This summer, I began writing my location beneath the date of every journal entry. They were varied and fast changing. They spanned Florida, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, California, Minnesota, and Vermont. Entries were written in a tent hiding from the rain in Tahoe’s wilderness, on a plane headed to celebrate the union of two dear friends, and on the beach of my hometown where I had the privilege of living this summer. Flipping through the pages, I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the fullness of my life.
For the past two weeks, my journal read “Mindo, Ecuador”.
After leading a gap year program with Thinking Beyond Borders (TBB) last year, I had the summer to decompress and bounce around my own country before leaving with another group of students to do it all again.
Now, I am back in Ecuador and getting to know eighteen dynamic emerging adults and two new (and fantastic) co-workers. Mindo was an idyllic place to start this journey— on the edge of a cloud forest, it boasts an unbelievable number of bird species, a powerful river, and so much green my soul felt wrapped in a blanket of cool moss. We spent our time there getting to know each other, the program specifics, and the beautiful land around us.
The decision to stay with TBB and lead for a second year was a slow and deliberate one. It came out of my deep belief in the work we are doing and my sense of vocation, discovery, and growth from my role with the organization. Fittingly, I decided to return to lead a second trip while in Ecuador this past March, where my first group concluded our time abroad and I now start my travels all over. This year, I am with a group doing the opposite itinerary, so I will do the trip in reverse returning to Ecuador, Peru, Thailand, Cambodia, India, South Africa, and DC/Virginia over the next seven months.
As I set out, I am setting (another) commitment to this blog. In an effort to meet myself where I am today, I am pausing the neglected series on mysticism and solidarity and instead setting a new, perhaps more attainable, intention: to share an update, a story, and a reflection each week.
For now, here is an update: we are currently in Quito, headed to a campo tomorrow to live amongst the Tsa’chila people while we explore environmental sustainability for the next month. I am already tired and sometimes I feel crazy for taking this on again. Then, I walk upstairs to the rooftop dining area of our hostel and enjoy the morning light pouring through the clouds, basking the city with its warmth. I look out at the breathtaking view of the capital nestled between snowcapped mountains and rolling hills. My students share about their evenings of exploration or late nights of reflection. And I remember: I am exactly where I want to be.