Ready or not, Ecuador. Here we come.

All I know is it’s a good thing I got an extra hour this weekend because I needed it. Because even with the addition of the extra hour, I still feel like I am just barely getting everything done I need to do before I leave San Antonio at 10:30 Monday morning on a flight to Dallas. And then a flight to Miami. And then a flight to Quito, Ecuador.

It didn’t help that I spent a lot of Sunday afternoon taking Caroline and her friend Gabi to watch the Aggie women’s soccer team win the Big XII Championship, but it was so worth it. And then I rushed back home to discover thankfully that P had ordered pizza for dinner. But then I still cooked a chicken and wild rice casserole and a lasagna because I don’t want my people to starve while I’m away. I also made homemade blueberry muffins.

I never make homemade blueberry muffins.

Which is why P walked in the kitchen a little while ago and asked, “Why are you making muffins?” And I said, “So y’all will have something to eat for breakfast while I’m gone. Apparently I care more about that when I’m in Ecuador than I do when I’m actually here and could, you know, cook breakfast.”

And he just left the room, shaking his head. I can’t explain why leaving the country makes me feel the need to provide baked goods for my family. Maybe so if something happens to me they’ll have short term memory and say, “MAN, remember how she used to make those delicious homemade muffins all the time?”

In truth, it’s probably a little nervous energy that I’m trying to burn. My suitcases (Yes, TWO. This is very strategic because I found out that you’re charged $100 for a bag over 50 pounds, but only $30 for an extra bag.) are mostly packed with the exception of my rainforest clothes that are still drying after P doused them in what I hope was plenty of mosquito spray. I have a backpack full of granola bars and a book to read and a change of clothes in case my suitcases don’t make it. I even have a travel toothbrush in a special case. I’m very fancy.

But I don’t like leaving my people. Not even for cool trips to Ecuador with people I love. Not even when I know without a doubt that God has called me to go. I am a homebody. Not to be confused with a homeboy. Even though maybe somewhere, somehow I might be someone’s homeboy.

I like my house, I like my bed, I like my Mexican food, I like to take Caroline to school every morning and pick her up every afternoon. I like to be able to call Gulley every five minutes if I want to and I like to see P walk through the back door at the end of the day.

So why am I going? Because when I went to the Dominican Republic with Compassion three years ago, it changed me forever. It made me look outside my comfortable little world to a world where kids don’t have beds or enough to eat or clean water to drink and the amazing way Compassion is stepping in to change lives. And going to Ecuador gives me a way to help with that. It’s not much. A few words on a computer screen and a week of my time, but it’s something.

And, truthfully, I’m excited about getting to spend time with some of my favorite people even though we will be in canoes and among snakes and possibly a marauding band of free-range monkeys. I don’t have the-meeting-new-people-anxiety I had before I went on the trip to the Dominican. These are people who (mostly) know me and I know that I am going to laugh and cry with them a lot over the next five days. And I can’t wait to read Ann Voskamp’s first post that will probably say something incredibly eloquent and poetic about how “dappled sunlight moves through the trees, stirring soul and lighting the way to gratitude to our God for all his gifts”.


But I’m also not naive like I was the last time I left to go on a trip with Compassion. I know at least some of what I’m going to see and I know it’s going to break my heart. I know there will be children I wish I could pack up and bring home with me. I know there will be living conditions I can’t imagine and I know I will be wrecked by both what I see and fresh realization at my own poverty of spirit. I’ll be challenged by the contentment they have while living next to the city dump and why I often struggle with contentment while I live a comfortable middle class existence filled with luxuries they can’t imagine, like water straight from the tap. I know I’ll come home changed and with a piece of my heart gone forever to Ecuador.

And that makes a part of me start to ache even as I sit here on my couch and have yet to set foot in another country.

So I hope y’all will join me for my trip this week. I’ll be posting here every single day and doing my best to tell y’all what we’re doing and what we’re seeing. The good, the bad, the incredibly humbling, the free range monkeys. I can’t thank you enough for all your prayers. I know for all of us going this week that our biggest prayer is that God would use our words to inspire others to sponsor a child (or children!) through Compassion.

And if you could also pray for safety while we travel, health for us and those we love at home, and that no snakes fall in our canoe? Well that would be great, too.

You can follow along with all of us by clicking on the Compassion Bloggers Ecuador page.

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  1. Susan says

    Good Morning from over here – well, I’m really looking forward to reading all about your trip. I think it would be hilarious if your first day you spoke of the dappled sunlight and that we find out that Ann V. uttered a bad word when she saw a big spider – or something along those lines!

    I’m feeling very warm and mushy about this trip because it was through Ann’s blog on her earlier Compassion trip that I first learned about bloggers supporting this great cause through their words. Heck, I didn’t even know Shawn Groves was a blogger! I know that the Lord will use you all in a beautiful way.

    I add my prayers to all the others being offered up for safe journeys and wonderful experiences. And health. God bless.

  2. says

    I’ll be following along just waiting to hear about the snakes or lack thereof! Honestly, so excited for you and the other bloggers – travel safe. I’ll say a special prayer that no swear words come out in front of Ann too :)

  3. Leigh says

    Praying for you, Melanie. Thank you for being obedient to God’s call. We will all be challenged to examine our lives, too, as we read your reports.

    I also expect to laugh a good bit too as you and Sophie relate your experiences as only y’all can!

    God bless you as you travel and may He keep you and yours safe and well.

  4. says

    I will be praying!!! And I can’t wait for the daily updates. Please don’t take this the wrong way…but I am really hoping for some free-range monkeys to be part of at least one update… But, I WILL pray that the free-range monkeys will be of the friendliest sort.

  5. CauphyP says

    May the Lord bless you and keep you and may His face shine upon you and the others as you make this trip, in faith, to Ecuador. May He give you peace and watch over your family while you’re away. Fair winds and following seas!

  6. sl says

    Praying for you while on your trip. Praying for the ones you leave behind. What stories you will to tell Carolina when you get home.

  7. Jayne Cash says

    I can relate to your thoughts and emotions. I remember a similar experience when I journeyed halfway around the world to Central Asia to take the gospel and gifts to orphans with a group of ladies I mostly did not know. I almost gave in to the meeting-new-people-and-stepping-outside-my-comfort-zone-anxiety. So glad that I didn’t. It was a life-changing experience. I will be praying!

  8. says

    I woke this morning thinking of all of you. I will absolutey be praying for you and everyone involved. Remember, C & P would think snakes were the coolest part of the trip, so maybe God will give you those as a reminder of home :) (Totally kidding – I pray that is not the case at all!)

    Can’t wait to read your updates! So proud of all of you.

  9. nlynch says

    Praying for you and your group.
    I would LOVE to meet my Compassion child, Esther, who lives in Ecuador.
    For safety’s sake, I don’t think you and Boo should share the same canoe! I am picturing much laughter and possible tip overs!!

  10. says

    I thought about you yesterday as my girls and I picked out things for our Operation Christmas Child shoebox. We found a video online too for them to see the kinds of places those shoeboxes will go. I can’t imagine seeing that firsthand. It broke my heart to hear the little boy saying how much he hoped his box would have school supplies. And my girls and their friends are asking for Barbies, DVDs, etc. Makes me more grateful for what we have and more aware of what’s going on in the world around us.

    I am looking forward to reading your words this week, even if you say a bad one in front of Ann Voskamp.

  11. says

    I will be praying for you all this week and for the lives Compassion is touching! And trust me, we are all looking forward to your posts about this adventure! But here’s hoping, no snakes in the boat.

  12. Jenn says

    I’ll be covering you in prayer this week. Thank you for being the hands and feet of Jesus to His precious children that you’ll meet.

  13. Julianne says


    You got me again with the coffee on the keyboard. Too, too funny.

    In all seriousness, I consider it an honor to pray for all y’all and your families as you seek to serve and bring attention to this amazing cause. Blessings.

  14. tiabennett says

    I have to laugh! I feel like 4 of my good friends are going on a trip together. Odd thing is, I haven’t met a one of you, but read about your lives every day!
    So thankful for trips like this, I hope it encourages more people to go and see and love on kiddos all over the world.
    I just returned from Haiti a few weeks ago, and it was my most heart wrenching trip ( I have been to El Salvador, Costa Rica etc.). My heart is still there and completely broken. I think God likes it like that!
    Thanks for being willing and listening to God’s call for your travels. May He bless you richly in Ecuador! Can’t wait to hear about you, Sophie, Ann and Kelly’s trip.

  15. says

    I just got back two weeks ago from my first foreign mission trip, working with children in Guatemala. I know the anxiety of leaving your comfort zone and family behind and spent most of my week battling homesickness – and the comforts-of-homesickness. I decided I’m pretty much the most terrible missionary every! I will be praying for a great, snake-free week for you.

  16. Marcela says

    Safe travels and snake-free canoes! Can’t wait to keep up with your trip on the blog.

    :-) marcela

  17. Terry says

    Praying the Lord’s protection (Psalm 121) and provision over you and your travel team! May the peace of the Lord be with you as you prepare for departure. Godspeed!!!

  18. says

    I, too, have already prayed for you and will continue to pray. You are a vessel of the Living God and will be poured out to a part of the world that is set apart. I believe that God has prepared that part of the world to receive Himself through you. Carry on Faithful One! And we all will be waiting for that first awesome post from the rainforest! Go God!

  19. says

    I think you and Ann should trade blogs for a day and see if anyone notices. I love you, friend, and I’m praying your heart will be able to handle all you see and experience. Do your best not to feel guilty–just so thankful that God has given you a way to make a difference for his precious children in Ecuador.

  20. Lauren says

    Praying for you and your peeps back home while you are gone. I think God is already working through you, just in your courage and willingness to say yes to Him. :)

  21. says

    Praying for you all! God is going to do great things through you!!

    And I will laugh and laugh if you say a potty word in front of Ann :)

  22. Morgan says

    You are doing a world of good with Compassion. My husband has sponsored a Compassion child longer than he and I have been married, or even dating. So I am so happy for you to go and see what the rest of us can only imagine when we send our monthly donations.

    And on a completely different and far less important topic, my Tigers will be seeing your Aggies in the SEC!. Mixed emotions on that issue, but at least their will be one familiar foe!

  23. says

    I’m so excited (jealous too) that you’re [once again] getting to go with Compassion. I would love to experience such a trip myself.
    Speaking for ME here–I’ll be waiting for all the updates along the way.
    May God keep you safe and touch your heart forever through this trip!
    Praying for you & the family you’re leaving behind. Have fun too!

    Be the hands & feet, friend.

  24. Erin Seaman says

    Totally praying grace for y’all and your families as you go to touch the lives of others and their families. May God richly bless you as you bless others, may He be glorified in and through you, may His light shine brightly on you, may others see the love of Jesus in your face.

  25. says

    How wonderful that you are able to be used by God on another trip with Compassion! I will be praying that you are able to minister God’s love to the people of Ecuador, and also that God will work in YOUR heart, that this trip will change you in unforeseen ways, and that you will know God’s all-surpassing grace in a very real and personal way!

    And I think it is wonderful that you are providing for your family while you will be away. Nothing says “mom loves you” like a warm blueberry muffin :)

  26. Lisa says

    Have a fabulous time. You are heeding God’s call. I know you love your people but they will be fine and will be thrilled to see you and hear about your adventure.
    Love the example you are setting for Caroline too.
    Praying for a safe trip and a safe return that includes Mexican food and no free range monkeys.

  27. says

    I couldn’t sleep last night and prayed for safety and God’s provision for you ladies. Shawn has seriously taken all of my favorite bloggers and hoisted them into canoes. I can’t wait to follow on your journey and pray for you along the way.

  28. says

    How is it you have already have me cracking up then have tears knowing the post that will come and the compassion you and the others will have for all of these people.

    Prayers are the least I can do. I will be praying in agreement with all of your requests. Even the snake staying out of the canoe. haha

    Looking forward to your take on this new adventure. Just think, one day you will be able to take your baby girl to these places and teach her something very speacial.

    Prying you will be blessed beyond measure.

  29. Crogers says

    I will be praying for y’all and praying no serpents shall fall upon or near you. I want you to know that u have taught me a valuable lesson today: do not read Big Mama in the waiting room of the car dealership from your iPhone. I look like a crazy person laughing to myself.

  30. Karen says

    Praying a snake doesn’t drop into your canoe so you don’t say a bad word in front of Ann Voskamp!!!

  31. Alyson says

    Girl, I love you and I love the way you “speak” to us on your blog. For me, it’s understandable and not floating over my head! I pray for you and your team in Ecuador and for your family while you are away. I know God will be with ALL of you and keep you healthy and safe.

  32. Emily says

    I wish a movie crew was going with you guys! This would be the reality show I would watch! Much love and prayers with you all during this amazing and exciting trip!

  33. JulieInMI says

    I’ll be thinking about ya’ll and wishing the very best. Cna’t wait for the daily posts from Big and Boo!! Have a rewarding time in Ecuador!!

  34. says

    That would also be my biggest fear-not the snake falling into the boat, but cussing in front of Ann! I love it!

    I will be following everyone’s blog this week and praying for all of you! I am looking forward to blog updates and seeing everyone’s unique perspectives!

  35. gb says

    Prayers up. Safety, health, and that God grants you all the ability to do the most good you possibly can…and then gets you safely home to your families.

    Wishing you love and peace on your mission.

  36. says

    Some of us like both Ann’s posts and yours equally. It makes for balance, and there’s room for both in the metaphorical blogging canoe… there is not, however, room for snakes. Good luck (with the wildlife)!

  37. says

    Melanie – We love you just the way you are. No need to write any other way than the way you see fit!

    I can relate to so much of what you said. I hate leaving my family. That’s why we started bringing our kids on the mission field with us! Hey – there’s an idea – Compassion! Bring bloggers & their families! Experiencing it all together – well, I just can’t explain it. It’s probably one of the best things I’ve ever done as a parent.

    And I hate snakes too. Especially tropical/jungley ones. :)

    Can’t wait to hear about your trip.

  38. says

    Have an amazing trip. Will be praying for your whole group. May you be covered by God’s grace and not by His creatures. And the Ann Voskamp thing? Still giggling about it. I think you should plan in an advance the bad word you’re gonna use. You know, just to be sure it isn’t too naughty.

  39. says

    I’m praying for safe travel today. And also, I cannot WAIT for this week’s posts, with so many of favorite bloggers in the same jungle together!

  40. says

    So jealous of your trip! I have been wanting to go on a missions trip for years! You will be so blessed by it, as you already know!

  41. says

    So looking forward to reading everyone’s impressions and in prayer that people will be moved to sponsor a child. Safe travels….and you and Sophie stay away from the snakes!

  42. says

    I’m praying for your trip, and cant wait to hear all about it! :-) And for the record, I think you’re a beautiful and eloquent writer too (plus you can make me laugh – so bonus!)

  43. Whittney says


    I’m new here but am following you all this week….THIS.CRACKED.ME.UP! Hope you all have a blessed trip!

  44. says

    I’m so excited to hear you will get to blog while you are away on your trip. I’m praying for all of you that you have traveling mercies and that the Lord will bless you and those you meet. And I’m praying that you don’t have an Indiana Jones moment with any snakes. Yikes!

  45. says

    I have been thinking about you guys all day. Praying for all of it.
    You can make me laugh out loud and then cry within four sentences. You are an amazing writer!! I am so glad God is using your talents for his Kingdom and ministry! Blessings!

  46. Casey says

    I know what you mean about baking muffins and such, I had so fully prepared for my family on a trip to Brazil that I totally forgot to pack things for myself. Like towels, socks, phone chargers etc. However, each kid had a good morning, good night note and my husband had a color coded schedule for each day I was gone. I left hearts all over the house for my peeps as a surprise kiss. I am praying you all have a fantastic time and you don’t yell bad words in front of Ann…although she can somehow make even that sound flowery and eloquent. lol

  47. says

    Just don’t be over worried about things that might or might not happen. Enjoy your adventure and bring back a whole new fantastic experience.

  48. says

    You know, all that stuff you said Ann Voskamp would be writing? It all got jumbled in my brain and I read, “blah, blah, blah, doesn’t it sound beautiful. What was her point?” However, “Y’ALL. A SNAKE FELL IN OUR CANOE…” that part I understood perfectly! You speak my language! I’m sure Ann Voskamp speaks someone’s language, but it obviously ain’t mine! So, I’ll mostly be reading your posts!

  49. Alicia says

    Wow! What an amazing opportunity to glorify God in a country that abounds with beauty. I spent a semester in Ecuador while in college and it was a life changing trip. The people are hospitable, generous, and amazing. The countryside is breathtaking…waterfalls, lush hillsides, and the highest active volcano in the world (Cotapaxi). Blessings to you…oh, and guinea pig isn’t so bad, although it is a bit startling to see it skewered and roasted on a street vendors cart.

  50. Sarah says

    it’s ironic to me that you used the example of a snake falling in your canoe and you yelling a bad word since this past weekend i took a visit to your little part of the world (corpus christi, tx) for a wedding and during the reception a seagull dropped a SNAKE TWO FEET FROM MY TABLE.

    so, if that doesn’t happen to you whilst you are canoeing in the Amazon, may I suggest a quick trip to the seashore when you arrive home, just so you can round out your life experiences?

    oh and that was my first trip to texas. i’m not really over it yet.

  51. says

    I may have literally laughed right out loud with your “Y’ALL. A SNAKE FELL IN OUR CANOE AND I YELLED A BAD WORD IN FRONT OF ANN VOSKAMP.”

    Yup, you and me, we are for sure separated sisters.

    I have been known to make meals if I’m leaving too. You want them to remember your blueberry muffins if you are gone!