My volunteer work in the Jean Piaget Elementary School, located in Guayaquil, Ecuador, lasted for six weeks.
The first great experience happened at the beginning of my trip. The flight from the city of Chihuahua to Mexico City was delayed by two hours; during the hour-and-fifty-minute flight, I prayed because I knew there was only a short time before the next flight, from Mexico City to Guayaquil.
When I got off the plane, I went to the luggage pickup area and anxiously waited for my suitcase. Then I saw a teacher from the university where I am currently studying. I was surprised and went to say “Hi.” She asked where I was going. I told her about my plans to visit Ecuador for an internship and that I was late for my next flight. She offered to pick up my luggage so I could run to the boarding gate.
I thanked her and ran to ask a guard where the airline was. “At the other end of the airport,” he said, so I ran like never before to the airline counter. When I arrived, the person at the counter asked me where I was travelling. “To Guayaquil,” I answered. After looking at his monitor, he told me: “You were going to travel to Guayaquil, but your airplane left. Talk to the airline supervisor to see what can be done.” While I was talking to him, the teacher came with my luggage. I explained my situation to the airline supervisor, who said that the only thing he could do was to get me a flight for the next day, but he needed a credit card. I did not have one. The teacher, who had stayed by my side, made her credit card available; and in this way, I was able to buy my flight to Ecuador. Even though I had moments of distress, I never felt alone because God was always there. I knew He would not forsake me.
On the first day of school I was assigned the morning worship and talked about “God's Genes.” I felt very honored. Throughout my stay I had the opportunity to perform a variety of teaching activities and manual arts. For example, I taught different kinds of math, physical education, and how to work with computers. Teaching children was a new experience and a challenge because I am not a teacher. However, I learned many things, like tolerance, patience, and how to teach little ones. The joy of living with them, getting to know their dreams, and listening to their concerns is indescribable. Also, I worked in the kitchen preparing food and doing dishes. At other times, when the janitor was absent, I helped clean the school. I even assisted with the repair of the school's roof!
I highly recommend the internship program of the Education Department. My experience in Ecuador was unique! Being able to live with the students, and share my knowledge with them, was very important to me. During the lessons I encouraged them to make their dreams come true, and never leave God’s way, because He has great plans for them. Getting acquainted with the brothers and sisters of the church in Guayaquil, as well as the ministers and all the school teachers, was a great experience. Besides, I had the opportunity to make new friends of the many young people of our faith in that area.
I always felt the support of the Education Department, and I want to express my gratitude to the team: Sister Margie Seely, Pastor Danilo Monterroso, and Sister Manuela Di Franca. I also want to thank the principal of the Jean Piaget Elementary School, Sister Mercy Mora, and the seventh-grade teacher, Sister Migdalia Mora. Above all I praise God for giving me this experience that enriched my personal and spiritual life.
As the Lord says: "I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye" (Psalm 32:8).
By Elías Guzmán Quiñonez, Chihuahua, Mexico