trips like this don't just happen, and opportunities like this don't just materialize in the air and fall from the sky into laps. unfortunately. instead, they require a lot of work, sacrifice, and support from a group of people who in many cases haven't had the opportunity or anything like it. i am indebted to those people, and i wanted to say thank you:
to my parents, for support in more ways than can probably be imagined, enumerated, or named. for ignoring hugo chavez's latest psycotic ramblings about the undoing of america (or just not knowing about them), for sending money i never asked for, for emotional support before i left and while i was there, for never complaining about the infrequency of my calls and emails, for understanding or trying to always, for swallowing probably more than a few reservations and protests when i was telling them what i wanted to do and where i wanted to go and for how long...for all of this and undoubtedly lots more.
to mike hertzler and the elder board at faith bible church and the attenders of faith. when i asked mike to look into any possible opportunities for medical volunteer positions in south america, it was (in my mind) one of several different paths i might find to south america. it may have originally been that, but to be honest at this point i can't imagine having done it without him. almost immediately after asking him (especially in south american terms) we had a possible position with a hospital in ecuador, and thereafter mike made sure the preparations were on track, and always asked me how things were going and if he could help. mike was also the one who brought my "mission" to the elder board for possible financial support, which they agreed to give me, so thanks to those men as well for believing in what i wanted to do and supporting it, and for then bringing it to the congregation and giving all of them a chance to know about the happenings and help out in prayer or even just interest (when you ask my mom how i'm doing, she tells me you did, and it was good to know you cared). thank you.
to about a million people at hospital vozandes quito, including but not limited to karen, ximena, maira, evelyn, cecibel, piedad, soraya, drs. balesteros, vallejo, barros, kon, calerón, cueva, corral...hey look mom, it's an unending list of names! and tons more. for their friendship and help and patience and education and for making the whole experience much more than about medicine or even service.
to janae for coming down to see me (twice!) and putting up with all my wanderlust and still even wanting to be my girlfriend when i got back (hey hey!) and for phone calls and emails and packages and other things to remind me i was missed and hinting that if i were to come home immediately at least one person would be thrilled.
to all aim buddies everywhere (anyone i talked to on the internet in the last 5 months) for keeping up and keeping me up. especially so aaron and sarah (my traveling buddies forever) for sharing commiseration, understanding, and learning in a special way, and mhat for sending me little mpeg-layer 3 sound files of home.
to marmot mountainwear for making probably the single most indespensible piece of clothing i had on my trip, the superjacket.
to the people who came under my charge at vozandes, for teaching and giving and helping me much more than i was able to do for you.
to everyone who read my blog, and especially those who commented. knowing anyone was interested both made me feel good about the friends at home and helped motivate me to experience as much as possible while i could. thanks for listening--this has been fun, and it wouldn't have been the same without you all.