The warm embrace and love this community always has to share with its visitors and neighbors as if they were family never ceases to amaze me. The town I live in, a pretty affluent suburb of Chicago of a few thousand less people than San Juan’s main lakeside neighborhood, has nowhere near the same atmosphere of familial comfort that San Juan La Laguna does.
I was very surprised by how welcomed I felt at my homestay father’s evangelical church, Bethel. They directly called me out and my failure to realize immediately made them conclude “I guess he doesn’t speak Spanish but we are grateful to have you here!” The fact alone that they had such kind words to share with me not even thinking they would mean anything to me says a lot about this community. Everyone at the church seemed much more enthusiastic about the service and involved, taking notes in and following along with their bibles, than they did at Catholic mass (Yes, I went to mass twice. If you’re reading this, Grandma, forgive me.) Sunday Service was very memorable.
Even waiting for my fried chicken order at “Pollo Súper-Rapidito” in SJ, the only other customer offered me the other seat at his table and in the short 5 minutes my order took, showed me countless photos, including some of his son who plays the drumset and himself playing music and driving a chicken bus throughout the country for work. He even offered to friend me on Facebook! The hospitality here is so infectious and I feel so welcomed here I don’t know if I can even begin to pay back all of the kind favors that have been done for me.