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What’s weird about traveling, at least to me, is that wherever I go, it doesn’t feel like I’m away from home. Regardless of the difference in the language spoken or the food consumed or whatever it is, I truly feel comfortable and at home. I know, however, that I don’t have enough experiences to conclude that I’ll be at ease wherever I go because this summer was the first time I’ve actually been out of the States.
Mission Ecuador 2009 – Leadership Camp. For me, it was not a planned trip; most of the members were preparing for this even before the summer began. How did I become a part of this? I don’t know because I’ve never ever thought that I’d be going out of the States this soon whether the trip is short or not. Plus I’ve never heard of the country Ecuador in my whole life. To be specific, I moved to a different church called New Hope Church in November 2007; after I started attending this church is when I first heard of Ecuador. This was the church’s 8th mission trip and my first. When I heard that I have a sponsor who will pay for the plane tickets, I told myself, ‘hey, why not?’ Visiting other places in the world can broaden my eyes letting me to learn new things I didn’t already know about and for free!
With only two carry-on bags for each person, our mission team left on the 10th of August for a week to Ecuador. We stopped by Florida and from there arrived at Quito, the capital city of Ecuador. Right off the plane, I could literally see the pollution, which bothered me for a while (but I got used to it and I repented for taking the United States’ fresh air for granted), in the air. Oddly, I wasn’t affected by the higher altitude or the food; I adjusted just fine. Maybe I’m made for it. It was strange to me too because other members were having difficulty in breathing or going to the bathroom or sleeping. First night we spent at Agape Mission Center, which is about thirty minutes away from the Quito airport then we moved to the retreat place which I do not remember. Because this was a mission trip, we had to hop around the cities; half was not planned. Of course the names were foreign so the cities I remember going to are Pelileo and Villaflores. Compared to our cities, these cities were poor. No heating system (it was very cold at mornings and nights because when it’s summer in our time, it’s winter there) to name one. So you’d expect these people to be frowning and complaining about how unfortunate they are, but no, they smile. And the way they greet one another is incredibly beautiful. They hug and kiss each other on the cheek. I personally think it’s an amazing way to greet one other. Although I couldn’t communicate with the Ecuadorians like I wanted to, I still had a magnificent week among them.
Many things happened on the trip that cannot be described but this is for sure: Many people might not fit in this kind of environment but I was at home in Ecuador.

(A video clip summarizing the trip can be found at http://newhope.us/events/video.php?name=videoclip&id=44. but it’s in Korean. Because the church is a Korean church, the report was done in Korean. More pictures can be found at http://newhope.us/events/slideshow2.php?id=64)

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