Blog  Shabbat Shalom from Ecuador!

Shabbat Shalom from Ecuador!

Last Sunday night at 5PM, everyone was running around the house. The 16 travelers of Mitzvah Corps Ecuador decided that they wanted to make a full meal for members of the community who have been hosting us so graciously in Chilcapamba, Ecuador. Some were busy cutting vegetables and making pasta, others were attempting to make brownies at the higher elevation, and a third group was decorating our patio and setting a meal for at least thirty people. When dinner was finally ready, children, adults and teens from both communities sat together as one and enjoyed the delicious meal. Spanish, English, and the native language of Ketchuwa could be heard along the table, representing all of the different types of people present. At the same time, songs and laughter were shared by everyone. Sitting together, like one family, felt so perfect. This moment represented so much of our experience this week in Ecuador. We each formed a deeper connection with the land and with the people of Chilcapamba, while also thinking more deeply about ourselves and the journey that has led us to this amazing place.

We began our week visiting a bird sanctuary full of owls, eagles, and condors, and then heading to the indigenous market in Otavalo which featured beautiful handmade crafts. We haggled with the local merchants and ended the afternoon with a treat: ice cream!

We have been working very hard at our worksite, helping the community lay pipes that will provide fresh drinking water to parts of the community that do not currently have access. This involved digging incredibly deep trenches, burying pipes, mixing concrete, and much more. We felt tired after each of our workdays, but it was an incredible feeling to be able to see the progress we made by the end of the week. One day this week, we joined in the community Minga, when the entire Chilcapamba community, including people of all ages, come out to work on community projects. We learned the power of a community working together to achieve a common goal. The day was incredibly powerful.

This week, we have been learning about the power of telling stories in our efforts to perform tikkun olam, acts to repair the world. Each of us have come to Ecuador with a rich story that  includes those who have inspired us to serve others and the key moments in our lives that have led us to transformative revelations and have helped us grow. As a group, we studied the “Hero’s Journey” and thought about how our own lives fit into this type of story. We each took time to think about the moments in our lives where we have been called to act. Additionally, we spent time this week working on independent projects. Each of us chose some aspect of the Chilcapamba community to learn about more extensively. Some people interviewed community members about gender and their religious traditions, others learned skills like cooking, weaving, and using medicinal plants, and some travelers taught English to the local children. Regardless of the project, each of us found a way to weave our own story into the story of this community, finding unique ways to contribute to the village based on our own interests and passions.

As we approach our final days in Chilcapamba and prepare to travel to the Galápagos Islands, we will continue to learn as much as possible about our community. We will spend the weekend visiting the Cotopaxi volcano and will hike and horseback ride 12,000 feet above the sea.  We will welcome Shabbat on this beautiful volcano and have quiet time to reflect on everything we have experienced so far, including how all this is helping to shape our own stories and how it will lead us to continue to serve others.

Shabbat Shalom!

Lulu, Tyler, and Fedora
Mitzvah Corps Ecuador 2017 Program Staff