Sunday, April 12, 2015

Goodbye Hermana Chantrill, Hello Semana Santa

My mission seems to be flying by on the wings of a diving falcon - I entered the MTC on April 14, 2014, so I'm almost exactly 2/3 done (or a year out of my 18 months). How in the world did that happen?  My companion, Hermana Chantrill (I can say Linda now :) ) left a few weeks ago to join her son in Hawaii by way of Montana.
 I really miss her, but am getting used to going it alone. What's with my companions and Hawaii?  My MTC companion went to Hawaii (the PCC) when she left me too! At least she's going to a great place, with family even. I took over her work, so I have plenty to keep me busy, which helps. No sign of a new companion, which means I'll probably be alone the last 6 months (it takes 5 or 6 months for visas, etc. - we just got the notifications for the missionaries coming in September). Good thing there are great people in the office!
The other major event was Conference and Easter. "Easter" is Semana Santa, or the Holy Week here, and yes, it lasts a full week with kids on vacation and parades (actually penance processions) every night leading up to Good Friday (which is the night I caught the procession), and of course Easter. Unlike the Three Kings (Christmas) parade, these processions are much more solemn - no candy throwing.
    Groups of men from a "Brotherhood", which is usually a group of Catholic families that have passed down the tradition (some clear from the Middle Ages) carry VERY heavy statuary or works of art of Christ and/or Mary (Pasos), gilded with gold etc. It takes 40 or 50 men to lift one, and they only go a short distance before putting it down a while to rest (it is carried on poles resting on their shoulders and is only lifted a few inches).
Also in the procession are solemn women carrying candles (didn't get a good picture of them), and groups of "nazarenos"  who wear robes (whose color depends on the group), and a hood (capirote) with a conical hat and flaps that hide the wearers face, so that they can show penitence while still hiding who they are.

There was also a rifle drill team and a couple of marching bands. And lots of slow, solemn drumming. It went down the street near my apartment, so I didn't have to stand around waiting long (I just ran out when I heard the drumming).
There were a lot of people since it was Good Friday (there was a little festival down by the beach too, with lots of food - a Spanish tradition - and music and dancing. Forgot my camera for that though), so I was back a ways and had to lift my camera way over my head.
This is another Paso of Mary. The men would move to the beat of the drum, and the whole thing would sway back and forth  - very solemn and dignified.
One thing that I love about my mission here in Spain is getting to experience its rich culture and history without having to rush through. I love the people and all that I have been able to learn and do.  Most of all, though, I love serving my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, which is really what this season is all about.

Which brings me to General Conference, something I (along with so many others) enjoyed so much this Easter Sunday. The major theme seemed to be Christ and His atonement, and there were many talks I loved and have already savored many times. The Fuengirola missionaries got to go up to the Mission home and have a potluck breakfast before listening to the Saturday afternoon session (it starts at 10pm here, so I fell asleep for most of it the night before), so it was especially great enjoying it with my friends. There are some awesome people serving here!  And I leave you with a symbol of what it's all about to me... the Living Christ, as shown in this sand sculpture of the Last Supper, prefiguring Christ's atonement and Resurrection. He lives!  And I love him so much, and am so grateful to him for everything I have, am able to enjoy, and am. Thank you!

1 comment:

  1. Wow! 6 more months? Going to be fun, but even more fun (for me at least) to have you home. We have an electronic photo frame and I put the camera memory cards from the mission in it so we have a constant reminder of the mission experiences. Sooooo great. It's almost hard to think we were really in Spain now. We have been home nearly the same amount of time you have left. I love your posts and photos. You take care of yourself!!! Love you!