Christmas Celebrations

Padre Jack with Christmas Dinner, very happy about his catch!

Here are the kids from Sargento Lores, a 10 minute boat ride upriver, who volunteered to come to Santa Clotilde to sing carols a few days after christmas. There were 7 close communities who participated, and Sargento Lores came in second place. I traveled to Sargento Lores two days before the competition and the day of, I presented them to a church full of people. Sargento Lores is an indiginous Kichwa community. The leader of the community more than anything to provide a good education and opportunity for their children. They are an agricultural community and grow yuca, plantains, and lots of fruits. They also have some cows, buffalo, pigs and chickens that they raise. They are artisans and make baskets, crafts of balsa wood, and bags. They wish they had a market for their artwork, produce, and animals. 
Then Liz, Paul, and Josia invited us over, along with Padre Jack and Erik, the visiting student from Canada. Liz was raised in Africa by missionary parents and made a traditional holiday meal of curry lentils and rice, and 10 different toppings including nuts, raisins, coconut, papaya, and banana. It was delicious! Then we watched Andre Rieu Christmas Carols with a japanese children's choir! The music and company were beautiful!

Christmas Mass with an artistic musical culturally-relevant reenactment of the Nativity Story, including accents about caring for each other and for the environment. It was amazing and really emphasized the true joy and meaning of Christmas. We have lots of talented youth here in Santa Clotilde!

Our Nativity Scene, built from scratch by our maintenance men with a traditional leaf roof, bamboo walls, and sod floor. All the animals resting on the sod are fashioned facing the crib of baby Jesus, who appears on Christmas morning. Complete with musical christmas lights, garland, and ornaments it keeps many kids occupied in awe. Traditionally all Christmas adornments are taken down on Jan 7th. One more day of festive music and decorations!

Our Secret Santa Gift exchange in the hospital kitchen, our usual reunion area.  We each described our "secret friend" until the group was able to guess who it was. My "secret friend" was a dead giveaway since she is know for being the best volleyball player in all of Santa Clotilde- Lleni Guerra. It was such a warm, happy celebration! Nothing replaces our own family, but I could say that our family in Santa Clotilde is a close second! 

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