I had to drop some things off at our parish this evening. As I pulled up, I noticed a couple of guys sitting across the street on the wall of the parking lot. They live above an office building -- lots of Hispanic families live in those teeny apartments up there. Two kids were running around the parking lot.
In the church, I felt something and turned around. Two pairs of eyes were peering curiously around the open door. "Oh, pueden entrar si quieren ... " They darted into the nave, eyes open wide in wonder, with that expression that kids have, that passes oh-so-quickly as they grow up. A girl, perhaps 4 or 5. Her brother, younger, perhaps 3 or 4.
"¿Es un culto?" she asks. I have no idea what she meant. Culto? In Spanish, that can mean worship, or adoration, or even a place of worship ... or ... a ... cult?
"¿Cómo?" I ask, to clarify.
"Este lugar ... ¿es un culto?" "This place ... is it a cult/place of worship?"
I laugh. "It's a church. It's Christ's Church. See that lamp there? Jesus is there in that tabernacle, right next to that lamp." Her eyes grow a bit wider. "There?" She then walks up to the holy water fonts at the door. "What are these?" I explain. She laughs, and runs out of the church.
Outside her brother seems to have found a tricycle and is riding around near the steps. "Do you go to church?" "Yes ... " "Every Sunday?" She doesn't seem to understand. Slowly ... "Yes ... Sunday!"
"It's far away" her brother pipes up, furiously tricycling.
"No ... not that far! ¡Cerquita!"
"Do you walk? Or go in a car?"
"Oh ... tenemos un ride" she says, using a common Spanglish expression. Ride. "rai-day"
Actually they go to the Iglesia de Dios, the Church of God. Not too far away. Every Sunday a Church of God van pulls up to the apartments to load up the congregants.
It's one of seven non-Catholic churches for Hispanics that are operative in this little corner of Georgia.
"¡Mi Papi toca la guitarra en la iglesia!" she gushes, grabs my arm, and pulls me across the street to meet her Papi. I introduce myself to the adults. Her Papi regards me a bit reservedly. His companion seems more relaxed. And yes, he does play the guitar in church. "You're from India originally?" he asks a bit incredulously.
I smile. I get that a lot.
"Well, perhaps one of these days I can visit y'all's church?" (Except it's not "ya'll's" in Spanish!)
Sure! They smile. "God bless you, have a great evening!"
And perhaps one of these days I will, in fact, get over there.