¡Él se ha levantado! He has risen!
Happy Easter! What a joy to celebrate, not just one Sunday in the spring, but every moment of every day as long as God gives us life—and then every second of eternity, honoring the Lamb who was slain!
How incredible is the mystery of God’s love for us.
“But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, ESV).
“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:4-7, ESV).
It’s John 3:16, the Word made flesh! “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life (ESV).”
There is no other hope, salvation, nor true joy in life! La Pascua is genuinely my favorite day of the year because Jesus is life—la resurrección yla vida, which He offers to each one of us. Endless praise to the only One who is worthy!
Ecuadorian Easter is quite different than American. The celebration begins with carnaval at the end of February, which initiates Lent (Cuaresma), and carries us to Good Friday (Viernes Santo).
In Ecuador, Friday is the real day of joy, followed by el sábado de gloria (Saturday of Glory) and el domingo de resurrección (Resurrection Sunday). We dress up nicely, sing joy-filled songs, and gather for a family meal.
But we also cook the meal and attend the annual parade in colonial Quito. Thursday evening we bought all the ingredients and Friday morning the NILI families began preparing fanesca, the once-a-year soup that captures the meaning of Easter. Twelve different granos (including peanuts, corn, beans, and lentils) represent Christ’s disciples; every element signifies a biblical character or detail of the Easter story.
Every person helped and then we ate, adding cilantro, hard boiled eggs, and mini empanadas. It reminded me of a big happy family like mine and what we always do for Easter.
The desfile, however, was not so cheerful. Following the Catholic tradition, los cucuruchos don themselves in purple suits and march the streets to pay for their sins. Some drag (very heavy) crosses, others strap cactuses to their backs, and still others choose to walk miles without shoes on the burning pavement as a form of penance. I stood quietly, in shock and sorrow, wanting to share the life-changing news that Christ already paid for their transgressions.
Instead, we ate ice cream and attended church. For the first time, I experienced a full service, free of tech team duties. It was powerful and beautiful. We sang, seven speakers shared Jesus’ last words on the cross, and dancers worshiped through choreography.
Saturday was neat because the NILIs organized youth group and shared tradición gringa, Easter American-style. We explained why we decorate, hide, and search for eggs, the bunny’s origen, and most importantly, the biblical resurrection account.
Katherine decorated a rabbit cake with her Ecuadorian family to preserve the practice of her American family. We taught everyone how to dye eggs, sent the group on an egg hunt, and shared fellowship. I laughed with pure joy watching friends and siblings run around and have a good time.
Easter morning we took family pictures and received wonderfully thoughtful (culturally adapted) baskets of chocolate and dulces (sweets).
The week was just as full as the weekend. We tried yogurt with pan de yuca (bread made with yucca) at the mall. Arleth and I painted each other’s nails. I watched a movie with Davidcito. And we celebrated our professor with Chinese food and cheesecake (Día del Maestro).
Furthermore, we contributed to a surprise birthday party for Emma’s twin siblings, Jeremy and Giuliana, who turned fifteen (a big deal in Latin America). We baked chocolate chips cookies to share, the mariachis serenaded the cumpleañeros, and the mellizos smothered one another in frosting from their cakes!
Friends and family shared heartfelt words, birthday presents, and a roomful of balloons. I am always amazed by the affection and community in this country.
I see it among others, as well as receive it. Alejandro and Eli, a couple from church with whom I serve, invited me to breakfast on Saturday. No joke, I consumed encebollado at 10 AM. Full seafood. It’s a strong dish, but I actually liked it.
We discussed our faith journeys and honored God’s work in our lives. They gifted me a souvenir to remember the occasion, and we took the bus back to Carcelén. I really don’t deserve the Lord’s generosity, so clearly manifested through His people.
I could go on and on. Katy joined my family for a street food and chancrosas tour! Arleth invited me to watch Frozen 2 after church on Sunday. We played basketball and went to Nico’s to prepare polaca, a Colombian bebida (drink) that I can best describe as liquid oatmeal (quite delicious).
I had an uplifting conversation with Lucy, Pastor is tremendously patient, and the girls are quick to encourage. This is truly a very special semester.
God’s Provision: God hears our petitions! I ask my family to pray for things and then experience very direct answers to my requests. God is helping me be present, granting me renewed energy to finish strong, and giving me precious moments with my family.
Palabra de la Semana (Word of the Week): Equilibrio. Balance. Life is a balancing act, something I am learning but hardly mastering. Praise God for His patience and the wonderful opportunity to readjust some things in a season like no other!
¡Chao por ahora! Bye for now!