We are sitting in the small chapel in San Quintin, Mexico.
There are no pews. Everyone is sitting on plastic and metal chairs.
The rain finally stopped. Everything, the cars, the streets, the bright-tiled floors of the church, and the people are all covered in a thin film of mud.
But no one cares.
It’s Christmas. The saints have gathered.
The Branch presidency is on the stand.
The hymns are posted on the wall — Christmas hymns. Sure they are in Spanish, but they are easily recognizable for the majority of us in the group who do not speak the language.
As with any LDS community, people are coming in late, later, and latest. Mormons are Mormons wherever you go.
They come dressed in their Sunday best. But the diversity is striking. Some have suits and ties and beautiful dresses. Others wear jeans and t-shirts. All have muddy shoes.
But no one cares. They simply love being together.
There were two baptisms in the branch the night before, on Christmas Eve — an eight-year-old boy and a young single adult man.
Just a few minutes ago, both newly-baptized members were confirmed. Three ward members of vastly different ages used their priesthood, just as is done all over the world, to bestow upon them the gift of the Holy Ghost.
We just sang a sacrament hymn.
The priesthood blessed the sacrament. Two young men, an older man, and Elder Hernandez passed the sacrament just as we do at home. We are a little nervous about the water as we have been warned not to drink it. But, it’s been blessed, right?
Karen is sitting next to her seven-year-old friend, Jesus, an appropriate name for the day. His entire family was there. Armando, his two young sisters, his parents and grandparents. Karen is thrilled to be with Jesus again. This is her most cherished Christmas gift.
We 27 Americans were just invited to sing a special musical number. I left my comfort zone somewhere at the border so I “willingly” join this choir.
Ramon is invited to speak. He is fluent in Spanish and quite comfortable at the pulpit.
As in all congregations, the children are impervious to what is being said from the pulpit. Babies are squirming, some are crying. Toddlers are trying hard to get away from their parents to roam freely only to be frustrated at the long reach of their family members.
The younger children, now about four of them, have discovered that Karen has candy – lots of candy. She has become a most popular person.
It is comforting for each of us to be in a setting that is familiar in spite of the cultural and language differences. This is a truly global church. It accommodates languages, culture, economic diversity, and, most important, flawed and struggling mortals – be they Mexican, American, or any nationality.
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God
To continue this series, click, Five Hours South of the Border – Christmas Dinners