Stephen’s Lessons in Ecuadorian Culture and Language

Stephen’s three weeks of intensive language classes gave him more than just a taste of the Spanish language.  He was also able to go on some “field trips” with his teachers and classmates to some of Quito’s cultural attractions.  Stephen has appreciated being able to learn more about the country in which we have our ministry.  It is especially significant, because we didn’t have the time or opportunities to do much sight-seeing during our first year of living in Quito.  These opportunities have helped enrich Stephen’s cultural experience here.

The first place that his class went was to a wax museum in Quito known as the “Museo Albert Nema Caamaño” of Quito.  He took lots of pictures of the wax figures that were made to represent different historical periods of Ecuador and the diverse people groups that are included within the Ecuadorian borders. 

They also visited a small museum dedicated to the works of Osvaldo Guayasamin.  Guayasamin was a contemporary modern artist whose works became most popular throughout Latin America, although he is also known in Europe.  Stephen was able to see many of his works displayed in the Museo Guayasamin.  If you are interested in seeing his work that focused on abstract representations of human bodies and body parts, you can visit his website:

The second field trip that his class took was to the Botanical Gardens of Quito.  Here Stephen got to see some of the interesting and exotic plants that grow in the diverse landscapes of Ecuador.  Although I lived in Quito for nine years of my childhood, I had not really stopped to realize how much diversity there is in the landscape of Ecuador. 

Ecuador boasts of tall mountains and deep valleys.  Its mountainous area has its own dry and spring-like climate and temperature.  If you travel down to the coast, you have a completely different climate that is warm and humid all year long.  The humidity level rises if you head down to the jungle area.  The climate there is even warmer and muggier than the coast.  And finally, if you travel away from the mainland, you will find the Galapagos Islands with an island climate different from the rest of the country.

With special care, the Botanical gardens are able to maintain plants from each of these climates. Stephen had fun taking pictures of many flowers and plants that he found to be interesting.

Once Stephen’s three week intensive course was finished, he was left to practice his Spanish on his own, and to do his own sight-seeing.  However, he was also given an opportunity to join a Spanish class field trip to some other museums in the city.

They visited the same wax museum that Stephen had been to before.  From there, they traveled toward Quito’s “Old Town” area to visit some of the old Catholic churches that had been build there in the 16th century. Located in the main plaza, each church boasts of fine silver and gold inlaid into its architecture.

The largest church is called the San Francisco church. According to, the church was built in the 16th century and was known as the “richest” church in South America for many years.  The gold is specifically found in its altar room where the walls are coated in Inka-Gold from floor to ceiling.  However, they were not able to visit that church because of renovations taking place to restore and maintain the ancient structure.

They were able to visit the church known as La Compañia.  It is known as “The Gold Church” because it has one ton of gold layered within the walls from the main entrance to the altar area. 

The sad thing is that some of the poorest in Ecuadorian society sit in front of these churches to beg.  All it would take is a little chip off the walls inside the building to completely change the economic situation for these people.