Ecuador Trip Brings Fresh Faces

Josh Irvin, Staff Writer

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This year during GAC’s Winter Break, 25 students traveled to Riobamba, Ecuador, to help the indigenous people of that region. GAC has traveled to Ecuador for many years, dating back to 2004, to share the word of God with those who listened.

The team this year only had a few veterans returning, having a mostly new team traveling to do mission work in Ecuador. Some of the students who were first year members traveling to Riobamba, talked about their experience and thought process on going to serve there.

“This was my first time going on the mission trip to Ecuador,” senior Caroline Evans said. “I saw many pictures of the previous years and I was so intrigued in the culture of the people.”

Senior Caitlin Galvin also talked about her deciding on why she wanted to be apart of the Ecuador team.

“This was my first year going to Ecuador and I couldn’t be happier with my decision,” Galvin said. “I was originally supposed to go to Namibia but the trip was cancelled with very short notice. I was very upset about the Africa trip, but fortunately, [Spanish teacher] Natalia Media did everything in her power to get me on the Ecuador mission team.”

Even though the 2017 team was composed of mostly new members, a few veterans returned to share some of their experiences from the previous years. Senior Ian Rodriguez, shared why he loves Ecuador and why he wanted to return as a senior veteran.

“I wanted to travel back to Riobamba so badly so that I could experience the bonds and connections that I made over the year,” Ian said. “I love the opportunity to see Pastor Manuel and his family, and visiting the villages surrounding Riobamba.”

The 2017 team had many new experiences and enjoyed growing closer to the indigenous people of Riobamba and Cajabamba. Senior Natalie Santana, shared her favorite part of her week working in Ecuador.

“My favorite part of the mission trip was forming relationships with the amazing kids of the mountain villages. Some of the villages we get to go back and visit and it is always exciting to recognize kids you saw in my previous year coming,” Natalie said.

Some students talked about the unexpected joys that occurred during the trip.

“Having to walk up a mountain in the cold rain to get to one of the villages wasn’t something I was looking forward to, however, that was where my greatest memory of spinning this little girl in circles and holding her constantly saying back and forth to each other, te amo mucho grande, which means I love you so much,” Caroline said.

Caitlin talked about her feelings after leaving Ecuador and her growth spiritually with God.

“When we left Ecuador, it hit me that the children put more of an impact on me than I put on them,” Caitlin said. “I feel like I grew spiritually on the trip from the Ecuadorian families. They believe in God and it amazes me because they have nothing. They helped me understand that I am so fortunate for everything I have and God is always there for me no matter what.”

Caroline also talked about herself emotionally and spiritually after attending a week in Riobamba.

“I grew a lot from this trip from learning from the culture of Ecuador, pouring my heart out to the indigenous people, and connecting on a deeper level with God,” Caroline said.

Everyone said they would love to come back to Ecuador to serve again in the future.

“I definitely hope to go to Ecuador again, especially to see Marco again,” Caitlin said. “If I am never able to go to Ecuador again, it always has my heart.”

Natalie really enjoyed herself and also shared her thoughts on attending again.

“Seeing the families houses that are just a small shed made me realize that I should be thankful for what I have,” Natalie said. “ I hope that I can return to Ecuador in college or sometime after I graduate.”

The Ecuador team created new experiences and placed a statement of God on the people of Ecuador.

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