During the past two years I have not lived in the United States for more than a few months. After graduating from Hope College, I went to Costa Rica, where I took a couple of excellent courses through YWAM that prepared me for long-term mission work. Then, last September, almost a year ago, I found myself on a new continent, and in a new culture. Though I already spoke the language of Ecuador, there were many things I had to learn about life here.
Over a year ago I wrote a blog post about the concept of "home" (to go to my old blog post click here). Recently I have been reflecting more on what home means to me. As someone who has done a lot of traveling, it can be difficult to feel at home or have a sense of home in new places. But I have found that after a while, one becomes accustomed to the town, the culture, and the people, and a place that once seemed foreign transforms into a comfortable, warm, and safe place. It becomes home.
My first two months in Ecuador was one of the hardest times for me. I felt lonely and helpless. I didn't have friends here, I could hardly find my way around the city, and I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing here. I spent much of my time reading or walking around by myself after my Spanish classes. Then after making some friends and starting to work more, I began to branch out and learn more. I gradually find my comfort zone. Once again I had to adjust when I moved from Quito to the small pueblo where I'm now living. It was awkward at first, trying to coordinate my schedule and meet my neighbors (who were probably wondering what the young American girl was doing here!).
However, now when I think about leaving this beautiful country and my amazing community and church, it makes me sad. I don't want to think about it. The people I have met here, especially the children, have touched my heart. How can I leave the niños who always are so happy to see me, who visit me in the evenings to ask for homework help and play games? Whose faces are full of innocent joy and laughter?
Something I have always believed is that wherever you are, you should be all there. Be fully present where you are. There are days here in Romerillos where I feel like I have done nothing as far as work goes, but then I think about the time I spent talking with two girls in my house, the conversation I had with the señora who sold me rice and eggs at the store, and I know that this is ministry. This is God working through me. And I am thankful for those moments. Those moments have helped me feel at home here. Though I will not always be here, I will embrace the place God had given me now, a place to call home.