With Christmas only a few days away, the village is buzzing with all kinds of different activities. Although it looks nothing like celebration in the States, the people here definitely take advantage of any and every opportunity to get together with each other. This month has been packed full of various parties and ceremonies, a mixture of very old traditions, such as Las Posadas, and more recent additions, such as putting up christmas trees. Las Posadas involve acting out Joseph and Mary’s search for a place to stay, ending when a family invites everyone inside and feeds them. Sadly, it also includes praying to Mary, worshipping her rather than the Savior she gave birth to.
Another tradition that we recently observed was in honor of the virgin of Guadalupe, a figure highly revered and worshipped in the Catholic church. In order to honor the virgin, and to do penance for their sins, the people of our village took a day to walk down the mountain to the nearest city. We were told it took them over 6 hours, and “Mama S” came back with her knees swollen and in pain, but she was willing to do it because she believed it would earn her forgiveness.
As we observe and learn more about the beliefs of the people here, it is becoming increasingly clear how very trapped they are by their traditions and rituals. We pray that God will use us to open their eyes to the true freedom and forgiveness that they can find in Christ alone, and that they will be able to celebrate the next Christmas season knowing that they are celebrating their Savior, and bringing Him glory.
* This will be the first time for both Candace and I that we have been away from our families at Christmas time. Please pray that we will find joy in fellowshipping with our teammates and the villagers rather than spending the day wishing to be elsewhere.
* Although several people are willing to teach us the language, between traveling and holiday schedules we haven’t been able to meet up. Please pray that God will work out the difficulties, and allow us to receive much needed help with the language!
*We have officially survived our first six months in Mexico! It has been full of hard days and struggles, but it has also been full of blessings and open doors. God has blessed us more than we deserve, and we pray that He will work through us in our remaining time to make a difference in the lives of these people.
Written by Ellen Burns