Christmas Eve is when most Ecuadorians celebrate the birth of Jesus. We came together in the early evening to share Christmas Dinner. We ate early because there were young children who needed to eat at a normal hour. The delicious meal was accompanied by much laughter and fellowship and afterward the table was cleared and the games began.
The family was divided into teams. Each team would sing along with a recording of a Christmas Carol. Someone would pull the speaker plug, but the group had to continue singing. Some time later the speaker plug was reinserted, and the winning group was the one that was still synced with the recording. Not knowing the carols, I kept time on the arm of my chair to help my group. Our team did well.
Later each team was given modeling clay to create something of the Christmas Story. There was much discussion as to what to build and how to build it. Most efforts centered on the stable and the manger. My group decided that since it was Christmas Eve a model of a pregnant Mary would be appropriate, because after all tomorrow was the birth, tonight Mary was pregnant. Alas, our team did not do well.
More games, more fellowship, more fun, more Love.
At midnight the Bible was opened and the story of our Savior’s birth was read. There was a time of prayer and a sharing of gifts. The focus was, as in many cultures, on the children still wide eyed at the excitement of it all.
After many hugs and kisses (part of the culture at all times) we left for our own homes with hearts full of family love and the knowledge that, as great as this love is, it is but a shadow of the love that the baby Jesus brought into this world.
Missionary to Ecuador