“Adios” was the last word I said to my leaders before jumping into a night full of Spanish with a bunch of teens from Ecuador. I was with a group from my high school and our group’s leaders were young, fun, and full of brilliant ideas.

This particular day was pretty relaxing and low key. The rest of my friends and I were hanging around the hostel, walking the streets of Shell, and eating the local candy and ice cream from the vendors. We knew something was going to happen tonight but none of the adults would tell us what was going on. We ate dinner as a group later that night as then our leaders told us it was time to go on a walk. We started walking down the street toward some music that was faintly playing down one of the roads. It got louder and louder as we got closer and before I knew it I was standing at the opening of a gate in front of a building filled with kids my age. The music was loud, I heard a lot of laughing, and of course, no English. I looked at my leaders and they all had satisfied smiles on their faces. “Adios” they said, as they motioned for us to walk in and go figure out what was happening. Turns out, This was young life Ecuador style!

Inside the doors of the building we were welcomed with kisses on the cheeks and high fives. None of the kids spoke to us in English so we were forced to use the Spanish we knew to communicate. Luckily, I had taken Spanish for almost five years so I could understand what their general point was.

The best part about this night was getting to be kids. We played games, sang, danced, and had snacks. We were having so much fun we didn’t even notice that almost four hours had passed and our leaders had been standing at the gate watching us for the past little while. Throughout the rest of the week we saw our young life friends around the neighborhood and talked to each other whenever we had the chance.

My takeaway from this experience is to step out of your comfort zone whenever you have the chance. If I hadn’t have gone to their young life camp, my outlook on this Ecuador trip would be way different. It may be hard to communicate in words with the people around you sometimes, but it’s a good thing we all smile and laugh in the same language.


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