Church in San Jose, Costa Rica

Trip Start Oct 22, 2008
Trip End Jul 31, 2009

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Flag of Costa Rica  ,
Sunday, December 7, 2008

Nov. 30th
We had hoped to find a church to attend the morning after we arrived in San Jose. By the time we were able to locate an English service, and find someone who could give us directions on how to get there, it was too late. The worship at the Church of the Good Shepherd (El Buen Pastor) an Episcopal Church, had started at 8:30 a.m. On Monday we walked about twenty blocks, found the little blue building with a weathered sign. But the iron gate (almost every building has iron gates, bars, or guards) was locked and through the bars we could see a crew, an open church door, scaffolding, and paint cans.

December 7th
Sunday morning. It's a week later. A lot has happened, but I (Annette), wanted to finish the church story before other parts of our Costa Rica initiation experiences distracts.

Since the church is over a mile away from the hotel, we had decided to catch a bus. After all, we've been getting our daily 10,000 steps and today is supposed to be a day of rest. But certain streets were roped off which messed up the bus routes. We didn't know what was going on. Oh well, we knew we could walk it - but we only had about 20 minutes! We passed a building from which really loud shouting escaped through the windows. On the sign outside were the words 'Jesus es El Senor'.

Whew! - we walked into church at 8:30 and it was almost empty. (We both thought of MOTA; sometimes at 9:30 a.m. it looks like there aren't going to be many people. But by the end of announcements it's almost full.) There were lots of empty seats in the back and I could hear Neil Williams encouraging us to sit a bit further up . . . Actually, my Neal pushed me up toward a middle row - this is not a Lutheran church, after all - so we could "think outside the pew" And it appeared like maybe that would be the back row. Immediately an older gentleman (sure reminded us of Oscar and "Mary" was sitting in a pew talking with other newcomers) came over and welcomed us. We started to read the bulletin and realized that on the first Sunday of the month the service is bi-lingual and begins at 9:00. The bulletin was also bilingual; the part about the bishop being there to consecrate the recently completed "face-lift" was in Spanish. We didn't figure that out until later.

A CD player in the back started playing, "It Is No Secret, What God Can Do", and then, "I Come to the Garden Alone" - songs we recognized from our childhoods. Soon the pianist (who looked just like Marti) started playing other familiar melodies that were also of another era. Meanwhile, the Bert Parcher of the church was setting up the microphones. Neal poked me and said that there was a man behind us that really did look like Bert (but not the one setting up the microphones!) Can you tell that we miss all of you at MOTA?

By 9:10 a.m. the church, with 150 people, was bursting at the seams. And at 9:45, the processional began. It was impressive. There were no translations - but a fairly equal mixture of Spanish and English throughout - except for the homily by the bishop which was in Spanish. The service ended at about 11:50. Long, but we remember church services in Tanzania and Coptic masses in Cairo which lasted for four hours! There were two children's groups - one group playing guitars and the other a girls' choir - both groups from local Catholic parishes. Just when we thought it was time for the service to end, a lady rose to thank the renovation crew and after naming everyone, she apologized for the length of the service, saying, "Just think of it as attending a long concert and enjoy it. Go in peace."

As we left the church we met the two pastors and bishop. I was surprised how personable the bishop was. He asked how long we would be in Costa Rica. When we said 6 months he said he would hope to have a chance to sit down and talk with us. Maybe I'll talk to him about parish nursing??

Because it was a special day, everyone was invited for a light lunch. We sat with a young man who said he had gone to the church for 25 years. The bishop sat down fairly close to us and as we got up to leave he introduced us to his assistant, a young man from North Carolina who had finished college and came to Costa Rica to take time to discern what he was going to do with his life. After a few months here he felt a call to the ministry and will be going to seminary next year. I told the bishop that I heard he would be back in three weeks. "Yes," he said. "And the next time I see you we will speak in Spanish together." I guess he believes in miracles!

An interesting fact about this church is that the man who introduced Protestantism to Costa Rica is responsible for the coffee trade here, Le_Lacheur. However, they did not have coffee after church . . . but a ginger drink. Guess we'll have to look into that!
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