October 6, 2008 Surprise Birthday Celebration

Yesterday we took Karen Roundtree from CAM-Dallas, to Panajachel and then to Patzún, so she could see the ministries there.

When we arrived in Patzún in the afternoon, I noticed that ladies from the church were there starting to prepare some food. I assumed that they were going to have a meal after the service, and offered to help them, as we always have fun talking and joking together. While I was making tamalitos, Dionisia asked me how old I was. I was surprised that she would ask since tomorrow was my birthday.

A few minutes later, the women called me into the church and presented me with a quipil and corte (typical blouse and skirt) from Alfa y Omega, Patzún. (Traditionally, the indigenous people have different typical dress according to where they live. The Patzún blouse (quipil) is made with a distinct, dark red, striped, hand-woven fabric with a design embroidered around the neck. The corte they gave me is the Alfa y Omega school uniform.) The women then proceeded to dress me in my new clothes. My tennis shoes were unacceptable for the over-all look! Fortunately I had another pair ready to wear to church. They would have liked to braid my hair, but that's obviously impossible! Afterwards, I went back to help finish making the tamalitos.

Making tamalitos (corn-meal masa boiled in leaves)

During the service (in which I was dressed as a 'pura Patzunera') they asked me to come up front and honored me by singing, "Happy Birthday" and everyone filed by and greeted me. Ken preached using Rom. 12:1-12 as his text. After the service, the women served their rendition of Chow Mein - a meal that I always request for them to make for visiting work groups, because it's something that most North Americans like. They think that this is my favorite meal! (It is good.) (I asked Ken if he knew anything about the celebration, and he did! One lady asked if it were a surprise to me, and I answered that it, in fact, was a very big surprise. I had no idea. It was a very special time, and I felt very loved.

We spent the night in Patzún, so this morning, I put my new quipil and corte on again. When a teenage girl arrived for school, I asked if she would help me tighten the belt, which is essential to holding the corte on. They are worn VERY tight. (There is quite an art to putting a corte on correctly. I haven't quite mastered it yet.) The women who saw me this morning were very pleased that I would wear the outfit again today. In fact, I'm sure I made the day for several Patzúneras. They love to see foreigners dressed like them.

Some of the women of Alfa y Omega (The wives of board members and leaders of the women's group have matching outfits. The embroidery on the blouses is different.)

Women crowding around Karen Roundtree to see the digital pictures she took.

The friend who wove and embroidered the quipil for me.