Monday, March 21, 2016

Semana Santa, Spanish Spring

Semana Santa: Holy Week leading up to Easter, starting with Palm Sunday (or randomly on Saturday so they can get in a whole week of cool cultural stuff) including weird parades and candlelight processions. When you're in the heart of a Catholic country, it's a big deal.
Spring: the season after winter and before summer in which vegetation begins to appear. Signifying new life.

Fun cultural things of the week: St. Patrick's Day hot air balloon launch from the plaza Mayor (city center) of which our piso [apartment] has a perfect counter view; a parade of the patron Giants and animal statues on Saturday; human towers (Castillos?) and a symphony leading a simple circle dance I'm pretty cure even I could do on. Sunday afternoon; a weekend fair near the capilla [chapel]; and a solemn procession of "Roman soldiers" and black-robed figures with tall pointed hoods we almost literally ran into as we sprinted  home Sunday night.

I'd like to start with a miracle.
As missionaries, we give our number out to a lot of people, always inviting them to call us. And we hope for the best, trusting in God’s plan and his timing and all, but I can count on a shopkeepers hand the number of times someone has actually DONE it. Well, this week that hand grew another finger. We were walking around in our area after a couple of failed passbys when my companion got a call from an unknown number. The woman introduced herself as the girlfriend of a member and asked if we had time to meet with her... now, if we could. So we headed off with a million possibilities buzzing around our heads.  Thankfully Hermana Arauco vaguely recognized her from the ward
Valentines activity and as we exchanged besos and saludos [kisses and regards] (not quite knowing what to do) she told us that she had just broken up with her boyfriend. Instead of launching into a drawn-out of hysteric word vomit and blame, she simply said, "I want to change and be better-a better mother, too- and I KNOW you can help me do it." I have rarely met someone with such great and sincere desires and honest determination. We testified of the change that comes through relying on Christ. We taught her how to pray. We invited her to church. It was one of those mission moments that reminds you why you came. I could see the simple difference our conversation had made in her. The awakening of hope.  Even better was later on that day, seeing her boyfriend in an activity, hearing that they had made amends, and receiving his heartfelt gratitude. They were both in church on Sunday. The start of something new.

There are so many great people here. The problem is that most of them can only meet on weekends because of crazy work schedules. One of them in Kamal. He is accepting everything so well, and told us that what he likes about our message is that everything centered on Christ. It's something we mention in every contact, but it's amazing the difference it makes when people discover that for themselves: we teach of Christ.
(2 Nephi 25:26)

Sunday is always a great day. Tip for the future: if you have a half-way decent voice and want to feel like a superstar, come to church in Vic. The members will love you.  The second hour was a split of only English speakers (our African friends) and only Spanish speakers, so the Ward Mission leader asked me to translate in English as he taught the class in Spanish. It was definitely a mental exercise, but went surprisingly well. An Hermana who used to serve here and is now long-distance dating the Ward Mission Leader is visiting and it's an interesting dynamic... especially since it doesn't seem like all that long ago I was serving alongside her. But the bonus is that she brought jolly ranchers.

Spending holidays- especially Christian holidays- in Spain is always a special experience. You see the differences. Here, Easter means the crucifixion. It's a week celebrating Christ's life how it was lived and how it ended. It's gothic, beautiful, laudable even, but not complete. Because I think they forgot...
He lives.
He died for us and for our sins. But he was resurrected and gave us the hope of higher things, of eternal glory and new beginnings.
And as I see it all and soak in the sun of another Spanish springtime
in the Lord's service, all I can say is...
Hallelujah. #Hallelujah.

May not forget our risen Savior in this Holy Week,
Hermana Een

Companion fact: never broken a bone.

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