Deisal pricked my nose as I looked out of our fourth floor window and watched a blond woman and two light skinned men stop in front of the Chuchucara restaurant. They hoisted dark blue and deep green climbing backpacks. I don’t think I’d like to be a tourist, everyone would watch me. The irony of the thought hit me, and I started laughing. I had been the gringa all my life. People already stared at me. It wouldn’t be any different during the European tour I dreamed of.
I never used to pay special attention to the darker skin or hair of the Ecuadorians. The Quichuas were just the people my dad worked with. Dad’s students were normal people. They were different, they wore wool ponchos and black dress pants. But it was normal that we were different. I didn't really understand how strange they would seem to Americans. Sometimes I hated my white skin because sometimes it stopped the darker Quichua kids from really talking with me, especially as I got older and simple games like tag no longer helped us to understand each other as normal people.
I’ve been in America for the last two years. (It’s been three years since I looked out the window in our Latacunga apartment.) I came back for the summer before my senior year in highschool, and except for a short visit, I haven’t been there since. Memories were fading. I was beginning to wonder if I was losing Ecuador, until Dad pulled out old videos and we watched some of the Sundays he and I had taped. For the first time, I saw my world from an American’s eyes. Dad looked like something from an old movie with his blue checkered shirt, black mustache, and old round-squared glasses. He stood behind a big white podium and preached. Quichua women might have come up before to sing for a special occasion. Maybe one of the mothers had been nursing uncovered while singing. The air would have been cold. There would have been no carpet, the floor was either dirt or cement. The pews were unfinished-wooden benches. How rustic that seems compared to the heated, polished churches in North America. How desolate and needy. No wonder I struggle with our sometimes careless attitude about money! Memories of a life before American culture- shock slowly slipped into my mind as I recognized my Spanish voice and then, when the camera turned to a white girl standing amongst a crowd of dark haired people, I realized, God let me be part of His miracle.
My parents are under supported and have been slowed by the inability to find housing. We are in a time of transition, but I cannot help but wonder at the privilege we have been given, and they still have. They are one of the only missionaries reaching to the yet-to-mature Quichua church who is still just emerging from hundreds of years in slavery. Many have come and gone, but few have been able to last this special, rejected people. Nineteen years into the work, thirty years into pursuing missions… my parents are looking to keep showing Christ’s love the Quichua people by investing into the life of one pastor at a time. They're just two normal people, a link in the “telephone game,” that shares God’s love to hundreds.