‘Ah Padre’: Day 2 from the Diocesan Mission Trip to Cristo Salvador

DSC_6407‘Ah Padre,’ I jump to my feet from my plastic chair at the breakfast table to greet the aging priest entering the café. Short and balding with his pale yellow button-down and trousers, Fr. Hipolito bustles over to the table, bursting with smiles. He rattles off something in Spanish, shakes a few hands and then grasps me into a hearty embrace, my face meeting his armpit. He’s talking rapidly and gesturing wildly at me, and our translator and missionary leader Emily starts laughing as she translates. I can feel the sweat begin to spill out of my every pore as I wonder what exactly is about to come my way.

‘My baby priest!’ Hipolito exclaims with joy. I smile sheepishly, but with pleasure. Fr. Hipolito is a great guy and depending on which day it is and what he decides that day, he’s anywhere between ages 86 and 89. He has been with Cristo Salvador from the beginning, first as a small group Bible study and then as a house church. His family harbored Haitians during the Trujillo years and despite running slightly afoul of Trujillo, he managed to survive those brutal years, saving lives and spreading the gospel. I am certainly a baby priest compared with his years, his courage, and his spunk.

Released from his armpit, I smile and shake my head, following everyone out to the van. Arriving last means the front seat and in this case, the front seat means breathing some really deathly air-freshener called ‘black ice’ hanging from the rearview mirror. Dodging traffic- a few pedestrians here and there, a motorbike or two, the coconut guy with the giant knife- is really pretty fun by my book, but by the time we arrive, I nearly jump out of the van, fleeing the ‘black ice’ and the terrible synthesized music of American soft rock hits.

Fr. Hipolito leads us to the front of the building, showing us the new iron steps our diocese (meaning the donations made by DSC_6374congregations) helped pay for that lead to the roof; inside, he shows us the new doors our diocese helped purchase. We take our seats in the first few pews, behind a row of young kids. Foolishly, I think that worship is about to begin, but Father begins to tell us all about the church and other various facts. Worship only begins 15 minutes late, which is wicked early by DR standards.

By some trick of grace, the reading for their lectionary today was Ephesians 4, which is our reading next week. So naturally, the preacher spoke on unity, a unity founded on our common baptism in Christ, our common life in the Spirit. Our team has learned a lot about our various gifts, which complement each other well, and we are excited to see how our gifts are complemented and completed by the teachers we will work this week from the congregation of Cristo Salvador.

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Tomorrow we begin the VBS and our painting projects. But for now, it’s time for me to pry my legs from this sweaty vinyl cushion and find a shower and some AC.

Signing off from the DR, where the avocadoes are creamy, the plantains are dreamy, and the humidity is steamy,

The Rev. Melinda Hall, Vicar of Holy Trinity, Brookville and Church of Our Savior, DuBoise

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