Galen Burns-Fulkerson - Ecuador

November 7, 2011

I didn’t expect to get so close to my host family in Quito. Before arriving, I figured I would spend some quality time with them during my training and then move on to my longer home-stay with little trouble. This is not what happened at all. After a month with my wonderfully helpful and incredibly patient Quito family members, they truly became a second family. Various adventures at home and around the city formed strong bonds, in spite of and sometimes due to the gaps in communication.  Thus, thoughts of my impending departure brought both excitement and sadness.

I was thrilled to officially move to Pimampiro and start my work with Mountains of Hope. I was also devastated to leave behind my new life and family in Quito. I dreaded leaving, and I also dreaded saying goodbye. With my still-limited vocabulary, I didn’t know how to make my family understand how amazing they had been and how much they had come to mean to me.  As I frantically searched for the right words to thank them for everything and let them know that it really wasn’t “goodbye”, but rather “see you later,” my departure loomed closer. Of course, when it came time to say goodbye, my carefully planned speech snuck out of my mind faster than I fell in love with Spanish music (it was fast, the music here is awesome). I was left speechless with only minutes to say what I meant, as my sister had to hurry to class. Fortunately, it didn’t matter because it turns out that teary goodbyes are the same in Spanish.

My sister cried and I cried and as we both struggled to find words, I think we both understood. I think she understood that I couldn’t have asked for a more awesome family to share my month with and that we will definitely meet up again. I understood that I would be missed in their house and I also understood that sometimes, the most meaningful goodbyes are those without words.

Galen Burns-Fulkerson