you know how you always hear stories of really faithful people traveling large distances to get to church or to the temple or something? well, every time i hear stories like that i wonder how i'd do. or what i'd do. or if i'd even do it for that matter.
well, so, wow. when we first got to costa rica, ivan started talking about this thing called a romeria on august 2nd, and i got so dang stoked for it that i wrote it on my calendar.
what it is is... a pilgrimage.
this is when we started: lauralee, ivansito, joseluis y yo.
the whole point of this pilgrimage is to worship maría de los ángeles, also known as "la negrita" (or as joseluis called her, "little blackie." ha ha). costaricences walk from wherever they are to a little town called Cartago, where there's a beautiful basilica built for la virgen. our pilgrimage was about 30 kilometros from san jose down to cartago. we started around 9:30/10 at night, and walked and walked and walked and walked (singing that song actually)...
there were more than 15,000,000 participants...
this part was hilarious. i know you can't really tell, but this bridge is totally packed with people. it was a total bottleneck, so we went over dirt trench. i seriously felt like such an intruder and like i was going to face some alligators or something.. it was hilarious.
see the below video.
sorry it's all so dark!
("it was very dark." ha ha. name the movie!)
ivan told me i was going to freeze in my shorts and chacos. i only brought this black jacket just in case and i didn't really believe him when he said that. but...cartago was rainy and soggy and freeeeezing. so this is us, all icic-ly.
(a little shout out to my amigo jose luis who was my speed-walking partner during the romeria. he recently received his mission call to nicaragua. he's going to be a BOMB missionary and i am so excited for him to go out and change lives and eternities as he preaches the restored gospel!)
this is a little video of us walking just because all of the pictures failed horribly to show how many people there were as we walked and walked and walked and walked and walked.
after hours of sogginess and blisters, we llegared to cartago. this beautiful basilica was a complete beacon to us.
this is us when we'd arrived in cartago, triumphantly.
after the walk--even though we were tired--we decided we'd go the full nine yards and wait in the long line to enter the basilica. (there were two lines--one to go in on your feet, another on your knees. i thought we'd get the full cultural experience by going on our knees, but it felt sorta...apostate. so we walked in instead. ha ha.)
la negrita is tiiiiiiiny!
you walk in and walk out to see her. it's a short experience, but sweet. especially because it's so meaningful for the people.
right after we left the basilica, this is what we saw. the clouds cleared and the full moon came out, visible around the gargoyle. it was just so...perfect.
we then had a freaking circus trying to get on a bus back to san josé (along with the rest of the world). we eventually made it home and i felt straight up delirious. the whole excursion was about ten hours and was exhausting but fun. and memorable.
this experience was a really neat time for reflection. although what i did compares in NO WAY to the extreme measures and sacrifices that other people do to demonstrate their faith in and love for God--in all religions. this romeria was just a very different experience for me, and, as i walked--first loving the moon, then basking in the cold, cloudy puddle-ness--I couldn't help but think about devotion. how do we show our devotion to the lord? how do we prove to Him that we love him? are we willing to travel hours for mere seconds or minutes of worship?
the Lord sees our sacrifice and He knows our hearts. we don't have to walk for hours or travel by plane, boat, bus and/or foot to get to the temple to show Heavenly Father that we choose Him. we can show that by putting Him first, but seeking first the kingdom of God.
it's that simple. it can happen every day. and i hope it does. i hope that we can all have experiences to evaluate what we're willing to do to demonstrate our devotion to God. and by the way, walking 30 kilometers to worship a catholic virgin isn't a requirement. :)
our last weekend we were scheduled to travel again to la fortuna/san carlos/san ramón area to teach our last two workshops. laura and i decided to take advantage of the travel time and go a little early for fun. :)
last time we were in la fortuna, the volcano was totally cloudy and covered. but this time! it was beautiful! look at that perfect cone-shaped volcano! (oh, it's active, by the way.)
cow leg bottle, anyone? ha ha ha. i would've bought the outrageous thing had it not been 80 trillion dollars too much.
the volcano at sunset. unreal.
taller de san carlos: part one of our double workshop.
our very. last. workshop. (san ramón) wow.
laura and i felt so accomplished after this taller. it took us quite a long time to perfect our routine of who was teaching which part and in what way and how we'd do it and for how long...but we finally got it. and we loved it.
teaching the career workshop was an incredibly rewarding experience for me. i can't possibly put into words what the workshop means to me and how thankful i am for the amazing people that i met and experience that i had... so i'll just leave it at that.