The last thing I should be doing on Christmas day is sitting in the internet cafe, but I thought I´d take a quick second to wish you all a very Merry Christmas! My Christmas has been filled with lots of church (7 masses in 4 days, to be exact).
Although we are all a little "massed" out, the services have been really special...on Saturday we handed out the bags of clothes that we compiled for each family after a mass in both Centers...Yesterday we went to a gringo mass (first time I´ve been to mass in english in 4 months - very strange), then immediately to a very traditional Ecua-mass out in one of the barrios - it was interesting to so closely observe the differences between the two services. The gringo mass was the typical sort of Christmas Eve mass that I have been going to in the U.S. for the past 23 years - beautiful chapel, nice carols, nativity story, pretty but tasteful decorations, everyone dressed to the nines in their new christmas outfits, etc. The Ecua-mass, on the other hand, was absolutely crazy! I wasn´t all that surprised since I´ve learned by now that Ecuadorians know how to celebrate holidays better than anyone else in the world. We walked in (the last ones to arrive, but a benefit of travelling with the priest - mass can´t start until you get there so you´re never actually late!) to extremely loud, exuberant singing and clapping. The church was decorated with tons of flowers, colorful banners, a live nativity scene, candles, and little baby Jesus´dressed up in gold, lace, and sequins by every family. The place was packed! And by place, I mean shed, more or less. Most people stood the entire time because there weren´t enough seats. It literally felt like a party in there. I could go on and on, but I have a feeling that no matter how hard I try to describe every detail, words just won´t do it justice! The final two masses today included the First Communion of our second graders. Three of my students are second graders so it was fun to see them all dressed up and so excited to take communion for the first time - I felt like a proud mama!
Although it´s been wonderful to spend Christmas in Ecuador this year, with these people who have become such an important and special part of my life, it does definitely feel different. First of all, the weather (which I won´t even describe for you because if you´ve been reading, you know what it´s like, and, well, I feel like I shouldn´t rub it in anymore!)...but mostly, it´s strange to not be with family and friends in Minnesota. I miss you all so much and you are in my thoughts and prayers. I hope you all are having a wonderful Christmas!