Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Carita Feliz (Happy Face)

We had an epic first day here in Ecuador. But before I start telling you about that, I want to say THANK YOU for your prayers and encouragement while we were traveling yesterday. Our team was coming from all over the US and Canada and not one person had travel drama. It was a late night (my roomie, Kelly, and I didn't shut our eyes until after 2 AM) but a very successful travel day.

This morning at 6:45 our alarm went off and neither of us knew where we were. Ha! We had a quick breakfast with the team and got our fill of caffeine. Here I am with Melanie.


I took more pills than I've ever taken at one time to ward off Malaria, motion sickness and altitude sickness. Holy Moses. Quito is way up there, folks. Especially for sea level-dwellers like myself. I had a little snooze on the bus thanks to Dramamine and before long we arrived in the beautiful, rural village of Cayambe. Oh, but first we had a quick stop at the equator. No big deal, right?


Cayambe was green and beautiful with lots of little farms. It was like a South American version of an English village.

Our team was greeted at the "Carita Feliz" (Happy Face) child development center by the wonderful teachers and pastor whose church hosts it. One of the things I love about Compassion is how they partner with local churches who are already serving children. Compassion empowers these churches to provide significant ministry for impoverished families in their communities.

We split into several groups to have a "day in the life" experience at the home of a sponsored child. Melanie, Keely, Chris, Carmen, Andrea and I were told to hop in the back of a truck to get to our location. My husband is gonna be proud of me but I guarantee my mom is going to freak when she sees this.


We lived. And that's why I can tell you that it was super fun.

We got to spend a day in the life of Emma (6) and her big brother Alex (8). They live with their grandma and some other extended family members. Their mom passed away a couple of years ago from cancer and their dad isn't in the picture. The children go to school and are part of the child development program, but today they showed us how to work the soil.

We grabbed some tools and headed for the fields.



Alex



Emma



Abuelita


Abuelita is small and advanced in years, but she showed all of us up. I'm not even kidding. You can't imagine how fast she dug her rows. The rest of us are not going to be able to move tomorrow.

Alex and Emma grabbed Melanie and me by the hand and took us to see their house.


This is Alex's room. We found a letter from his sponsor, Corey, taped to his wall.



Here's sweet Emma's room.


Emma does not have a sponsor yet. Here's a link to a few others from Carita Feliz who also do not have sponsors.

The kids share their dwelling with a food preparation station and some cages of guinea pigs.



The adults live across the path in another building. My impression is this: they are doing the best they can for these children, but they can't care for them alone. That's where Compassion sponsors come in.

The ladies at the child development center brought a wonderful lunch to the family's home and we were able to serve food to Abuelita, Alex, Emma, and two teachers from Carita Feliz. Then we all sat down together and talked. I think we forgot we had translators making this possible. It was a delight.


I started reading Kisses from Katie yesterday on the airplane. Have any of you read that yet? I couldn't stop thinking about the author when I heard Myra, Alex's 20-year-old teacher, describe her passion for these children. Since Alex and Emma don't have a mother, Myra's role in their lives is vital. She goes the extra mile to help them learn things like good hygiene. And she simply loves them.

Melanie and I got to present a big basket of food to Abuelita from the child development center. It will go a long way. Here we are with the kiddos. What a great afternoon it was.


Keely gave Emma a new version of a polaroid picture of herself. She was so happy.


On the way back to the CDC we saw a very strange sight - watermelons growing on a wall.


And then we saw a dog running around on a rooftop. I'm not one to like dogs in foreign countries (ask Sophie how fast I ran from her little bulldog buddy this morning). But this guy was adorable. And confined to a roof.



That's all for tonight, folks. But you can go here to read posts from our whole team of bloggers. Hasta luego!

54 comments:

Amber C. said...

I just tweeted you, but Joey and I got on the Compassion website tonight to find our first child to sponsor. I searched for the girls' birthday, 5/27, and found little Joselyn in, where else, Ecuador! As I was filling in the info. it clicked that you are in Ecuador right now!! I'm so excited you are there, I was always excited for you but now, I'm SO EXCITED! I can't wait to hear more :)

Kelli said...

I love that you visited the "Happy Face" CDC today. I was JUST looking through all the pictures on FLICKR and all I could think about were all the SMILES and HAPPY FACES. It appears there were MANY blessings flowing both ways! Praying for your day tomorrow to continue to overflow blessings in and out!

Casey C. Springer said...

Sounds like a fantastic first day!It is great to get to see a sponsor letter hanging on the wall. I have always wondered what mine do with their letters.

Crystal said...

I've been thinking of you and praying for your trip all day! So happy to see pictures of sweet kids and you loving each other!

thegypsymama said...

Dramamine for the win, yo. Love following along with you. It's like I'm there, but without motion sickness, a need for shots, or less than 4 hours of sleep. Love you for taking us with you in your virtual back pack. Sweet dreams, LJ

Tara G. said...

How can the name of the center not make anyone smile?! What a full day! Since our first tour here, there are wild dogs running around the city and not on roofs- yikes! Stopping a moment to pray for you- amazing rest at night, health, and the ability to process what you experience! Blessings!

Kelly @ Love Well said...

I am totally wanting to write a comment to you in Spanish, but considering I took French in high school, I should probably restrain.

But gracias. (That doesn't count. It's Dora Spanish.) Your authentic story-telling always woos my heart. Praying for you and the entire team this week. May God's glory shine and change us all.

Emilee Kaye said...

Hey Amanda :) I am so looking forward to all of your blogs that will be coming in! I am going to Uganda in less than two weeks with a group from my church...We will be blogging, too! {{For Friends, family, and supporters @ home}} Prayed for you and will continue to when I think of you. :) <3, Emilee C.

lavonda said...

Those kiddos are adorable! My heart breaks at the thought of my children not having me around to guide them, nurture them, and protect and love them. What a wonderful little grandmother they have, and a blessing in their Compassion worker too. Thank you for sharing their story with us.

Dramamine is my bff on any school field trip with my kids. I was starting to feel carsick just reading Sophie's rendition of the busride today. You're a smart one my friend, taking it beforehand and sleeping some on the bus up. Survival 101 in my book. :)

Praying for each of you this week!

Gena said...

Eager to hear more. Thanks for sharing!

Sherry said...

What a great first day! Praying for you!

Sarah said...

So incredibly awesome praying for you and your team for safety and no sickness. I have kisses for Katie I plan to read soon. Thanks for the update on your blog. Praying God does amazing things. :-)

bethany said...

So happy to hear that you and the team arrived safely and that you are already diving in. Looks like a fun time was had with Alex and Emma and their family. Praying for you as you share the love of Jesus in a real and tangible way. I'll be praying for different things related to your trip each night. Tonight I am praying for your health and the health of the rest of your team members (all of whom I am familiar with).

Sleep soundly,
Bethany

Cheri said...

I came upon this blogsite afer visiting Living Proof's website. After reading your blog about your exciting day in Ecuador and seeing your pictures, I was led to sponsor my first child in Ecuador. As I continued reading I was touched by your request for words of encouragement by just letting you know that we are here for you. So here I am praying for you and your group. For safe travels and thanking you for making a difference in the life of those needing our help.

Lori said...

I will be praying for you and your team, your sweet family at home and all those precious, precious babies you are helping. I am so moved by this and plan to talk with my husband about praying over if sponsoring a child is possible for our family now, if not - the future.
THANK YOU for what you are doing Amanda - you are one of God's special angels!!!

LNel said...

Praying for you all! Thanks for the updates! Love your blog!

Hilary said...

Amanda,
Will you be going to Esmeraldas? My Jenniffer is at the Pedacito de Cielo Student Center there.

Continuing to pray for you all!

Hilary

the4leegirls said...

Loved this post! Stunning pictures...heart turning...I'm praying!!!!

Kiki said...

Praying for you, friend! Love the update!

Marc and Charity said...

Love this post. So fun that you are rooming with Kelly. Praying for y'all.

Amanda said...

Cheri and Lori, thank you for sponsoring and for praying about the possibility. God bless you and your families! Thanks everyone for your sweet comments. :)

Missknitsalot said...

Hi Amanda,

LOVE your post! ood for you getting down in the soil with them. what a neat trip this is. I'm going from here to read the other posts. Love all the pictures. Especially the one of the little boy reading his sponsors letter. their abuelita is adorable. I was praying for you and dealing with the altitude. It affects lots of things, so take it easy on yourself. I'm praying that you get good rest and are able to eat. I'm praying for you to be able to process what you are seeing and to constantly feel Gods presence as you go. That you are able to hear him speak to you. I know when there is such a huge culture change and so much to process its overwhelming. I've been there, I know what it feels like. so please know I'm carrying you in prayer this week.

Heidi

Emmy said...

Have y'all on my heart! Loved reading every word... makes my heart smile! Such a blessing!

Can't wait to hear more! Praying! :)

Marianne said...

Thank you so much for sharing your "day in the life." I love seeing those children's beautiful faces. Can't wait to hear more! Praying for you all.

Jennifer said...

I love reading about your adventure! Thank you for your willingness to share with us your time there and all that compassion does. I know you guys are greatly impacting the people you meet!

JustJess said...

Prayed for you guys this morning. Love that each of you has a different story to tell each day. Praying God renews you and gives you what you need to continue on your journey.

Amy said...

Hi Amanda!

I popped over here today as I follow your trip. I'm so touched. Unbelievably touched.

I plan to show your blog to my 7-year-old son tonight--especially focusing on pictures of other children's bedrooms.

Praying you rich blessings as your strength is multiplied.

From the Bumpy Road said...

Reading and praying along with you! Praying specifically for your computer to be working today.

Skubaliscious said...

Love reading all about your first day! Excited to hear about day 2 :)

Christen Price said...

What a great post Amanda. I couldn't believe their sleeping arrangement with the food and animals...it is amazing to see. Looking forward to following the rest of your week!

Christen Price

ashleyalden said...

I just love this, Amanda. It's so amazing how pictures add even more life to your already incredibly warming words. Praying Happy Face, Emma and her family, you, your team, and (last but not least) your computer.

"Christ has no body on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ's compassion for the world is to look out; yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good; and yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now." ~Saint Teresa of Avila

Kristi Stewart said...

Praying for your computer Amanda!

Kristi said...

I was overwhelmed to pray for you yesterday around noon. So glad you guys had a wonderful day! I've gotta say, little Emma's face made me smile one of those big 'ole cheesy smiles! Thank you for sharing this experience with us. We'll be lifting you and your team up!

Allison said...

amazing! Praying for you always. :)

Jeannie (HAPPY HEART) said...

Praying for all you. May the Lord do a mighty work among you.

Holly Rook said...

Praying for you girl! I love that you would leave the comfort of your home and your precious family to do this for the second time. I hope that God will provide you with His security but that you will have calm & peace in any insecurity. I want you to know that we sponsored a child about a year ago after a nudging from the Holy Spirit but that you played a vital role in that. ((Hugs))

Holly Rook said...

Praying for you girl! I love that you would leave the comfort of your home and your precious family to do this for the second time. I hope that God will provide you with His security but that you will have calm & peace in any insecurity. I want you to know that we sponsored a child about a year ago after a nudging from the Holy Spirit but that you played a vital role in that. ((Hugs))

April said...

We sponsor two children in Ecuador. It's so eye-opening to see the kinds of conditions in which they probably live! Thanks so much for giving us a glimpse. I'm praying for you and the rest of the team! And for the children!

MississippiMom said...

Just finished Kisses from Katie this morning...wow is the only word. Looking forward to following your trip and praying with you.....

The Kinley's said...

Praying for you and your team as well as the families that are at home. Lord, be awesome!

Corrie Cline said...

Praise Jesus for fruitfulness so far! You are prayed for!

Dionna Sanchez said...

I just envisioned it being warm over there but it looks a bit chilly since ya'll are in long sleeves and jackets??? And do I ever love Abuelita! I don't even know her - but from her picture, I love her. :)

Cooking Up Faith said...

Amanda - I cried when I read Kelly's post, and then again when I read yours. Their little rooms with dirt floors makes the tears come. My prayer today for you is strength. When you're tired, hungry, emotionally drained, and missing your babies back home - I'm praying His strength keeps you going.

Melissa Hale said...

Kisses From Katie wrecked my weekend! Started on Saturday morning, finished on Sunday evening! Went to church with a headache from crying so much!

Marla Taviano said...

I love this post, Amanda!! And I LOVED Kisses from Katie. My girls and I are going to read it together on our Cambodia trip. Can't wait!! Love you, friend! So proud of you!!

Crystal said...

Compassion trip blog posts are my favorite! Thank you for going on this trip & sharing your experiences. Praying for your team :)

Lisa said...

Praying for y'all all the way!

Sister Lynn said...

Praying for you Amanda! Also praying for the children you are serving there and the ones you are missing back home.

Judy S said...

I am so envious of you! My little girl is Mayeli. She is 9 years old and is part of the CDI William Booth Project in Ecuador. If you see her give her a BIG hug from her sponsor here in Wisconsin. Keep safe and healthy and keep writing! I love your blogs.
Judy S

Candy said...

Praying for all of you. And so envious ( a great envy c: ) of all of you too!

Lauren said...

That abuelita is precious, not to mention the kiddos.

Michelle said...

Praying....thank you for sharing the stories...thank you for serving...blessings

Shellie Paparazzo said...

Aw, it made my heart ache that Emma doesn't have a sponsor. I wish I could be her sponsor. But, alas, if I did, my children would need sponsors, so I will pray for her to get a sponsor soon, if she hasn't already! I'm sure I'm not the only one who just wanted to jump over to the Compassion site and find this girl!!!

uncommonday said...

I love how you are showing God's love! Thank you! My husband and I are in Uganda for four months working at an orphanage, and it's so beautiful to see others sharing God's love and grace around the world. Thank you for the loving the children and people.