Today, I’m continuing my series of posts relating to my recent trip to Ecuador. For previous posts, click here. My apologies, I was planning to have this post run last Thursday, Feb. 6, but we’ve had some major winter weather for our area & I took some time away from the computer to enjoy the snow 🙂
This will forever be one of my favorite photos from my trip – this moment when I first hugged my sponsored boy, Josue. This moment rocked. From the moment our group of sponsored gathered in Miami, this is what we were all waiting for – and boy did we wait. Before we could enter the room where our sponsored children gathered, there were some technical problems with the sounds system. It felt like were were kept outside those big double doors to the conference room for ages.Finally they got the sound system fixed and we were able to parade into the grand ballroom. Our tour leaders led us to the front of the room, amid the many tables of sponsored children and their families. From the moment we entered the doors (well, actually from the moment we left our rooms to meet up in the lobby) each of us sponsors eagerly eyed the room for our children. Josué, being nearly 6 foot tall and the only black sponsored child there, was easy to spot. He was in the front, left corner of the room and bashfully smiled and waved at me as I spotted him. Once I found him, I was able to locate the area where my “family” was & spotted little Emily grinning like crazy. She looks exactly like her photographs. There was no doubt in my mind that these were my kids. But, before I could rush over to them, the tour leaders had all the sponsor line up in the front of the room & one by one we were called forward to “meet” our children.
I was called last. It took forever. Once my name was called, Josué rushed up to hug me, and confetti was tossed by someone – no idea who. Emily was right behind Josué; and we got a couple of photos before finding our seats. I am so, so, so glad I handed off my phone/camera to one of the Compassion workers who traveled with us but wasn’t meeting her sponsored child. I did not want to worry about taking photos. I wanted to enjoy the moment.
Each sponsor had a round table somewhere in the room where their sponsored children and the kids’ guardians waited. Mine was in the front, right side of the room, and seated myself, Emily, Josué, Emily’s Mother, Emily’s Little Sister, Emily’s Tutor, Josué’s Sister, Josué’s Tutor, and my translator. From the moment we sat down it was amazing. Both Emily and Josué presented me with spectacular & heartfelt gifts.
Emily gave me a fantastic traditional hat & handmade bracelets to remember her and her family by.
They were stunning, and I wore the bracelets for the rest of trip. And the hat is so awesome. Just so, so awesome. This girl who doesn’t have hot water in her house, used her funds to purchase me this beautiful, traditional hat. I was overwhelmed, and we were just getting started.My dear Josué, my award winning baseball pitcher, he gave me his trophy from a recent game where he was named as the best pitcher only a month before my visit.
You guys, he gave me this trophy. As in it flew home with me and is proudly displayed in my office. He might have only ever received this one trophy, and he gave it to me.
I had a few little gifts for Emily & Josué. Compassion gave each sponsor a small gift bag with candy and treats to help break the ice with the kids; but I also knew that I wanted to give each of my kids a camera & let them document the trip.
I bought 2 inexpensive digital cameras at Walmart before I left home with the intention of giving each of my kids one of them. I also stocked up on batteries and 4 SD cards. The plan was to put 1 SD card in each of the cameras at the beginning, let the kids take photos to their hearts content, and then switch out the SD cards with new ones right before I left. I would take their photos home & print them, and then send the photos back to the kids in the many letters I would write them. It worked out perfectly. I would do this again in a heartbeat. I got tons of photos, but never had to be behind the camera – it was so awesome!
After what seemed like 2 seconds, the emcee had us all up and dancing to children’s spanish songs. I have no idea what they sang, and the sponsors and myself were several steps behind the native speakers, but it was so much fun! And man, all the dancing wore me out! It was quite the workout, quite the workout.
And at some point during the night (I honestly can’t remember if it was before or after the dancing, but I think maybe it was after?) we were taken through a buffet line for supper.There was also a face painting area set up for the kids and sponsors. I took Emily, her little sister, and Josué,
The night flew by, and was the perfect way to start our time together. The goodnight was not nearly as bad as the goodbye that would come the next day. And the couple of hours we had together was a perfect way to break the ice and get past the awkward introductions so that we could enjoy every single minute of our fun day together. I wouldn’t have changed a thing.