AAAAH . . . it is unusually quiet here on the island today. It is a national “day off” for schools and many employees following Mexico’s Independence celebration on September 16th. One of the many things I enjoy about local Mexican culture is the value placed on celebrating with family and friends, young and old together.
Pastor Mariela of Vida Abundante Church personally invited me to celebrate Noche Mexicana (Mexican Night) with the congregation Sunday evening. She casually mentioned I should wear my traditional Mexican clothing . . . REALLY? What would that be? We both had a good laugh. Thanks to April’s help as a personal shopper we found something for me to wear she declared looked “muy Mexican and elegant” that can be used for special community events requiring white dress. I was concerned about being “over dressed” but that wasn’t the case. Parents, even those with very limited resources, take pride in having their children well dressed for special events. Some women came in beautiful embroidered Mayan dresses and men in long sleeve dress shirts with ties (gasp . . . even in 85F heat and high humidity).
The church’s outdoor worship area located on the corner of 90 Av. and 3 Sur is beautifully decorated in red, white and green. Individuals and families filled the chairs and benches built by Friends of Cozumel mission volunteers. Worship highlights included mariachi style hymns, recognition of freedoms the people of the United States of Mexico enjoy in addition to a special message shared by Pastor Salomon from Elim, a nearby church. Meanwhile a half barrel grill was set up in the entrance area using natural charcoal to smoke/cook pork tacos during the service producing an incredibly delicious smell for the supper that followed.
During the event I found myself smiling in appreciation of the unique aspects of the local culture. Those of us who live here often comment “You know you’re in Mexico when . . . . ” then fill in the blank. Last night I filled in the blanks with . . . “When mariachi inspired Christian hymns are blaring on the sound system. When young children quietly play or patiently sit with their family members for 1 1/2 or 2 hour worship service without whining. When the scent of pork tacos smoking on the grill and soup seasoned with jalapenos seems a natural part of the church experience. When smiling, friendly, welcoming adults genuinely greet you and no one voices a complaint. When no one watches a clock, is in a hurry or focused on texting vs. personal conversations.”
Thanks to Vida Abundante Church members for their wonderful fellowship in hosting the Independence Day celebration.
Vida Abundante is a small, active congregation focused on reaching out to families in search of a church home. An example of this week’s activities: Hosting special evangelism activities on Monday and Tuesday evenings for healing, Wednesday evening church service, Saturday youth program and also adult study, and Sunday family church service. They are working hard toward the goal of raising money (including accepting donations) to purchase land to build a more permanent worship center.