After 9.5 months in Ecuador, Brooklyn felt my soles on it’s ground. In Bushwick, where I used to play at the pump and stay at my cousin’s home for the summer, memories of my younger days brought me a smile. Even when I moved within the States (Massachusetts and Virginia), I’d always make sure to make it known that I am indeed a Brooklyn girl.

Still, my identity was always tied to a bigger place, another land. It is the land my parents hail from. The place where I also spent months in as a little girl. Guayaquil, where the humidity even gives straight hair curls, and where the warmth of the people make you forget what cold days look like. Carnaval was my favorite time of the year. In Carnaval, the whole city turns into a play ground, and every tropical color is much more alive than before. It’s where you splash strangers with water balloons and paint. My mom stayed inside the building on the third floor, but would play from the window where she could reach everyone but no one could reach her. This was the place where my grandpa would drink alcohol outside on the corner with his friends and there was always a singer and a guitarrist in the midst playing pasillo while my grandma complained. It is this place that nurtured me with ceviches and sunkisses, and family. Sometimes the streets weren’t paved and the garbage truck didn’t come by. Sometimes the neighbor stopped by asking for sugar, or rice, or cooking oil. Sometimes, people talked about having no money. Reality was that there was a lot of people who lacked. Reality is there are still a lot of people who lack. How could I explain that Guayaquil has enriched my life with it’s palm trees, and coconut water, and joy. How can I explain the heartache I feel when I see or meet young teens with drug addiction problems, when my students tell me their parent’s moved to a different country to give them a better life but haven’t talked to them or seen them in months. How can I tell you about the desire I still have for God to use me in this place. God has been molding me. The last (almost) 10 months have been exactly what God intended them to be. Your girl learned her lesson many times. There have been times of errors, and conviction, but God’s grace has allowed for renewal and restoration.

Brooklyn will always be home and so will Guayaquil. There was a thought in my mind before landing at JFK that maybe I would feel inclined to come back. Maybe there would be a trigger that would make me reconsider completing my two year (minimum) term. On the contrary, I am privilaged to have more than one home. Monday morning I return to Guayaquil, Ecuador more secure than ever about where God wants me to be right now. I am more confident in the visions that God has given me and am believing that the Lord will lead. May my heart be humbled as I step unto this next phase, this next time period of fundraising and exercising my God-given gifts for His glory. May seeds be planted along the way. God always finishes what he started and this little city girl is going places knowing that every time she comes back the sound of the train tracks, busy feet, and many languages will welcome her with love. After all, that’s the Brooklyn way.

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