I may have mentioned this before, or many of you know, the past few years were pretty rough. And although I thought I got through them just fine and had returned to normal life, I really hadn't.
Ecuador brought me back to life. It was a big catalyst for me. And although, it's something I have always wanted to do, and plan to continue to do (the whole international travel/volunteer thing) the timing was quite perfect.
Time had done all it could do in the healing me from my Father's passing, the scare of my mother's cancer, and letting go of a guy I really cared about but new it would never work, but I didn't have that spark/zest for life again yet. And I didn't even know it.
Through these years I still found plenty to be happy about and some things to entertain me. And I don't know if it was just because I was bored or if it was because I was a bit numb. If I was numb I didn't know it, but looking back I can see how maybe all my resources were put into "getting through" that I didn't have much of me left for anything else. (And I did it all alone, which is sometimes easier, and sometimes harder.)
Either way, Ecuador came at a perfect time. I feel pleasantly guilty for how much I got out of loving those children. Whereas I always thought of everything in terms of plane tickets, I now think of everything in therms of orphanages and children and getting back there.
My poor ENT who told me I need to get my tonsils out, (I do, they're really bad. It's quite disgusting), who had me break down in his office in tears because of how much it would cost and me sobbing, "But that's orphan money!" I felt like an idiot.
And I realize that I will remember them much more than they me. I just hope that if I do get to go back to Ecuador the orphanages will let me back in to volunteer. (My sister-in-law, Kelsey-who btw, is one of the coolest people I've ever met- got me in the door the first time. I don't know if she knows how cool she is...) Ecuador will only let you in for 90 days in a 12 month period. By the time I could go (May) and by the time I save the money (set back majorly by the tonsil-thing...if I ever find a way/someone to babysit me when I get them removed), they most likely won't remember me or be fine with me just walking in the way I did before.
When I was there I felt totally alive. Couldn't wait to think of something else to do with the kids, to watch them grow and progress. And I had a good enough report with the staff and those who ran the orphanage that I feel like I was getting into a position to both know what would be useful there, and had their trust enough to start adding/making changes that would benefit the children and the home as a whole.
(Thanks to everyone who gave, especially that last minute effort to get the propane tanks. We were- able to buy two of them, for the record-so that the kids could have warm showers. What they really need now though is showers. I think there is one or two for all 52 children at that orphanage.) I'm sure we could do that without too much trouble...get them showers I mean. I don't know. I don't know what it would take to build like a little bathroom/locker room. The teenagers were clean for the most part, but the younger ones I don't think were cleaned/showered very well/often. And anyway, like I said, I no longer have the report I had with the staff to have them let me start a project like that. It takes time to build a relationship and I don't want to just walk in and step on toes or act like I know what's best. Because it also takes time in the orphanages to see what they, for me to even know/recognize what would be helpful.
(The books were a MAJOR hit! But I was there almost 2 months before I knew that's what might be most beneficial to that orphanage at that time.)
:) Like I said, I think of everything in terms of orphanages now, rather than just plane tickets. That was quite a tangent to prove my point though.
Those kids brought me back to life. And even though I'm home now I've been changed. The flip has been switched back to "on' and I care about things again. I'm excited about things again. I care about learning, and knowing, and doing, and loving. And I'm calm. I feel like me again. And I'm so excited to be back. I owe those kids myself.