Friday, February 24, 2006


Sunday, Feb. 26.

Today was a full, blessed day. We began with a church service at El Buen Pastor (The Good Pastor), which was started by one of my dad’s best friends, David N. A couple of the church members are tour guides, so they picked up our group in two fourteen passenger buses and spent the whole day taking us from place to place.

The church was very excited to have us visiting, and it was a wonderful service. I could understand odd words and sentences of the sermon, and at least caught that it was about living a Christian life, though I didn’t understand much beyond that.

My nieces (5 and 3½) went to Sunday School and David’s wife, Wendy, taught it bilingually for them. AJ came rushing out after the service calling, “Aunt Amy, Aunt Amy, I have a surprise for you!” and proudly presented me with a picture she had colored, and then quoted the Bible verse they had learned in class.

I think my six month old niece distracted everyone behind her. They were all grinning back at her instead of listening to the sermon. At least one lady stood up in the middle of the sermon because she just had to hold the beaming baby.

I love singing in Spanish, even if I don’t understand all of the words. It was especially fun and challenging to translate the Spanish into American Sign Language, so I could sing and sign as I normally do.

After the service Wendy took us to a buffet place, which was fun, though I was unable to eat much because of my food allergies. Then we were off to see Le Tulle, a tree with the largest-around trunk in the world. We were privileged to see a passing christening party, headed with full parade to the church next to the tree. The parade was complete with a full band, as well as church bells and fireworks.

Next stop was the ruins in the town of Mitla. We climbed the remains of an old castle, listening to the stories of the human and animal sacrifices that took place there.

We attended evening services in Mitla. This is a new church, recently planted by El Buen Pastor. After our own church dissipated, we chose to give the remaining funds to the Mitla church to go toward buying land and building a church building. Dad has made a number of trips to this area in the last few years, facilitating the transfer of funds. So this church was so excited to have all of us visit.

They brought us out to see the new land--a lovely, shaded spot. Currently this church is meeting in a three-sided building, with a tarp on the open wall to keep out some of the wind and sun. Tonight it was quite cold, and a number of us forgot to bring jackets. My nieces and I huddled close in an attempt to keep warm in the strong wind that found its way into the church.

The church was wonderful. Both churches were very warm and welcoming. The Mitla church is about fifty people. I didn’t catch any of the sermon that time around (though I was a little distracted watching my middle niece play with the Mexican toddler sharing the pew with us ;-) ). The music was wonderful. One of the songs, I’m guessing, was written specifically for this church. It used The Alleluia Chorus as its chorus.

I closed my eyes and listened. Aleluya, aleluya, aleluya, aleluya. The voices mingled, Spanish and English accents merging to form the sound of perfect praise. Tingles went up my arms and I nearly began to cry.

As if that wasn’t enough, the children performed a skit of Moses. They were so creative! The burning bush was a potted tree wound with Christmas lights and covered with yellow cellophane, complete with a recorded voice. After the skit, the children sang for us. So beautiful.

We were served Mexican hot chocolate (oh, did that hit the spot on this chilly night!) and pan, different kinds of sweet bread. After returning to our hotel, our group plus a few from El Buen Pastor, gathered around for tamales and fellowship. We chatted comfortably for a long while, and I shared the stories I have out in the most recent FaithWriter anthology with my dad’s second-cousin and his mother, Cousin Mary.

My sister AJ followed me to my hotel suite and we chatted about your writing and life until late.

Yes, full day. Full of Aleluyas.

[prayer updates: Mom and Cousin Mary are doing quite well, happily hobbling about, arm in arm. My food allergies were a particular challenge today, and I ended up eating a bit of sever allergens a couple of times. But so far no big reactions! Praying it won’t come tomorrow.]

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