Below are some tidbits of things that are happening in my life.
Paddy was on the coast for Thanksgiving. Not wanting to spend that holiday myself, I treated the core staff of the medical clinic - Dr. Franklin, Dr Lenora, our dentist, and Vickie, the assistant - to Thanksgiving dinner, fully expecting the Chicago restaurant - Tony Roma's - to deliver a delicious turkey. However, American customs didn't cooperate, so we had to be content with barbecue ribs instead.
After ten years here in Quito, Ecuador, the Advent and Christmas events have become somewhat routine, but I still love and enjoy them. I really enjoy going to the different houses for informal prayer services during the novena - the nine days before Christmas. It makes me feel that I am really pastor for the poor. On Wednesday Dec 19, we had a great Christmas service in the nearby school of Aleman, then I have Christmas Mass in the barrio Mirador on Saturday, and at my church for "Fe y Alegriá" on Sunday. Like most parishes in Quito, we have more Masses on Christmas Eve than on the 25th itself.
On Christmas Day Paddy and I are invited down the mountain to the convent of English speaking Sisters for dinner. Their headquarters is out of Mill Hill, England, so we anticipate having a real English holiday dinner: plum pudding, dressings, turkey, sweet potatoes, gravy, brandied cake, bread with all sorts of berries and cherries. It should be great.
All schools have a short Christmas vacation. They are off Friday, Dec. 21, school then resumes on Wednesday, Dec. 26.
We started a relatively new mission in Rancho Alto. There, our fabulous missionary, Alexandra, will complete her 14 months of required service, and will go home in January. We will miss her.
Ecuador will have elections for president soon, but the way things are set up, the present incumbent, Rafael Correa, just can't lose. He is trying to have the constitution not limit the number of terms a president can serve, imitating his hero, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. The government is putting its hands into everything: including our daycare center, Miguelito. They are making more and more rules every year. As such, we can only care for children aged one to four now. But, we still help those older students who have difficulty with their studies in the afternoons.
It is great news that Notre Dame is playing in the national championship game. I still have pictures of Notre Dame football heroes in the room where I exercise. I never know whether ESPN International here will broadcast a given American sports event, but I'm hoping they will broadcast the national championship game. This is the most important game since "The Game That Wasn't" against Florida State in Nov. 1993.
I want to send a big "thank you" to Mike Fekety, Colin Sumida and their group for all the work they are doing to support the Quito Barrio Outreach Foundation, and for the combination RAFFLE-AUCTION-DANCE on Feb. 16. For sure I will be there to thank everyone in person, so get your raffle tickets today, please. I really appreciate all your constant love and support over these more than ten years.