2011.02.25: February 25, 2011: Santa Lucia RPCV Karen McCarthy writes: Making New Friends

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Saint Lucia: Peace Corps Saint Lucia : Peace Corps Saint Lucia: Newest Stories: 2011.02.25: February 25, 2011: Santa Lucia RPCV Karen McCarthy writes: Making New Friends

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Santa Lucia RPCV Karen McCarthy writes: Making New Friends

Santa Lucia RPCV Karen McCarthy writes: Making New Friends

She is my new friend. She explains everything that is happening. Four times a year they take communion. It is like none that I experienced. The deacons lead the men from the church while the women stay seated. We are once again led in song while the deaconesses, each dressed in a dark skirt and white blouse with white "maiden" type hats disappear to the back of the church. While we are singing, the deaconesses return with large white metal wash tubs filled with water. White towels are draped over their arms. The older woman next to me explains that we will be washing one another's feet as a symbolic gesture. The men are in another room performing the same ritual. More singing and tubs of water come out from the back of the church until everyone is paired and our feet are all squeaky clean. The deacons lead the men back into the church and everyone is united. The bread is broken into pieces and the deacons distribute it to everyone who wants it. The pastor leads the church in prayer and then says, "Let's eat together." And then the wine is poured and the pastor prompts the congregation to "drink together." After church there was a line-up of people waiting to meet me. I have just acquired another 50 best friends.

Santa Lucia RPCV Karen McCarthy writes: Making New Friends

Peace Corps life in Ukraine, Nepal, and West Indies

February 25, 2011|THERESA WALKER

As the Peace Corps celebrates its 50th anniversary, we asked members of the Orange County Peace Corps Assn. to tell us a little bit about their experiences as Peace Corps volunteers. Here's what some of them shared.

[Excerpt]

Karen McCarthy, 61, of Torrance, served in Saint Lucia, West Indies, from 2008 to 2010. She kept a journal while she was in the Peace Corps. Here is an entry called "Making New Friends":

They are singing from the hymnal and the woman who is leading the hymn has a piercing voice which bounces off the walls in the church. The hymn is finished and the church silences while a speaker steps up to make announcements. As I sit quietly I hear my name. A woman is introducing me as the Village Peace Corps Volunteer.

I'm asked to stand so everyone can see me. I'm not sure why that's necessary as I'm the only white person within miles and it's pretty obvious that I'm the one they are talking about, but I comply. It is another warm welcome.

Another woman announces the next hymn that will be sung and instructs the congregation to turn to Hymn No. 156. I don't have a book so I just listen. The elderly woman at the opposite end of the pew walks over and hands me her hymn book she is singing and it's obvious she knows the hymns from memory. She points to the words on the page and although we are the only two occupying the pew, she returns to the opposite end.

We sing a few more songs and with each song the old woman walks over to me, turns the pages and directs me to the hymn. Each time she walks back to her place at the end of the pew. Then we are instructed to open our Bibles to a certain verse. You guessed it I have no Bible.

Once again the elderly woman at the end of the pew comes to my rescue and hands me her Bible and then returns to her place at the end of the pew. Enough. I pick up the Bible and the hymnal and move to sit next to her. She smiles and we share the page in her Bible. She taps the man's shoulder sitting directly in front of us and whispers, "I have a new friend" and she smiles warmly.

She is my new friend. She explains everything that is happening. Four times a year they take communion. It is like none that I experienced. The deacons lead the men from the church while the women stay seated. We are once again led in song while the deaconesses, each dressed in a dark skirt and white blouse with white "maiden" type hats disappear to the back of the church. While we are singing, the deaconesses return with large white metal wash tubs filled with water. White towels are draped over their arms.

The older woman next to me explains that we will be washing one another's feet as a symbolic gesture. The men are in another room performing the same ritual. More singing and tubs of water come out from the back of the church until everyone is paired and our feet are all squeaky clean.

The deacons lead the men back into the church and everyone is united. The bread is broken into pieces and the deacons distribute it to everyone who wants it. The pastor leads the church in prayer and then says, "Let's eat together." And then the wine is poured and the pastor prompts the congregation to "drink together."

After church there was a line-up of people waiting to meet me. I have just acquired another 50 best friends.




Links to Related Topics (Tags):

Headlines: February, 2011; Peace Corps Saint Lucia; Directory of St. Lucia RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for St. Lucia RPCVs





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Story Source: Orange County Register

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - St. Lucia

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