My social media biographies still read: “brb, in Ecuador por tres meses” (Translation: Be right back, in Ecuador for 3 months). I look at that sentence and dread correcting or deleting it. I dread it because I have to fully accept that those 3 months are gone, I am no longer in a place that has shaped me and gifted me with countless memories, and the fact that I am back home and off to school at APU (which does not seem remotely exciting or real).
I miss walking through the streets of Quito, the Galapagos, and the Amazon Jungle. I miss RUNNING down to get Los Tios pizza at 9:30pm before it closed (sorry, staff) the night before the Galapagos. I miss house nights with endless laughs, awkward moments, and group games of “Odds Are.” I miss waking up to a volcano in the horizon and a huge mountain (that I summited!!) right behind me. I miss being able to walk down the hall, stairs, or the street to see friends and staff members. I miss our weekly chapels with good food, conversations, and a safe place of worship. I miss cuddle sessions on the couch while eating freshly baked goods. I miss random discussions in Spanish class with my classmates and professors. I miss the sweet, sweet taste of Mister Bagel and pizza empanadas. I miss my homestay family and the craziness that existed in the gringa house. I miss the intense mobile dance party all throughout Quito. I miss the unique adventures that I was lucky enough to embark on in this beautiful country. There are so many more things I miss about Ecuador…these are just a few. And man, I wish I could go back and relive some, if not all, of these moments knowing what I know now.
So how has Ecuador changed me? It challenged me to take risks—do things that are far outside of my comfort zone but doing it alongside of community. Ecuador taught me to embrace and crave independence, but to ask God for guidance. I began to find my identity in Christ and started to become the woman that He created me to be rather than being defined by things of this world. My semester abroad allowed me to find joy in the little, big, trivial, and important things in life. I came back on December 13, 2015 knowing what I need in a life-long friendship and standing firm in it. And the best of all, I came with sun-kissed skin in the middle of December. ;)
If any of the Spring 2016 Ecuador Cohort is reading this, get ready. If I could jump on that plane with you all, I definitely would. In a few short days, the most amazing, humble, God-loving staff will greet you at the airport. I might suggest that these few words will fall on your ears quite often: intentional, stretch/streching/stretched, abide, and bear fruit. ;) But in all seriousness, lean into the community that is building around you...and most importantly, lean into the community that you are entering. That treacherous walk up Villalengua will eventually become bearable, and public transportation will be a breeze. Wake up early to watch the sunrise (as you write a paper that is due in T-7 hours) and fall asleep on the roof of PPU or Villalengua with a clear sky and sparkling stars above you. Manage your money and don’t break your phone or else you will have to pay $200 an iPhone OK. Love others well and step outside of your comfort zone. Take risks and challenge yourself. And most importantly, make sure you run, not stumble, when you parasail at the beach! Estas listo por el tiempo de tu vida?! You better be!
So now it is time. It is time to correct those bio's on Twitter and Instagram, get ready for a new semester at APU tomorrow, abide and bear fruit, and live and learn outside of Ecuador.
“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” - Miriam Adeney