This will be short and sweet. Well. It will be short. I promise to write again soon, but I am still reeling from the Spring Break groups that came to visit this month. However, as Rachel Cope put it in her blog, it is “the best kind of exhaustion”. Last week Rachel and I were in charge of our second spring break group of 10 girls: 9 hailing from UGA and 1, Carol!, from Whitman in Washington. The week leading up to their arrival as well as the week they were here were…insane, busy, revitalizing, stressful fun, tiring, exciting, and just great. These girls came in with such an excitement and readiness to be pushed out of their comfort zones, really putting themselves into our programs and lives. Rachel and I had so much fun carting them around Ambato, the Valley, Quito, and the Centro. We were quickly renamed Mama Nic and Mama Ray and were followed by our long line of ducks/children. Although I won’t here, because I’m tired, I honestly cannot say enough about how awesome these girls are. They brought me to tears multiple times during the week while reading their blogs, watching them interact in our programs, and hearing their feedback about their experiences here. They were very much the perfect tourists (treating the camionetas as rollercoasters and stores and photo booths) and that energy was such a refreshing change. It was neat to see them be excited about being in Ecuador whether it be standing up in the bus aisles for the first time, getting $.50 fresh-squeezed juice, or going to the bodega late at night to get their 2nd serving of ice cream that day. They made me realize how much I take for granted, 7 months in.
On their last day, we had a de-briefing talk to wrap up the week and take time to reflect on their experiences. It was awesome to see how open and honest they were about expectations, thoughts about development, and the moments that had stuck out to them during the week. As many of them teared-up over the thought of leaving the kids, Rachel and I almost completely lost it at the same of leaving them in 5 months. Even now. I can’t and won’t think about it. I have none of my daughters around to comfort me! We had a fabulous week. And I know I can speak for all when I say that. The Manna house misses them terribly. Jessie asked on one of their last days what I would do without them to which I responded that I would actually get work done…and while that is true and the catch-up work is trying to take its toll, I feel a renewed sense of purpose. One vol told Rach and I that she realized that this trip was less about what she could do for Ecuador than it was about what Ecuador would do for her. I feel similarly about our incredible group of girls. While we planned the schedule, trips, budget, etc for them…they actually gave me way more in return.
One of our lovely girls, Kelsey, made the following video with clips from their trip here. It’s awesome. But be prepared, it will make you miss them too!