Thursday, March 19, 2020

Mad Respect to Adventures

Well surprise, surprise, Emily is home. More about her later.

When we left her in Ecuador, at the very end of February, leadership at Adventures told us that they were watching the Coronavirus and Emily's squad in particular very closely, since her squad would be leaving the next day to fly to Cambodia. Just about two weeks later, Adventures started moving certain teams home. As I'm sure you know, the virus is moving, countries are closing borders and airlines reducing flights. Here's some notification timelines:

14 March 15:00 - Some Adventures teams coming home.
14 March 21:00 - All Adventures teams are coming home including Emilys.
15 March 12:00 - Itinerary sent for Emily's squad, including two day debrief near LAX.
17 March 12:00 - Debriefing cancelled, parents, please fly all Racers home from their gateway cities ASAP.

The team at Adventures worked 24x7, getting over 20 teams and 500 people home - an incredible feat. I had an incredible amount of respect for Adventures before this - this situation only multiplies it. Not to mention everything Emily experienced on the Race.

Adventures - thanks for taking care of these kids through this situation and contending for this generation to follow Jesus.

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

PVT - Quito, Ecuador

Deanna and I got to visit Emily last week in Quito, Ecuador as part of a Parent Vision Trip organized by the organization that runs The World Race Gap Year, Adventures in Missions. We had a great time with Em and just said goodbye to her again last weekend when we left Quito. PVT is structured so that you have a lot of time with your racer, while serving with them and the orgs that they have worked with, staying near them - in our case we were all on the campus of a seminary together, and having one full adventure day off to do as you please, all over about seven days.

I loved our time serving with partner organizations in and around Quito, including Camp Hope [a day center for disabled kids and young adults], Pan de Vida [poverty alleviation], Covi [an afterschool program] and Dunamis [trafficking rehabilitation - mutual connections with The Samaritan Woman in Baltimore.] Adventures also has a base in Quito run by the incredible Fabi and his wife, really phenomenal hosts. If you have a thing for Quito, these would be great places to start to think about partnerships - all run by native Ecuadorians. Also, Mosaic Ecuador [like from Erwin McManus] opened their doors the weekend before we got there. Emily went and took 2 friends - Shengs represent!

Quito is a beautiful city, sitting at 9350 feet above sea level with a population of about 2M people spread out over 207 square miles surrounded by mountains. I was a little sick from the altitude our first day here - we landed a few days early because we thought at least one of us would need to acclimate. The currency is the US dollar, the electrical current and plugs are the same as the US, and no one is really interested in practicing English here, which is different than a lot of places I have traveled to. Taxis and Ubers are dirt cheap. Food and lodging is moderate, depending on your taste. It was the rainy season when we were there so there was a lot of rain at some point almost every day.

For our adventure day, we visited a little town in the Andes mountain called Mindo. Mindo is advertised as the cloud forest and is about 2 hours outside of Quito. We visited a butterfly and hummingbird garden and went on a chocolate factory tour [adventure!] Interesting side note: One of the relatives of a team member on a team that we have partnered with in Italy pinged me after seeing on FB that we had been in Mindo. He worked on a well project there 10 years ago and a church community started out of that work.

We had a weekend stopover in Bogota on the way home, which was probably too much. Deanna and I were so exhausted so we spent a lot of time at our hotel. But Bogota is a beautiful city with a mix of very modern and a classic old town. We tried to go up Monserrate but it was way too crowded so instead just hung around Bolivar Square for a few hours.

As you can imagine, we loved our time with Em and had so much fun exploring Quito and seeing a glimpse of her life on the Race. The Race has definitely stretched and grown her, we chatted about things she would have never talked about had she gone right to college.

To SquadAyyee - we love you and are praying for your last 3 months in Cambodia and that the Lord makes you strong and a force to be reckoned with for the Kingdom for your whole long lives. To the parents of the squad - job well done, you have some amazing kids that have the admiration of many. But you already knew this. Loved hanging and getting to know you.

PVT only encouraged our absolute joy with the Race.