Tuesday, November 1, 2011

La Roca

It must be catch up day, because I'm back to a story from the end of September! I was just venting today that I wish I had more time for journaling. I'm of course the only one who gets to decide if and when I make time time for journaling, so I decided to make time tonight. This post starts to touch on something I've been trying to figure out for weeks. I came into this trip understanding it would likely be a transformational year, but I am realizing I had no idea just how transformational. Something is happening within my spirit, and sometimes it can be a little overwhelming, but mostly I'm enjoying the discovery process. If you have no interest in my spiritual awakenings, please feel free to skip posts like these... At first I was so embarrassed to open up about it, feeling ashamed as a missionary teacher at this christian school and gaining so many spiritual questions, but then I decided to get over myself because that's just silly. It's never too late to learn, right?

There was a night (Saturday 9/24 to be exact--it moved me so much I wrote it down!) that really got me all stirred up. I've gotten pretty friendly with a few of my students' families, and Eric in 2A's parents bring him to school everyday so I chat with them regularly. At first I was a little intimidated by them, especially because their son is incredibly intelligent and I couldn't shake this fear of stunting his education (silly, I know :) but we've bonded a little and they're very nice. Raul (Papa Eric) asked me what I like to do on the weekends, and gave an open invitation to their church if I ever wanted to check it out. I've been feeling this strange spiritual pull since I've been down here, and of course some indescribable spiritual something guided me back to Honduras, so I've been pretty interested in experiencing different churches while I'm here. Their church, Iglesia Cristiana Roca de Salvación, is on Javier and Kerem's street so I asked them if they knew anything about it. Come to find out they're incredibly close with the pastor, and they were singing there that Saturday!

I spent a quiet afternoon at their place with laundry and schoolwork while they spent the day at a sort of kids retreat at a nearby camp. They returned home in awe of the day they'd had, but completely exhausted. They take care of five kids, work at the school and give so much spiritual support around the area I'm honestly not sure how they do it sometimes. It's fair to say I'm in awe of them. They really live their lives to glorify God. Anyway, they rushed home with barely enough time to shower, change and quickly eat before they had to head to church to get ready to sing. I remember feeling so bad for them while we were walking to church, and wishing they didn't 'have' to sing at church that night. Once again, silly girl, because they weren't thinking that way at all. They took on a whole new energy as soon as we walked into the church. Matter of fact, I even took on a whole new energy. I've been back to la Roca a few times, and there is definitely something in the air there. It's like my spirit comes to life.

The church service was different from any I'd ever experienced. There was a big stage with a few singers, a keyboard, guitar, bass and drummer, and a big open room filled with chairs and neighborly smiles. Upon entering I was filled with this energy and a real sense of community. Community is a quality I've noticed down here, and something I really appreciate about their culture. Absolutely on my list of things I hope to bring back to the States. It seemed most of the congregation walked to church, and it was neat to see smiling families arriving together. Speaking of smiles--so many strangers greeted me with big, friendly smiles, handshakes and bendiciones before walking to their seats. As people walked in, they politely worked their way around the church shaking hands, kissing cheeks, asking after families and wishing bendiciones a todos. It spread a comforting welcome over something so unknown for me. And I don't mean unknown because it was church, not at all, I've been to many a church service, but this one was in a different language and the thought that it was filled with a congregation I'd never met had me a little anxious. It was fun watching the band/choir get all warmed up. They tuned their instruments with care, and slowed to help each other find the right key and pace--I remember smiling watching the drummer fight to get his beat just right for one of the pieces they were polishing. When I say Kerem and Javier took on a whole new energy I'm not being hyperbolic. They sprang to life on that stage, and their joy radiated throughout the congregation. We passed more than an hour sharing in alabanzas (praise songs) and prayer. It was incredible. Through their heartfelt singing, youthful spring-footed dancing and pauses for prayers full of gratitude they really enabled people to celebrate God. I have to give Mom credit for the celebration reference, because as I was trying to describe the experience she excitedly commented that it was like celebrating God. Well I happened to like that description! That's exactly what it was like. And each time they stopped to pray it helped prepare me more and more for the sermon that would follow.

I'm of course no preacher, so I won't be going into the sermon, but it really spoke to me. And I really appreciated how much of the congregation seemed to want to be there. You could tell that they weren't there to fulfill the duties of a Sunday Christian (in fact, it was a Saturday!) but rather to receive some spiritual nourishment and share that joy with their community. It started to rain towards the end, and we've already talked about how hard and fast the rain can come on, so church just went on a little longer that night! It was neat because during one of the last songs they thought we'd sing it was still raining so hard, so they said the rain wasn't stopping so we didn't have to stop either and we sang a few more songs! The songs were full of so much life and spirit, and they even through in a verse of "Open the Eyes of My Heart" in English. The song is really pretty in Spanish too, so I was glad they sang it. I'm learning some new songs, which is great, but sometimes they get stuck in my head and I feel bad for my sweet little students (I tend to quietly sing random lines around the classroom). There were these danzas that had rhythmic movements with twirly ribboned tambourines to accompany some of the songs. Their flowy, colorful outfits added something special to the service. They wear solid white or black and then have these vibrantly colored sheer sort of drapes, and the way their arms flow with the music is pretty moving. At the end of the service the younger girls stood near the danzas trying to mimic their motions, which just melted my heart.

As I mentioned before, this wasn't my only visit to the church, and I really like it there. At first I was a little spooked how eerliy scripture kept coming to me, but I now find myself intrigued and hungry for more. I'm learning a lot from Lisa, Javier and Kerem, even Melvin Martinez with Bernabé, and the biggest lesson I've gotten from each of them is that it's ok to be so sort of new to this, and feel like such a toddler. I've met so many people who have made me realize really good people do still exist in this world. I've also met so many "believers" who have shed such an interesting light on faith. I'm full of questions, but learning more everyday. It's neat to appreciate that I'm not just here to teach my students, I'm here to learn what Honduras can teach me, and feeling blessed in realizing that someone is looking out for me.

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