(This week's guest blog comes from Mr. Seth Harlan. Seth left late last night for a Galapagos getaway before he heads back to the States after volunteering with MPIE for 2 years. The presence of the one and only Mr. Ecuador will be sorely missed in the Manna House... good thing he's coming back for a visit in October!)"Wednesday, August 26, 2009 - Day 712, and I can´t believe how quickly the past two years have flown by. It seems like only yesterday I was dropped off with a host family, repeating the only phrase I could remember from high school spanish- "My name is Seth. Where is the bathroom?" It´s true that things started slowly, and there was a lot to learn between Spanish, the Ecuadorian transportation system, and how to initiate community development in Latin America. Looking back, they all seem like daunting tasks, impossible for any group of recent college graduates to achieve, and although it took nearly two years to feel like we had made progress, I can honestly say that we have accomplished much more than we ever could have imagined. In two years we have hosted over 150 international volunteers, launched more than a dozen successful programs, forged life changing relationships with local community member, and shared invaluable experiences. And although I could continue to reminisce and reflect back on my time here, I would much rather leave a message for the future.
To our past volunteers I encourage to keep an eye on this year's programs directors. I have a feeling that they are going to accomplish things here that we never dreamed of.
To the family members of this year's volunteers, I thank you for entrusting Manna with your loved ones, and I promise you that their time here will have a genuine impact on the people we work with as well as the volunteers themselves.
To our donors, I thank you for your commitment to MPI that supports us and the communities we work with.
Finally to this year's group of volunteers, you have eased all of my concerns, re-energized me, and revitalized my commitment to MPI. Part of me wishes that I could start all over again with you, and part of me is comforted by the knowledge that the groundwork has been laid and you are more than ready to continue what we have started. Enjoy every moment of your experience. It truly only comes once in a lifetime.