“What is one characteristic of a good relationship?”
My Dad asked me this question during one of our countless heart-to-hearts as we traveled throughout Ecuador over the last few weeks. It took me over a day to respond.
“Compassion. You know you have a good relationship if your friend is always considering you, and you, them.”
Let me let you in on a little personal truth: my Dad and I often fight. A former pastor of mine would flower it by calling it a “moment of intense fellowship,” but I’m not one to plant gardens of euphemisms. A fierce love mixed with a generational gap, philosophical disagreements, and personality differences is a “jugo de choques.” And it’s a hard one to sip.
So I decided to just take a gulp by inviting my Dad to spend three (3) whole weeks (!) with me in Ecuador.
Isla San Cristóbal, Galápagos
I have not spent that much time one-on-one with my Dad ever in my life, let alone adulthood. But we have traveled before, and came out relatively unscathed, so I’d say I was anxiously optimistic when he arrived on Friday, May 17th.
Today is Monday, June 10th. I finally woke up this morning without a heavy disagreement about topics we have completely different perspectives on. But I also woke up this morning without a “Good morning!”, or an invitation to read scripture, or a buddy with whom to listen to a podcast about issues we both care about, or a friend with whom to watch a rom-com. And I miss it all, already.
Swinging in the mountains of Baños, Tungurahua
My Dad and I butt heads because we are unafraid to have hard conversations. I’m also headstrong and, well, a lot of times that causes conflict with some of the people I love the most, most notably my Pops. We had days this month where I was straight up mean, and I had to apologize more than once. I don’t claim to have it all the way together, but I am grateful for a very forgiving Dad who tries his best to understand me while also encouraging me toward good things.
Strong relationships go deep... snorkeling off the coast of Isla Isabela, Galápagos
I honor my father today because he decided to bless me with his presence, away from the love of his life (hi mom!) in order to show up for me in a season where I really just needed a companion.
I took a real vacation to immerse myself even further in Ecuador and its beautiful places; to challenge myself to a long hike in the Amazon Rainforest and snorkeling off the coast of Isla Isabela in the Galápagos Islands. My dad challenged himself to improve his Spanish, to embrace Ecuadorian culture, and to even volunteer with my local church family by helping out with manually packing the foundation of our church building as it goes through renovations.
Hanging out prepping Sunday lunch with my Host Family in Tumbaco, Pichincha
The truth I sit with today is that after 3 weeks of buses, planes, boats, bikes, hiking paths, lagoons, beaches, mountains, cities, boots, snorkeling gear, friends, a concert, rainy days and even an earthquake… I finally get to say that my father is also my friend.
It’s not even officially Father’s Day yet, but we got to celebrate it for almost a whole month. Life in Ecuador has given me yet another gift that I didn’t see coming: a new level of relationship with my father. A transformation from just a man I deeply love and respect, to a man that I deeply believe I can kick it with. A travel buddy. A confidant. A person who will do his best to show up for me, to draw out the best in me, and be unafraid to hold my hand when we jump into the deeper waters that life brings us both. A real one.
"Shekinah" - Barak Concert, Guayaquil, Ecuador
We are making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. More choques are sure to come. But we will pursue love, we will pursue freedom, and we will pursue each other as we continue to pursue Christ Jesus.
Thanks, Papí for your compassion, for your consideration, and for your friendship. This trip was a turning point in my life, and it will forever be cherished. I love you.
Relaxing with our friendly neighborhood sea lion on Isla San Cristóbal, Galápagos