This blog is brought to you by alumna, Beth Molifua
For the first time in my life, I was traveling out of country and alone to an unknown home, city and group of people. I had no idea what to expect from my time in Ecuador but I knew there was no backing out once I stepped on the plane! I remember sitting on the plane from SLC to Quito wondering what I had gotten myself into. I was never one to push myself outside of my comfort zone or try crazy new things. There really was no other explanation than that this was what I was supposed to be doing. I trusted that I was meant to be there, loving and serving those children.
There are experiences in life that cannot always be described; and to me, Ecuador was one of those. One of my favorite memories was at a Catholic orphanage next door that we regularly worked at. It was run by several nuns and Tias (workers). Some of those nuns, I felt, didn't particularly like us and discouraged us from picking up the babies. This was because the babies would become accustomed to being held while the volunteers were there, and when we left there would not be enough hands to hold them. Looking back, it probably did not help the nuns at all, but who could resist those tiny babies?! I secretly picked them up and cuddled them before I left. I remember holding one little boy right before we put all of the babies to sleep and he just stared up at me like I was an alien . Which was most likely true for him, considering my pale face and blonde hair. I remember humming the song "I am a Child of God" to him and just looking into his huge brown eyes. I still remember that sweet face and the feelings that I had from the interaction. I felt such love and joy for him, but also sadness and confusion. How could someone give that little face up? I wondered how he got there and why this happened to him. Why him? Those feelings quickly subsided as I thought, 'This is what I am here for'. I felt like this was my purpose while in Ecuador; I was an instrument to be used to serve and love each and every child that I came across.
The month that I was there flew by and I found myself crying pretty much the whole plane ride from Cuenca to Quito. I never imagined that those children could have touched my life so deeply. I missed feeding times, bath time, playing fútbol, coloring and taking the disabled children for walks. It was hard, lonely, confusing and discouraging at times to deal with being home; but the experience taught me to love, to do hard things and to put others first. I would never take this experience back and I wouldn't change one thing. I hope I was able to touch their lives just as they touched mine. We always stress that the orphans gain so much from our presence and our sacrifices, but I firmly believe that we gain so much more from them. I am forever changed for the better because of those children.