Cristo Vive! (Vigil)

Saturday was pretty chill here. Tom worked on his class stuff and I “relaxed” which turned into baking about 5 dozen sugar cookies. Delish! In general I like Bolivian food but they do not know how to make cookies so we’re having an Easter cookie-binge. I also made plates of frosted cookies for the Sisters and the other volunteers. We also had to recover from our fasting on Friday. Seriously fasting is hard here. I ended up doing quite a bit of work on Friday and with the two hour Stations of the Cross and everything I was just run-down the next day. For lunch, the Sisters made us this yummy traditional dish from Cochabamba which consisted of shredded lacaoti (some type of squash, related to pumpkin) with tomatoes, peppers and some boiled potatoes with choclo (corn) on the side. It was really tasty but we supplemented some chicken for extra energy.

Saturday evening we had the Vigil at 7:30pm. It was somewhat standard, we started outside with a BIG fire. Sometimes my mind is silly and tries to apply U.S. standards to Bolivian situations. For example, before mass I was wondering, “Oh I wonder what they’ll make the fire in, maybe they have a fire pit or a little grill thing.” No, they just built this huge roaring bonfire right on the sidewalk in front of the church. I just had to chuckle at myself for even considering they had a fire pit. Also for mass we were all instructed to bring our own candles and water. So we lit our candles from the fire and all walk inside.

It was pretty much standing room only by the time we got in so we found a spot on the back wall. The church is really huge but it doesn’t have that many pews so we often run out of seating. I assume they just can’t afford to buy more. Anyway, luckily for those of us standing, they only did three of the introductory readings and responsorials before the Gospel. I think we did the first Genesis, Exodus, and one of the Isaiah’s. Three Sisters sang the responsorials but since we had no song books or lyrics it wasn’t very participatory. No churches in Bolivia have song books, I assume it’s a funding issue. I think this perhaps contributes to the lack of variety in the music as well as the simplicity of the music they play since people have to pick it all up just by listening. For seven months of listening, I’m doing pretty well though, I’d say I’ve deciphered about half the lyrics. Anyway so we continue with the Gospel and then the priest blesses our water and we hold our candles up again and renew our baptismal promises. Tom and I had a chuckle when the priest made a point to tell everyone to take the caps off their bottles before the blessing. So that God can get in? Who knew coke bottles were impervious to grace. Anyway though, there also weren’t any baptisms or confirmations. The Sisters don’t have any RCIA groups and the high school groups won’t be confirmed until October, because I assume that’s how long their religious education takes. So we continued right along and got out of there within 2 hours. But at the end of the mass, Madre Clara got up and started giving the instructions for the next morning. Apparently Easter Vigil does NOT get you out of going to mass the next day. She made that very clear and not only that, but everyone who was there was expected to be up before the sun the next day to greet the risen Lord! You are not allowed to sleep!

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