Monday, January 17, 2011

Chapter 10 - THE CHURCH

            We finally found the church.  A couple of weeks ago, Melaney looked up the web site and got a phone number for a church in Alajuela.  The person she talked with said it was the Trinidad ward, and tried to explain where it was located in that city.  We tried to follow the directions, but weren’t successful.
            Then the miracle happened.  She was sitting here fishing through the internet and found a blog of a white man and his family living in Grecia.  The blog held a lot of stories and adventures which they had experienced.  He talked about taking the sister missionaries on a trip with them up to the Waterfall Gardens.  It showed a number of pictures of his family with different backdrops, including holding butterflies.  We had both been praying about finding a church location.  He looked like a mormon, so she wrote to him in the comment space.  He answered very quickly, and Yes he was a mormon, and gave us explicit directions to the church in Grecia.  They centred from the very large red cathedral in the centre of the city with a pedestrian walkway only in front.  We printed the directions, took a quick trip to Grecia and found the chapel.
            The first Sunday in January we headed out.  There were no cars on the road at 8:15 in the morning.  We went around in circles a couple of times, but then went back to the red church and calculated from there again.  This time we made it still with abundant time before the 9 A.M. service.  She dropped me directly in front, and continued on to park the car.
 In no time, we were inside, and the love and spirit was palpable.  When Costa Ricans greet you, it is with open arms and a kiss on the cheek.  I have never felt so welcome in a North American church.
The chapel is small.  The seats are small metal chairs.  We sat near the front and I was directly beside a door.  After a few minutes the door opened, and people began streaming out.  One of the first was Brandon, whose blog we had answered.  Then some women, one with an arm load of new Sunday School pamphlets that I could see were New Testament literature.  Mel had asked me what course it would be, and I had told her.  Then the Branch President welcomed us.  As it happens, Brandon was acting council to the Branch President, plus playing the electric piano for the hymns.
There was only one priest to pass the sacrament and the two missionaries blessed the bread and water.  The table was tiny and the room to kneel and pray was tight quarters.  The one missionary was new to the branch and he was over six feet.  It was a challenge to turn sideways and say the prayer.
The hymn books had been passed out, and we sang the hymns in Spanish. Melaney checked the hymn numbers that were posted against the book and her hand held device with all the hymns in English, but the numbers in the Spanish book didn’t  correlate with the English version.  The Spanish book was much thinner, too. I think they don’t have all the hymns translated into Spanish.
It was testimony meeting.  We felt the spirit, but didn’t understand the words.  We left after the main service.  Rita had said she would go with us but didn’t make it this time.  She said she would go next week.
The one tiny woman who captured my heart greeted me like a long lost sister when she came in.  The brethren went into the side room and brought a special plastic chair for her.  No doubt it was more comfortable than the metal chairs.  She was early in presenting her testimony, and I could tell she was instructing the children to be good and listen to their parents and keep their faith in God.  She rambled a bit, and retold some of the story, but everyone listened quietly.  She was so tiny, and very old.  She was like a little old doll.  She had a beautiful spirit, with a long wool scarf around her neck.  I will easily learn to love her.

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