The orphanage

May 31, 2011

We took a trip to the Aldeas Orphanage during our trip and it was one of my favorite excursions by far. I love kids anyway, but it was a lot of fun to spend the day with these children (not to mention moving). What I found most interesting was the organization of the orphanage. Unlike orphanages in the United States (at least the orphanages that come to mind when we hear the word), the Aldeas Orphanage is a much more stable and homey environment in which these children can live. It is a compound instead of an institution-like building, with several houses on the property organized in a village-like manner. Each house has a “mother” and a small group of children  that live in it. This way they are more able to maintain a familial structure in order to promote healthy growth and development in the children there. We were told that they all attend regular public schools also, instead of going to school within the orphanage. Again, this way they are able to preserve normal relationships not only among the children there but also in society as a whole. They are not growing up in an isolate community, but participating as fully as any other child in the community’s social development.


They didn’t all speak english, in fact most of them didn’t speak it at all, but we had a great time showing them how to do things, how to use the toys we brought them and chasing them around the yard.


Spanish Mass

May 30, 2011

I went to mass with one of my roommates on Sunday morning. I had wanted to go to mass in the Cathedral in Segovia when I was there, but didn’t manage to make it out of bed after a trip to Valencia and missed out on my chance. I decided that while I was here I was going to go to mass and see what it was like in Latin America. We went to the church around the corner from our hotel, Nuestra Señora del Carmen. I don’t know how old of a church it is. I can’t seem to find the information anywhere, but it’s a pretty traditional building.

The church itself is much more intricate than most Catholic churches in Louisville, at least in its exterior decorative program. They keep the parking lot roped off outside of church hours, which is kind of interesting. I walk through it every day on the way to class. However, during mass there is no room to move there are so many cars, and everyone double parks. Watching people back out of this side lot onto the street was a bit nerve wracking, I have to say. I wouldn’t want to do it. The inside of the church is beautiful. The reredos is entirely covered in mosaic, and its bright colors are striking against the off white pillars and crystal blue ceiling.

The mass schedule was the first thing that I noticed. Mass is held on Sunday mornings from six to noon; every hour on the hour. We went for the 10:00 mass and got there about ten minutes before since I figured it might be kind of crowded. They still hadn’t finished the nine o’clock mass though. Just a few minutes before 10:00 they wrapped things up and went almost directly in to the next service. There were no hymnals, but they had printed programs with the day’s readings, etcetera. The music was a bit different than I had anticipated, although I’ve never been to a Spanish mass, so I don’t really know what I was anticipating. I think it just sounded more contemporary than I thought it would. The priest spoke slowly and distinctly, so I found it very easy to understand everything, although being familiar with mass protocol in general went a long way. It reminded me very much of mass at St. Joseph’s church in Louisville. The pastor there is hispanic and has a very different style than that of pastors at many other parishes. Being familiar with hispanic culture to a certain extent, I was aware that some of his manner was a result of his cultural background. After sitting through mass in Panamá though, I realized just how very Latin American Fr. Sanchez’s masses are. What really struck me about the service was how child oriented it was. I don’t know if that’s standard, but Fr. Sanchez displays a similar focus in his involvement with the congregation, allowing the children to participate as fully as possible.