Friday, June 13, 2014

Baptism in Costa Rica, BAUTISMO

Our unplanned, but very happy conception the first week we arrived in Costa Rica last year culminated in the birth of our beautiful daughter, Sofia in January. Being Catholic, baptising our baby daughter is of utmost importance because it is the first sacrament in the beginning of the life as a Catholic, as it was for our first two children back in Texas. 
Those of you who follow this blog know we recently moved from Atenas to Grecia for a little more space. Little did we know that our family would grow to include our landlords, Julio, Saedi and their 3 wonderful children. It began with our first small truckload of things. They allowed us to start to slowly move into our new home early. When we arrived to unload, we were greeted with open arms by their entire family. Saedi immediately embraced our little Sofi with the adornment you would expect from a fairy Godmother. In fact, the entire family embraced us all, as if we were part of their family and our truck was unloaded in less than 2 minutes. On the day of the big move, again Julio, Saedi and their teenagers dedicated their entire Sunday to help us unload the large box truck, which was provided by Julio. They helped us place our furniture, making us feel right at home. 
In the coming months, Julio's family helped us endlessly with our transition; took us on a Sunday hike to the nearby waterfall; spent Easter Sunday with us and showed love and kindness to our family, making it an undeniable decision for us to ask them to be the Godparents of our baby. Their answer was YES with no hesitation and a slight swelling of tears in the eyes. With our limited knowledge of the Baptism process here in Costa Rica, not to mention the Spanish language, Saedi showed her love and kindness once again, guiding us through the process. After visiting a few churches, Niki and Saedi narrowed down the date to coincide with a visit from my mother-in-law from Texas. Unfortunately, this did not work out, since churches in Costa Rica hold the baptism only 1 Saturday per month, unlike our small church back in Texas, which held a Baptism service as needed by the families. After filling out the necessary paperwork, we were scheduled in Grecia for June 7th at 10:30. The church only required proof of Catholic Baptism from our other 2 children and our wonderful Padrinos (Godparents). When Niki and I sat in the church office to schedule Sofi, we noticed several names on the computer screen. 
The day began with sunshine and clear, blue skies, just like most every day in Costa Rica. The church in Grecia, Iglesia de la Nuestra SeƱora de las Mercedes is a red metal church, with white gingerbread trim and a long history attracting visitors from around the world. Grecia is always bustling on Saturdays, so I lucked out and found a great parking spot in front of the park, which is directly across from the church, just like in every town in Costa Rica. As we entered the church, we were amazed to see it was half full of families, padrinos and beautiful babies and children dressed in white. approximately 200 people total, with at least 30 or 40 being baptised. The inside of the church was stunning, and amazingly similar to our small church back in Texas, St. Josephs. 
We had never been to a throng baptism before so the experience was new and wonderful, as you could feel the intense joy in the room. Our friend jokingly said, "Wow, this must have been a fertile group" even though the children ranged in ages from infant to about 4 years of age. Unlike our 2 previous childrens' baptisms in our church in Texas, where the entire service was conducted at the altar, and I was the prominent figure holding the baby throughout the ceremony; here, my wife, the mother was the prominent figure throughout the ceremony.The priest moved about the church performing the Anointing of Sacred Chrism and Prayer over Ears and Mouth with a procession down the aisle to the altar for the Blessing of the Water and Presentation of Lighted Candle. 
To our surprise, there were multiple professional photographers to capture the joyous, precious moments and at the end of the service they were printed, posted in the courtyard and ready for purchase. This was a relief to my wife who is a bit of a control freak when it comes to taking family pictures. Max and Sara moved about the church with the other older children, enjoying the event, especially the Presentation of Lighted Candles. 
Since we have chosen Costa Rica as our new home, our small, immediate family who are scattered all over the world could not attend as they did with Max and Sara's baptism, but they would be happy to know that the elation in the eyes of our new adopted family gave us the happiness and support we needed. After the event, we all gathered at our home for mariscos, BBQ and Saedi's awesome tamales. Pura Vida ! 

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