Christmas, Cuenca, and a New Year
Happy New Year! I know it’s already almost the end of January, but in some ways it seems like time has been rushing forward and leaving us racing to catch up. Even our Christmas tree was still left up until a couple weeks ago! And I’m still training myself to write 2014 instead of 2013 on things. So let’s see what we can do about sharing a bit of an update!
Christmas came and went here with festivities and sighs of relief at the break from school. December ended at Alliance Academy with the usual impressive array of festivities, performances, and treats – the students and staff here really manage to pull off a lot for being a small school! The Elementary grades performed a fantastic Christmas musical to a packed gymnasium. We attended a joyful Christmas Sing-Along with everything from a community orchestra to the AAI choir’s goosebump-inducing rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus.
We also celebrated Christmas with the small groups we mentor and my group even enjoyed some homemade peppermint hot chocolate together while sharing about how each of our families celebrate the birth of Christ. It quickly became an opportunity to delve into deeper meaning since not all the students do celebrate Christ or Christmas.
A few days into the Christmas break, Doug and I headed out on vacation for a “babymoon” of sorts to Cuenca, a colonial city a ways south of Quito. We walked all around the historic areas, experienced the Christmas Eve parade (that lasted from morning till night), hiked through a nearby national park, visited the true birth place of “Panama” hats, and spent some time at a neighboring hacienda. Realizing it would probably be our last trip just the two of us before the baby is born made us appreciate the time even more!
I don’t think we realized quite how much we needed the break until we were actually on it. It’s amazing what a step back from the busyness and stresses of daily life can do to a person’s perspective, attitude, and overall sense of well-being. There’s a reason God created a Sabbath and He himself rested! Time in ministry is invaluable, and time away is essential to continue doing it well.
We’ve been back at school for a few weeks now and quickly got back in the swing of things after the break. Doug is busy preparing his students for exams and the end of the first semester, photographing the last games of this season, helping our church with their website and online communications, and doing some contracting work for a company in the U.S. Meanwhile, I’ve been organizing a Career Day for high school students, working out logistics for a conference/training we’re hosting at AAI on child abuse prevention and response, preparing a Middle School seminar on stress management, and continuing to work with individual students weekly. Oh, and we’re trying to prepare ourselves to be parents. Needless to say, it’s been a busy but fruitful time and, while we’re not ones to make specific New Years resolutions, we are trying to remain grounded in God’s promises and we look with great hope towards what He has in store for us for 2014!
January 20, 2014 Ecuador