Jason & Tifany Clark are Intercultural Studies Interns who have been living in Oaxaca, Mexico for one year. They have 4 children: Cayleb, Noah, Charity Ann, and Sarah Rose. This past year the Clark family has been spending time in language & culture learning, getting to know their neighbours, involvement in their local church, and figuring out what family life looks like in a new place and culture.
Christmas in Oaxaca, Mexico was stunningly beautiful. It was a blur of images… Christmas trees, garlands, poinsettias, glitter, fireworks, nativity scenes, parades, candles, prayers, rituals, festivals, parties and piñatas!
Even though the climate here is vastly different than in the Pacific Northwest, it still managed to feel like Christmas. Part of the ritual and traditions we participated in are called Posadas. Posada means inn, home or shelter. There are eight days of Posadas in each community, each night leading up to Christmas. The last and largest of these is on Christmas Eve.
The first Posada began with a procession from our community’s altar around the block and ended at the home of a family down the street. During the procession, people walked with candles, sang songs, and an occasional firework was launched along the route with a loud BOOM! When we got to the door of the house we were entering that night we went through a song where the people on the outside sang a verse and then people on the inside sang a response, back and forth back and forth. Then the people on the inside told us we could come in. This is done in remembrance of Mary and Joseph looking for a place to stay. Once we were inside the group was led by several women each taking turns saying a part of a prayer. It was beautiful to watch this dedication to tradition; to ritual. After about an hour of prayers, food and beverages were passed out. Think tostadas, tamales, and warm drinks.
The celebration of the Three Kings (El Dia de Reyes) is also a huge holiday here on January 6. It is also called Epiphany, which celebrates the manifestation of God in His Son as a human, Jesus Christ. We were invited to celebrate with our community and had lots of fun. There were more games, food, drink, and piñatas! As the foreigners, we often get chosen to play the games. These are starting to be more fun now that I can better understand the rules they are explaining, and I don’t stumble so much with the language. Everyone seems to love that I am willing to participate!
So here we are… in a new calendar year and approaching our one year anniversary in Mexico. We thank God for all He has shown us so far, for giving us friends who live right next door, and for the little glimpses we see of hope. For the coming year we want to pray passionately for our community, and that God would show us how we can give back to them, as they have given so much to our family already. We also want prayer specifically for the Holy Spirits movement here, to soften hearts, open eyes, reveal truth, break down walls and strongholds, and for a fresh hunger to fall on this land. We also pray for God to continue to transform us, our hearts and minds, and that we would continue to grow in wisdom and compassion.