This past weekend I attended two celebrations.
1. A girl who has been part of the mentorship program I’ve been involved in turned fifteen-years-old Saturday. As is customary in Guatemala, where her family is from, and in other Latin American countries, turning fifteen is a very important event in a young girl’s life. The quince años signifies coming into adulthood and this is usually marked by a large elaborate celebration, la fiesta de quinceañera. Oftentimes this event is as big of a deal and as expensive as a wedding. It takes months of planning and the guest list is extensive.
The quinceañera, birthday girl, was escorted by her cousin. One of her younger cousins asked me, “ella se va a casar con él?”
“Is she going to marry him?” It was a reasonable question and her confusion was understandable. 😉
I have heard the Perez family talk about this fiesta for at least a year. Mr. Perez and one of the quinceañera’s aunts shared with me this weekend how hard life was growing up in Guatemala. As children they weren’t even able to have toys. That is why it is so important to them that their children have better opportunities here in this country and are able to have things that they couldn’t. The love among the extended family members was evident and I knew that every small detail of that night’s celebration was a direct result of some hard sacrifices that many in her family had made. It was a dream day for sure.
2. Sunday morning, I attended a lovely wedding downtown that was held in a park. This was the most unique wedding I have been to and the most meaningful. The bride wanted to share this special day with friends, family… and strangers. I had never met her but I had heard her testimony. My grandmother has been involved in ministry with her and so I tagged along for the special occasion.
This ceremony was the most beautiful and symbolic picture of Christ’s redeeming love. I felt like I was reading the book of Hosea. The bride has an incredible story of how her broken past has been turned around and is now used to reach young girls who are in similar situations to that which she found herself years ago. She reaches out to those caught in sex trafficking and is opening a home for girls who want to get out of that lifestyle. Without even knowing her personally, I became emotional just thinking of that immense and scandalous grace.
After the ceremony, we shared soup and cake with the guests and passersby which included many who slept in that park. Each Sunday, she and her (now) husband minister to the homeless and bring them food. Times like these I sense that Jesus is more real than ever.