Amigos Nuevos

Today some of us had the opportunity to visit the university in Puyo. We met students studying  tourism engineering in their English class. We were each paired with two students and conversed with them while we went on a beautiful walk. We walked along a river with lush trees. All of the students were very excited that we were there to meet them and to practice their english. Because of their excitement, they treated us to a classic Ecuadorian snack consisting of beans, roasted corn, plantain chips, tomatoes, onions, tuna and ahi sauce. It was so fresh and delicious! 
I was telling one of the students about Minnesota winters. They were so curious about snow and ice covering the lakes and they were amazed that the leaves changed colors and fall off the trees. I enjoyed learning about their families, their hobbies and favorite foods, through somewhat broken english. Many of them added us on Facebook and we are excited to stay in touch. Although we only spent about two hours with them, we connected with many of the students and share a lot in common.

Karli

“We all know that light travels faster than sound. That’s why certain people appear bright until you hear them speak.” ~ Albert Einstein

Flying Into the Jungle

Today we (Amelia, Kelsie, Alex, Nick, Erin, Justin, and Karli) had the opportunity to take this airplane into the jungle 15 minutes outside of Shell. We were supposed to fly out yesterday but due to the extremely heavy rainfall, the runway was closed. Since the weather today was hotter than ever, we got onboard and flew out. The airplane ride was actually very smooth. There was no turbulence nor any reason to worry. The view was beautiful outside the windows, we even could spot Casa De Fe from above. The longer we flew the less buildings we saw, until there were only trees and the river in our view. We were surprised to see the runway in the jungle because it was just grass. What we are standing on in the picture is the actual runway. As we landed, many of the people who lived in the community we were visiting were at the runway to see us. We got off the plane and were greeted by hugs and kisses on our cheeks. The eldest of the community said a prayer for us then we walked up to their village. We gathered in their church where the elder gave a speech in his native language, which was translated to Spanish, then translated into English. Four people then came in dressed in their native clothes and sang for us, again in all three languages. Next, we went up to an original hut where they danced for us and painted our faces. We were even able to try out a blow dart. They had some handmade items for us to buy which were very unique. Overall it was a great experience and it was interesting to see and learn about another culture. Its cool to see how one country can house so many different cultures. The rest of our team will be able to fly out tomorrow and do this for themselves. We are excited to return to Casa De Fe tomorrow and work with the maestros and kids.

Amelia and Kelsie

"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart." ~ Helen Keller

Grandpa Justin

This was by far my favorite picture of the whole day Monday. It was taken around noon, after a few of us had gotten done working outside and were waiting for the walk to lunch. We were just sitting around talking in front of Casa de Fe and this little girl, Natalie, came walking around the corner holding hands with one of the Tias. The minute she saw Justin she let go of the Tia’s hand, walked up to him, and held out her arms for him to pick her up. He did and she wouldn’t let him put her down. We all wanted to hold her, I mean look how cute she is, but she would cry the second Justin would try to give her to one of us. She just held on to him so tight. It was the most precious sight. These kids are so lovable and touch each of us every day.

Amelia

"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart." ~ Helen Keller

A Day Inside

Above is Amanda, a special needs child at Casa de Fe who had the most amazing laugh and smile. Working with Amanda brought out my biggest smile and laugh, but will also made me really appreciate this SALTs trip. She absolutely melted my heart and made your day.

As a group of us work hard outside, three of us get the opportunity to work with the children all day. A day inside consists of therapy with the children of Casa de Fe, starting with the infants. Each child has their own needs in which the therapy is catered to. I had the opportunity to work with a 2 year old named Sol who had fluid in the back of her brain that was inhibiting her sensory and motor skills. Because of these things she was still on the bottle and had difficulties grabbing things that she wanted, things such as a toy. We worked on these areas by brushing around and in her mouth, and by working on grabbing things in front of her. The workers at Casa de Fe said that she has come along very well and continues to show progress. She was such a cutie and had an adorable smirk when she was happy.
Once therapy with the infant was over, we then had the opportunity to work with an older child who also had therapy needs. I had the opportunity to work with a 6 year old girl who had a condition in which she was not expected to live past the age of 3. This condition really inhibited my ability to communicate with her because she was blind and unable to see. Touch was about the only way in which I could try and show her comfort. Together we worked on stretching. If I remember correctly, both of her hips were out of her sockets. And yet with this her legs were very stiff and fully extending her knees, ankles, and toes were quite the challenge. I personally had a difficult time stretching her because the resistance her body was having, but also because I could see an occasional tear fall from her left eye. I can imagine I had occasionally put her through great pain. That was very challenging for me but I still enjoyed the opportunity to work with this gorgeous eyed girl with the longest eyelashes I have ever seen. 
Then we took a break for lunch, returning after to work with the special needs children. This experience especially touched my heart. At this time I was able to work with a beautiful girl named Amanda. Man, was she fantastic. I have never seen a smile so big and a laugh so beautiful. Amanda had two conditions, one was smooth brain and the other one’s name escapes me. But her therapy consisted of stretching (similar to the things I had just explained in the previous paragraph), grasping toys in front of her, and some back exercises. During these things she would frequently she would show her big and beautiful smile and it was the most amazing thing to me. As soon as I showed her a smile back she would feed off of it and bust out laughing. She is a truly special girl and someone who had spoke to my heart, all without even speaking a word. Experiences like these are why we came to Casa de Fe. And it is through this experiences that we all will come back with a new perspective on life.

Morgan

"I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year, 'Give me a light, Give me a Light, Give me a Light that I may tread safely into the unknown.' The man who stood at the gate of the year said, ‘ put your hand into the hand of God, He is better than a light and truer than a known way.’” ~ Anonymous

Making Cement

At Casa De Fe on Monday we had our first day working outside with the Maestros, Jaime and Hernan. We had many small tasks to complete at the home. One of the tasks we had to complete was due to the heavy rainfall that happened on Monday. The storm had washed three trunks into the stream that ran through the property. The trunks had gotten stuck next to the bridge that crossed the stream and had caused a barrier for the water movement. A few of our team members and Jaime had to get those trunks out of the stream and bring them up the hill to the brush pile. While that group was working at the stream, another group was moving a pile of large tires from outside the Maestros work shed to the edge of the rainforest. They had to do this so the area would be clean and we could reach the fish ponds later in the day. The remainder of our group was inside Casa De Fe working with the children. They helped with physical therapy for some of the children and made necklaces and played games with the children. During the morning it rained on and off making for very muddy work outdoors. We walked to Alexander’s for lunch after our morning work was done. In the afternoon, the outdoor group mainly worked with the fish pond. We are trying to restore the fish pond so Casa can grow their fish. They had built the ponds about 5 years ago but the fish kept dying or getting stolen, so they ended up draining it. We cemented the remaining posts for the fence around the ponds in the ground. We had to make our own cement, which is what is being done in the picture. While some of our group was working on the posts, others were cleaning out the ponds. They had to peel the fish nets off of the sides of the ponds and pull weeds from in between the rocks. Many new types of insects and worms were seen while working inside the ponds. Once we were done with our work outside, we got to go and play with the kids for about 15 minutes until we left. For dinner we went to Johnny’s with a missionary family. Of course, after dinner we had ice cream after a walk in the park.

"In the beginning of a change, the PATRIOT is a scarce man, and brave and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it cost nothing to be a PATRIOT.” ~ Mark Twain 1904