Today, I’m continuing my series of posts relating to my recent trip to Ecuador. For previous posts, click here.
After we served the children of EC469 lunch, we broke into 4 smaller groups and went on our first home visit where we would spend “a day in the life” of a sponsored child and “help” them do their daily chores.
My little group went with Paul (pronounced Pa-ool) and his family to herd sheep.From the Child Development Center, we walked down a steepish slope to Paul’s house. It wasn’t a terribly long walk (going down; going up with the altitude was not fun).
Once we arrived, Paul and his family gave us a tour of his home before we started with the chores. To get into the house, we crossed a small, one-board bridge that connected the boulder the house was built on to the bolder that was the yard. Paul’s home was made of mud/concrete bricks and a thatched roof. There was no visible running water, sparse electricity, and only two rooms: a room where Paul and his brother slept, and the main room with the stove and bed for the adults. And yet, there was such love and happiness here. More than anything else, my trip to Ecuador opened my eyes to true happiness, the kind that doesn’t worry about material things or unnecessary stress, the kind of happiness that grows from love for your neighbor and love for your God.After touring the home, Paul took us outside to get the sheep – everyday, several times a day, Paul and his brother, Clever, let the sheep out to graze.While the sheep were grazing, we were able to take in the beautiful scenery. Paul’s house may be small compared to American standards, but his view surpasses any I’ve seen. I mean, seriously, with a view like this, why would you want to stay indoors? I could have sat on this hill for hours and just watched. It was so quiet.And yet, before we could even catch our breath it was time to go. Paul’s grandmother rounded up the sheep, and we asked our final questions.But, before we left, Paul and his family were gracious enough to pose for photos with us. I just love his grandmother, she is so tiny, but full of spunk. She reminded me of my paternal grandmother.
I’m not sure exactly what I expected from the home visits, but what I experienced is something I will not soon forget. I know I expected the poverty, the lack of water, the small houses, the hard labor; but I did not expect the happiness, the graciousness, and mostly, the beauty I found there. The hope, the sparkle in their eyes, their thankfulness to have us simply spend some time with them – it broke my heart for my own home and the watered down happiness I see in my day-to-day bubble. Do not mistake me, Paul and his family live hard lives, harder than any that I’ve known, but they have such faith, such happiness, that to be anything other than happy with them is impossible. They made me want to spit out the watered down version I’d been serving myself and seek out the pure thing. Which is exactly what I am doing, one small bit at a time.