Wow what a crazy week! It’s so hard for me to even collect my thoughts right now, for multiply reasons. First off because there were so many incredible experiences from our Mexico trip I don’t even know where to begin, and second off because I know my brothers and sisters will be sharing about Mexico as well. But I guess today I will share with our celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Most of you probably thought of the Mexican people right away when I said that name. They love her and she loves those people back. We were fortunate enough to be present in General Cepeda on the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and man do they know how to celebrate! On the eve of her feast we participated in a pilgrimage through the city to the church where we celebrated midnight mass. Now that day was especially hard for me, I was dealing with a lot of spiritual battles and I just wanted to be alone, in a chapel praying. But instead I was with twenty of my missionary brothers and sisters, walking through the streets to meet up with a thousand Spanish speaking people to parade through the streets saying a rosary in Spanish. I was uncomfortable with the idea of not being able to communicate with 95% of the people I was with. And I didn’t want to talk to the other 5% I could communicate with. I just wanted to be left alone.
Well wouldn’t you know it, God had other plans for me, and my heart. As I’m walking I hear the sounds of celebration ahead (I was dreading it) music was playing and what sounded like hundreds of tap shoes were hitting the pavement in rhythm with massive drums. From behind me I could hear the sounds of someone trying to mimic the dancing in normal shoes and not doing a very good job at it, although I had to laugh at the fact that they were trying. Soon Stephen Smith is dancing his way next to me, Stephen is a saint, and if you have ever met him you would agree. Stephen joined us of our trip, although he lives near Covecrest he rode with the Mesa team since he had been in town for a board meeting. He taught me how to make rope rosaries on the way to Mexico, he was the first to volunteer for everything, he was always working and helping. As Stephen danced along next to me he explained the reasons behind the dance to Our lady of Guadalupe and the reasons for the colors and outfits to people wore, he explained that most people couldn’t help but try and dance with them once they saw the beautiful formations and routines, and we talked all about the traditions he had experienced during his past Mexico mission. As we got closer and the party got louder I couldn’t help but to loosen up a little bit, God put me there in that time and place for a reason, so I decided to stick close to Stephen, you couldn’t help but to be a bit happier when you were near him and soon we were immersed in Mexican culture. We paraded through the streets praying Hail Maries and Our Fathers in Spanish, without a problem. We joined the people in singing traditional songs to our lady and soon we were all trying to fit into a small church with what seemed like the entire town.
I wanted to experience the universal church so bad at this point. I had forgotten all about the battles that had been raging within me during that day, I just wanted to see Jesus, and the beautiful way the Mexican people celebrated in the Catholic Church. I knew I wouldn’t understand a word of it, I didn’t care. I would know what was happening and that was the most important part to me. As we stood outside the church watching people file in I know my chances in getting in were slim. Part of my thought I might have chance in I wanted to crowd surf, although I’m not sure how anyone else would have flet about that. Just then Stephen turned to me and said “do you want to go inside?”
“Yeah, but there is no way we are going to be able to get in.” I replied. He grabbed my hand and told me not to worry. Before I knew what was going on Stephen was leading me and JJ into the church right into the middle of everything. I was surrounded my tons of people, everyone was staring at me, especially the children. (I would find out later I stuck out like a sore thumb because of my blonde hair) I watched and listened to one of the most beautiful masses I’d ever seen. I watched up close as the priest invited all the children up onto to alter to be close to Mary and pray to her, then as he invited to men and the women up to do the same. I felt like one of the most blessed people alive that night, that I was able to celebrate with these people so on fire for their faith and to be able to witness the outpouring of love from God onto those people.
So as I sit here trying to put all my thoughts together from this week, this experience probably sticks out to me the most. I hope that everyone will at some point in their lives, have the opportunity to experience the Catholic Church in another language in another country. It is a blessing from God.