My Journey in Ecuador - January
All grown up
Monday, January 31, 2011
Today was my first day at Alliance Academy, where I will be interning while in Quito. I woke up this morning with butterflies in my stomach (especially since I didn't really have any idea what to expect)! Bryan walked me over to Alliance and got me introduced to Rachel, the head counselor, and some of the other staff members. The first part of the day Rachel and I talked about what section of students I would be interested in working with (if you don't remember, Alliance is a K-12 school) and a tentative schedule for the semester. After lunch, I shadowed the counselor of the elementary school and observed some students. Recently, a few students have been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome. If you don't know, Asperger's is an autism spectrum disorder that is characterized by significant difficulties in social action, etc. Many of the teachers at Alliance were taught how to handle having children with Asperger's in their class. Part of my job is to research more about Asperger's and give suggestions to the teachers to make the students time at Alliance as successful as possible. I recently read a book based on a teenager with Asperger's so I'm very excited to do more research on the topic!
Though I loved all the adventures we had last week, I'm looking forward to having a more consistent schedule (those who know me well know that I love having a consistent schedule). My fellow classmates took an adventure to their first Spanish class without me. We are continuously learning different things about one another and have grown closer as a community.
A leap of faith
Friday, January 28, 2011
Today we went to a place called El Refugio, about an hour north of Quito. El Refugio is a place where groups can go to use adventure and nature programs to focus on leadership, team building, missions, and spiritual formation. We did a lot of team building activities which helped build communication skills, patience, etc. The most challenging part of the day was when I attempted to climb Jacob's Ladder. In this activity, you and a partner climb a life-sized ladder where each rung gets further apart. It is a lot harder than you may think, let me tell you! After watching 3 other groups, Bryan (one of the Youth World leaders) and I decided to take our turn. We made it about half way through before our time was up. Bryan had done this activity several times before, so I had to trust him with what he was telling me to do. My whole body is now incredibly sore!
We ended our time at El Refugio with a hot dog roast, s'mores, and an Ecuadorian delicacy... guinea pig. It was quite the experience and one I don't think I need to try again. After El Refugio, we went to the Equator, which was cold and rainy! I was in two hemispheres at once; how crazy is that?!?
We then walked around the plaza and looked at the beautiful artwork provided by the locals. Today was a good day and a great way to continue getting to know my new "family" for the next three months. It is my prayer that we continue to become stronger as a group. I know God has put this group of people in my life for a reason and I can't wait to see what He has in store for me!
Living and Learning
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
It's been a few day since my last post, so I figured I should get you all updated!
Yesterday we spent most of the day learning more about the program and how to safely live in the city. Today we went on a little walking tour around the city and saw some of the important places where we will be spending our time here. Walking here gives you quite the workout! I should be quite fit the next time you see me. We also learned how to call a cab, though I haven't been brave enough to try it out yet.
Today we went to a cafe in the plaza by our apartment. For a majority of us, ordering our first meal in Spanish was painful to hear (or maybe it was just me)! It was quite an overwhelming experience, but one that should feel more comfortable soon.
Tonight we went to Matt and Marlo's house for some delicious lasagna and intense games. Let's just say I will enjoy Wednesday nights at their house! I look forward to building new relationships with each of the people here. It is my prayer to grow closer to them as well as God. I was just telling a friend from home earlier tonight that I know God put me here for a reason and I wouldn't trade this experience for the world!
Monday, January 24, 2011
Well, after about 12 hours of traveling, I've finally arrived in Quito! Thanks to all of you have been praying for safe travels! I am feeling very blessed to be here right now. We were warmly greeted (with huge welcome signs) by the Semester in Ecuador staff and feel right at home. The apartment we are staying in is very nice and spacious. There is a group of girls from Cornerstone in Michigan who are also staying with us. We are all very excited to get to know each other over the next three months.
Tomorrow and the rest of the week we will be traveling to different parts of the city and getting to know the layout better. I received an email today from the lady from Alliance Academy International (AAI), whom I will be working with. It sounds like I will mostly be working with the elementary students but will also have an opportunity to work with the middle and high school students. It is my prayer that they will adjust to me, as well as me adjusting to them and their culture. Now that I know more of what I'll be doing, I am even more excited (and a little nervous) to get started!
P.S. The weather is fantastic (not to brag or anything)!
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Today is the day before I leave for Ecuador. Oh my goodness! Is this really happening? There are so many emotions going through my head right now. I haven't felt this excited, nervous, and at peace at the same time in a while. Even though I'm mostly packed, (yes, I spent ALL day yesterday packing and unpacking things that needed to be repacked) I don't think the whole situation will fully sink in until I've safely arrived in Quito.
In the past week, I've been able to say, "See you in three months," to many of my friends in Chicago and Denver, whom I know will be praying and emotionally supporting me every step of the way. Many conversations ended in hugs and plenty of tears, but I know this is an once-in-a-lifetime experience that will greatly impact me as a person and in my career. I don't think I can thank and tell my family and friends enough times how much I truly appreciate each and every one of them, and would not be the person I am today without them!
If you have been following this journey already, I ask that you pray for safe travels, not only for me, but for my friends and other students who will be traveling with me. Pray that we might have a peace about the work we will be doing and the information we will be learning. May all of it be pleasing to the Lord who has graciously brought us here!
The first of many
Thursday, January 20, 2011
I've never blogged before, so please bear with me! As many of you already know, I will be spending the spring semester of my senior year studying abroad in Quito, Ecuador. While in Quito, I will be doing my internship at Alliance Academy, a K-12 missionary school. I will be doing some sort of school counseling am very excited to see what God has in store for me! I will be gone January 24 through April 24. I know this experience will be challenging emotionally and spiritually, but it is one of a lifetime and wouldn't be possible without my family and friends supporting me every step of the way! For God and all of my supporters I am extremely grateful!
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