by Robby Cella, Director of Youth Programs
It's not often that you find yourself in the mountains of Guatemala for Easter. It can take a minute getting used to but once you do you might find yourself experiencing some things that are rare and special indeed. For instance, you might experience worshipping in a remote place with a church family you didn't realize you belonged to, yet miraculously, you do by the grace of God. Or you might find yourself wandering the crowded streets of this remote mountain town, with its markets and vendors, taking in the sights of the Easter parades. Or you might find the region’s unique piety on full display in the centuries old Catholic Church at the heart of the town - a piety probably only rarely found when Mayan and Catholic religiosities mix and simmer for a few hundred years together. We experienced all of this and more here in Guatemala on Easter.
The team woke early to the sounds of the mountain town rising expectantly to commemorate the great day of resurrection. Sounds of fireworks pierced the air before sunrise and parades with their accompanying music commenced at first light. The team gathered and rode to our host church where we celebrated Easter with a sunrise service filled with songs and hymns sung triumphantly in local Spanish dialect. Both congregations, Roswell and Chulumal, shook hands, hugged and rejoiced that we could be together and for a special moment be one congregation in Christ.
The rest of the day was spent experiencing the sights, sounds, and goods of the Chichi market. We observed the Easter festivities in two old mission churches. In each, unique Mayan customs collide with old Catholic traditions in chaotic and somewhat confusing ways.
After everyone had explored the market and acquired their share of its treasures, a group walked to look at the town's vibrantly colored cemetery - another place where local customs collide with Christian ones.
The day concluded with the team celebrating the Lord's Supper, an act which unites all Christians everywhere, from every country and nation, from every time and place, through all of history. It was an especially appropriate corporate act in light of the Easter we all had just experienced. Thanks be to God.