I am very happy to send you warm greetings from Guayaquil as we approach the Christmas feast once more, my third Christmas on the Missions. These are warm greetings in more ways than one because at this time of year it just gets hotter and hotter, often rising in the afternoon to over 40 degrees. For those of us who are ‘gringos’ we have to take great care to make sure the sun cream (or block as the case may be) is on and that plenty of water is drunk at all times. Of course there are warm greetings of another kind because we are again approaching the happy feast of Christmas. I always loved this time of year back home, but Christmas is very different out here both from a Latin point of view, it is different because the feast is celebrated on the eve of the 24th, which is when all the family gets together. Christmas day itself is a quiet day with not much happening. However, from a poverty viewpoint, Christmas is very different, as there is not much to splash out on presents; people will be lucky to get a toy or some new clothes for their children. Having said that, Christmas in our parish of Nueva Prosperina is a joyous time and we will be having Christmas Masses in six of our chapels. May the Christ child born into poverty bring us, wherever we may be this Christmas, a happy and fulfilled time of peace.
In this Newsletter:
The Parish School
One of the events that the youth group took part in was the official opening of the three new classrooms at the ‘Holy Family of Nazareth’ school. These three classrooms had been built with the help of a large donation from the Rope Foundation in England. In fact the donation also allowed us to pay for the laying of the cement playground for part of the school and the installation of a waterpump for the kitchen and toilets. It is great to see the school now and it is simply amazing to think how far the school has come in two short years. One of the other events of note for the school was the arrival of a letter to say that we have finally been recognised by the Ecuadorian Education Department as a primary and secondary school (up to the equivalent of our third year); this was a long drawn-out process involving endless reams of paperwork in which Ecuadorians excel at, but drives a Scots Missionary to distraction! Having said that, we are now official and can take further steps now to develop the school. As far as the building work is concerned, we still need to build seven classrooms so that we can do away with all of the bamboo huts. At the moment, we still have half of our pupils in these bamboo huts, a situation that is still a disgrace; teaching in these huts is almost impossible and the dust gets everywhere making it also a health risk. Let’s hope that we can make further advances to finish the school building programme.