Sunday, November 30, 2014

Happy Belated Thanksgiving to One and All!

From our two then little, now big, pilgrims, Amelia and Joel, we thank God for you and trust Him to bless you all.  This picture was taken during our trip to Plymouth, MA, in May 2011.

Thanksgiving 2014

For Thanksgiving we had the honor of inviting Morgan's sister Makenzie and friend Maddie for breakfast.  Actually they spent the night with us Wednesday-Thursday.  They were here one week for a missions trip.

Our turkey was 19 pounds this year.

We seasoned it and stuffed it with celery and onions.

Because it was so big, it took longer to cook this year, and we got behind schedule a bit, but everything worked out fine.

The menu included, besides the turkey, pilgrim pie (which is kind of a spinach quiche),

green bean casserole,

sweet corn (the four kernels represent the meager diet of the pilgrims' first winter, during which they often ate only a few dried corn kernels).  This reminder prompted us to go around the table and everyone gave thanks to God verbally.

and, of course, the roast turkey.

Also, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce, which we managed to find in the grocery store here.

Amelia and Morgan enjoyed the feast.

Marisol's mom Zulema, Joel, and Marisol sister Negui did also.

 We all did.

Apple pie and vanilla ice cream for dessert.

Thanks, God, for all your blessings!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Day of the Dead (Finados) 2014, Part 2

On Sunday, November 2, 2014 (All Soul's Day in English) we visited the cemetery in Cotacachi to show Morgan what happens there.  Many people visit to clean, paint the graves of their dead loved ones.  This is the grave of Marisol's Aunt Marlene's husband Ramiro who died in November 2001, a few months after I arrived in Ecuador as a missionary the first time.  He always encouraged Marisol and me in our relationship and was so pleased when we announced our engagement.  Unfortunately he passed away before our wedding day on July 7, 2002.

Here is the grave of a member of the Cotacachi church where I serve as pastor.  I am good friends with his widow, and his granddaughter serves on the ministry team of the church.

On this day people go to the cemetery to hang out and "spend time" with their departed friends and family.

Morgan, Joel and Marisol gaze at the tombs of Marisol's Aunt Nancy and her husband Germán.  Both succumbed to cancer within a two year span of each other.  So sad!

You can see Elías, Marisol and Jacob climbing the stairs to the section where the indigenous people eat lunch at the gravesites of their dead family members.  This custom is also common in Mexico, where I lived for over two years.  There, even more so!

It is always an interesting cultural education to go and witness the Day of the Dead.  I am thankful for the life that I have in Christ, abundant life on earth and eternal life in heaven.  That is my hope for all my friends and family.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Day of the Dead (Finados) 2014, Part 1

We spent the Day of the Dead, or finados as it is called here in Ecuador, in Santa Rosa with Marisol's family.  It is a Catholic holiday, All Souls Day, which is the two days after Halloween, or All Hallows (Holy) Eve which was later shortened to Halloween.  The day after Halloween is All Saints Day, which is why All Hallows Eve is considered sacred or holy.

Here Elías is celebrating in his abuelito's hammock in Santa Rosa.

While cousin Cloe and Jacob look on from their lookout in the nearby playhouse.

 Baby cousin Antonito rested in the other hammock.

Antonito and proud sister Cloe.

Proud cousins Joel and Jacob with Antonito who was born in July.

Morgan and Joel look on while Marisol's sister Negui and her mom Zulema transport the colada morada from the smoke house to the kitchen.

Elías hides in the hammock.

Morgan and Joel sample the colada morada.

Colada morada is made once a year for the Day of the Dead.  It is a drink with brown sugar, lemon grass, lemon verbena, orange leaves, myrtle, blueberries, blackberries, pineapple, strawberries, babaco, purple corn flour, allspice, and many other ingredients.  It is absolutely divine, especially my mother-in-law's.

This tradition dates from over 1000 years ago when the Quitu-Cara prepared a drink with spiritual symbolism to honor the dead, made with corn and llama blood.  Sounds interesting.  Over the years this tradition evolved into the colada morada.  (No, we do not drink llama blood!)

The other staple for the celebration is bread.  Marisol's family makes regular bread, sweet bread, corn bread and cheese turnovers.  It is an all-day affair.

Here I am with Elías and Cloe.

Jacob climbed a tree by himself for the first time.  He was so proud of himself, and rightly so.

The bread baking begins with Marisol's sister-in-law Gisela, Zulema, Morgan and Negui.

Later Joel joined in the fun.

While Marisol's father Wilson greased the table surface for molding the bread.

Part of the process is making little human and animal figures from the bread dough.

Amelia was so pleased with her bread girl.

Cousin Zoe and Marisol took their turns as well.

With Gisela, Antonito and cousin Carolina.

Elías with the pan of bread figures.

The Incas often disinterred the dead, in the form of mummies, and moved them around to cool off in the rain and fill them with "new energy."  This custom became taboo during the Spanish colonial period.  Later the dead were represented by a corn tortilla in the form of a human without arms and legs, which can be seen in the "guagas de pan" or bread dolls now popular for the Day of the Dead.

My guinea pig is there at the top left.  He ended up looking more like a bear after baking.

Marisol takes the tray out of the oven.

 Marisol's aunt Mayri and her abuelita take over the "second shift" of bread making.

Bread and colada morada are served!  Yum, YUM, yummy!

Jacob taste tests the bread.

Elías hugs his bread horsey!