Airplane over the eastern United States (8/11, 8:07 p.m.)

( transcribed journal entry from 8/11, 8:07 p.m. )

Our flight out of Miami was delayed an hour and a half, so my hopes of driving home tonight and surprising Benji are pretty much dashed.

I do want to say that this trip has been helpful in terms of perspective. First of all, I haven’t thought about or worried about my impending move to Montpelier for a week– I haven;t been preoccupied with concern about how to address their financial problems. I have a little distance (and a little reminder of what financial problems can *really* look like), and I think it might actually help me deal with it in a more non-anxious way.

Additionally, my concerns about the relative squalor of our apartment have all but evaporated [transcriber's note: ha!]. It has running water and a bathroom–two in fact!– so the rest is icing on the cake.

And saying goodbye to my dear friends and family a hemisphere away for an unknown number of years, that has helped with the idea of saying goodbye to my friends and church family in the Albany area. At least we’ll all still be on the same continent, and with the technology and transportation to communicate and visit.

Still, I don’t want to think of this as my last trip to Guasmo. It may be my last trip for a while– a few years, perhaps, but I really want to go back now and then with members of my family and/or people from the churches I serve. In addition to seeing the people I care about here, there’s so much to be learned as well. Perhaps we could also sponsor the education of one or more kids in my family in the interim.

Thoughts for sermon fodder from this trip:

The power of a small group, a grassroots dream–meshes with the subversive mustard seeds passage/sermon from a few weeks ago. What Adopta Una Familia has done in a few years with relatively little resources.

The power of a dream, a vision, both in terms of getting it done, and in terms of César’s quote about the dreams of the poor.

The preferential option for the poor, and their lack of opportunities, especially Andres and his options–or lack thereof–for jobs in his future.

The interconnectedness of our lives, the people we meet, how one positive change in a community can spiral outward in ripples of change (i.e. roads and water).

Right now, there’s a beautiful sunset out my plane window. Below me, through the patchy clouds, small clusters of light reveal communities with stories to share, relationships to build, people to cherish. What staggering beauty!  What love there is in the world. Sometimes, the squalor of the barrio and the persistence of love in it is the most hopeful thing I know.

Plane on route, Guayaquil to Miami (8/11, 10:53 a.m.)

( transcribed journal entry from 8/11/08, 10:53 a.m. )

I’m doing okay on the plane– a few tears at take off, and I blew some kisses toward Guasmo Sur behind us. I’m even okay with the idea of not coming back for a couple of years. I think communication will be much improved between my family and I in the interim, especially with the new computers in Mi Cometa and the possibility of video conferencing, which seems to have made it to the barrio. But I definitely want to go back someday in the not-too-distant-future, maybe with my husband or with people from my churches. The great thing about coming with so many people from the reunion groups is hearing from them that even after 5 or 7 or 10 years they are welcomed back as if they never left.

President Rafael Correa (right) accepts a ceremonial staff, as Pres Hugo Chavez looks on, one day before Correa's 2007 inauguration.

President Rafael Correa (rt) accepts a ceremonial staff, as Chavez looks on, one day before Correa's 2007 inauguration.

On the plane, Paula (another participant) and I met a man named Fransisco, who is from Guayaquil, but has lived in the U.S. on a visa for about 8 years between college and working in Florida. His family is from the “good” part of Guayaquil, and is relatively wealthy–or was. His father owned a company that President Correa is shutting down.

Fransisco has a very different view of Correa his proposed new constitution. He says the constitution will legalize abortion and homosexuality, which he opposes (but sounds important to me, though). Additionally, he says it’s a communist power-grab, like Chavez in Venezuela, and that it will take money and power from the wealthy and kick out foreign businesses under the guise of helping the poor, but the money will never get to them and the promises for services will never be met. I suppose that remains to be seen, but at the very least it has sown a seed of doubt in my mind, especially given that Correa recently shut down a lot of the news going out of Ecuador. That is often a precursor to someone solidifying his (or I suppose her) own power and/or declaring himself President for life. Fransisco thinks the poor are being brainwashed and duped into voting yes on the constitution, which promises to help them but won’t. He praised our project and our efforts, but encouraged us to use our relationships with the folks in Guasmo to tell them another side of the story. It’s enough for me to at least ask Erica (program leader/founder) what she thinks, if only because Ecuador’s having essentially a communist or anti-capitalist president in the spirit of his friend and ally, Chavez, allied with Venezuela against Columbia and by extension the U.S., might effect the relative ease with which volunteers such as ourselves enter and exit the country.

[edited to add: is it bad that looking at that photo again, I want to add a new caption? Chavez: "Wow, dude, when *I* was inagurated, the staff they gave me was only *this* big."]

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