Returning to South America

EcuadorFirstHomeVisit08I’ve got some exciting news to share with you today – it’s been semi secret for a while, if only for the fact that I haven’t shared on any of my social media outlets yet. But, as it’s fast approaching, it’s time to let the cat out of the bag.

In just under 3 months I’ll be returning to Ecuador to visit my amazing Compassion Sponsored Children, Emily & Josué.


I cannot begin to express how anxious I am to get back to these kids – my shy little girl and my boy with a big heart.


What’s even more special is the fact that I’m going to get to see sweet Valeria (in blue below) again – after my last trip, my Mom decided to sponsor her.


I am so excited! Almost from the moment I got home, I’ve been wanting to go back (I say almost because, let’s face it, nothing beats sleeping in your own bed). As the days have ticked by, the urge to go back to Ecuador have gotten stronger and stronger. The letters take on a whole new meaning when you can put a candid face with them – when you can almost hear the voices of the kids who wrote the words, when your hands remember their hands, and your heart remembers their hugs. When you can see the overflowing love and gratitude in their mother’s faces. When you remember the heart-wrenching stories, and the sheer joy of the short time you shared. Current sponsors: if you ever doubt the importance of meeting your kids, let me assure you – it’s worth it. Worth it to the kids and so worth it for your spirit.

I had actually hoped to go to Peru in the fall of 2014, but there was not a sponsor tour available that fit within my available timeframe and budget – which leads to my other bit of news:

In just under 5 months I’ll be going to Peru to meet my sweet Helen Angela.

This will be my first trip to Peru, and considering I’ve sponsored Helen Angela the longest, it is really overdue. Helen Angela will be 15 in December, so it’s a big year for her – and I am very excited to be able to visit her and share a small part of her life with her. I’m even more excited to try to get a photo of her with a smile. In all the years I’ve been her sponsor, I have yet to see the child smile. I got a hint of a smile in the last photo-update from Compassion – but it left me hungry for the real thing. She writes such happy letters, I know there’s a smile buried in there somewhere.


Thinking about returning has me both excited and anxious. That last trip, it broke a deep part of me. There are things you experience when faced with such poverty that fundamentally change your being. Ecuador has forever altered my world-view. There is no doubt in my mind that the days I spent in the mountains of Riobamba and the the parks of Quito were some of the happiest of my life – but they were also some of the saddest. Saying bye for now to my kids was almost impossible. But also, seeing families struggle with just having enough is hard. Seeing joy in such poverty is hard, too. Genuine joy convicts the spirit – you either genuinely celebrate, or find your eyes opened to the true-faith of those who have nothing but faith. It’s not something you walk away from without scars. So, while I’m excited to go back, I know those scars will be reopened, deepened, and made raw. It will be a blessing, but it will be hard.

There’s a Fray song that I love (well actually there are several – I’m a huge Fray fan – but I digress) – it fits perfectly with how I am feeling and how I am processing the days leading up to these trips:

Happiness feels a lot like sorrow; Let it be, you can’t make it come or go … Happiness damn near destroys you, breaks your faith to pieces on the floor. So you tell yourself that’s enough for now, Happiness has a violent roar.


11 thoughts on “Returning to South America

  1. Jill Foley says:

    This is so exciting – I’m especially excited for you to go to Peru. That was my first (and only) Compassion sponsor tour and it was such a turning point for me. I leave this Friday for Nicaragua – I arranged an individual visit and will be doing other (non-Compassion) stuff while I’m there.

    I totally agree with you about the value of meeting your kids. I used to think the money might be better spent by sponsoring more kids, but the relationship goes to a different level after you meet in person.


    • Emily says:

      Thanks, Jill. You’re so right about taking the relationships to a different level – the “letter droughts” I get now are much less painful knowing that there’s a real person behind the letters.

      I’m super excited for Peru, too. I’ll be praying for your trip to Nicaragua – I’m sure you’re bubbling over awaiting the visit with your child 🙂


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