Year 2

Hey friends! What a crazy 3 weeks it has been since I returned! I’ve been so busy getting settled back in and working with the girls but I’m finally taking a minute to update everyone.

So in case you haven’t heard or noticed from all of the Facebook pictures, I’m back in the jungle working with Jungle Kids for Christ and the girls for another year! My last year was such a great experience so I’m overjoyed that the Lord is not yet finished with me here. I arrived in Quito on August 24th and traveled to Misahuallí on Sunday the 25th. I immediately got to reunite with several of my friends here on my arrival day, which made for the warmest welcome back. The first few days were full of cleaning and organizing the house and reconnecting with everyone here. Then on Thursday my girls arrived!

First Nataly, then Karen and Fernanda, and finally Jessica, Jeimy, and Anahi. The first 3 jumped back into my arms like they had just been home with their families for a long weekend and nothing had changed. The other 3 took a little more time to readjust, which was normal for them. I have honestly been surprised at how quickly everyone transitioned back into life in the house and our routine, and how much of their English they still remember. I feel like all of our progress from last year hasn’t been lost like I worried it might’ve been, and that’s such a blessing!

Our first few days were so much fun. We sorted all of their new clothes, shoes, and things for school, went to the river, pool, and park to play, and just enjoyed being all reunited in the house once again. They arrived on a Thursday and started school the following Tuesday. This year they are in grades 3rd, 4th, & 5th, which is United States 2nd, 3rd, & 4th. They are a little behind their classmates academically (although ahead in speaking and understanding English) so this year we hope to continue closing that educational gap. These girls are so much fun to live with and love on and I’m so happy I’m able to be involved in their growth this past and coming year. It’s obvious how much they’ve physically grown and changed this last year just comparing first day of school pictures. Emotionally they are growing out of the shyness that is normal in their culture and community little by little. We’re about to get into double digits this year! In upcoming birthdays, Karen will turn 9 this month, Anahi will be 10 in October, and Fernanda will also be 10 in November! I should have lots of fun party pictures to post in the next couple of months.

So just a refresher for those who may not know exactly what I do or how I got started, here’s the story. I’ve always thought that missions might be something I could be interested in since around age 12-13, but I also thought that was just me being a little crazy and that it wouldn’t be what God actually has planned for my life. During my first year of college I applied for a short term mission trip through the Freewill Baptist denomination’s College Mission Program. I got accepted but they told me that since I requested a medical mission trip and their program didn’t have any going that summer that I would go to Ecuador with The Hanna Project (THP). So in May 2018 I came down to Ecuador with THP and spent the week with the medical team setting up pop-up clinics in a few indigenous communities and hearing from the missionaries here about the different aspects of Jungle Kids for Christ. I was kind of interested in the student resident home (SRH), and because of that Kelvin (he and his wife founded and direct the SRH here at Antioquia) suggested that I come with them to Jessica’s house as they were shooting a video and I could see firsthand the girls’ sacrifice in their travels to come to the school and also ask more questions. It was a great experience and I got so much information on the girls, the purpose of the SRH, etc. I went home so excited and nervous to see if this was really something that I could do. I prayed about it, talked to my family, fundraised, and came back to start my new journey 3 months later in August.

My position is a caregiver in the student home for our 6 precious girls. The girls are from indigenous communities in the jungle and would be geographically unable to attend Antioquia without living in the home. They live with Mami Laura and I during the week and return home to their families every other weekend. I focus on helping improve their English, school work, day to day routine, house rules, health, spiritual growth, etc. Mami Laura is the most wonderful Ecuadorian woman who is on her 3rd year here with the girls. She is a constant in their lives while their living situations at home and caregivers like me may change over the years. She is an amazing woman of God, incredible cook, and does the cleaning in the house as well. The girls and I love and respect her so much. Laura is the best teammate I could have taking care of these girls and I’m excited to continue learning more from her this year!

This last year has been filled with so many memories, experiences, and new friendships. I am so thankful for the opportunities I’ve been giving being able to work here and form relationships with my girls, their families, the missionaries, my church, the students in our school, and all of the other friends I’ve been able to make outside of all of that. The past 3 weeks have need so drastically different and so much more fulfilling compared to my first 3 weeks in the jungle last August, and this is only the beginning of year 2.

Please continue praying for me, the girls, their families, JKC, and our community.

Thanks so much for your continued prayers, support, and reading my update!

To support my work in Ecuador financially please visit 


Finally.. An Update!

Hello friends! After about 6 months here in the jungle, I am finally getting around to writing this official update. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and being patient with me, as this update has been a long time coming. I have found it a lot harder to sit down and write when there is no class or deadline pushing me to.  My apologies in advance, a lot has happened in my time here so this post may be a little lengthy.

I flew into Quito (the capital of Ecuador) on August 20th, 2018 and traveled to Misahualli with another missionary family the next day. To give myself time to transition to life in a foreign country and prepare for the girls’ arrival, I came here a few weeks before it was time for school to start. My first 3 weeks were definitely the hardest. I had just moved 2,816 miles away from my family and friends, I lived completely alone in another family’s house, and I knew no Spanish. But I am so thankful I had that time to process, adjust, and learn that it was okay to be by myself. I am constantly being reassured of God’s endless love and infinite understanding, and the time I spent alone was just another reminder of how He knows me so much better than I know myself.

Of course things drastically changed whenever the girls arrived. It was so exciting to travel to their communities to meet their parents and pick them up. Our first week together was very experimental, with us trying to get to know each other and develop a routine, but I felt like I was finally doing what the Lord called me here to do. And I haven’t stopped feeling that way since the day we picked them up.

In Los Rios, after picking up my “Bella Vista girls” for the first time!

The girls have been with Laura, Gabby, and I in the house and in school for over 5 months now. There is hardly a dull moment. They love to dance, sing, play outside, play school, tease me and correct my Spanish, color, help Laura in the kitchen, and so much more! Every day is a new story, a new challenge, a new joke, and another day to learn from and to teach them.

So to give some more background on how I got here and what I do, here is a relatively brief description. I came here May of 2018 with The Hanna Project for a short-term medical mission. I loved this place, the people here and all that Jungle Kids for Christ (JKC) is doing. I knew they needed to fill a position for a house helper in the student resident home and I got the opportunity to hear a lot about the position and ask lots of questions during my time here. I was definitely interested so I went home and started praying about it. After talking with my family and completing an interview process, I committed to one year here in the jungle. Also, this was after having a lot of convincing conversations with my mom (who, by the way, is coming to pay me a visit along with our cousin in one month!) So after making this decision I started fundraising and received an incredible amount of support from my family, friends, and home church as well as another church! So here I am 6 months later!

The seven girls I take care of in the student resident home (SRH) are all from indigenous communities and they live in the house during the school week because otherwise they would be geographically unable to attend Antioch Christian Academy. The SRH is a great opportunity for these girls, who are already at a disadvantage in a society where they are undervalued; being indigenous as well as female. We hope that they will continue to grow academically as well as spiritually so that in the future they can return to their communities and be better educated Christian leaders who will help to break the cycle of poverty. The girls each come from different backgrounds and family situations but each of them show so much potential and are such a joy to be able to help take care of. I am so thankful I have the opportunity to be a part of their lives. I know I am supposed to be the one teaching them more in this situation but I sometimes feel like I am learning more from them than they might be from me.

I am also so grateful to be able to work with wonderful individuals here at JKC. The missionaries as well as the local staff are all so supportive and helpful in each aspect of the organization. On a daily basis I work with Laura and Gabby, who both live here in the house. Gabby is also from the states and focuses more on the girls’ individual interests and talents. Laura is from this area and has been with the girls for the last couple of years. I genuinely do not know what we would do without her here. She is an incredible Christian woman, she cooks delicious food throughout the week for us and helps keep the house clean, and she knows so much about natural medicines and homemaking in general. It is great to have an Ecuadorian woman as a constant in the house and in the girls lives, as caregivers like myself and Gabby sometimes come and go. We really do have a great “village” working to provide for these girls.

My responsibilities in the house fall more into the day-to-day routine with the girls, their emotional and physical health, manners, homework help, helping Laura with discipline, etc. I also have substitute taught a few times for English classes in the school. With that I have enjoyed getting to know more of the kids in the school (I frequently hear “MISS!!!” when I am walking around town now) but it has definitely cleared up any lingering thoughts I might have had about wanting to teach in the future. I’ll for sure be sticking with nursing as my career goal. In the SRH, we try to speak English with the girls as much as possible and although they usually prefer to answer us in Spanish, it is amazing how much they are learning and understanding!

Speaking of language skills, I am very happy to say that my Spanish has come a long way since my August arrival. I have been taking lessons through a school in Quito and to a native speaker my Spanish sounds pretty awful but I can usually get my point across and it is getting easier the more I practice and speak. My favorite thing about learning this new language is definitely the fact that I have finally been making friends in Misahualli. It makes life as a single missionary so much easier and less lonely when I am able to communicate and spend time with the people here. I also enjoy using my Spanish to help translate for others when they need it. Just last night I was having dinner in my favorite restaurant in town when a couple from the States came in and the owner asked if they could speak Spanish. When they replied “no” he pointed at me and said I could be their translator. It is amazing how important and what a blessing it can be to learn a second language.

Outside of my time in the house with the girls I enjoy walking to town, spending time with friends, baking, reading, eating (too much), and going to our local church that is partnered with JKC. I have also been pleasantly surprised at the amount of personal development I have gone through (and am continuing to go through) in my time here. It is really incredible to witness all the things the Lord will start to change in your life if you let him.

I am honestly so thankful for the support I have continued to receive throughout my time here. Whether it be financial or thoughts and prayers, thank you all so much. I am so glad I am able to live out this calling God has laid on my heart and it would not be possible without your support. With that being said, I am very excited to let everyone know that I have decided to extend my time with JKC for one more year! I will be returning to the States in the summer for a couple of months then coming back in September for another round. I spent a lot of time in thought and prayer about this over the past months and after every reason I could think of not to stay was removed in some way or another, I finally accepted that my time here will not yet be finished in June. I am so excited about this opportunity to be able to pour into these girls for another year!

I would appreciate your prayers for my continued spiritual growth, the growth of the girls and overall atmosphere of the student home, and my financial support for the coming year.

Visiting a waterfall not too far outside of town!
My trip to Quilatoa (a lake in the middle of a volcano) in December!