Finals Week

May someone please explain how it is already May? It’s officially finals week—finals week in more than the traditional college sense. Classes finished this week and the preparations for final exams, projects, and essays have begun. My friends at Hope are all moving home, starting summer jobs, and taking May terms. The weirdest feeling ever is that I will be home in just two weeks and be joining into that life, once again. It is the week of all the lasts in Ecuador, and it feels surreal.

The plan is to study a little, and spend lots of time walking and eating while exploring Quito one last time. Studying abroad is one of the experiences I wanted most out of my college career. It is something that I have been looking forward to since high school. As this chapter of my education is closing, it honestly just feels quite strange and I am not sure how I am going to process it yet. Pulling out the suitcase to begin to pack just doesn’t feel quite right. I thought that the time would never come when I would be getting ready to go back home. In January, May sounded impossibly far away. Then, what seemed like just a few weeks later, I woke up and May was already here.

This past week I began to say goodbye to the people that have had the most influential impact on me this semester. It just didn’t feel quite right, it felt too soon. My service-learning placement has been the highlight of my semester with Edwin and Lili, and Tuesday was my last day with them. They thanked me and celebrated the incredible semester we had together by driving me up to the top of Illaló, a mountain that overlooks Cumbayá, Lumbisí, and Tumbaco. It was a beautifully clear day, and the feeling of gratitude and utter awe of God’s goodness and faithfulness mutually filled our hearts. We took pictures, they laughed at my not so funny jokes, and I just smiled. It’s funny how our connection began with my decision to serve them, but ended with them serving me. God truly does create, transform, and love on people who are simply ready to open their hands and wait for His plan to unfold.

Next week is a week of continuing the lasts and saying goodbye. More than that, it is a week of smiles and laughter of the memories from the semester, and wonder of the God who led me from the fear of the unknown in January to the beauty of the most transformational experience in May. I am at a loss for adequate words as my emotions feel confused. The words I do have are thank you—thank you to all the people who have encouraged me and supported me here in Ecuador physically, but also to those from my community in West Michigan. Thank you to a God that surpasses my understanding and sees me wherever I am. Here’s to the final week in Ecuador—a country that has provided me with a life-changing transformation.

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