Come with us as we return to South America this summer to volunteer at La Casa De Fe, a home for abandoned and special needs children in Shell, Ecuador.

"Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” ~Mathew 19:14

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Thank You!

CDF 2012 -Header
Dear Friends and Family...
For seven weeks this summer we lived in Ecuador and filled every moment with kids, planning, and more kids :). Thank you for your prayers and contributions that made our trip possible. We hope you enjoy reading this recap of our ministry with the children. (check our blog for additional stories and photos).

Beach Time... 2012-6 Beach Trip 173
One of our highlights this year was helping take the kids on a trip to the beach. Each of the older kids was matched one-on-one with an adult buddy and we spent 4 days playing games on the beach, jumping in the waves, and doing VBS activities arranged 2012-6 Beach Trip 396by an awesome team from New Mexico. We were paired up with Alondra and Abigail, sisters that we had met the very first year we volunteered at Casa De Fe. It was neat to have four days where we could focus all of our attention on “our” girl and not have to be in charge of everyone. Though we came home water logged, tired, and full of sand, the kids absolutely loved the trip.

Erin’s Favorite Part...
One of the things that Sara and I wanted to focus on this summer was “grown up” time with the big girls. Out of necessity, when you have 54 children under one roof, the older kids often get lumped in with all the young ones, or serve as helpers for the babies (which they do enjoy :0). We decided to carve out an hour and a half each day for a special big2012-07-16 180 girl only time.
Every day while another volunteer read to the girls in Spanish, I showed them how to do a cool craft project. The girls loved it! The projects would start out in one direction and by the time we were done had morphed into something bigger and better. It was wonderful to watch the girls’ creativity and individuality come out. It’s amazing how something as simple as craft time can turn into an opportunity to mentor and encourage these beautiful young ladies.

Sara’s Favorite Part...
One of the best parts of the summer was seeing how much the kids have grown over the last few years. Kids like Esther and Karla, who were just starting to walk last summer, are now running around and holding their own in the little girls room. Jamie and Joselyn, 7 year old twin sisters who were born with a rare disorder, went from crawling everywhere, to walking and going to the special needs school. All of clip_image002the kids have improved academically, and grown a few inches, but one of the biggest changes was with the older girls. They have all grown up so much and some are as tall as I am. clip_image002[4]When I look at Rosa (15 and the oldest girl) I can’t believe how much she looks like an adult.clip_image002[6]

The Challenge of Leading...
This year we also took on the new role of officially being in charge of developing and running the summer program. This included the challenging task of coordinating all of the volunteer staff, as many as 15 at one time. We were very blessed to have wonderful volunteers who were dedicated to working with and loving on the kids. We learned a lot about ourselves, our leadership styles, and the way people work together. We had to be super flexible through the summer as we modified the schedule, re-modified the schedule, kept staff and kids headed in the right direction, and filled our evenings with planning and computer work. Another lesson we learned was the importance of rest and making space to breathe during a busy day –however we did not necessarily always master that skill :). Going through the process of leading this summer left us with a great deal of appreciation for those who do that kind of work as a career.

Tutoring... 2012-07-16 049
While we wanted the summer to be full of fun activities, it was also important to help the children academically. Working from the individual assessments that the ESL teachers had done on each child, we gathered books and resources to help the kids fill in the holes in their reading and math skills. The kids got lots of one-on-one tutoring so that we could focus on their specific needs, as well as some group tutoring. Sara had the challenge of teaching a class of 8 kids who were officially 2nd graders, but ranged from those who did 2012-07-18_20 008not know their ABCs, to those who could read on their own. To keep the kids motivated we created reading charts to track their progress and let them earn prizes. The kids really loved them! At the end of the summer all the kids had earned a pool party complete with ice cream sundaes!

One-on-One Time...
This summer we again focused on taking the kids out for individual activities in town. During our special visits we would do simple things like going to the park, coloring, doing a craft and making dinner. One of their favorite activities turned out to be helping make pancakes. Never have I seen kids more excited about getting to cut bananas and stir the ingredients. Tatiana, one of the special needs kids thought it was the best game ever. And when I told her and Boris to take their dishes and put them in the sink, I turned around to see them laughing hysterically and splashing water as they tried to 2012-07-16 351get them sparkling clean. Edison, who is deaf, also loved cooking. When Erin added a bunch of ingredients to the bowl he was mixing his smile got HUGE and he gave us a double thumbs up. Even the little kids, like three year old Sheyla liked to help. But in her case I think more ingredients landed in her mouth than in the bowl…

For more stories and photos of our time in Ecuador scroll down to read the posts that we published during our trip. Over the next few weeks we will be returning to our tradition of posting weekly videos. Our “Movie Mondays” will continue as long as we have new clips to post.

Thank You!!! 

~Sara and Erin