Beginnings- My first full day
Guatemala City Travel Blog› entry 3 of 19 › view all entries
Today I woke up early to go for a run with the Mission Director Susannah. Despite the cobblestone streets and running in my Pumas instead of my trusted Mizunos (there are back in the States)- it was worth the achy muscles. As we ran through Antigua on a 2.5 mile run, we could see the city coming alive. For the first time in my life I could here roosters crowing- I actually like the sound (I don't think I would like it if I heard everyday- but here in Guatemala it was special). We saw the early morning parishioners at San Francisco church- which on this early morning run- I didn't know this church would be a turning point in my spiritual journey/mission in Guatemala. We ran through the Square, saw dogs just walking across the street, other people out for a early morning jog, shop owners starting to prepare for the day's shoppers- it was amazing.
After the run, we gathered for Morning Prayer and then breakfast and back into Guatemala City.
In Guatemala City we went to the Episcopal Cathedral to attend two worship services- one in English and one in Spanish. It was so funny attending a traditional Episcopal service in a Spanish-speaking country. It was the exact same service, same hymns, same liturgy, same language, same everything. I did miss the choir my church's amazing choir- I am always inspired by their incredible talent.
After our short coffee hour we went to back into the cathedral for the Spanish service. I loved it!!!! It was a bit of culture shock. I was expecting everything to be the same- just in Spanish. We'll some of it was the same- but oh my gosh- it was better! The music was fantastic!! I wanted to start dancing in the aisles. As much as I love Anglican hymns- the Spanish hymns have such energy and power and are such a celebration of the culture! It was amazing to me, because in the American hymn books- there are lyrics and music. In the Spanish hymn book- called the Himnario- there was no music- just lyrics! But more than that- despite the fact there was no music to follow along with lyrics -everyone knew how to sing the hymns! Everyone! They all just knew what to do.
Just spending time and listening to all of the singing was amazing- despite the many off-pitch notes I heard. For so long I have yearned to experience again what it is like when a whole congregation sings praises to God with all of their heart. This experience was the first insight, for me, of the different level of devotion the Guatemalans (and as I am told, most Latin Americans) have for God and his Son Jesus. The passion of the singing is what swept me away, and I couldn't help but find myself getting emotional. Taking communion at this service was more powerful for me than at the first service. When I accepted the bread and the wine of Jesus- I was reminded of the time when I fully accepted Christ into my life. It wasn't this big conversion experience where I wanted to jump down the aisle- it was as soft and sweet as a whisper- I just knew. Taking the communion at this service, took me back years ago to that time. And I couldn't help but think how much my life has changed and how much my life has grown with God.
After the Spanish service we went to eat lunch at a wonderful Guatemalan resturant that was sort of like a TGIFridays resturant. Instead of a Jack Daniels steak with a potato-it was steak with rice and the most amazing beans-ever. We spent the rest of the afternoon driving touring Guatemala City. We went to the Relief Map (this map is a scaled map of all of Guatemala) and we were able to see where we are in terms of the globe, we saw where the richest of the richest live (it reminded me of Green Valley, Nevada) and where the poorest of the poor live.
We started to fall into the Guatemala lifestyle.
Once the tour of Guatemala City was done, we headed back to the Lutheran retreat center for dinner and to meet up with a group of Young Adult Episcopalians from Guatemala (this group will be referred to as the Guatemalans). The rest of evening we spent doing icebreakers and getting a homework assignment for the week to complete. I hardly remember much of this evening as I was physically, mentally, and spiritually exhausted- once the "getting to know" each other was over- I went straight to bed. I slept like a baby.