8/15/14-8/18/14 Birthdays, Reflections and Goodbyes!

June 23, 2016

Friday 8/15

On Friday, I said farewell to all my Abuelitos! It was so sad to leave them, but I was overwhelmed at how grateful every single person was for my time and service at ABC. It brought me to tears when each Abuelito hugged and kissed me goodbye! I miss them so much already! 

Friday night was my host sister's birthday! We had a big party and it gave me the opportunity to say goodbye to all of my Ecuadorian family! It also gave me a chance to see the way birthdays are celebrated in Ecuador. They are so fun. The house was decorated beautifully and there were lots of games for the kids. There was desert and even a piñata! And it's tradition to dunk the birthday girl's face into a big chocolate cake!

It was a blast and I enjoyed being with my family one last time and celebrating the birthday of Vale!

Saturday/ Sunday

The rest of the weekend was spent peacefully (besides more earthquakes) catching up on sleep and relaxing. I did more shopping for souvenirs and really just tried to enjoy my last meals with my family and friends. It was relaxing and when I had to say goodbye Sunday night, it was very emotional. Saying goodbye to my host family was the hardest and I know I am really going to miss them so much. As a take away I was given a Diploma of Accomplishment from Simon Bolivar and A certificate from ABC (in Spanish) talking about my service and volunteer hours! 

It was an honor to work with both of these organizations and I cannot emphasize enough how honored I was to be able to go on this trip! My flights home were safe and on time! I arrived at O'Hare airport promptly on Monday at 1:30PM and was so glad to be greeted by Dad! It was so wonderful to be home!

Reflection

I was more than blessed with this opportunity to be abroad for the last month. I have learned so much about not only Ecuador and its culture, but I have learned so much about myself. Traveling alone in a foreign country is one of the best ways to get to know yourself on a deeper and more personal level. I have realized my own strength, power and control over my attitude, actions and reactions. This trip has been a stepping stone for me into a new level of self awareness and personal serenity. I am so blessed that I have been given this time to confirm my passion for serving is what I want to do the rest of my life. It is so important to me that I continue to fulfill my purpose in God through serving. In the future, I plan to return to Ecuador with bigger plans and a bigger outreach to serve. I am so excited for the future and I cannot wait to see how the impact of this trip ripples into other parts of my life.

I am so appreciative for all of you who have continued to follow me throughout my journey. I am so blessed to have so many individuals who support and care about me and my travels. It has been so impactful to hear everyone's prayers, comments, questions and responses. I have been beyond grateful for all of your prayers and support. Your love and interest for me has been more than meaningful.

A final thank you goes out to Spirit Cultural Exchange Program, which has made this miracle trip happen for me. Thank you all for believing in me and blessing me with the opportunity to serve, grow and explore in Ecuador. I am so grateful to each and every one of you who has made this possible at Spirit, especially Kathleen and April. Thank you so much for your time, energy, and faith in me.

Until next time!

Beyond grateful,

Dani