Last month I met up with my sister, brother in law and their team. We hopped on a plane and headed to Quito, Ecuador. My sister, Rachel, owns a gymnastics gym in Michigan. Her husband, John, works for a water treatment company. John has an uncle who has dedicated his life to providing clean water to remote people groups throughout Ecuador. When the three of these geniuses put their resources together, amazing things happen! I had the privilege of documenting it all with my camera. It was worth dusting that heavy beast of a lens off and lugging it to the mountains of Ecuador to photograph the awesome ways they are helping provide clean water to impoverished communities.
For the last three years Rachel has taken staff from her gym to assist Ecuadorian people groups provide a clean water source for communities that don’t have access to it. They team up with Life Giving Water International, a nonprofit started by John’s uncle.
The week I was along for the adventure, each morning we helped fill 5.5 ft. deep and long trenches that had already been dug by hand before our arrival. The Ecuadorian people worked circles around us. Mercy. I blame the elevation. The 13,000 feet above sea level made breathing feel like a workout in and of itself.
In the afternoons, alongside the local missionaries, we helped lead a Vacation Bible School for the children of the community. VBS was my highlight of the trip and not just because the other option was digging through blowing dirt at 40 degree temperatures. The children and their rosy-windburned faces captured my heart. Looking into their warm brown eyes as we taught them to wash their hands before snack is etched in my brain as a moment I never want to forget.
One of the words I want to describe me in 10 years is ADVENTUROUS. A more apt current descriptor might be cautious. Having braved a week in Ecuador I do feel like I earned, at least, my first level Adventure Badge, if such a thing exists. Here’s why:
- Before we wound our way up the mountain, we took a late night hike in the Amazon jungle with head lamps in search of tranchulas and snakes. I lived to tell.
- I shared a hotel room with several cockroaches. I lived to tell.
- I rode in a single prop, 5 seater airplane with a grass runway. I lived to tell.
- I slept on the floor with 15 others, sleepover style, if your sleepover was in a room with no heat and previously housed, what smelled like, several wet dogs. I lived to tell.
- We were encouraged to drink a lot of water to avoid elevation sickness and dehydration. Bathrooms were tricky to locate and I often used make-shift facilities, AKA: sides of housing structures. This included, but not limited to, a home I was not aware was full of Ecuadorian people waiting to join us for work. I bet they didn’t know their day was going to begin with a view of a middle-aged white girls bum. I lived to tell.
- I tested out being vegan for a week. Some of the popular cuisine is guinea pig and ALL the parts of other commonly edible animals. Chicken breast, okay. Chicken tallon, I’ll pass. I lived to tell.