After nearly a year… my daughter, Emily, is FINALLY home!!!
During the Spring of 2017, Emily was a typical high school graduate as she made her plans to attend a college in our great state of South Carolina. But as the college deadlines approached, she was wasn’t feeling peace about the whole college thing. So she looked up an organization she had worked with when she was 12 years old…. only to find that they offered a 9 month gap-year program (IncaLink.org). She came to me with tempered excitement with the idea and I knew that my plans to keep her near were fleeting. She quickly shifted gears, raised financial support (miraculously), and packed herself up!
So in August 2017 I hugged my sweet girl goodbye. I was so sad to see her go but I knew she was exactly where God wanted her to be, so there was great comfort in that. The holidays were hard without her but her good reports and smiling face on the other end of the screen kept us going. In December she surprised us with her decision to extend her trip to over the summer. By then I had made it almost half way so I knew I’d make a it a few extra weeks longer. But it’s a good thing I didn’t know that on the front end! So in total, she has spent the last 11 months bouncing around many small villages, big cities, coastal towns, and jungle camps in the countries of Peru, Ecuador and Colombia with 7 girls her age and 2 leaders.
She spent the majority of her time with orphans and youth in established local day cares and schools. However every day looked different. She had to learn how to be super flexible… some days she didn’t know where they were going or what they’d be asked to do until they got there! She also cleaned, painted, taught English, lead Bible studies, cooked, lead short term mission teams, worked on construction projects, organized school projects and more… basically whatever anyone needed, her team did it.
She learned a lot about working with a team and with various leaders, which was at times, super challenging. However, she developed deep friendships that I’m sure, will last a lifetime.
Communication this last year has been spotty at best between us due to her ever changing locations and internet connections, so I too learned patience, flexibility and how to love from afar.
But for now, she’s eating home cooked meals, taking long hot showers and giving lots of hugs to old friends and family. She leaves for college in the city of Chicago in one month but I will enjoy her while I have her!