A Day in the Life Week 3

This week's blog is brought to you by current volunteer, Emma.

Week 3

Wow, I can’t believe the third week is over! The first two weeks, I felt like I had lived here at least 2 years. But now time is flying by! This week was such a blur, and I am sad it’s going by so quickly. I have to keep reminding myself that before I know it, I’ll be getting on a plane to go home. So, I am trying to enjoy every second I have here with these precious kids.                                                           
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We had such a fun Olympics party with the OSSO kids to get ready for the winter Olympics! I spent Monday morning in OSSO making flags of all the different countries with C & M that we could hang up during our party. And wow, those boys are so much more particular than I thought! M told me I had to redo the Mexico flag because I didn’t cut it straight enough! (Hah!) The party was a success! It was so much fun helping the kids participate in the different “events” and seeing how happy they were! But I must say, the Tia’s definitely got more into it than anyone else.


Tuesday came around and we got to take the Casa kiddos to horse therapy! I DIED. Those kids are literally the cutest things in the entire world. I love every second I get to spend with them! They were jumping up and down, waiting for their turn to get on the horses. If those kids have taught me anything, it’s to enjoy the small things in life!


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After Monday and Tuesday, everyone is excited for Wednesday because it’s FREE DAY! We went to the zoo this week and it was so cool! It literally just felt like a hike through the jungle. And yes, when I say hike I mean HIKE. Wear good shoes! It was so cool learning about and seeing so many different animals. We even got to see the foxes eat lunch (baby chicks) it was rather depressing. But they were really cute before that part.


Thursday night at HML was so much fun! Those HML girls are so special and getting to be with them is a highlight of every week for sure. The amount of energy they have is INSANE! And they can show up all the volunteers at just about anything! Soccer, jump rope, UNO, puzzles, tag; they cannot be stopped! We are only there for less than an hour so we are running around nonstop! They are the sweetest most loveable girls.


Friday came so fast! We had our weekly Spanish class in the morning and I am trying SO HARD to learn as much as I can. I just want to be able to talk to all the kids! If I would have done one thing different before coming, it would have been to learn Spanish. It has been so fun learning a little bit but it’s a process. Our teacher is so helpful and I have learned a lot from her. I look forward to class every week. This week was exceptionally good because after class, we went to Chocolat and got the most AMAZING chocolate covered strawberries in the entire world. I can’t believe I ever thought Zupas had good chocolate strawberries. They are incredible here!


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By Saturday we are all dead tired but there is always work to be done. I spent the morning with my cute kids in Casas. We played and played and colored and played and it was so fun. There were other volunteers there who taught the kids how to break dance and it was honestly one of the most entertaining things I’ve watched! Those Casa kids are WAY too cute. I want to bring them all home with me! Saturday evening some of the volunteers and I went out to Fabiano’s for dinner and it’s the most fabulous Italian food ever. Highly recommend the pesto pasta. Or the BBQ chicken pizza. Or the garlic knots. Or the Pina colada juice. Or if you are feeling crazy (like I obviously was) GET ALL FOUR.

This week has been hard, long, and tiring but so, so rewarding. I can’t even explain how amazing it is to be there. I thought I was coming to help these kids, but they are doing way more to help me. I have already learned so much from them. I LOVE CUENCA! I hope these next few weeks slow wayyyyy down.

A Day in the Life Part 2.

This blog is courtesy of current volunteers, Betsy and Russell. They are serving in Cuenca, Ecuador and have documented their second week as volunteers. Enjoy!


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Tuesday January 15th

Every Tuesday morning some of the children have the opportunity to go to “horse therapy”.  It is so hard to get these big kids in and out of the bus.The older kids are really heavy, dead weight. When we get to the facility again we have to lift them out of the bus.  But it is so worth it!  We lift them up onto the horses and then have to hold them on it as they go around the arena.  Each time they go around, workers change them to a new position which is very awkward.  But, to see the sheer joy on their faces as they ride the horses, is worth the hard work.  This is such a great activity for them to work on their muscle tone and balance.  Also it is a wonderful time for them to get out of the orphanage and do different kinds of things.

Wednesday January 16th

Wednesday was all of the volunteer’s day off.  Our directors took us into Cuenca for a tour.  We started at a museum, Museo Pumapungo, which was very interesting.  It had displays of an early group of people who were taken over by the Incas.  Then the Incas were taken over by the Spaniards.  This is why we see a lot of influence in architecture and culture from Spain.  The displays were very well done.  They had replicas of their dirt floor huts and actual weapons, clothes, pottery etc.  Out in the back of the museum was ruins of the Incas and the earlier people.  We got to pet llamas that were in the gardens, see lots of beautiful flowers and then there was a bird aviary.  Evidently Ecuador has the largest population of different kinds of birds. 

Thursday January 17th

We did tons of walking today.  We walked to the market place.  There are hundreds of booths full of different vegetables and fruit, grains, fresh meats.  We have been trying may different kinds of fruit at OSSO.  There are some pretty exotic kinds we have never heard of or see before. All the food was just piled up out in the open.  A lot of the booths were from the indigenous Ecuadorians.  They look so festive in their native clothes and hats. Unfortunately we can’t take pictures of them unless we are far away.

Friday January 18th

We walked to a flower booth and bought 3 bouquets.  Flowers are extremely cheap here.  You can get a dozen roses for $3.00.  We took the flowers into the cemetery which is nothing like our cemeteries.  There are three or four stories of vaults that are enclosed.  Everyone puts flowers or pictures or trinkets on a little shelf in front of the vault.  We went to 3 different vaults which were where three children from OSSO were placed.  They had all died within the past year and a half.  Sasha and Keenan shared with us each of their stories and it was very heart wrenching.  These precious children had suffered so much in their short lives. Sasha told us what they felt the “purpose” of these children’s hard lives were. Heavenly Father loves these children dearly and allows them to be here to teach us Christ like love and compassion.

Saturday January 19th

We went to lunch, pigged out (The food is GREAT!) and then caught a tour bus of the city.  We rode up on top of the bus and wound through the tiny streets in this amazing city.  It is so alive and so full of life and activity.  The bus took us to the highest point of the city where we had spectacular views of Cuenca.  The homes and buildings go on forever it seems.  They are all nestled in the hills and mountains and it is a sight so gorgeous!  Here we hiked up even higher and were able to test our adventurous spirits.  We got on a rickety old swing, assisted by a cute man who buckled us in.  He then pushed us out over a cliff with a drop of several hundred feet.  It was so exhilarating and it was so fun to hear the squeals of everyone of us who did it.

After the tour we went to a street market where they were selling Ecuadorian trinkets and souvenirs.  The girls all bought lots of cheap jewelry and were thrilled.  We also went to some artesan stores with nicer quality things. She took us to a store and the man who owned it took us upstairs into his storage room.  It was full of sweaters, scarves, blankets, table cloths and runners, backpacks.  He gave us fabulous deals, even cheaper than down in his store.  He even gave us all a head band free. 

It was starting to get dark but we all decided to stay longer and have dinner in town.  Again, a delicious meal at a very nice restaurant.  Rice and potatoes and meat are served at every meal. Not a time or place to be dieting fore sure!  After dinner, of course, we had to stop at the ice cream store, Tutto Freddo, for the most delicious ice cream ever!!! I am sure we will all go back there as often as possible!  We all plopped into bed, extremely exhausted after a fun day of discovery and adventure and learning to love this beautiful city, country and people!


A Day in the Life

This blog is courtesy of current volunteer, Aspen Peterson. She is serving in Cuenca, Ecuador and has documented her first week as a volunteer. Enjoy!


Day 1

January 11, 2018
After 24 hours of traveling, I finally made it to Ecuador. I experienced a little culture shock when I found out Ecuadorians don’t flush the TP (toilet paper)! Much different than I’m used to.
Keenan and Sasha took us on a tour of the orphanage today. Definitely not what I expected. I am a little overwhelmed at the extent of care these kids need, but am ready to help however I can.


January 12, 2018
Love is an interesting emotion. It seems to sneak up on you in the most unexpected times and ways.
Hours of playing with the kids and receiving no encouraging reaction had me a little down. So to get away for a bit, I did therapy with one of the kiddos from OSSO A. Physical therapy was first (had absolutely no clue what I was doing) and then developmental therapy. I sat him between my legs and helped him hold a tambourine as I sang “You are my Sunshine” to him. The sweet sound of a giggle filled the room and I watched his smile grow wider as I kept singing to him.
That was when it snuck up on me. Love. Now it seems like I can’t stop the love that’s growing for each of these kids. They’re stealing my heart. I’m coming to realize that that is the most important part of OSSO, loving the kids.
However, my Sunshine boy will always have a special place in my heart.


January 13, 2018
Oh, I wish I could speak Spanish.


January 14, 2018
My first morning at OSSO. To say I was confused and shocked and useless and overwhelmed might be a bit of an understatement. I walked away from the orphanage to get ready for church in a daze.
Little M helped me recover on our way to church. He loved it when I squeezed him tight in a big hug. He laughed (he snorts when he laughs and it is hilarious) and kept asking for more squeezes. The kids always seem to know exactly what you’re feeling and know just how to help.


January 15, 2018
Ate some street vendor chicken today. Or it could have been llama. Or dog. Who knows. They called it pollo though so I think I’m safe……


January 16, 2018
“There’s something about the outside of a horse that’s good for the inside of a man.”
The kids proved this true with how big their smiles were as they did their horse therapy. It was like a wave of calm came over them as soon as they were lifted on the horse. I could relate to that calm. We all need a little horse therapy sometimes.
Emma and I went into the city for our shift off. Taxis are definitely nerve racking when you can’t communicate with the driver, but after today, I feel pretty confident in my abilities of giving them a piece of paper saying where I need to go. Communication problem solved.
I also felt confident that I dressed warm enough with a t-shirt and cardigan to go into town…until it dumped rain on us. Lesson learned. Always take a rain jacket. There’s a reason they call it the wet season.


January 17, 2018
Happy one week! And Happy City Tour Day!
Ecuadorians have a rich history and a beautiful country. I had my phone out taking pictures of everyone and everything half the day. Then I realized that while pictures are great to look back on and reminisce, I also needed to live in the moment. I put my camera away and started taking snapshots in my mind and let myself revel in the memories I was making with Keenan, Sasha and the other volunteers.
Those mental snapshots are what I’ll keep forever.