Transformed in Ecuador

A Weekly Reflection, Sunday, July 23, 2017

By: Chris Retrievi

Years ago, a member of my staff participated in a mission trip to Botswana. I admired the way he fully embraced the time and effort to go half way around the world to help others. However, I never thought I had the time to participate in a similar trip. Ultimately, I never had the faith to act on my good intentions.

Then, I learned about St. Mary’s vision trip to Quito, Ecuador. For me, it was like standing on the edge of the high diving board, way out of my comfort zone, and finally jumping off!
The week in Quito stretched me emotionally and spiritually. We visited several different mission sites with an organization called Education Equals Hope (E=H), which works to lift Ecuadorians out of poverty by removing barriers to education through scholarships.

At each site, we split into small groups to meet the families of the students in “home visits”. This is where I was impacted the most. The physical poverty was shocking. Families of four to eight people living in one or two room structures. There was graffiti and barbed wire everywhere. We were indeed in another culture.

At each home we learned that while these people lived in what we consider extreme poverty, they want the same things that parents in Richmond want for their children – an education and the chance to improve their lives. I learned there is physical, emotional, and spiritual poverty. While the physical poverty is clearly evident in Quito, the strength of conviction and the residents’ spirituality is not in question.

So, where does that leave me? When Buck Blanchard preached about missions at St. Mary’s, he said that anyone that has taken a mission trip has been transformed. While I can’t quite put my finger on it, I am more spiritually aware and more culturally aware of my need to be involved.

St. Mary’s is putting together a team to return to Quito in November. I expect to be part of it and I invite you to join me. Please don’t hesitate to ask me anything about our trip or Education Equals Hope. I may not have all the answers, but I guarantee that you will be strengthened spiritually and emotionally. You will be transformed!