“Early Christians shared agape (love) feasts in their small communities. Somehow eating together creates a space where we can be vulnerable and present. By sharing our food, or by coming empty handed and receiving from another’s bounty, we enter true communion. Dependent on physical nourishment, we connect with the root of our human need. We are blessed by the generosity of a farmer’s labor, the Earth’s abundance, the joy of companionship” (Richard Rohr, daily meditations).
During the last two weeks, we have been experiencing this type of love feast with dear friends we have come to love here in Oaxaca. A week ago Thursday the women’s group representing a variety of Covenant churches in the valley came together to celebrate the new life growing in my womb! There was an even bigger celebration once they found out we are expecting a baby girl! It was a day full of excellent food, fun games and dramas that made us laugh until we cried, touching words of love and appreciation and many hugs. My heart was filled with gratitude for each of these special women.
Friday our boys wanted to go to Pastor Memo’s house one more time for his wife Estela’s famous molotes, tlayudas, tostadas and taquitos. We invited our close friends Eduardo and Nimsi and their two girls along. Nimsi lived with us for a while in Monterrey right before she married Eduardo. They have been working in Oaxaca with Living Water, an organization that seeks to bring drinking water to villages in Oaxaca while sharing the good news of God’s love. We have enjoyed many meals together during this last year they have been in Oaxaca.
On Saturday our boys and Sammy Restrepo went to stay overnight at Raquel and Yolitzin’s house in Zaachila. This mother and her two daughters have become family to us as they have welcomed us into their home many times for meals together and Yolitzin has been a faithful and fun babysitter for our boys. I have had the privilege of witnessing Yolitzin’s growth in her relationship with Christ and love for Scripture as I have discipled her these last two years. The boys had so much fun in Zaachila, a small agricultural town just outside of the city. On Sunday morning they walked into town to the molinero to grind corn so they could make tortillas for breakfast. After helping to make the tortillas, they enjoyed a yummy breakfast of Oaxacan hot chocolate and memelas (tortillas with black bean sauce, fresh crumbled cheese and Mexican sausage chorizo). While the boys were in Zaachila, we went downtown with our dear friends and colleagues the Restrepos to enjoy a meal at one of our favorite Oaxacan restaurants!
Last Sunday Nils preached at the church in Zaachila and then afterward we went out for empanadas de mole amarillo and quesadillas made with squash blossoms with the Restrepos, Raquel, Yolitzin and Daniel (a Bolivian friend, who we know from Monterrey where he volunteered with the youth group at the Family Foundation and is here now helping Fuentes Libres with a project).
Oaxacan cuisine is an art and is becoming internationally known. Oaxacan women, in particular, take great pride in cooking meals with a variety of flavors and colors. Oaxaca has over 200 known preparations for mole, a complicated sauce based on one or more chili peppers. Oaxacan moles require multiple ingredients and long cooking time, and for this reason are traditionally served only for special occasions. Today at church, they had a goodbye party for us and served my favorite mole: coloradito.
Reflecting upon the celebrations of this last week, I am fully aware of God’s presence within each person and thankful for the food that makes life possible and the love that makes life meaningful. What an agape feast! We are blessed by the many friends in Oaxaca who have become family, and we will miss them this next year.