One of the things I love about living here is that I get to dance all the time. The sisters and the girls are always ready to teach you some traditional dance, either for a celebration of some sort or just for the heck of it. They're also completely fascinated by ballet or any sort of classical dance. Every day someone asks me to teach them something new. It's a blast.When I was at Whitworth I took Judy Mandeville's classes on sacred movement and also was part of Jubilation, our dance minsitry program. We spent a lot of time expressing our prayers, meditating on scripture, sharing the gospel, and praising God through movement. I try to remain faithful to this form of dance every time I share with the girls or the community. When the girls want to dance with me we start by talking about how our bodies like to say "gracias a Dios." When I danced for the school yesterday (which was a blast!) I danced a jubilation piece, "praise you with the dance" and was so happy to be able to share this prayer with the students and their families. The sisters even asked me to help choreograph their own praise dances that they perform for each other and for their students.
It's amazing to me how much more expressive they are here when it comes to moving their faith. At every mass there are teenagers up in front of the congregation moving their hands and arms in synch with the music. Almost all their religious music has some sort of movement associated with it. The sisters were shocked when I told them that that's not common in the states, and that adults especially don't really dance. While my own style and training seems very American to them, I'm being received in to a community that understands aspects of my prayer life a lot better than my home culture. Dance already has such a strong presence in the faith of the people here and I'm having an amazing experience learning how I can participate in that.
I also am realizing that one of the perks of being a missionary is that you get to do plenty of things you're "unqualified" for. Credentials and training are pretty much irrelevant. If you have something to offer, you better offer it. My high school dance team coach would probably be horrified at the thought of me teaching ballet, or out on the basketball court by myself in front of nine hundred kids representing American dance. But they love it. Little girls were running after me as I was leaving, asking when I would be teaching for the town. I love sharing this here, and I find that the more I do the more vividly I encounter God in the people around me.
Also...dancing in front of the school in a homemade green tutu with gigantic puffy sleeve, white spandex shorts, and pink tennis shoes felt hillarious. So fun!