I absolutely love to travel – to see and experience different cultures, whether that be here in the United States, or around the world. Being able to spend a week in Ecuador was amazing. We spent a majority of our time ministering to the people, but at the end of the week we were able to spend some time walking the city of Guayaquil and seeing some of the city’s great charm.
Having been outside the United States previously, this time I didn’t experience the culture shock that I have in the past. This time, I was able to really sit back and just enjoy the beauty of the people and the places they lovingly call home. Every day we had about an hour and a half drive to and from the medical clinic we were working in. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing things I had never before seen. I tried my best to get pictures as we were driving past, but many of them turned out quite blurry. Because Little Mouse was so sad that she could not go with us, I also tried to look at things through the eyes of a 4-year-old and photograph things she would be interested in seeing.
One thing I just loved seeing was all the agriculture. Shortly before we left on our trip, Little Mouse was asking me what different types of plants and trees looked like – banana, coconut, pineapple, etc. We did some online searches and saw lots of pictures. People probably thought I was crazy, but I was so excited to drive past many of the plants we had been looking at online. I was able to take pictures of these plants and show them to Little Mouse saying that I actually got to see them. 🙂
One day we drove out to a village surrounded by cocoa fields. I knew Little Mouse would think it was really neat to see the plant that chocolate comes from. At first she didn’t believe me that chocolate grows on trees. I guess she is right… Cocoa is a long way from what a 4-year-old thinks of when they hear “chocolate”.
Daddy acting like he was going to eat the whole cocoa pod! 🙂
Total, we had about one full day to enjoy the city of Guayaquil as “tourists”. The interpreters who took time out of their day to show us their city really did a fantastic job. It was so neat to hear Angel share about his city. We were able to see how it is now, but he shared many stories about the way things ‘used to be’. The places he took us were truly beautiful, and you could really tell how much he loved his city. It was also very clear how much the people of Guayaquil loved their city. There were work projects going on all around us, gardeners, custodians, construction workers, etc. We were also able to see a few places that were not so ‘beautiful’, but it was very clear that they were in the process of making it so.
Climbing the steps to the lighthouse was one of my favorites. There were 444 steps to the top, but all along the way were shops and homes painted an array of colors. It was absolutely beautiful. Each shop had a black and white picture of the way it ‘used to be’ just 10-15 years prior. The transformation was really amazing. What had once been a very steep trail of dirt and rock is now a very nice stairway filled with quaint little shops, decorative water fountains, and relaxing well-shaded sitting areas. The view once we got to the top was well worth the climb! We had a great overlook of the entire city which went on for miles and miles; it truly went on as far as we could see.
Iguana Park was really fun! Just a short distance from our hotel there was a fenced in park with iguanas everywhere. During the day they could be found all over the park, and often huddled together in the walk way. At night they all seemed to stay together in one of the many trees. The branches were filled with them!
I am so glad we had the opportunity to visit Ecuador. The ministry team we served with was outstanding and we have memories that will last a lifetime. The people we met while there will be forever etched in my memory. And, the places we saw were amazing. I hope to one day go back to visit again. I challenge you, if you have never been on a mission trip whether foreign or domestic, GO! It will be a life changing experience to remove yourself from what is familiar and spend time completely focused on serving others. I’ve never met someone who regretted going on a mission trip, only people who regretted not going.