ICP stands for awesome

ICP also stands for Implementing Church Partner – also known as the local church Compassion works through.  Sunday morning we got up, ate breakfast, and were off for our first project visit.  Since it was Sunday we started the morning off with a church service at our first ICP visit.  At each of the projects we visited we were greeted by the kids and – usually – they had whistles and kazoos and confetti and signs.

32623049_10101946367531364_901709146636681216_oIMG_4140

It took us a minute to make our way into the church and get settled, but once we were we were seated we were treated to a dance from the girls

and a skit from the boys

it was obvious to me, and I don’t think I was alone, that the kids were invested in these performances.   Yes, they had worked hard to impress the sponsors that were visiting, but it was also a chance for them to focus on their talents.

After these performances it was time for the message.  I might have been the only one who didn’t know the agenda, but I was truly surprised – and very blessed – to hear our tour leader, Sandeep, speak.  He shared his testimony with the kids.  Sandeep grew up in India and is a formerly sponsored child.  I know he was speaking to the kids, but I think his message might have had a greater impact on their parents.

31957513_10213295889844786_7196370115657465856_n

After the service we were treated to a brief glimpse into some of the curriculum taught at this project.  For our team, it was a window into the Bible curriculum that is taught.

Then it was lunch time!  First order of business was a quick game of pre lunch frisbee.

Then it was time to serve the kids and then their parents.  I don’t think I’m exagerating (I might be, but I don’t think so) when I say there were 5,000 people.

After we’d served the masses it was time for us to eat.  Lunch was amazing and the proof that it was amazing is that I have no photos.  We were all too busy eating to take pics.  But, it is important to mention here we were introduced to a new fruit.  I didn’t take a picture of it, but if I were to describe it I would say it was very passion fruit-y.  One of the translators told me it was nicknamed booger fruit and I just did a google search for Ecuadorian booger fruit and voilà,.. I now know it’s cultured name is la granadilla, but I think I prefer booger fruit.  And I could eat it all day long.

Screen Shot 2018-05-25 at 8.25.55 PM

photo provided by google

Lunch was over and things were wrapping up at the church.  It was time for our group to head off.  But first, a couple of boys wanted their pic taken.  They are pretty snazzy.

IMG_4204

Our next stop was a boat ride on a nearby lake.  There was discussion about wether we could all do the boat ride, was it big enough?  Then we found out the boat could fit 60 – so boat ride for all! (and I’m very glad there were not 60 people to test that claim.)

Boat ride over it was time to head back to the hotel to debrief and relax.  Most of us were pretty tired after a full day!

PHOTO - Ecuador - Group at Lake - 180506

the whole group post boat ride!

 

Tren Ecuador

Day 2 in Ecuador.  A very well rested group of travelers gathered in the hotel lobby to grab our box breakfasts and board a bus to take us to the train that would take us to the place we would be spending the next several days.

(Disclaimer:  my blogging mojo isn’t what it once was so I didn’t get pictures of every little thing, but my traveling companions have all been generous and have given me permission to steal theirs.  Or I guess since I have permission it’s just using, not stealing.)

One of the pieces of information we had prior to the trip was whom our “family” group would be.  And I bravely volunteered to head up our group.  There were 5 in our group and we were given the exotic name of “four”.  I’ll let you guess what names the other 6 groups had.  On the bus, headed to the train, we were gifted with a group translator.  (I’ve never wished I’d taken Spanish in high school more than on this trip.)  Our translator was Ramiro.

Ramiro

Since we weren’t given head shots of our translators I stole this from his FB page. (Sorry Ramiro)

The translators on these trips are amazing.  They don’t just translate the language, they translate the culture and the emotion.  They work tirelessly and are always smiling, even when they are exhausted.  They also are fickle and switch groups on a whim.  But we hadn’t discovered that at this point in the trip.

Any way…  the train.

IMG_1800 (1)

31948953_1845697908814714_2351043210677059584_o

all of us (minus the trip leader)

PHOTO - Ecuador - Kientz Family Group - 180506

team quatro (4)

After the pics were taken tickets were handed out.  Michael and I were in the same compartment, but not seated together.  I was seated facing backward, which isn’t necessarily how a person who suffers a touch of motion sickness likes to sit.  Luckily we quickly discovered there was a sitting area at the front of our compartment.  Motion sickness averted.  The next excellent discovery was the dining compartment where coffee – real honest to goodness coffee – could be found.

IMG_4050.jpg

Coffee and seats procured we were free to sit back and enjoy the scenery and conversation.  There was interesting graffiti,

and so much green…

We also had a train translator.  Who explained the sights we were seeing and gave us some important cultural information.  The only thing that really stuck was that they have lots of cows in Ecuador, but too bad the Europeans made the whole world lactose intolerant.  (That’s my extremely loose translation of what seemed to be his questionable tale.)

Shortly after boarding, or maybe an hour after time on a train doesn’t feel so linear, we had our first food offering.  Empanadas.  If I’d known this was coming I’d have skipped that box breakfast.  But I ate the empanadas anyway.  They were yummy.

PHOTO - Ecuador - Food on Train

This train also made a few stops, two of which involved us exiting the train and doing or seeing something.  The first of these stops was at the National Recreation Area of El Boliche.  (That’s my own translation of the sign…  Might be right, might be wrong.)

DSC02804.JPG

Recreation area means hike.  It also means llamas.  Here’s some random photos.

After our hike, it was back to the train station for a snack.  ***Side note… the very first thing I did when I found out we were taking a trip to Equador was to google what to eat in Equador and this was the first opportunity to put that knowledge to the test***  Snack time is where we discovered potatoes and corn are a big deal in Ecuador.  Also, we discovered Aji – an amazingly tasty, can’t get enough of it and luckily for us it seemed to be offered at every meal condiment.  (Wonder if tree tomatoes grow in Colorado?)  My snack included humita (think Ecuadorian tamale but don’t tell the Ecuadorians you thought that) and the locro de papa (potato and cheese soup) I ate – and the Aji.

IMG_4097.jpg

After our snack, we were off again.  Chatting and looking at green stuff.

At some point, lunch happened, but that’s a bit vague.  We had sandwiches, seems like maybe a cross between pimento cheese and chicken salad, but I don’t remember.  And then we had our next stop at Alausi.  Where we stretched our legs and were treated to a dance.

After the dance, we were back on the train to finish our journey.

We made it safely to our hotel.  We’d had a great introduction to Ecuador and were ready to rest up for Sunday morning church at the first project we would visit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

0°0’0″

The middle of the world is in Ecuador.  I’d ask, “who knew?”,  but apparently, a lot of people know and now I’m one of them.  And thanks to me so are you, if you weren’t.  Also, Michael and I went there.  Not to the specific point of 0°0’0″, but to Ecuador.

Michael celebrated his 10 years anniversary with Compassion international last year.  One of the very generous things Compassion does is send their employees (and a companion) on anniversary trips at 5-year marks (5 yrs, 10 yrs, 15 yrs, 20 yrs, etc..)  It’s a great opportunity for employees in America to connect with where the work is done.  For Michael’s 5 yr trip we went to Indonesia.  Michael’s work anniversaries conveniently happen to coincide with our monumental wedding anniversaries.  (His 5 year at work was our 20 year.  His 10 year was our 25.)  So we combine them.  So for our 25th wedding anniversary and his 10 year work anniversary, we took a trip to Ecuador!

Monica Packing

Last minute packing.

It started they way other trips of ours have started – with a delay.  We were leaving from Colorado Springs through Dallas/Fort Worth and planning an overnight in Miami.  We did that, but everything was pushed back a few hours.  Our overnight ended up being a long morning – we were in our hotel by 3am and checked out at noon.  So we did get a little sleep.

We left Colorado Springs with a few other Compassion employees who were also taking anniversary trips.  So we all started the journey and managed the delays together.  In Miami, we met up with the rest of our group.  I’m not one to get too mired in the details so I was a bit surprised to discover there were 30+ of us.  I’ve done other trips with Compassion and it’s always been in the 20 person range.  We made introductions at the airport and started getting to know each other.  Most of us were from the states, some had international travel experience and others were getting their first stamps in their passport.  We had one couple who had made the trip all the way from New Zealand.  But we all had some things in common, this was an opportunity for us to learn about what Compassion really does and (for most of us) a chance to meet our sponsor child.

We boarded the flight for Quito, Ecuador.  We arrived, gathered our luggage – there was a very, very lot of luggage because we all brought along our personal luggage and gifts for Compassion projects and gifts for our kids.  We made our way through immigration (giving me my second stamp in my passport) and met up with some of the staff from the Ecuador country office.  We boarded a bus for our hotel for the night.  We were exhausted and a bit disoriented and we had an early start the next morning so we made our way to our rooms with instructions to gather really early the following morning.