Back to the Beginning

Wow. That’s the word that keeps filling my thoughts. Wow. Wow. Wow. This past week has consisted of a lot of reflection. I’ve reflected on my time here, how my life is going to transition soon into life at camp, and how I have been impacted/changed by Ecuador. At one point I was talking to my friend Emily about how awesome (literally I am overwhelmed in awe) it is that I have gotten the opportunity to come back to Ecuador.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention before that this isn’t actually the beginning of my journey in Ecuador. That story began five years ago when I came here on a mission trip with my home church. My church has a relationship with a camp/retreat center called Hacienda El Refugio in a rural town called Calacalí and each year my church goes to serve them. It was an incredible two week experience and one that has been so valuable in my life. Honestly, like I’ve said before, I never imagined that I’d be studying abroad in Ecuador. I saw Ecuador as a place to do missions, not to live in for a significant amount of time. But here I am.

So how the heck did I end up in Ecuador again? For my whole freshman and sophomore years of college I was set on studying abroad in Chile. I don’t really know why, it seemed cool and adventurous and different. I was excited about it and didn’t really consider doing anything else. The program would run from the end of February to the beginning of July of my junior year, so I knew that the summer I’d be spending at camp before junior year would be my last one there. I thought I was fine with that, but apparently not.

It was about halfway through the summer when I was hit with this heavy feeling that I was not supposed to be done at camp just yet. I felt like I was supposed to go back the next summer, meaning that I wouldn’t be able to go to Chile with their schedule. So I started looking into other programs in South America and Ecuador was the best option. That pretty much sums up how I got here, and there’s the first wow moment: I have been blessed to come back to a place that was so influential in my life years ago.

I have been very aware the last few days of how incredible it is that God had called me back here even when I didn’t understand why. I have learned more than I can express since being here and I’ve experienced life in a way that I couldn’t in the U.S.

Here’s the next wow moment that I had this week: I went to a church on Sunday morning and the congregation was filled with people from all over the world. Very cool. A pastor started talking about announcements and mentioned their young adults group. He then said that they would be going on a retreat in May. This next part really threw me. He said that they would be going to Calacalí for a retreat at Hacienda El Refugio. Wow.

I didn’t think that I would ever have the chance to go back there. This place that had been the start of my story with Ecuador that sticks out in my mind as a highly important part of my faith walk came into my life again through this random church that I decided to check out. So I asked the pastor about it at the end and I think that I’ll be going on that retreat. I get to go back to El Refugio and I get to go on a retreat, which I haven’t done since high school, so I’m pretty psyched.

I can’t even explain how I fully feel though. The odds that I would be able to go back to this tiny camp in Ecuador five years after I originally went were pretty low I thought. But God has yet again shown up and has chosen to bless me with the chance to return to the place where I learned to serve. To the place where I began a friendship with one of my best friends (shoutout to you, Soph). I was baptized on that trip. My faith grew into my own through my experiences in those two weeks. That trip was truly life changing for me and I can’t wait to celebrate all that the Lord has done in my life since that trip when I go back.

The service ended by singing the song “10,000 Reasons”, a song I haven’t heard in a long time, but it was absolutely perfect in that moment. The words say, “For all Your goodness I will keep on singing, 10,000 reasons for my heart to find”. In that service I had certainly seen His goodness yet again and I was overwhelmed with gratitude.

So there you have it. Sorry for the long post, but I’ve learned this past year that our stories are important to share. Our stories are just that, ours. My story is different than yours and that is pretty neat. God has written Ecuador into my story more than once and I am more excited now than ever to see where He leads me in this next chapter of life. Basically, God is good and aw man am I thankful for this week of wow moments.


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