October 2022, the True North Missions team returns to Ecuador!!! Despite many months of supply chain issues, stocking up for the mission is complete, the volunteer roster is set (almost) and the team is excited and ready to serve the poor in Ecuador!
Loading the 70+ 40 lb. bags and totes from the storage locker on a warm fall day was a welcome change from snow and cold that is traditionally a part of pack up day. Unfortunately, the elevator was out of order and two of our dedicated volunteers (a.k.a. ‘two strong men and a trailer’) packed all the bags down two flights of stairs. Who needs the gym if you are a TNMS volunteer?
Arriving at the airport at 3:00 am is always such a joy as team members pair up with their two assigned and tagged hockey bags/totes. As everyone checks in, there are flashes of panic on the air attendants faces as they realize the volume of baggage about to be loaded.
Eighteen hours and two layovers later we arrive in Quito at 12:30 am. Bags and totes head to Cuenca over land while the team head to bed for a welcome sleep before the final leg of the journey. Quito to Cuenca at noon Oct 5 was far more attractive than the normal 7:00 am air bus the team usually takes.
We were warmly greeted at Cuenca airport by representatives from Club Rotario Cuenca Yanuncay. The team hotel houses a restaurant that is open until midnight, a welcome change in accommodations (a la restaurant) because it is challenging to find dinner past 8:00 pm. After check-in and lunch at the hotel…Dr. Powell spoke about how good it was to hear the chatter in the room and feel the positive energy from the group. Dr. Manuel Avila offered a Blessing over the mission, the patients, and the volunteers. Then, it was time to walk to Santa Ines and begin unpacking. Approximately, the same amount of bags of equipment and supplies are stored in Cuenca year around, as are transported down with the team. There are well over 120 bags and totes to unpack and organize. Many hands make light work. It was not long and most of the ‘Core’ was established.
Photo Credits: Daniel Aponte