It’s been quite a few years since I have led a trip of this sort. I used to have a system that I followed to make sure all my t’s were crossed and i’s were dotted. But this trip was different. We had all new people joining, going to a place I had never been, and working with an organization that I’ve never worked with. My well thought-through systems just didn’t fit the mold of this trip so I found myself back at square one, trying to do my best to plan and lead this trip effectively. If I were to be honest with myself, I was pretty scared to death. I had visions of this one trip I lead a long time ago where a team member pulled me aside and told me I was the worst leader she had ever met and that she would spend her life making she she never led like me. Ouch. Going into this trip to Ecuador I felt like I had to lead perfectly, be this incredibly strong and hard working person, and always have the exact right words of inspiration to give each team member. Because, clearly, that’s all it takes to be a good leader, right?
Turns out I still had quite a few lessons to learn about leading. And the main one I learned on this trip is that by stepping back and empowering others to flourish in their own strengths a lot can get done. A lot. Working on things they were good at and loved, we were able to get almost everything done that Karissa had planned for the entire week within our first 2 days at the orphanage. Bedrooms were painted, murals were drawn, beds were built, holes were sealed, furniture was stained, and lots of cleaning was done. The team went above and beyond in so many ways and worked tirelessly to get the orphanage ready to open in a couple weeks. I was super proud of them and their hard work. I posted before I left that even if I hand picked a team, I couldn’t have picked better members…and after spending a week with them, I still stand behind that statement. I learned so much from them and loved getting to know them. And somewhere along the way, we had a *bit* of fun. 😉
I know you came here to see pictures, so instead of rambling, I am going to give you what you came for…
When we arrived at the orphanage the bedrooms were painted in solid colors, but Karissa really wanted some cute drawing and murals. She asked if anyone in the team was good at art and a few of us stepped up. With Kristy, Kim and Nicole leading the way, we managed to paint 4 rooms with INCREDIBLE murals and wall paintings. Michel and Adam hard at work sealing the windows and painting the ceilings. The volunteer wallThe dream team.Village lifeWe didn’t stay here but we had this little feeling that it wouldn’t exactly live up to the standards of a Hilton resort.The missions house we stayed at had 5 siblings who will be the first ones at the orphanage. They have an incredible story of survival and overcoming…at the young ages of 2, 5, 6, 9 and 13. During our stay at the mission house, these kids stole our hearts. Delcy, Tito, and jose out on the town with us for dinner and ice creamIn total, we brought 22 suitcases full on donated items. I had NO IDEA that much stuff would be donated, but it is enough to give the orphanage a good kick start when they open their door sin a couple days.Tito is 6 years old but because of his history, he is only the size of a typical 3 year old. He was one of the sweetest kids I have ever met and if I could take him home with me, I would have. 🙂I may be biased but I kinda think a kid looks good on him. Maria, clearly, doesn’t agree.Loved this precious little girl. She, too, is much smaller than she should be. At 2 years old she is the size or a normal 9 month old. She is absolutely brilliant and amazed us all wit how much she understood. Delcy, the little monkeyWe spent a day out in a remote village handing out food and playing games with the kids. Some brilliant person on your team (*cough* KRISTY) had the brilliant idea of playing Duck, Duck, Goose with the village kids. We, appropriately, renamed the game Duck, Duck, Lice after playing. Excuse me as I go scratch my head a bit more…Passing out bags of food to the villagers.Yes, that is a monkey drinking Gatorade. Our team with the villagers.My partner in crime doing his thingA little hike throught he jungle to get to a waterfall. The dream team