This summer I had the privilege of serving in the beautiful country of Ecuador under missionaries, Steve & Sandi Youngren, as their Communications Intern.

The Youngrens have founded a non-profit organization in Ecuador called, Compassion Connection (CC). The mission of their organization is to train, equip, and encourage Ecuadorian church-plant pastors. CC has a training center located in the mountains of Ecuador near a small, rural village called Lasso.

In addition to their non-profit organization, Sandi Youngren has started her own jewelry business called Encantadora. She takes handmade, tagua jewelry made by Ecuadorian artisans and sells the beautiful pieces here in the United States. Tagua is a type of nut with an inside that is similar to ivory and can be shaped and dyed to make beautiful pieces of jewelry.

Sandi is also a talented artist. She creates breathtakingly beautiful headpieces for special occasions such as weddings, dinner parties, or other big events. This summer, Sandi and I worked hard to launch a wedding line for Encantadora!

To prepare for this launch, Sandi and I were busy creating the Encantadora Wedding brand, designing promotional materials, doing photoshoots, creating videos, and much more. Here are a few pictures I took this summer to showcase Sandi’s stunning creations.

Although Sandi and I were having a blast taking pretty pictures and designing flowery promotional materials, we weren’t doing all this work just for fun but rather for a greater purpose. All the proceeds that Encantadora brings in go towards supporting a home for girls called Casa Adalia.

Casa Adalia is home to Ecuadorian women and children that have been rescued from sex trafficking, prostitution, or other abusive situations. Just like everywhere else in the world, sex trafficking is very prevalent in Ecuador. Casa Adalia is working to provide a safe space for women who need protection, healing, and guidance.

This summer was truly an amazing experience. Not only was I doing what I love each day by being behind a camera and putting my creative mind to work, but I was also doing meaningful work. It was the meaning behind my work that motivated and pushed me to work hard and diligently despite the long hours and never ending to-do list each day.

I truly believe that missionaries like Steve and Sandi Youngren as well as the staff at Casa Adalia are working hard to serve a purpose greater than themselves. I hope one day I am given the opportunity to serve alongside these organizations in Ecuador and work towards improving our world; even if that is just improving the world for one Ecuadorian. For one woman. For one person.

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Erin Kloepping

Erin is a Communications major with an emphasis in Leadership and Advocacy who is graduating in 2019. She is from Brodhead, WI and her interests include videography and foreign mission trips.

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