Dios es Amor has a high percentage of single parents in the congregation. Every story is different, but the common element is that these parents work extremely hard and often have little or no rest. Many months ago, Abraham and I decided to plan a night of pampering for them, a time when, for a few hours, they could be kings and queens.
It turned out to be a wonderful night, and not just for the parents. Looking at the faces of the many volunteers, I saw smiles, smiles, and more smiles and laughter. Everyone enjoyed the time.
Although we'd been planning for months, most of the actual footwork began on Thursday afternoon. Dan, another missionary teacher at PCS, drove Abraham and I to La Central de Abastos, a several-blocks-square market with the lowest prices in the city. The market opens at 3 a.m. so we arrived when many of the individual stores were closing, but we still found the ingredients we needed, and for astonishing prices.
Returning to the school, we stashed the food and began putting together the small gifts we'd gathered from donations. That done, we went home, and I pressure cooked two kilos of garbanzo beans to prepare them for the next day's opening course of garlic garbanzo soup.
As we surveyed all that had to be transported to the church, we realized it would be impossible to go by bus. Pastor Manuel agreed to pick us up at 2:30 on Friday, so that we could begin cooking and set-up by 3. The problem was, less than a mile away from the school, the pastor got into a fender bender. No one was hurt, but because he had to wait for the insurance agent, he couldn't pick us up.
Another missionary came to get us, and we arrived at church with only 1 1/2 hours to prepare. I cannot say enough about the volunteers that came. They were the best! They kept up cleaning and chopping fruits and vegetables, washing dishes, seasoning, egging, and breading chicken, clearing counters, setting up and decorating tables, figuring out the chocolate fountain, and more, always more and always asking as soon as they finished, "How else can I help?" And just before 5, a small army of beauticians arrived to set up their make-up, hair styling supplies, and facials. There were no complaints - on the contrary, as mentioned before, the volunteers seemed to be having as much fun as the guests.
When the first guests arrived, Abraham left off helping in the kitchen in order to start the games. We had decided to begin with Spoons, since it is an easy game to explain, and new comers can easily join as they come. Once it looked like everyone had arrived, Abraham divided the group into teams for some Bible questions and other games.
After some game time, the parents went with the beauticians who gave facials, hair cuts, manicures, and makeovers. There was one giving neck and shoulder rubs as well.
As the treatments came to an end, we began to dish up the soup, followed by green salad and chicken kiev. Of course there were refried beans and tortillas as well. When dinner ended, the chocolate fountain tempted our guests to try chocolate covered strawberries, black berries, bananas, and marshmallows.
Although we had planned to end at 8 p.m., at that time there were still gifts to pass out. One student at the seminary had donated bracelets for every parent, to add to the other donations we'd received. Two of the pre-teens circulated among the parents, passing out the bracelets and other gifts.
At 9:00, once the last parent had gone, there were still dishes to wash, tables to stow, and food to divide among the participants, so we did not leave church until 10. It was a long day, but so very worth the work!
And it would seem it is now an established tradition. We heard many comments of, "Next year..."