Not that Laura and I would necessarily know what a normal week is like, but we are both pretty sure that this past week was not normal. This past Saturday, Montaña de Luz offered an open house. They do this once a year. We invited anyone and everyone that has a relationship to Montaña de Luz to come and celebrate with us. There is a program in the morning and everything wraps up with a lunch. The beauty for the attendees is that everything is free, the atmosphere is festive, and the views from the mountain are spectacular. Montaña de Luz establishes and deepens important networks.
The preparation for the day was extensive and exhaustive. Everything got cleaned and spiffied up. Everything got decorated. The streamers that hung all over the property were not simply bought at a party supply store and then draped. No, the snowflake squares were hand cut from square pieces of tissue paper then physically attached to twine with Elmers glue. There was probably well over 100 yards of this, and Laura and I personally attached about half of the snowflake squares. Laura and I also made the mistake of volunteering for some work duty. We miscalculated that volunteering for the coffee break table would be a light duty job while affording us the opportunity to meet a lot of people. We did meet a lot of people, but it was anything but light duty. We hadn’t realized when we signed up that the coffee break also included a snack of tamales. Of course everyone (all 200 people that came) had to have one, and some came back for a second serving. With each tamale we had to scoop up a special sauce to pour over the top. Of course, the coffee urn did not function properly, the coffee barely streaming from the spigot. It poured so slowly that I had to manually ladle the coffee into the cup. The program started late and ran longer such that people were getting hungry waiting for the program to end and lunch to begin. That’s when they began to return for an additional tamale. We ended up at the coffee table from the beginning of the program at 9:00 AM until we began to serve lunch at around 1:30 PM. Though we were exhausted, the program was wonderful and Laura and I had the opportunity to meet many people; good contacts as we discern the work we will be doing.
Apart from the turmoil of preparation and execution associated with the open house, the Executive Director, the Director of the Mission Programs, and the Director for marketing and public relations are all here. They came for the open house. Still, their presence means a great deal of time spent in meetings for planning future projects and directions. Again, this is quite a bit outside of the normal routine. We seem to talk in the ideal, “the best laid plans,” but the execution of those plans usually meets with a myriad of challenges. Almost two weeks ago we had to go to the state capital and the juvenile courthouse. The state capital is a quaint mountain town with cobblestone streets and few cars. It used to be a mining town, but the mines have all closed. It is extremely poor, but extremely charming. After Montaña de Luz’s business at the juvenile court, Laura and I were introduced to the judge. The judge is apparently a Pentecostal who immediately asked us if we belonged to a local Pentecostal church. He went on to ask us if we were properly catechizing the children of Montaña de Luz as it was his conviction that this was what they needed to have a successful life. So much for the separation of Church and State. We smiled and nodded and pretended not to understand Spanish so well. It felt something like filling up a coffee cup from a spigot that didn’t stream too well. Maybe normal just doesn’t really exist here. But somehow we’ll muddle through.