Went to church again this week. It’s about an hour’s walk…un poco lejos, but definitely do-able…and the branch is lovely. It actually speaks to the strength of the church in South America that a town as small as Benjamin Aceval has a branch. Most of the service is in Guarani—and therefore virtually unintelligible for me—but again this week I was soothed and strengthened by the deep familiarity of it all. What a comfort to sing [or in this case, lead…I know, nuts.] the same songs, discuss the same scriptures [even picking up exactly where we left off in the States], partake of the same sacrament prepared and blessed by priesthood bearers with the same authority; knowing they are clean and worthy–facing their own diverse challenges with the same faith, praying to the same Father, thanking the same Savior, and feeling the same Spirit. It’s remarkable.
And here too, that question posed by the Israeli official at the opening of the BYU Jerusalem Center holds true; In a country, or even just a town with so many living hand to mouth every meal, where everyone is Catholic, but nobody really seems to believe it, where so many eyes are empty and so many hands hang down [that phrase definitely has taken on new meaning for me here…I don’t know that I have ever seen it like this before.] What are you going to do about the light in their eyes? What are you going to do about their carefully kept houses, their immaculate chapel, their neat if worn Sunday best, their smiles, the way they meet your eyes when you ask them a question, their gentle, respectful men, their capable women and their happy, confident children? I can see why the Church grows so dramatically here.
Still, as striking as it is here, I know the difference is just as profound in my own pais…makes me want to show it more clearly.