All this talk of dreams makes me think of Van Halen

I will have y’all know that after a day of dust and climbing up a very steep hill in a dusty corner of Equador that I’m currently sitting in a hotel lobby listening to a piano player belt out the classic You Can Do Magic by America.

Somewhere in there might be some symbolism but I am too tired to look for it right now.

Sadly at some point in the last twenty-four hours I have developed a bit of a cough. Not a bronchitis cough, just more of an annoying cough that comes with allergies. Apparently there is something in the air here that doesn’t agree with me. And I have no doubt that Sophie is overjoyed to be sharing a room with me at this point.

I’ll also have you know that at one point last night I was so desperate to quit coughing that I sucked on a piece of Eclipse gum in the hopes it would serve as a makeshift cough drop. And it did work fairly well but let me say that it’s an odd sensation to wake up in the morning with a piece of soggy gum in your mouth.

But none of that is important. I’m just filling you in so you will know that I am the same person in Ecuador as I am in the United States. A person with a hacking cough in need of a cough drop.

I bet P has never been so glad that I am out of town.

On Tuesday when we were at Child Development Center 478, the pastor of the local church greeted us when we arrived. He talked about how thankful he is for the work Compassion is doing and how it helps the community and the children. But then he said something else that has stuck with me over twenty-four hours later, “We support these children to dream”.

We support these children to dream.

And on Wednesday I was able to see the reality of that statement.

We began the day at breakfast with two college students who are part of Compassion’s Leadership Development Program (LDP), Ruben and Evelyn. The Leadership Development Program looks for children in Child Development Centers with leadership potential and academic promise and assists them with tuition, textbooks, and other school-related expenses through LDP sponsorship.

Both Evelyn and Ruben became a part of Compassion’s Child Development Center when they were four years old and talked about the difference their sponsors made in their lives. How they were encouraged to work hard in school, to seek God and to stay the course. It was the spark they needed to begin to see that it was okay to dream. And now Ruben is studying to be an architect and Evelyn plans to become a lawyer. These are kids that came from nothing. From one-room cinder block homes with no indoor plumbing and a neighborhood that could have crushed them, but Compassion supported those children to dream. For $38 a month Ruben and Evelyn were able to grow up believing it was okay to think of a brighter future.

And isn’t that what God promises us in Jeremiah 29:11? For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Compassion has helped make that a reality in their lives.

Then later in the day we all got in what I like to refer to as our Ecuadorian Family Good Times Bus and drove to Child Development Center 431 known as the Viva Abundante Center (That’s Life Abundant for those of y’all who don’t know Spanish. See what two days in Ecuador has done for me? I’m almost fluent unless you need to know anything besides a person’s name and how old they are.) We arrived at Viva Abundante and separated into groups to visit various homes of children that are sponsored through Compassion.

I was with the Farmer, Ann, Keely and Brian as we climbed down a very large, dusty hill until we arrived at a two-room house made of cinder blocks. There was nothing in the main room except for a shelf with a few random things on it and then the mother led us into the bedroom that she and her husband share with their four children. There is no indoor plumbing and only a very rudimentary outdoor kitchen.

The remarkable thing is this couple has been married for fifteen years and are raising their four children together as a family. This seems to be a rarity from all that I’ve seen in the time I’ve spent traveling with Compassion. The father does his best to support his family through working in agriculture and the mother washes clothes to help out.

The mother and father sat on their bed with their children gathered around them and talked about how much Compassion has helped them. They attend church as a family and their boys literally run to the Center every day after school.

We asked the kids what they wanted to be when they grew up and they answered with “a lawyer”, “a fireman”, “a police officer”, and “a doctor”. Then we asked the mother and father what dreams they had for their lives and the father looked at us solemnly as he answered that all they wanted was to see their children become professionals. They wanted to see their children have the opportunity to become the generation that gets out of poverty.

Wow. Isn’t that what we all want as parents? To see our children become a better version of ourselves? To see them have a chance to realize their dreams?

And since it was fresh on our mind, we asked if they knew about Compassion’s Leadership Development Program. We explained through the translator that if the boys work really hard in school and continue on a good path there is a chance Compassion might be able to help them achieve some of their dreams. The dreams to be a lawyer, a police officer, a doctor, and a fireman.

Compassion supports these children to dream.

You can support these children to dream. I mean is there a better way to spend $38 a month than on these sweet faces? Little lives just full of potential that’s waiting for a chance to get out.

(All photos are once again by Keely Scott. She is amazing.)

So tomorrow morning we are leaving bright and early for the Amazon Rainforest. This is the part of the trip that apparently involves canoe trips and the possibility of monkeys that have been described as “assertive” and maybe an anaconda or three. Oh my word.

Send help.

Or just remember us in your prayers. For safe travel, for great visits and for words that come easily because how am I ever going to tell that story?

Love y’all. Thanks for reading and following this journey. And don’t forget that you can check out posts by Ann, Sophie, Kelly, and Amanda on the Compassion Bloggers page.

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  1. Leigh says

    Still praying, Melanie. For the cough to disappear and for y’all not to in Amazon…:)
    Thanks for telling us about the LDP. What a real life miracles you are seeing.

  2. Christy says

    You will tell tomorrow’s story just as beautifully as today’s. I loved the line regarding you being the same person in Ecuador as you are in the United States. Funny reference to your recent posts, but also much truth in that. I love that you don’t try to be anyone but Bigmama. Even when traveling with the eloquent Ann.

  3. says

    thank you for the update…i’m commenting because I am about to have my 4th boy and have been with my husband for 15 years…the similarities yet glaring differences between our family and theirs are really hitting me hard. I am so thankful for Compassion and for all they do. Thank you for taking the time to go, see and allow us to see.

  4. Donna says

    Im so sorry to hear that you have a cough! I immediately thought we could airlift some Halls cough drops to you, but I guess they’d get there after you leave. I’m praying for y’all…and the canoe/monkey/piranha/anaconda portion of your trip tomorrow. Can’t want to hear all about it!

    • barbara says

      I had to go back and look at the group pic. There IS a pair of white tennies stuck near the roof line….what’s that all about???

  5. says

    Thank you. It’s hard not to be moved when you consider the possibility of allowing a child the opportunity to dream and to see those dreams come true!

  6. says

    Loved hearing about Ruben and Evelyn! I wrote some of the LDP curriculum for Compassion, so it’s so cool to hear about some real-life examples of people doing so well through this program. God is good.

  7. says

    Yep, the same–you there as here, and they the same as kids here (generally speaking, of course). I think remembering that truth is so important. It can seem so hard for us to understand poverty, based on the sheltered lives some of us live. But when we think about what our children (and we) have, and imagine without it, and still remember the *dreams*–it helps us continue to have compassion and a very real perspective.

  8. says

    I just wanted to tell you that I’m planning to share your Ecuador posts with my Grade 5 class. I teach at a Christian school here in Sydney, Australia, and every class sponsors a child through Compassion… but I wonder how many of the kids know about what Compassion REALLY does. I’m hoping that by reading your post (and Kelly’s. And Amanda’s) and showing Keely’s photos to my class that they’ll *get* it the way I just did, reading your words.

  9. Honey says

    I am praying for your every day!! I am so proud of you and the work you are doing for these precious children. Be careful and come home to us soon!!

  10. says

    Thank you for sharing your Compassion trip. This is a reminder that we all need to hear that the world would be a better place with a little more compassion towards others.

  11. says

    I’ve been a mess since reading the Compassion Bloggers’ posts yesterday {well, most of them so far}. And I couldn’t be more thankful. It’s caused me to dig deeper than I was and seek Him for very specific direction. THANK YOU!

    Viva Abundante! Abundant Life is the name of my church. Sure, it’s not uncommon for a church name. But so much about your post has grabbed me. That would be including the title because can I just tell you that Van Halen is my Man’s ALL TIME FAV-O-RITE! And sure, some of this may seem silly coincidence if you actually believe in coincidence {not to be confused with believing in magic. haha}. But I don’t and just last night I shared with my husband my offer to travel to Ecuador next summer right smack on my 43rd birthday and I asked him to join me in prayer and seek God for clear direction. But this is a bigger picture than that. It’s about lives and allowing Him to use us to help NOW. So, praying! Definitely seeking for clear direction. THANK YOU, again.

    I’ll be asking my husband to read this post tonight and you know what? I’ll bet your title sucks him in right away. 😉

  12. Erin Seaman says

    So glad you are the same person there as here! Praying for God’s mighty hand on y’all as you go.

  13. Melissa says

    I love your post, as always. Thanks for being God’s hands and feet in Ecuador. What a blessing for you and for us to read about it from each of you traveling. Prayers for safety in the rainforest – wow, I didn’t think I’d ever type that! LOL

  14. Dara says

    Thank you for sharing with us! I’ve been to the Amazon in Brazil twice now on mission trips, and it was a lot less bugg-y and shake-y than I had imagined. I hope the same holds true for y’all today!

  15. says

    I am impressed with your resourcefulness with that gum. I wouldn’t have thought of that.

    How special to see that sweet loving family. No different than any other–we all want the best for our little ones.

  16. Alyson says

    Mel, I am so glad you are the same person there in Ecuador as you are in the US. Continuing to pray for all of you!

  17. barbara says

    Great post! Great that the parents are together and doing all they can to support their kids. It is obvious that Compassion is supporting the kids to hope and dream. I loved hearing about the college kids. It’s encouraging to see the “harvest” as these young people are realizing their dreams that were planted in them as little children. :)
    Please Please Please have your camera ready for any “assertive” monkeys and snakes documentation…..Caroline would LOVE it! ha
    Did you see Sophie’s ref. to Hazel coming to Ecuador?? ha.
    Thank you for bringing the children and their stories to us.
    God Bless you all .

  18. says

    What y’all are doing is AMAZING!! I’m so proud of y’alls blogging community! I’m praying for your safety and also that y’alls message is reaching masses of people!

  19. says

    I hear fried worms help with allergies.

    Just kidding.

    I’ve really enjoyed reading all the posts from this trip. It breaks my heart that so many children have waited so long to be sponsored. I plan to share these posts on my Facebook and on Twitter. Wouldn’t this be such a better way to celebrate Christmas than on buying more crap that none of us actually NEED????

  20. says

    I’m so sorry about your cough, Melanie! Hopefully someone can get you some cough drops or something to help! I’m currently getting over a cold, so I’m in major “hack” mode here as well.

    Anxious to hear how your canoe ride and Amazon trip go.

  21. says

    I’m so glad things are going well! I’m still praying for you, and tonight I’m focusing on your strength & that darn cough.

    p.s. It would not be an exageration to say that I cannot WAIT to hear about your adventures today 😉

  22. says

    I wanted to let you know that I shared this post with my Grade 5 class today, and was met with stunned silence when we got to the photos showing the house that SIX people live in. (Just so you know, my class doesn’t DO silence. So this was a big deal!)

    I teach at a Christian school in Sydney, Australia, and every class sponsors a Compassion child. Lately, my class haven’t been meeting the $38 goal for our sponsor child Ivan.

    After reading your post (and Kelly’s, and Angie’s from when she went to India), I had kids going out to their bags, getting any spare change they had and putting it in our ‘Mission Monday’ tin. One boy even asked “How much money would it take to make Ivan rich?” and nodded seriously when I told him a rough estimate, like he was going to make it happen tomorrow.

    Thank you for showing us the real side of what Compassion does- it’s made a difference to 31 Grade 5 kids all the way over on the other side of the world, who now have a better understanding of WHY we sponsor children through Compassion, and what a difference it makes to the lives of kids who are much the same age as them.