Touched

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When I left for my winter break mission trip to Ecuador on Valentine’s Day, I could not imagine the way the people of Ecuador would impact me, but they did. I could not imagine a little girl about six years old name Joanna could impact me as much as she did.

I developed a relationship with Joanna the first day I saw her with her leading me for a blind trust walk and she sat in my lap during the Bible lesson of Jesus heals the blind man. Joanna is a girl who participates in the Compassion International lunch program at the Verbo School where the team held a VBS (vacation Bible school) and also played with the kids.

Even though I do no speak any Spanish and Joanna does not speak any English, we were able to communicate through hand motions and minimal “Spanglish”, but mainly hand motions. I felt bad because she would try and tell me something, but I was not able to understand. I kept having to tell her “no compreno”, until finally she started using hand motions.

The last day we were at Verbo, I looked for her, knowing and dreading that would be the last day I would see her. I asked many students from both Verbo and my team, but no one seemed to know where she was. When she found me, we ran up to each other and I picked her up. The joy on her face for seeing me was bittersweet, knowing I would have to leave her and Ecuador very soon.

The moment I was dreading came when Joanna lifted up her hand and pointed to our bus sitting outside the Verbo school. After our bus arrived, leaving me hit me and controlling my emotions became extremely hard. I knew I would not be able to hold in my tears, which had begun to fall after the principal from the Verbo school prayed for us with the students surrounding us and the handing out of our dolls and food and drink.

When leaving came, all the kids from Verbo lined up and made a tunnel for us to go through, the hardest thing I have ever had to do. When I arrived at where Joanna was standing, I bent down and gave her a hug, both of us crying. As our bus was beginning to pull away, Joanna kept moving around so I could see her, tears streaming down both of our faces. She blew me a little kiss and kept moving around. The look on her face broke my heart. I could not imagine leaving the Verbo School would be as hard as it was. I had only spent three days with the Compassion International lunch program children.

Even though I am no longer in Ecuador, the impact Joanna had on me and the relationship I developed with her will always remain. I am hoping I can go back to Ecuador and be able to see her again and all the people we were able to meet in the short week we were there.





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