Happy Easter to all!
I know I'm a day late for that, but I have a tendency to forget what day it is until I start my studies in the morning. Also, I kinda can only write on Mondays, which makes timely holiday wishes a bit difficult.
Easter, or Domingo Santo as it is called in Spanish, is celebrated very differently here. There's no Easter Bunny, and the only people who make easter eggs are the gringo missionaries. Those kind of things are English/American traditions. Down here, the Easter season is celebrated for an entire week, the Semana Santa. En la Semana Santa, los católicos son un poco loco con sus cultos. Sorry, I've picked up a tendency to slip into Spanish when I say a spanish word in an english sentence. During Semana Santa, the Catholics here go a bit crazy with their services, or more specifically with how many services they have. Normally they have Mass every hour starting at 5:30 in the morning (something that always woke me up and frustrated me, so we started going to the gym earlier).
During Semana Santa (or Holy Week), there is almost always a mass of some kind going on. And on the last few days of the Semana Santa they have some special services. Thursday during the day there is a procession where they recreate Christ being taken before Pilate, or something like that. All I know is that a bunch of guys dressed up as Roman Centurions were blocking our way home from lunch after the temple trip. For a full 20 minutes...
Thursday night they have the vigila (vigil) all night, commemorating the apostles waiting in the Garden while Christ was atoning for the world. Friday is the really different, and kinda cool, celebration though.
On Viernes Sando (Good Friday), the people of El Salvador do something special. Okay, two somethings special. First, they make alfombras (giant sand drawings) in the streets. The quality of the alfombras depends on the people who make them. Some are kinda chafa. Some are super cool and well made. They depict various things: some are very religiously themed, some are more secular. Pictures are included with this email.
The other thing that the Catholics do is hold a funeral procession for the Savior. It's different, to say the least. This procession starts at one of the catholic churches and goes on a route around town, destroying the alfombras as they go along (becasue they walk over them). Why, I do not know. It's just something that happens.
Saturday night there is another vigila that lasts until 3 or 4 in the morning. Around 3:30, a million and one bottle rockets get shot off. I'm only slightly exaggerating the number. There are so many of them that I dreamed that I was in a war before the explosions woke me up! Thankfully, the Easter bout of pyrotechnically-induced insomnia only lasts for about 20 minutes. The following morning, everything in town is closed, and everyone is at home asleep. Except for the Mormons. We're up to something entirely different.
That something different is called General Conference. These sessions of conference were absolutely amazing! I learned a great deal from this conference. Unfortunately, I'm out of time, so I'll have to tell you all about it next week!
Elder Colton West
El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission
Editor's Note: Elder West spent some time writing family today and promises to fill us all in on their epic Temple activity AND his thoughts on General Conference next week. I can tell how much he enjoys the culture and traditions in El Salvador and it sure is fun to hear about how things are done there. I admire our Catholic brothers and sisters and how wholeheartedly they celebrate the events leading up to our Savior's Resurrection. Beautiful! I'm sure Elder West agrees even though he does NOT like to get woke up any earlier than a missionary already has to get up!
|Ilobasco District - Elder West and his companion,|
Elder Chamorro from Nicaragua, are in red.
|Sandpainting "alfombras" in the streets during Easter|
|Alfombras of the Savior during Catholic Holy Week|
|Another beautiful alfombras - "Christ was wounded, you were healed"|