Tuesday, April 10, 2007

This past week was Easter, known as Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Costa Rica. There are cultural ceremonies that continue on through the week at the local church. On Saturday evening, my friends and I went to a candle lighting ceremony that included a small fire outside the church.

The Priest or Padre as he is called has 13 churches to serve and is not able to be everywhere at one time. This year, two young women from Cartago held a full Mass on Saturday night including Communion. The church was beautifully decorated by our neighbor Maria and her friends. They picked tropical flowers, made bouquets, and had the church spic and span for the occasion. We have been in a drought and the unpaved road’s dust falls on the pews daily.

I was unprepared for the leadership of such young women in our very macho society. They could not have been much more than 20 years old wearing hip hugger jeans that are the uniform of all young girls here. I wondered if the one in the brown t-shirt with the silk screened cross on the front was a Nun, but she was not. She presided over a full mass with maturity, ease and skill far beyond her years. She delivered a sermon appropriate for the moment with no notes. She gave thanks to Jesus and to her Mother and Father. I am not a Spanish speaker so I missed a lot of the words, but the body language and her presentation was impressive. Her use of the floor, making eye contact with the believers, and her sincerity allowed her the command of her audience. I wanted to stand up in the end and say Bravo young women!!! Magnificent job!!!

Who needs Priests when you have young woman that are so capable and alive with energy, spirit and soul. Okay, so perhaps the Priest can think of a few reasons. I left the Catholic Church because of Priests and other reasons that are probably not appropriate for this moment.

The girls are part of a youth outreach mission from Cartago. What a brilliant idea, and a breath of fresh air for the church, for the parishioners and the community. Bravo young women!!!

Maria always makes everything special and at the end of the service, a special social dinner was served along with freshly prepared Mango juice. Living and participating in a community that is so small has its own blessings. People walk to the church easily as our town is only 1 block long with not many houses. Everyone knows each other and they welcome newcomers with eagerness and friendship. Everyone speaks to you and is accepting as if they have known you forever. It is the best way to meet your neighbors and I think that it means something to them that you took the time to come and participate in their celebration at their church.

So, you’re not Catholic? I think it does not matter much. This is a Catholic country, your neighbors are most likely Catholic, and I appreciate my wonderful neighbors. I also attend the Mission in Tuis (Voz Que Clama Mission), they accept all people and I have not heard them talk about denominations. Two young men, Hector and Daniel, serving their community’s needs above and beyond what most people are capable of. I applaud and support their work. http://www.vqcmission.com/work.html

If you would like to help the poor rural children and indigenous please contact me at ginnee@gmail.com . We always have a need for school supplies, art supplies, good used practical clothing, sweat shirts, pencils, and crayons. We can arrange for a drop off point near the airport or for a pick up. If we do not help, it will not happen for these children as their homes are remote and isolated on their high cold mountainous reservation.

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