By Connie Hefner
My Spanish dictionary defines the word FIESTA as: Fiesta – feast, entertainment, party; public rejoicing. 2 holiday. 3 endearment
The fiesta in El Recreo is always held the last day we are there, and it embodies everything listed in the definition and then some! There are over 150 households in the area called El Recreo. The day of the Fiesta brings many people to the center of the canton (village).
The Fiesta begins, like most family reunions do, with people visiting, catching up, meeting new babies and commenting on how all the children have grown so much! While we are doing that, Fr. Vince is preparing to celebrate Mass.
Several years ago, St. Boniface helped the people of El Recreo build a new church. The previous church had been destroyed by an earthquake. When Fr. Vince is there for Mass, the church is always full to the max! There are people sitting in the pews, in chairs on the side aisles and people standing in the back and outside the doors. The Mass is very festive, a true celebration of our faith, one both cultures know so well.
After Mass, the Fiesta consists of fireworks, piñatas, games and food preparation. Sometimes it includes a special dance or program performed by people from El Recreo. Afterwards, the sound of conversation can be heard everywhere. There is time to meet new people and connect with those we already know. The children are running and playing. The St. Boniface delegates are mingling and visiting with the adults, playing with the children and taking many photos. The Fiesta concludes with a big dinner that serves more than 500 people.
Milagro is the person who does business for St. Boniface when we are not there. She helps members of the canton of El Recreo coordinate everything for the big dinner. Some of the food is prepared locally by members of the canton and some is purchased and brought to El Recreo. St. Boniface provides the funds needed to put on such a large dinner. All members of the delegation from St. Boniface help members of the community serve the dinner. This is done through a large window in the small building near the church. It is usually very warm inside that building and not much cooler outside. Everyone finds a place outside to eat.
Serving over 500 people is a labor of love. All St. Boniface delegates understand that this labor of love makes a difference. For some of the people from El Recreo it is their ONLY meal that day. The day of the Fiesta not only feeds the soul, it feeds the body.
The Fiesta has become a tradition because it is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the relationship St. Boniface and the families in El Recreo have created. On the first trip the delegation from St. Boniface promised we would return. We have fulfilled that promise now for 12 years. There have been 23 delegation trips so far. The bond between St. Boniface and our families in El Recreo are strong. The Fiesta represents a family reunion. It is a chance to meet new people, catch up with those we know and to celebrate our connection.
Sometimes at St. Boniface we sing a song called “THE SERVANT SONG”.
The lyrics say:
Will you let me be your servant?
Let me be as Christ to you;
Pray that I may have the grace to
Let you be my servant, too.
When the St. Boniface delegation and families from El Recreo work elbow to elbow in preparing and serving the Fiesta Dinner, we are truly being servants to each other.
What a blessing for all!