Thursday, April 26, 2012
El Sombrero Verde
The year of the "sombrero verde" or "green hat" has officially begun for me. Back in the early months of my mission, my French brothers, Joël and Thomas informed Ana Laura and myself that this year, for us, was the year of "sombrero verde". November 25th of the year of your 25th birthday, if you are a woman and not married, you must walk around all day wearing a green hat. This is often a huge joke amongst our community and you can be sure that in November, Ana Laura and I both will be wearing green hats! You will probably be able to hear the laughter ringing out from our home, no matter how far you are from El Salvador.
This year, my birthday was Holy Saturday/Easter Vigil. I woke up early that day to travel to San Pedro Perulapan, where the sisters live, so I could talk to my family for my birthday. One of the best gifts was getting to talk to all of my four siblings, at once, for the first time in about five months.
Talking on Skype on April 7th with my siblings: John, Katie, Lauren, and Vicki
It was such a huge blessing for me to talk to both of my parents, my brother, and three sisters all within 24 hours. Communication is something I always took for granted, having a cell phone and Internet access always at my fingertips.
Along with the sisters and Thomas´family that was visiting from France, we attended the five hour long Easter Vigil in San Pedro, rested a little and then had a delicious Easter lunch. After lunch, my community and I began to head back to San Salvador to attend Easter Mass at The Arzobispado (Church of the ArchBishop). I remember exclaiming, "I am so full! I cannot eat anymore! I feel sick!", for what I think was the first time during my mission. I could see this was about to ruin their plan, as they all looked at one another with a little bit of worry. We made a change of buses and I knew instantly where they were taking me. We only take this bus to go visit friends or to go to the mall. I felt bad. Suddenly, Analía´s voice was in my head. I knew where they were taking me.
At the end of January, a friend took us all to the mall to go ice skating for the Despedida (farewell) of Ana Laura and Joël. I was so excited this day. I saw a Starbucks and I went running to the glass door. Partially to be funny and partially because I wanted to take in the smell of Starbucks.
In that rich, powerful aroma of Starbucks there are so many memories. Starbucks isn´t just a cup of coffee. It´s a whole atmosphere, a culture filled with traditions. It defines so much of the American lifestyle. There were periods of time where I went to Starbucks at least once a day. I never showed up to a meeting or retreat without first stopping by Starbucks. I went there before work. I went there after work. I had meetings there. I talked for hours with friends there. I had job interviews there. I studied there. I read there. It was a stopping point on countless roadtrips. I never went anywhere with my sisters without first stopping there. It was always one of the first places I went to to celebrate after walking 60 miles in the Polish Walking Pilgrimage to Our Lady of Czestochowa in PA. I don´t even think I realized, until now, how much it was a part of my life.
As I flung the heavy glass door open that particular day, I managed to hit myself square in the nose with the door. Everyone laughed as I howled in pain, grabbed a quick sniff of Starbucks and we were on our way to the Ice Skating Rink. After, as we made our way back to the bus stop and passed Starbucks, once again, I had to open the door. As I opened the door to take in a big breath of the Starbucks aroma, I could see everyone inside and outside staring at me. Luckily this time I didn´t hit my nose with the door! In that moment Analía said, "for your birthday, you can go to Starbucks!".
Being as that was months ago, before we knew that my birthday was the day before Easter, I was sure I really wasn´t going to go there on my birthday. As I rode the bus on Easter Sunday, I was praying for some room to be made in my stomach. My community had gone through all this hastle and planned this amazing surprise for me so that they could be faithful to the promise that was made to me back in January.
Before I knew it, we were infront of the large glass doors of Starbucks. We opened the doors and as the smell of coffee and the atmosphere of Starbucks filled our lungs, a smile grew upon my face. My community here, each from a different country (Thomas couldn´t join us because he was with his family) would get to share in an aspect of my lifestyle back home. Since we are missionaries living on a small budget, I imagined we would all share one drink, so I was even more blown away to find out we could each get a drink and share 2 desserts of my choice. We got 2 white mocha fraps, 1 dulce de leche frap, and of course my favorite, 1 java chip frap; and then a brownie and a slice of banana nut bread.
It was a beautiful warm day. We sat at a table under a large umbrella, outside, enjoying our little celebration. It was perfect. It is the small and simple things that truly matter. I think of how many times I gave people Starbucks gift cards for their birthday. It would have had even more meaning if I had taken that person to Starbucks and had a mini celebration like my own with them. Talking to a person, the gift of time spent together has so much more value to me now. We even had a left over candle from the Easter Vigil that we lit with the lighter of a generous patron of Starbucks that helped us out, so I could blow out a candle like a typical birthay celebration.
I´m so thankful for the generous birthday gift my community gave me. Thank you to all of those who sent me letters and packages or wrote on my Facebook wall for my birthday. The gift of a little time spent to show someone you care is so precious.
It was Analía and Faby´s first time to Starbucks and Andres and I have no idea what number visit it was for us.
Following the Mass, we went to have Pupusas for dinner with Padre Manuel. He gave me a Panetone as a birthday gift... now Easter was complete and so was my birthday! My family has Panetone every Easter... I was so excited to receive it!
In September, Padre Manuel will be leaving us to study Liturgy in Rome. Please keep him in your prayers.