Cuenca 2020 Cuenca, Ecuador MSMU Travels

Ecuador’s Greatest Treasure: The People

Good afternoon, readers! As I am writing my final #HolyThursday post, the conditions are drastically different from what I expected from this semester. However, as dark as the world is today, it is important to remember all the good things. This morning as I read my daily devotions, the lesson came from Psalm 23:6, which says, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” This quote led me to think about all the “goodness” I have experienced this semester, but the greatest gift was the people we met during our time in Ecuador. 

I’d like to “introduce” you to our host parents, Marco and Eulalia. From the first evening we met Eulalia when we arrived in Cuenca, I knew we were going to have an amazing time. Our friendship grew over those following weeks as we grew more comfortable with each other and learned more about each other’s lives. What amazed me the most about Eulalia and Marco is how much they are loved by everyone around them – from their friends and colleagues to their family. Both are retired professors from universities in Cuenca, and Marco also owned a cabinets and closets business. It seemed like every day Eulalia was going to meet a different group of friends for a coffee, and Marco would come home with different stories to tell from his choir practices. Every Sunday (and usually a few days during the week), their family gathered for lunch and a long sobremesa, the Latin American tradition of having a conversation after the meal. 

Family, like in the United States, is important in Ecuador. In these pictures, you can see one Sunday when we gathered for Daniela’s, our host “sister,” birthday. In the next picture, the table is set for the Sunday we each made our own personal pizzas. Although it is so much work to prepare all the ingredients to make pizzas for that many people, Eulalia never hesitated when her granddaughter, Maria Gracia, asked her for them. On my birthday in mid-March, Daniela (who is also an English teacher for tradesmen and baker on the weekends) made me a homemade strawberry cheesecake and brought it to the birthday celebration we had at lunch that day.

The welcoming spirit did not stop with the Jarra-Moscoso family either. Our professor from the University of Cuenca, Maria del Carmen, was an amazing teacher. Even now that we are back in the United States, she has continued sending us assignments and checking in to see how we are doing. She ends every email with abrazos, which means “hugs” in English. She is just one example of the warm spirits we encountered during our stay in Cuenca. 

As I end today’s post, I encourage you all to think about the words of Psalm 23:6 and count all the goodness in your lives. Thank you for all your support of #HolyThursday over this remarkable semester! I would especially like to thank Dr. Kennedy and Kelley Northam for all their dedication and understanding over these weeks as the plans changed so many times. Have a great, safe week!

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