As for the Sacraments, it was a good year. As Meri said in her last entry we feel so proud when the kids make the Sacramental steps in their lives…it is almost like we are part of their families.
The family that I spoke of in my last entry did end up getting baptized; five kids and the mom. After the ceremony, they invited us to their home to have some food and spend some time with them. It was really nice.
Then when the First Communion day came they were nowhere to be found. I walked to their home and found out that the dad was mad that they were making their First Communion because the family could not have a party to celebrate. He refused to come to the ceremony, so the mom could not come either because she had to take care of him and the two little ones.
The three older kids did receive their First Communion, but it was sad because their parents were not there. During the sign of peace, the part of the service where we shake each others’ hands in a sign of peace, the oldest boy, Luis Pablo, who is 12 and of course is most affected by his dad’s behavior and subsequent arguing between his parents, gave me a very heartfelt hug.
He really needed to. It was a happy and sad moment for me.
There were also three other kids who made their First Communion that night and we are really going to miss seeing them every Friday. We are going to try and make it to their chapel at least twice a month and that will keep us in touch with everyone. One little funny note about the First Communion night was that the chapel’s electricity was out so the whole ceremony was done by candlelight.
The furthest area that we work in, the one where the two boys from Meri’s last entry come from, also had their First Communion. It too was really nice. It is so funny because we had to tell them Mass would start at 9 a.m. knowing they would arrive at 9:30 when the priest gets there. Even with our buffered schedule there were still four kids who didn’t show up until 10 a.m. and Fr. Joe had to start without them, but it was OK because they only missed a little of the Mass. It is so hard for me to understand how people here can be late for things so often; but that is one of the cultural differences that is impossible to understand because it just is what it is.
Our last chapel that celebrated their First Communion was last weekend. It was a great day as well. We had five kids in total, two of whom were older and somewhat special cases.
The first one was a boy named Freddy who had lost both of his parents some years back and is being raised by his brother, Luciano who is 29 years old. Freddy started the class late and we were considering not accepting him because he had missed so many classes but his brother was so insistent we decided it was OK.
Luciano, the brother, is really a nice guy who loves his family so much. He is “married” (meaning he can’t afford to be married civilly or religiously and you need to do both separately here) and he has one young daughter. Luciano works 6 days a week totaling about 95 hours for around $60, barely enough to get by, and even with that heavy work schedule he still came to the parents part of the class every Sunday.
The second special case was another older girl named Maria who had just moved to Lima to live with her “aunt,” who is really just a special friend of her mom. We were not completely sure why she came to Lima from the north. She was the sweetest little girl and Meri and I hated to think about what her life was like before. She too started the class late…4 weeks before the First Communion (the course lasted 7 months for the others) so Meri and the other catechist worked really hard to get her caught up. We hope that both Freddy and Maria will be in our Confirmation class next year.
So as we close the 2010 chapter of Sacraments in our chapels we are really excited about 2011. Now that we know the system a little more we know what to expect and that makes it easier to plan how to approach the year. We also know that we have to start recruiting now to start in April but that is the fun part because we already have a few kids in mind. With those kids we can go around the neighborhoods and find other kids they know.
Hopefully some of the kids we are meeting can be the future catechists in the chapels. There are already a few standout kids that we have our eyes on but we will see where it goes.