Passport Journal: Ecuador

I will never forget Ecuador for this very simple reason.  It is a country that has played one of the most singularly important roles in my cultural, academic, and spiritual development.  Why, you ask? By successfully answering "Quito" in response to a breakfast-let-in trivia question at Covenant Pines Bible Camp in the eighth grade, it forever changed my life.  You see, I never win games and sports and such...unless they are trivia based (which is why I'm good at test-taking and Disney's Scene-It...urg, dont' be jealous ;).

However, most people don't like these games, so you see my problem. Insert social awkwardness commonly characterized as geekiness. So, I like books and school; studying maps was my 7th grade hobby, and when the whole class had to memorize every capital in the world (thank you Mr. Radke), I was naturally perfectly poised to send my cabin in for an early morning "tuck-in". With the praise of my bunk mates ringing in my ears, I decided that geography was an unusually useful and profitable skill and I'd be darned if I didn't just go and get my degree in it.

 As it turns out, Ecuador is a major center of Christian mission and research, thereby sealing my fate in Intercultural Studies and travel for years to come.  Continuing in that international track, I found a beautiful school of  believers, and while wandering on the 3rd floor of Nazareth Hall I encountered the Youderian Lounge.  I proceeded to learn that a Northwestern graduate - one of the most famous missionaries of the 20th century, Roger Youderian, gave his life, along with five other men in Ecuador, for Jesus and the Huaorani people.  The room was musty and dark, but a peaceful place of seclusion for a shell-shocked college student - its was a sanctuary.

I remembered watching "End of the Spear" in the later years of high school and I recalled the plane that Elliot flew to the small sandbar in the Amazon.  Even thought I knew the story, a feeling of incredulity swept over me as each man was slaughtered.   A sort of music swelled inside of me when their wives returned to minister to the people that killed them - I knew I would never be as brave as them, I knew that their lives weren't romantic like the movie, but I'd rather give my life trying than sit in a cubicle everday storing up wealth and wasting my life in front of a television.  In my dreams I'd finish my degree and fly to some distant land with ease and courage; but I sit here at my little corporate desk, 8 months after graduation, and the freedom of Ecuador seems so far away - the air here is so stagnant, I have to get up and walk around to stave off a headache.  Now, the people around me are lovely, the company worthwhile; but every long drive home from work reminds me that I'm a woman of the earth, not of the coin.

image credit: Carl W. Heindl, Ecuador