Brady - Today I went to a church in a different country. Having never even left the United States before this trip, it was very interesting to see. La Iglesia de la ciudad started at ten. When we arrived we all shuffled along in a group, as few of us can really speak Spanish fluently. Our group sat in the back, but a few people from the church made a special effort to introduce themselves. This really struck me because they didn’t just come up to the group and say “hello” but instead went through the rows of us and greeted each of us personally. We were given hugs and handshakes and kind words from what I could tell. The worship team began playing and everyone got to where they were sitting. The worship team was similar to ours. It had a few guitarists, a percussionist, and a few singers. They even had a keyboard player. What was pretty different from our church was the passion and energy that they praised and sang with. Everyone was standing, singing along and many even held up their hands up or clapped. The worship team was loud and seemed very passionate in their singing. The energy was incredible. It was difficult to follow along with the singing, but we tried our best with the words shown on the screen. After singing about 4 songs, the pastor, Miguel and the youth pastor, Danny came up for the sermon. Miguel spoke in spanish and Danny translated. We weren’t expecting a translator at all so we were very appreciative of Danny being up there. Miguel spoke about bad relationships and more specifically bad people. He spoke about how we should cut them out of our lives so they can’t pull us down into sin. He made a point to say that Christians shouldn’t push away non-Christians, but was instead trying to say that we can’t help those who are in trouble with sin, if we don’t know how to cope and live without sin in our own lives. Miguel was very easy to relate to. After the service we went outside and ate pizza with the youth of their church. We played four square with them and then threw water balloons at each other. The youth seemed to let us into their group and we all seemed like one big gathering of friends and not two separate churches. It was an incredible experience.
Laura - After we left the church we went downtown. We walked around a cathedral and then went to a market and shopped for souvenirs. All the vendor owners were trying to get us to go into their shop - even though they were selling almost the exact same wooden mugs and pura vida shirts as the people next to them. One thing that struck some of us while walking around the city was the amount of trash. One street we drove past had bags of trash strewn all over it. For supper we went to the church guest house for another excellent meal of chicken, beans and rice, and a strawberry cake/jello mix thing, cooked by Miguel's mother, Flora. Bus rides today were filled with debates about different food categories with Woody as the judge (apparently single stuffed Oreos are the best cookie...but he still hasn’t convinced me). Although we may have disagreed about the best foods, we had a wonderful time. Thank you all for your contributions into making this trip possible.