Sunday, June 26, 2011

Culture Shock!

 The nursing home we visited yesterday. This is the men's side of the nursing home.
 Altar at the cathedral in downtown Piura. Everything in the church was covered in gold, absolutely beautiful!

So today we did some more touring around Lima. Mostly of places that are owned/part of Sacramento Santisimo (SS). We first stopped at the women's shelter. SS built it for women who have children and don't have a husband or family to help take care of their family. They live here until they can get back on their feet. It is really nice because there is no real daycare down here so when some of the women are working to try to get back on their feet they can leave there kids with the other women who are at the shelter. The 2nd floor of the shelter is being renovated for girls/women who get too old for the orphanages, so about around 20 yrs old and they live in the shelter until they can go to college.

Second we went to the hospice here in Piura ran by SS, it is called Los Angeles. The hospice is absolutely beautiful and has just been built recently. This is the only hospice in Piura and that is because a man from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, whose church is a sister church of SS, died of terminal cancer and in his will donated money to build the hospice. Here is a picture of the middle of the hospice. This is the chapel and then surrounding it is the rooms for the patients. There are 12 rooms and currently 12 patients. Surprisingly not all of the patients are needing end-of-life care though, some are just there because they have no family to take care of them. For example, one of the men was found living under a truck and Padre Jose (the priest of SS) allowed him to live at the hospice so he had a place to stay.
 To the left of the hospice is a cemetery and a newly built chapel, because it is very expensive to bury the dead here in Piura. To the right of the hospice is the school of SS. It is newly built and is currently being renovated as well. It holds 436 students, from K through high school! After this we drove to a sister parish of SS called San Jacinto, every Sunday we will be going to mass there because Padre Jose says the mass. Today because of us touring, we missed mass but came for lunch at the retreat center that SS helped to build. Here I tried something that most people who know me would NEVER believe! I tried ceviche today, and I actually LIKED it! For those of your who don't know what ceviche is, it is raw fish! I don't like fish at all and especially raw fish! Here is me after I tried it, still alive! :)
 After our seista time, we went to church for Corpus Christi. Church was held in some kind of sport stadium and was filled to the brim with people and then there were people standing outside just to listen to the mass. There were easily thousands of people there but we had a place reserved for us in the front and we obviously stood out in our fair skin and white shirts (our professors wanted us to match just in case we got lost in the masses, we would later find out why this was so important). Here is the altar that they made in the sport stadium, the bishop said mass and all the priests from Piura participated.
Communion here is very interesting, rather than getting up row by row, it is a made dash free for all here in Piura. People here are absolutely crazy when it comes to mass and religion. I would soon find this out when after mass was over the bishop placed host in the Blessed Sacrament and the place went crazy; applause, pictures, people crying, etc. I had seen pictures of this holy vessel in my religion books but I had never seen it in real life. Then a procession began and we all followed out. The bishop got on a trailer with the Blessed Sacrament and started to drive off and everyone followed in a procession. We took a shortcut to a place farther along the route to wait for the procession to come. There was a trailer with a choir and band singing songs about this event. Everyone was dancing and waiting for the procession to come. I don't believe I have ever seen anything like this before. I don't know how to explain it besides imagine every American holiday, the Superbowl and March Madness rolled into one. The people of Piura were going crazy not because of a sports team or celebrity but because of the feast of Corpus Christi! It was absolute madness but I felt so blessed to be a part of such a big part of this culture. Below is the picture of the procession coming over the bridge and to the area where we were awaiting for it to pass. Fireworks were going off, confetti was being thrown into the air, people were screaming and crying just being able to look at it. Everyone was pushing to try to get closer to the car carrying the Blessed Sacrament but altar boys were holding a rope that was surrounding the car to keep people from getting too close. So it became a huge mob and everyone was being pushed around, I had no idea what to do but just scream along with everyone.  This was definitely a first for me, but I am so happy that I got to experience it here in Piura and I find it so astonishing how this culture is based on religion. I look forward to more experiences with this aspect of the culture and hopefully growing in the religious aspect of my life. 

P.S Mom and Dad, sorry to get your hopes up about the color sawdust but I didn't see any so I guess I either had a dream that someone said that or I just completely missed it amongst the madness! :)

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