Food, Worship, Pinatas, Cake – all part of a Salvadorian Baptism
This smiley, adorable little girl, Hannah, being presented for baptism today is unaware of the difficulties she has already faced in her short year of life. Her mother, Laura, is left to raise her without the support of her biological father. Both she and her mother had serious complications as a result of her birth leaving both of them hospitalized for extended periods of time.
Laura is a bright young woman determined to continue studying at the university where she excels in all of her classes. With the help of her parents (the baby’s grandparents) to care for this little girl while Laura attends classes, Laura has never lost a single semester of study. Laura is firm about raising Hannah in a community of faith. Observing how easily Hannah is passed from one member of the congregation to another without fussing, it is evident how welcome and comfortable she is with each and every person. What a supportive faith community!
Several months ago, Laura, one of our third-year university scholarship students, asked my partner, Pastor Don, by Skype if he would be willing to perform the baptism of Hannah. He was delighted to be asked, and as soon as he agreed, the entire household exploded in cheers and applause! It was a special honor because the child’s own grandfather, Wuilver, is pastor of this church and could easily have performed the baptism himself.
This was one of two main reasons for our recent visit.
The small concrete church is located in a rural town. Like every day in El Salvador, it was immensely hot even though intermittent rain showers punctuated the scene before and during the service only adding to the high humidity.
The women of the church led by Laura’s mom, Ana, graciously prepared and hosted a full meal consisting of chicken, salad, and rice before the afternoon worship service began. As tables were removed, chairs were added and lined up to convert the facility into a worship area. Knowing that Laura’s sister, Alejandra, has great camera skills, I asked if she would serve as our official photographer for the day’s event. She seemed pleased to be asked. (I knew she would do a far better job than I of documenting this joyous occasion.)
Laura thought of everything. Hannah napped in a hammock outside behind the church before the event began. Then Laura changed Hannah’s everyday clothes into a gorgeous white satin dress, matching shoes, and hat for her special occasion. We had two translators, Luis and Adrian, taking turns interpreting Don’s English sermon and baptism service into Spanish for the congregation.
At the conclusion of the service, I presented a gift of a children’s Spanish Bible storybook Hannah can use on her faith journey. (It is the same one we use in our PA church.)
A first birthday party followed the baptism with the children of the church enjoying two large piñatas spilling candies to fill each of their goodie bags to take home. I held the birthday girl who watched the excitement ensue even though she was too young to participate. Everyone was then treated to pieces of two large decorated birthday cakes. We left after several hours while the party continued.
Salvadorans love a celebration, and we were proud to be part of it.