Sunday, January 22, 2006

Luciano Choi, a Korean nun and Maryknoll missionary, celebrated her last day in Peru. But what made today so special was that it was the last day -- mas o menos -- of the construction of her chapel. Not hers, of course -- like a lot of chapels in the poorest part of Lima it's named after the Lady of Miracles, la Virgin de Guadeloupe. And it's not even Our Lady's chapel, truly -- it belongs to what I'm told are the impossibly impoverished people Sr Luciano has worked with for her 6 short years here. It's an impressive story that reads like that folk tale about stone soup. Once the first brick was laid -- and the laughing died down -- the impossible became possible. Cement showed up, then bricks. A local architecture firm practically gave the blueprints away. Whole families came on their one day off (some of them resting from two jobs -- or more) to help. And some Koreans donated the money for a local artisan to create stained glass windows that showed apostles in front of each of Peru's distinct geographical regions. And in two months -- two months! -- the chapel was ready. Everybody was there to celebrate, incluso los perros.
It reminded me in a way of some of the celebrations I witnessed on the Tohono O'odham Nation -- white plastic chairs, proud grandparents, dusty feet, generous servings of food that somebody probably went into debt to make, long songs made longer by not skipping a single verse, a healthy amount of waiting around and giggling kids.


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