Monday, July 23, 2012

3,000 Miles Away, As the Crow Flies

Received an email from the wife of one of the leaders on Tori's service trip to Ecuador. Their first day was a thrilling success of fun--a great prelude to some serious work for the next couple of weeks. As the crow flies, they are approximately 3,000 miles away. I couldn't help but think of how the distance and the difference in surroundings, may be impacting this girl who by nature, would choose to sit quietly in her loft reading or writing stories about people and places and experiences much like the reality she is quickly coming to know. 

They spent their first hours flying through the air via 13 different zip lines plunging them down canyon jungles forwards, backwards, and "butterfly style." They had the option of either jumping off 50 foot cliffs into a deep river, or descending down a 50 foot vertical ladder, to then find and enjoy a sky ride with a view spanning the incredible terrain on which they had just been playing. Foreign surroundings, people, language, and adventure... all makings, I'm sure for an incredible journal entry :)

The next day was their first day in the orphanage. No word yet, on what they found there. As much as I dislike the inability to communicate with my girl, I am so glad for the chance she has to be out there doing this. If not an "out of body experience," it is certainly an "out of personality experience" destined to stretch her beyond her comfort zone and into an area that will shape and direct her life. 

I wonder how church was for them yesterday--what the building was like, how the local people may have welcomed the group, whether or not they understood the messages being taught, and if the spirit was able to break through that language barrier. I wonder how the children will receive them at the orphanage today, and how family night in various homes of local people will be. I wonder how their visit to the temple will feel to the girls collectively as well as individually. 

I read about the history of the temple, and have no doubt that something special awaits them - likely, the blessing for their weeks of service to those children. They say: 

The temple, labeled "the most beautiful building in Ecuador" by members and nonmembers alike, stands majestically in a peaceful hillside setting in northern Guayaquil. During a visit to the construction site, President Gordon B. Hinckley recounted the story of the site's selection. He said that several years earlier, he was taken to another site under consideration for the temple, but he "didn't feel well about the site that had been chosen. We visited the site and…the trucks that came up the hill had to gun their engines to make it up and the noise was just terrible. It just would not do. So we looked around…and then drove up a little two-track road to this spot. There was a guard here cooking over a little fire. I looked out over the city and had a feeling…as clear as anything that this was the site for the temple. We checked to see if the property was for sale. We found that it might be, and so we negotiated the purchase."1
During the public open house, visitors came at an average rate of 1,800 everyday, except for Saturdays when attendance dramatically increased to 5,400 on June 26 and to 15,200 on July 3. Volunteers eagerly participated in cleaning the temple including members of the Guayaquil Ecuador Pascuales Stake, one of the poorest areas in the city. A group of 50 of these Saints came to the temple at 11:00 p.m. one night and worked with sincere enthusiasm until well after midnight.2
The day after the dedicatory sessions, the temple was opened for service. Otavalan members, among the most faithful in Ecuador, attended the first ordinance sessions. The indigenous Otavalans wear a distinctive garb: brethren with a single braid, dress hat, white shirt, dark cloak, and white pants; and sisters with gold necklaces, stitched white blouses, and dark skirts—often carrying babies on their backs. The two stakes made the nearly 10-hour bus trip to attend the temple dedication, nearly filling the temple is one session.3

I expect to hear from Tori once this week and then not again until her return on August 4th. Looking forward, with much anticipation, to her report. 

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