Build Experience with us! We are seeking volunteers to work at the Mission in Ecuador, either as teaching assistants in the mission school or as nurses.
While we’ve had lots of volunteers work at the mission over the years, the “Teaching Year” program is a new initiative aimed at supporting the school by providing teaching assistants in K-12 classrooms. This is a great way to gain teaching and Spanish language experience for volunteers, and it helps the school by providing another teacher/mentor/tutor in the classrooms.
The Ecuadorian school year runs from May – March, so if you are interested, apply soon!
Here’s what some past volunteers have to say about their experiences:
“The other day we had six siblings come. They were living under a patio on a couple mattresses with garbage everywhere. They were found alone because their dad is in jail and their mom had left to try and sell shoes to get them some money. When they arrived they were lice-ridden, scared, and very shy. It’s only been two weeks, and the one-year-old is happy to be held by anyone, the three-year-old knows everyone’s names, the little girls are all smiling and want to play non stop, and the fourteen-year-old (who has received the brunt of the family baggage I believe) routinely flashes me the “I love you” sign in sign language and loves joking around. Anyway, their situation and transformation has been a huge testament to me of the beauty and necessity of this place in a world that is broken for a million reasons.
What we need in order to be our true selves is so simple: food, clothes, security, and love. The orphanage (which is more like a giant foster care) provides all of this and more to kids who desperately need it.
I’m really honored to play my little part here. I’ve done a lot of first aid stuff -the kids have a million tiny scratches that absolutely must have my attention, which is sometimes annoying, but mostly funny because they are so cute! There have been some more complicated medical cases, such as a girl with new onset epilepsia, and another girl with an autoimmune, nervous system disorder that the doctor is still trying to figure out. I’m spending a lot of time helping the special ed kids. Other than that, I’m teaching English classes to the kids and some missionaries, helping with homework, and just playing around. I got to be a Godmother to one of the girls here named Lily, and that meant a lot to both of us.
Throughout my time here, this statement from God in the Old Testament has come into my head multiple times, and brought me to think about what my response to it looks like:
“I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.” -Ez 22:30
There are people standing in the gap here, and the fruit of it is beautiful to see.”
The children who live here and are recipients of the care of the missionaries are at the heart of why all of this exists. They may have come from dire situations, but the smiles and laughter make that hard to believe. Every day is filled with chasing after running children and picking up those who have fallen during a game. With the occasional breaking up of a fight, it is never uninteresting. The culture created by the missionaries, one of school, chores, play, and God, gives the kids a structure that keeps them busy, teaches them responsibility, and allows them to just be children. It has been an honor to be involved with the mission for the past few months. I am constantly filled with love from the children and inspired by the selfless work of the missionaries. I can feel underwhelmed with what I can bring in helping this foundation, seeing as though I am not a doctor, trained carpenter, or teacher, yet any lack I have is filled with love for the children and desire to hard work in whatever way I can help. And this love is what keeps the foundation running: love in the hearts of the missionaries who wake up everyday and give everything, love of those who have found a value in this and help by giving their resources or time, and the love of God who continually blesses both the missionaries and the children and has never abandoned them. For some of the children, this may be the first time they’ve experienced this kind of love, and this first time is a new start and fresh beginning, and this is reason enough for me to give of my time and volunteer.
Serving at the Mission Santa Maria has been a blessing. While I have been able to help in a small way, I am amazed at the loving work of the Missionaries who have dedicated their lives to God in service to the children who live at the Mission. I have personally experienced the Missionaries hospitality, and I have seen how they lovingly care for these children who need a stable and supportive environment to grow and develop. Every day I can see how the children respond positively to the love and support that they receive from the Missionaries. The children certainly have a life that is rich in love and joy.
I have learned a lot about charity here at the Mission. For example, while the Missionaries take care of the material needs of the children, they also take care of their spiritual needs. Daily Mass and prayer is a part of the schedule. Combine this with the individual love and support that the Missionaries give each child, and one can’t help but experience joy at the Mission Santa Maria. I am grateful for my time here and the lessons that I have learned about Christian charity.