Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Day 1: Let It Be Fresh

It is late. I am functioning (miraculously) on 3 hours and 43 minutes of sleep (Thank you, Fitbit, for keeping a handle on that for me...as if I couldn't tell!). I am also caffeine-deprived, but we're not really talking about that so it won't be a "thing." 

We have had a very full day of activities, and I can hardly believe I'm still going. 

We left the hotel around 8:30 a.m. this morning. I say "around" because well, it is a group of women. We drove through a metropolitan area of Quito that looked similar to the  8-9 a.m. hustle and bustle of many American cities. I was surprised at how clean everything was and how smoothly traffic flowed and honestly, how it felt so much like "home." And by "home" I mean America - not Noxapater. 

We arrived at Casa Victoria - a beautifully restored home in the heart of Old Towne Quito that serves as a community center for 60-70 under privileged children in the neighborhood. It serves as a place of refuge and fun and support for these kids, and they can receive help with homework, are taught life values and skills, and frankly, just loved on. The director is a spunky woman with a heart for her community and most importantly - a heart for The Lord.
"We offer a place of safety, learning and care for children of low income families in the area, supporting them
spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally. We are a faith based
 non-profit organization, founding our beliefs
 and actions on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth." (Casa Victoria, 2015)
Note: I would compare it to many American Boys & Girls Clubs of America centers - just as a frame of referene.

Right now, the kids are on summer vacation so there were only about 30 children participating and there today. We got to divide up and help with the various stations, and I ended up in the beading room where we helped the kids make bracelets. Appropriate for a bunch of Noonday gals, yes? :)

The children were so incredibly well behaved and so kind to one another - and to us. It was so fun to watch them create their little masterpieces and the concentration they put in to making their bracelets. What a fun morning!

We were treated to a special lunch prepared by the Casa Victoria staff - PIZZA! They are getting ready to launch a social enterprise in the basement of the house where they will serve and deliver pizzas! What a great opportunity for the kids to learn important job skills and hopefully, create jobs for them in their neighborhoods! 

It was so amazing to learn about what they are doing here and more about this beautiful city.

We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the city and seeing the sights. We had tea and coffee in the most amazing hotel, and we ended the night with dinner at a wonderful restaurant with the most breathtaking views. 
Quito, Ecuador at sunset. Our view as dinner started. It was not ugly.

Jessica Honegger (Noonday Collection Founder and Co-CEO) and Emily Maroda (Noonday Collection's Artisan Impact Specialist) have encouraged us to live in this moment in this place. For those who have traveled elsewhere -  for us to put that out of our heads and hearts and just be present here. To just let it be fresh and new this week and in this place with these people. That's not be easy, I'll be honest. But I am definitely trying. I want to experience this week to the fullest and enjoy learning more about this beautiful country and its people.

Taking a break with Malcolm.
I met the sweetest little boy that reminded me so much of my Eli. He was an all-or-nothing kind of boy with an infectious grin and a contagious laugh. He walked into the room, took one look at the beading taking place and quickly found himself something else to do. Bless. So, I began to pitch balls for him to "gently" hit back to me with a badminton racket. Before we were through, he had 12 balls in my lap to be pitched and was not exactly hitting them back gently. We *might* have been a little distraction. Maybe.

Malcolm Bettis, which was how he introduced himself, made my day! 

Tomorrow, we will explore more of Quito, and I believe there is a gondola ride up a volcano on the agenda. What?! How can this possibly be my "job?" 

Stay tuned folks...

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