This weekend was the first break from our busy work-school-sleep schedule. My siblings and I have been begging to sleep in all week, but, alas, on Saturday, we were awoken by the painful words, “get up, it’s time to go.” Pablo, a very patient non-English speaking taxi driver, arrived to pick us up on time, unlike the Ecuadorian custom to be 59 minutes late.
Our adventure for the day: Mindo, the first ecotourism city in Ecuador. We were immediately interested by the words, “chocolate factory”. The day started at the butterfly conservation garden, and I was amazed at the variety and multitude of butterflies that swarmed around us, a beautiful example of the creativity of our Creator. Then, we braved the uncertainty of death while ziplining across a 400m ravine, and riding a cable car to waterfall hiking trails. This is where Andrean and mom decided to go on the shorter hike to a smaller waterfall, while my Dad, Esther, Jenna, Lewis, and I decided to go on the “45 minute” hike to the 50ft waterfall. We decided that it would not take us 45 minutes. “They probably thought we were lazy Americans,” Jenna said. Of course, we didn’t bring water with us (because we were with Jay Maier). About 45 minutes down the trail, we realized we were climbing up much more than we were going down. By this time, the pain of dehydration had become noticable, but even though we kept saying, “this can’t be the right way” or “we should turn back”, we never stopped walking. About 20 minutes later, the reward of an exuauhsting and demoralizing hike came into view. It was an amazing(ish) waterfall. We were thirsty, tired, and tried for time, but Esther said it best, “the hike was worth the hike.” We learned to watch the trees and listen to the rain while walking, and we truly appreciated God’s creation. At the end of the day, we didn’t have time for a tour of the chocolate factory, but we got the best ice cream and brownies in all of Ecuador.
Today (Sunday) was a very special day for me. Six months ago, I had no idea that coming back to Ecuador was a possibility. In fact, until thanksgiving, I didn’t know it was a possibility. (We are a very spontaneous family) I knew that I wanted to come back, I just didn’t know it would be so soon. God was definitely preparing me to come back to El Refugio, but the part I was most excited about was visiting the church I worked with last summer: Dios es Amor. Today, we woke up early (again) to Pablo bringing the taxi van to our front door. He drove us all the way into Quito, and I began to recognize familiar landmarks. I saw the angel on the hill that watches over the massive city, and the hostel that we stayed in last summer, and the huge basilica that stands as the tallest building in Quito. Finally, we arrived at the most familiar site, Dios es Amor. The people at the church welcomed me and my family so graciously and lovingly. They introduced me as, “the girl who painted the church with her face.” It seemed fitting as I was covered in paint most of the time. I remembered the names of many of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, and I met many new ones. We joined in with their church service, and worshiped with them in their own language. It was a difficult experience because we do not know Spanish, but I love the energy with which they worship Jesus. It reminds me of Autumn Ridge. Dios es Amor will always have a special place in my heart, and I’m glad I was able to see them again today. I’m looking forward to many more adventures in the next two weeks.