The holidays in another country are very different from the traditions we've shared before with family. Thankfully, God has blessed us with families here in Ecuador to help fill void that is left from being so far from home. Two of those families are the Murphys and the Lozadas. The Murphy's are from Georgia in the US and we have loved getting to know them ever since our pre field orientation in New York in 2016. The Lozadas are from Guayaquil, Ecuador and I've known their family ever since I was in the REACH program in Ecuador in 1997. We celebrated Christmas with the Murphy's and New Years with the Lozadas this year.
Our Christmas break started with an overnight get away to the hot springs in Papallacta, about two hours east of Quito. We went with our friends the Murphy family who are also missionaries at Alliance Academy. While we were there we also celebrated Gaby's birthday. She is 16 years old now!!
For Christmas Eve, the Murphy's came to our house and we had our Christmas meal Latino style, late at night. We made a combination of Venezuelan and American food then had a gift exchange after that.
On December 26 we set out from Quito with the Murphy family to Cuenca, a beautiful city about 7 hours south of Quito. We enjoyed 3 days of sleeping in and eating out while visiting many beautiful Catholic churches and even went to some hot bathes there as well!
From Cuenca we said goodbye to the Murphy's and traveled down to Guayaquil for New Year's. Guayaquil is a great place to send off the old year and welcome the new. They have a tradition here of making "Old Years" - años viejos which are effigies that they burn at midnight when the new year arrives. They make some huge año viejos in some neighborhoods of Guayaquil and we went with the Lozada family to see them.
Another great thing about Guayaquil is that they have Wendy's! I don't know why there is no Wendy's in Quito, but that's just the way it is. Nothing makes me smile quite like a Frosty!
On New Year's Eve we had a gift exchange with the Lozada family. It was so special that they all invited and embraced us so that we felt at home. If at all possible, we hope that we can welcome 2019 in Guayaquil as well!