Friday, June 24, 2011

Hard to believe it is over!

“Caring about others, running the risk of feeling, and leaving an impact on people, brings happiness.”

-Harold Kushner

Journal: Kaitlyn Henry

Our last day of service was fantastic! The tias dressed in traditional clothing and the kids wore costumes and performed several dances! The farewell celebration ended with upbeat music and the entire group, including the volunteers, dancing. A few weeks ago I was unsure if I would take this trip but I made a spontaneous last minute decision to join team 141 and I am so glad that I did. This has been a very humbling experience and I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to meet new friends, explore a new city, and help where it is needed.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Team #141--so many laughs!

Quote: Michelle Holker

”What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.”

-Albert Pike

Journal: Kaitlyn Henry

The morning of June 23rd started off like any other. We had our breakfast at the hotel and took the bus to Calderon. As we made our way through the market the group separated in its usual way, Allen and Beth headed to Center #2 while Irene, Elena, Michelle and I stayed at Center #1. It was a typical morning in Center #1, with Irene in the kitchen and Elena helping in the classroom, Michelle and I headed to help in the baby room with tia Norma. With the biggest trouble maker absent for the day, the baby room was very tranquil, that was until I heard one of the kids yell "tia hace chi chi." Not thinking anything of it, I continued to play with the kids until I noticed the one guilty of "hace chi chi" was indeed on my lap and had left me with a wet pant leg. After I cleaned myself up I continued the daily activities in the classroom; singing, dancing, feeding and caring for the kids. A few hours later the tired group enjoyed a nice lunch but we kept one thing in mind, Panderia Alex. After lunch the group didn't want to break our habit so naturally we stopped at Panderia Alex to get dessert and Michelle and I did some more last minute shopping which was not necessary but we somehow found a way to justify it. After the long lunch break we headed back to do more work, Irene and I helped with Spanish tutoring which is a huge challenge when you lose your voice.

The afternoon was filled with laughter as Irene and I helped pronounce words and the tias gave us funny looks as if to say "that's what I said." After a successful day we headed back to the hotel to rest before our last dinner. A combination of laughing so hard I cried and almost choking on my dinner because I could not stop giggling made our last dinner at the hotel the highlight of my day.

As the group reflected on our day of service we discovered that the painted piece of art I bought for my dad resembled an urn and we could not stop laughing at the idea of presenting his gift, an Ecuadorian urn. As we continued to laugh at the “urn” I bought, which came with dust so it was sure to fit the part, Michelle warned us to be careful not to choke on our dinner but she did mention if you are ever in a situation where you must perform CPR you just need to think of the song “staying alive.”

This spiraled the group into more laughter and as I pondered “what do you do during the most upbeat part of the song that says ‘staying alive staying alive’” Michelle was quick to read my mind and said “you don’t actually do it to that beat.” Thankfully Michelle cleared up the staying alive CPR technique and they all decided that if they were in need of CPR they would not want me to be around because I would most likely start dancing and lose sight of the fact that someone actually needs resuscitation.

The giggles and outbursts of laughter continued and eventually the smiling group left our last dinner, in hopes that we didn’t cause too big of a distraction for the other guests. After dinner Beth, Allen, Michelle and I walked to the mall to go to the bookstore and to the Supermaxi to get some Ecuadorian goodies to bring home. Upon arrival to the hotel, the group parted ways so that we could get a head start on packing and some rest before our last day of service.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A reason to celebrate!

Quote: Kaitlyn Henry

“Life is precious and time is a key element. Let's make every moment count and help those who have a greater need than our own." -Unknown

Journal: Irene Thomas

Wednesday June 22 started out like any other day. Then it all changed in honor of Allen’s birthday! A cake with eight birthday candles and the happy birthday song. The journal was read and the starfish story was related. Following breakfast we boarded the big yellow bus to Center #1. Michelle, Elena and Kaitlyn and I stayed while Beth and Allen headed to Center #2 where another birthday party was held—Allen received beautiful card saying he was a “good man.” How right they are; another candle and song.

Back at Center #1, there was remodeling being done and a new window was being installed. The kitchen called my name-with cucumbers to be peeled, onions to be sliced and dishes to be washed at breakneck speed because the next meal was coming. With those chores completed I helped the “mop lady” sweep until she said “Irene, sit down!”

The day was capped off with a trip to the equator with some fun experiments, pictures and a wonderful dinner at El Rincon de la Ronda with excellent Ecuadorian food and another cake, song and hat for Allen.

I was touched to see the trust and joy on the children’s faces during their outdoor activity. My hope is that this trust will not be betrayed as their hopes is the future. Faith is believing in what you cannot see and hope is in that belief.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Saving starfish...

Tuesday June 21,, 2011

Quote: Irene Thomas

"Once upon a time there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work. One day he was walking along the shore. As he looked down the beach, he saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself to think of someone who would dance to the day. So he began to walk faster to catch up. As he got closer, he saw that it was a young man and the young man wasn't dancing, but instead he was reaching down to the shore, picking up something and very gently throwing it into the ocean. As he got closer he called out,

"Good morning! What are you doing?"

The young man paused, looked up and replied,

"Throwing starfish in the ocean."

"I guess I should have asked, why are you throwing starfish in the ocean?"

"The sun is up and the tide is going out. And if I don't throw them in they'll die."

"But, young man, don't you realize that there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it. You can't possibly make a difference!"

The young man listened politely. Then bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves and said- "I made a difference for that one." –Anonymous

Journal: Elena Ferancy

Tuesday June 21 started out like the usual. All six of the teammate’s met downstairs for breakfast at 7:30 and were off to the daycare by 8:00. The 30 minute ride seemed like 10 because everyone was so used to it and all fell asleep. After waking up to find we are at daycare Center #1 already, we stumbled our way into the daycare to see the kids.

Beth and Allen made their way to Center #2 while Kaitlyn helped Tia Gaby for the first time. She had never realized kids could have so much energy. Elena worked with the babies and Tia Norma for the first time also. She learned that not all kids are potty trained, even if they are out of diapers. Irene spent her day in the kitchen peeling potatoes and washing dishes. She later got a break while teaching English to a very enthusiastic Tia Gaby. Beth spent her day with the babies she knows and loves at Center #2. Allen realized his true artistic ability and probably does not want to see and ‘8’ or piñata for the rest of his life. Last, but not least was team leader Michelle. Between her other tasks, she spent the morning at Center #2 with the crazy but loveable two-year olds. After lunch she stayed at Center #1 and helped with the babies.

When the bus picked everyone up at 4:00, the team headed back to the hotel. Beth, Allen, Kaitlyn, Michelle and Elena started getting ready to go to the Church of the Society of Jesus of Quito, La Compania for a 6:00 mass and Irene made some phone calls. Due to traffic the team arrived at 6:10 to be told that the mass was almost finished and that the next one was only for a school. After finding another church, the Catedral, everyone was able to sit, pray and admire the beauty of the church for a couple of minutes. When dinner came at 7:15, the whole team enjoyed delicious food, while at the same time talking about hair washing, and breaking out of jail. (Just two of many different topics!) In the end, Tuesday was a great day filled with laughter, fun, and the occasional scary story. Just to say, I think everyone checked underneath their bed that night.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Another good day....

Quote: Elena Ferancy

“I don’t work here because it is easy, or fun or comfortable. I work here because it is good. Maybe the outside of it doesn’t change. And sure, there are a thousand heartbreaks. But the inside is changing in a some of them. They have hope.” –From the book The Swan House

Journal: Allen Church

Monday morning and the day started with brilliant sunshine. This is a follow-up to the Sunday afternoon rain showers that provided a run-off in the Quito streets. Most of our reduced team size of 6 visited two of the major cathedrals in the old town region during the afternoon showers. Some of the rainfall continued until a little after dinner and left leakage spots in the hotel serving area.

The Monday morning drive to Calderon was under nearly cloudless skies through Quito. The mountain tops were fully visible and the air pollution was gone.

Calderon was not as fortunate. The evidence of precipitation was barely visible.

The team deployed with Irene and Elaina; Michelle and Kaitlin in the first unit. Allen and Beth returned to the second unit. The children were just as vigorous and vocal as they had been when last seen on Friday. The children had a generous half-hour outside play period. Our lunch in the downtown restaurant was quieter than when the other two families, including the youths, were with us.

We six returned to our assignments for the afternoon. Beth reported that one of the babies had a vomit event. Allen found four of the six students from his class in the classroom and took them under his care for the afternoon. Bus pick-up at unit 2 at 4 p.m. and we returned to Sol de Quito.

Our dinner was a repeat of the taco meal that was so successful last week. Another good day!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Enjoying Ecuador!

Quote: Allen Church

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

-Nelson Mandela

Journal: Beth Harrison

Saturday kept the busy week rolling with an early morning and a long bus ride to the large Indian market in Otavalo. We stopped by many places along the way to take in the gorgeous scenery and take some pictures. Once in the market we separated for four hours of shopping and buying more than we should—all justifiable of course. That night we decided to order some pizza and ended up with tons of pizza boxes and some interesting choices. After dinner some of the team starting packing up while the kids enjoyed Youtubing hilarious videos about stalking cats, guilty dogs, and outrageous wedding proposals. We then had to say goodnight to the Brown family as they were headed home in the morning and also to the Huffs as they left for the Galapagos.

Sunday came as a lazy day as our team dwindled down to six members. While Irene and Elena went to the internet café, Michelle and Kaitlyn went out for a walk, which gave Michelle a wonderful sunburn as she discovered later that night. At noon, Irene, Elena, Allen and I went to the Indian market because we simply had not gotten enough yesterday. After a lovely, fancy meal in the food court in the mall  we all walked through the heavy rain to look inside the church in the Old Town made out of 7 tons of gold. Once we were cold and soaked, we returned back to the hotel and snuggled up to watch a movie together. After dinner and a nice conversation about scary occurrences and giving blood we were all ready to sleep in preparation for the week ahead.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Time flies when you're having fun!

Quote: Michelle Holker

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

-Mahatma Ghandi

Journal: Nani Grenell

Today seemed to be a wonderful blur of activity and accomplishment. A new foundation for Center #2 washroom and no more graffiti on the courtyard walls at Center #2. It was cool and overcast-perfect for painting outdoors.

As usual all of the ninos were happy and well cared for . My biggest impression today were the tias. They are so unbelievably committed to those kids. We are there for an hour here and an hour there, laughing and teasing the ninos, but they are there day in and day out for all seasons. How do they do it? Compared to what we are used to, their pay is minute but yet they are joyful and do their jobs well. They have set an example for me to carry home.

As for our team? We have become workers in unison and friends-we dine and play together. We complain about our aches and pains and how we don’t like concrete block construction. And please, what were those noises on the bus today?

I am overwhelmed by this volunteer experience. It is a very simple and uncomplicated task, but there’s so much to think about and take home.

A few things I am thankful for today:

-The tias

-Meeting all the ninos

-Pan de Yuca-now that I have tasted them

-Not helping with the concrete blocks!

-Making the kids smile with a snapshot

-Cecilia’s masapan

And last but not least, Abby & Doug for bringing me along for this entire adventure.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Ecuador team #141- ready to serve!

Quote: Anna Huff

“Love cannot remain by itself—it has no meaning. Love has to be put into action, and that act is service.”

-Mother Teresa

Journal written by: Lisa

Our first day as team #141 began with team members sitting at separate tables attempting small talk with new acquaintances, with jokes about difficulties remembering names. After, we met with team leader Michelle for Global Volunteers’ team building session. We were surprised at how quickly we could actually learn each other’s names: Michelle, Evan, Nani, Emma, Allen, Kaitlyn, Abby, Irene, Beth, Michelle, Toby, Elena, Doug, Leo, Lisa, Christie, Amanda, Terry, Anna. We also met the lovely leaders of FUNDAC and learned a little about the projects we’ll be working on.

Next, we each came up with our goals for the next one to two weeks, which included learning about a new culture, working or our Spanish, helping others and having fun! The younger members of group got together for an energetic game of ‘Egyptian Rat Screw’ and by lunchtime we had merged our several groups into a true team, sitting together at one big table. After lunch we explored a bit of Quito and got some shopping in at a market in a large park. The day ended with a tired group looking forward to our first day at FUNDAC.