[seven weeks]

Sometimes when people ask me "How is Ecuador??" I don't quite know how to describe what the past seven weeks have been like. All that I know is that I won't ever be the same person again. 

I have traveled to third world countries before - hec I have spent my last two spring breaks in Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere. But never before have I really lived amongst the poor. Living here in San Roque, poverty is evident on every street corner - in the bodies of drunk men passed out on the sides of the road, in the faces of mothers who are struggling to find work, in the eyes of the children who have had to grow up faster than any child should. Every time we take a taxi home, we are reminded of the neighborhood in which we live - many times taxi drivers refuse to take us home to San Roque. I have learned to never look men in the eyes when I walk the streets, and to not carry more than a few dollars on me. 

But the truth is, I love San Roque. I love that the baker and the guy at the electronics store and the woman who owns the salon across the street know our names. I love the hush that falls over the neighborhood late at night, the narrow dimly-lit streets that lead us home to Plaza Victoria. I love the llapingachos at La Ronda and little Denise and Alfonso who live across the street whose smiles melt my heart. 

I have found that in the absence of all the comforts of home, there is a deep simplicity here. A simplicity in everyday life that is hard to put into words - something that I think can only be experienced by living amongst those who have so little. 

And I know that although our neighbors appear to be incredibly poor in the world's eyes, there is a richness in life here that I know my heart will ache for long after I leave Ecuador. 

"And he lifted up His eyes on his disciples, and said:
Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh."

Luke 6:20-21