to this song :"Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters, wherever You would call me." and "Take me deeper than my feet would ever wander, that my faith would be made stronger, in the presence of my Savior." but we don't really mean it. Would we really go wherever God would call us? Like to a foreign country? I thought it was a great article but I thought ya I do mean those words when I sing them because I am leaving everything comfortable and moving to another country to learn and serve people. I thought just making the decision to move here was the hard and uncomfortable part, I knew there would be times I would become uncomfortable while living here but boy was oblivious to how often it would be. Thinking back to before I got here I think how cute it was I thought this wasn't gonna be as hard as it is. If I could go back six weeks and give myself some advice I would tell myself to buckle up and bring a suitcase of tissues because for some reason tears seem to flow a lot more often when you are living everyday out of your comfort zone.

These last six weeks have been a major time of stretching and growing for me. Something I needed so desperately. I was telling someone how I am doing things here that you couldn't have paid me to do back at home, things I would have went out of my way to avoid but after I do them I feel so fulfilled. I'm honestly kind of scared to go home after I am done with this program. We are learning to live a successful life, how to pursue our dreams, how to break out of our "normal" and I am so afraid of going home and living an average life again. If you are reading this then feel free to challenge me when I get home, ask me what I am currently doing to pursue my dreams? Ask me if I am living a life I am proud of. I want this time in Ecuador to be a stepping stone into bigger and better things. Dreams and passions I've had for my entire life have been re-awakened since I've been here and I don't want to lose them again. I know I still have so much more to learn and will continue to be pushed past my comfort zone while I am here. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to take time out of life for 5 months to just learn and serve as much as I can. I am excited about the time I have left here and for whats to come after!

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