"ECHO was great," has been my general response to that question. The work was hard and co-leading 16 students for two weeks was no easy task, especially if they enjoy arguing. ( I mentioned it a couple times, and they tried to argue about it...) I learned a lot about leadership, agriculture and myself.
I also learned that it is important to not get eight blisters on the first day of work.
Helping lead 16 students for two weeks was different from any other ministry work that I've done. I did have two week kampers as a Kamp Counselor, but working for two weeks with students was different. At Kamp, we had a good time. At ECHO, we didn't always have a good time. I learned a lot about leading a group when you're under a lot of pressure. By far it was fun group to be with. I enjoyed hanging out with everyone, even if I did get kicked in the face with a soccer ball when I sleeping. I'm surprised no one pulled the plug on my air mattress on the last night. I noticed at the end of the trip that relationships (good relationships!) had started between people in the groups. You know that a friendship is formed when you stay in contact with each other over long distances. I sensed that with this group. I'm looking forward to seeing a bunch of them at Covfamikoi and then at the International Conference. (I also see a couple of them at church each week.)
This was my third time at ECHO. One way I changed from my last two trips was that I paid closer attention to what ECHO is doing. I also paid attention to names of plants and how agriculture works. I loved planting Lablab seeds, partially because I saw them begin to sprout while I was there. (I have pictures!) I now have a vendetta against bamboo even though everyone seems to like it. I don't, 50 lb. tubs full of bamboo is not fun to carry. It's heavy and more scratchy then corn leaves!
Whenever we're put under stressful situations, we learn a little bit more about ourselves. Near the end of the trip I started to notice that I didn't work as hard when I was alone or without someone "important." (One of the ECHO stafff, an intern or Mr. Hanson and Mr. Stuart.) I am a performance driven person, the more people who are watching me, the better I usually perform. I started to apply a part of theology that I'm reading in Aquinas right now: that God is everywhere and in everything. Because he is everywhere, he can see all that I do. It is deceptive for me to believe that I am ever truly alone.
Now you know a little bit about my trip to ECHO. I'm glad I went, it was a great experience, the students were a lot of fun and it was great to work with Mr. Hanson and Mr. Stuart.