Ecuador: Intern Luci’s Last Post
Editor’s Note: High school junior Luci Bryson, daughter of SIFAT training director Kathy Bryson, is spending six weeks this summer as an intern with SIFAT Ecuador. Having already been part of Learn & Serve programming and training events both on our Galilee Campus and internationally, Luci is helping our teams in Ecuador and improving her Spanish translating skills. You can read her first entry and second entry.
It’s been one week since I’ve returned to Sweet Home Alabama. I’ve never felt more exhausted in my life, but I’m warm and content. Today is my second day at home as we went to Brasher Springs Camp Meeting and the Flippen-Shaw-Barkley family reunion. Wednesday, Jennessa, Evie and I are traveling to visit Brianna in Chicago. It’s been seven months since we’ve last all been together, so it will be nice to use this little window of time before Jennessa goes back to school in Boston, and Evie and I start our new life in Costa Rica with Mom. If it’s one thing from this summer that I’ve learned, it’s how much of an importance family has.
But family is a broad term.
Webster’s dictionary defines family as, “A person or people related to one and so to be treated with a special loyalty or intimacy.” I have family in Alabama, but I have family in Ecuador, too. Thank you for inviting me with open arms and accepting me as one of your own. To even begin to write you all this closing post is something for which I’ll never be ready. But isn’t it reassuring that we know we will meet again? Something that I’ll always remember is how the St. Luke’s Epsicopal team’s youth brought seeds for all of the children at Aida Leon. They taught how it was necessary to water and care for their little radishes. After the team left, the seeds started to sprout and bloom, and even though the team members weren’t there to enjoy the outcome — they planted something far greater in these children’s hearts — knowing that someone out there cared and believed in them. I saw my fellow Alabamians crying and hugging the necks of these kids, exclaiming of what an impact they felt from their time together. What they should realize, too, is how much of an impact they left in Ecuador with effects that will last a lifetime.
My last week in Ecuador was spent with the Montgomery FUMC medical team at Aida Leon, and for me I felt the most impacted in that last week. We had five physicians plus an eye doctor seeing patients. I translated for Dr. Martin, and I found myself shocked at the improvement in my Spanish versus when I first arrived. I’m constantly amazed at the power of language. It’s something that is so rewarding — uniting two groups of people together. I can’t say that enough.
How eye-opening it was for me to see such a variety of patients we served. From a two-day old baby to the elderly to even Quichuan families who traveled by foot as far as 18 miles to receive medical care — including many of whom had never seen a doctor in their lives. There were many young mothers around my same age who I got really close to during my time in Ecuador. I would get asked countless times: “How many kids do you have?” That question broke my heart. The Montgomery team put every ounce of them into making each patient feel welcomed and supported with no judgement, just God’s love that carried on past our “9 to 4” schedule each day.
It was inspiring to me to see teenagers give Bible lessons to all of the after-school program kids with written speeches in Spanish. Something that was definitely out of these youth’s comfort zones with little background in Spanish, but it was their will to bring about God’s love and let these kids — many in bad home environments know that there was someone who cared about them. I started to have a strong understanding on why many of the kids were so clingy and starved for attention. It’s something I grew to be very sensitive to.
When I was leaving, a group of girls tackled me to the ground with the tightest, most deadly hug exclaiming how much they were going to miss me. And oh, how I miss them. One week versus six weeks is completely different. I became a member of the church — of their family. Aida Leon has a mission, and that is serving God’s love in practical ways, both physically and spiritually.
Ecuador has left such a mark on my heart. I feel such a new level of understanding in poverty, experiencing that with them. I hate the word “mission trip” because this work is a life’s mission. My writing is so limited to express that to you all.
My last day, July 15th, I woke up tumbling out of bed frantically grabbing all of my belongings for clinic, before realizing it was 5 a.m. and clinic ended days before. The warm sunrise peeped over the highest mountains amidst the low hanging clouds. The usually busy streets were empty, and all was calm.
Peace be still.
From the rising of the sun to the going down at night blessed be the name;
The name of the Lord.
I thank you for opening my eyes and giving me the opportunity to be blessed by your presence in every smile, every sob-filled hug, every laugh and joyful fellowship of thanksgiving. I pray for the future SIFAT groups coming to work at Aida Leon this year and in the coming years; give them the strength and courage to share your love to those less fortunate. Thank you for placing such a wonderful support group in my life that have paved the way for this experience to be possible for me. Continue to work in the lives of the children in Aida Leon with this new after-school care center.
Bless all of the hands that have come together to build it and bring forth their time and offerings for your glory.
In your name I pray, amen.
This is my closing reflection for my time as the SIFAT intern in Ecuador. It’s not a goodbye, but a see you later.
With much love,