Last week Sara and I went to Cuenca to meet Maria, a girl we sponsor through Compassion International. We left from the city of Shell on Wednesday the 29th at 8 PM and after 10 hours of travel and several bus changes we finally made it to beautiful Cuenca around 6 AM Thursday. We took a taxi to our hostel in the city center and Sara struck up conversation with the friendly driver.
Luckily the room was ready for us early and Sara and I dumped our stuff and crashed for a few hours.
Sara and I were supposed to meet our compassion guide, Juan, at the bus station 8 AM for the ride to Maria’s village. Due to delays it was about 10 AM when we finally met up with him and caught out bus.
The three of us arrived in Parmaos around 1 PM.
Juan called a car to bring us to the project…
….where we met our Maria!
Sara was our interpreter and did a great job! We talked a lot, getting to know each other better, and looked at old records from the project and photos of a very cute little Maria.
We found out that she has been attending the Compassion program since she was about 5 years old. Now, she has about two years of school left and hopes to study and be a doctor when she grows up. She goes to the local high school in the mornings, and three days a week she attends activities at the Church. She does Bible studies, music, and a class that lets the kids explore different hobbies. There are about 150 children that attend the Compassion program at her church.
Sara and I had been planning on taking Maria, her family, Juan, and the pastor of the church that hosts the project out to a restaurant. But they surprised us by having a large, delicious meal already prepared for us.
Seasoned rice, papas fritas, fresh tomato slices, some kind of coleslaw (my favorite part), and fried chicken. Oh, and coke to drink. Everything was really good!
Then we got to go to Maria’s house. She showed us her room and I gave her the gifts we brought. Maria rocked the shades like a movie star! B-D
She gave me a beautiful gift. I was so surprised and touched. And it was perfect, just what I had been looking for but unable to find.
We did a craft I brought and then it was time to go. But Maria’s mother surprised us again with hot herbal/green tea, boiled potatoes, cheese filled empanadas (rolls), boiled eggs, and a local bean. It was so nice to warm ourselves on the surprisingly cold day and have a few more minutes together. After one final prayer and a family photo it was time for goodbyes, which are always the hardest part.
(Maria’s sister, Mother, Father, Maria, me, Pastor)
Then we were off to catch our bus back to the hostel.Once in the room Sara and I passed out quickly and slept gratefully. We spent Friday the 31st sightseeing around beautiful Cuenca and then caught a 7:30 PM bus. After about 10 and 1/2 hours in transit we arrived back in Shell Saturday morning, exhausted!
It was so good to be able to meet our sweet Maria! I think my favorite part was seeing her beautiful smile. I knew she was a pretty girl from the pictures I had received but she had always looked so solemn. When I saw Maria smile for the first time, her face really did light up and made everyone around her smile too.