June 6, 2018
Our last day in Ecuador.
I think I can speak for us all when I say this trip has been quite the ride. It seems so long ago I was waiting in the airport a little nervous and very excited to embark on what has turned out to be a marvelous adventure. As I look back on the days spent here at the (Working Boys) Center, I try to reflect on the special treasures of the trip. The list seems endless, as every moment of our time spent here, through all of the tremendous ups to the lowest of lows, has been unique and something I will remember forever. For me personally, one area of this immersion that challenged me was having to look poverty and injustice in the face ... It's an unnerving feeling walking into the lives of others on our house visits and being struck with the hard truth that there are people in this world who have next to nothing. It is very easy for us to talk about hardship and poverty at home and school, and feel like we are seeing the whole problem but in reality, until you are sitting with a local mother, in her house—the size of one, maybe two, rooms of your own—and listening to her story of sacrifice and hardship just to have the chance to get her kids a better life, you don’t—you cannot—understand. The difficult truth is one we all bear now.
I want you to know that there is a silver lining to this challenge of mine. We all were taught something by the wonderful people we encountered along this trip. Padre and Madre, the founders of the Working Boys Center, have a saying for their program: “A Family of Families.” Here in Ecuador, we saw this idea of family almost everywhere we went. Each tour guide, shop owner, and stranger on the street we encountered showed us enormous amounts of kindness and generosity. Going far beyond their duty to make sure our experience, our day, was the best it could be. The people and children here at the center accepted us as amigos, not as outsiders. And finally, in our own group, I went from not knowing the majority of my fellow Bells’ names to being family—brothers—by the end.
So, if you are reading this, heed: learn from what we saw. The people that we were immersed with taught us values of immeasurable wealth. The bond and strength of a family is incontestable. You always have each other's back, you sacrifice yourself to serve each other, you love and give people the dignity they deserve. In Ecuador, we saw that people, though there were many who had nothing, gave everything. They made us their family and they took care of us, sacrificed for us, and gave us the love and respect that we all deserve. I hope that I can recognize this lesson that God gave to me and apply it more in my life ... by being way more grateful for the life, privileges, and opportunities that I have; by trying to reach out and make more people part of my family and treating them with gratitude and respect; and finally by never forgetting that there are people suffering around me. I hope I can put in more real, meaningful service to help our fellow family of humanity and encourage others to give their best to their families. Together, we have grown tremendously on this trip and we will all cherish and reflect on the family that we were welcomed into, and the family we have become.
~ Ryan '19
P.S. Thank you to all of our parents. We all really appreciated your allowing, and probably funding, us to go and have this incredible experience. In the spirit of family, we all thank each and every one of you for the patience, kindness, and love that you give to us every day.