Just a short addition to the recently posted big-time update.
See below for some pictures from an event that took place last weekend with the youth group of San Mateo’s big evangelical church, whose services I attend every now and then with my wonderful and very evangelical family:
[http://uva.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2128168&l=ac549&id=1522023] [Día de la Biblia]
All of the services are in Chuj, of course, so I understand very little; however, I understand enough at points to know that I take issue with much of the church’s doctrine, just as I take issue with certain parts of the doctrines of any other organized religion.
However, despite any misgivings I might have, I can safely say that the people in San Mateo’s evangelical church are some of the most wonderful, welcoming people I’ve met here.
The activity consisted of mostly teenagers, a few adults, and a few little kids. We all headed to Barillas (an hour by car) in the back of about eight cars and trucks, and after a nice lunch and some time to hang out, the kids got ready to run back to San Mateo from Barillas.
That’s right, they ran back. As it was the DÍA DE LA BIBLIA (Bible Day), they ran the whole way toting the Christian flag, the Guatemalan flag, and burning torches (symbolizing the Word of God).
Of course, no one actually ran for the whole time, so my job ended up being the “big strong gringo” who hauled exhausted runners back up into the back of the truck (while it was moving, of course—not an easy task!).
And as is typical here in Guatemala, no one was even remotely injured despite the fact that diesel ended up being spilled all over the back of the truck as they refilled the torches; and the fact that many of the tired runners missed the ledge on the back of the truck as they attempted to jump up, and thus ended up smashing into the back of the moving vehicle before being dragged along the ground (with maybe only my hand holding them up) until they had the energy to try again. Intense!
But in the end, all was good. After about four hours of the above, we finally arrived in San Mateo, torches in hand. Civic activity and church services ensued, and at the Sunday afternoon service the church folks gave me, along with some of the other kids, a “diploma” recognizing me for my participation. Talk about feeling welcome and loved! It was fantastic.
And when I went up to accept the certificate, I said a few words of thanks, as is customary here, the first few of which were in Chuj, and the audience erupted! As people have always told me, and as I’ve confirmed a hundred times over here in San Mateo, there truly is no better way to connect with people and their culture than by learning their language. Chuj is this year’s specialty. What’s next?