Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter on Guam

Happy Easter everyone! I had a really interesting Holy Week so thought I would quickly share some stories and pictures. I say quickly because I only have about 30 more minutes of internet access before we leave the island :)

Our church's Holy Week festivities started on Thursday night for the Maundy Thursday service. Our church did an off-site service at the Governor's complex on Guam, which had a fabulous view. The location choice was supposed to simulate going to the Upper Room.
Once inside, we were seated on the floor at low tables decorated with candelabras and beautiful Middle Eastern tapestries. Scriptures were read from Exodus reminding us how the Passover feast came to be. The rest of the meal simulated what the Passover feast might have been like on that Maundy Thursday. We ate lamb, oranges, dates, parsley (from our herb garden!), and drank red wine. More scriptures were read from that night, the prediction of the denial and the betrayal. We then took communion, as the disciples would have done for the first time that night. This was followed by a foot washing.
Many of the young people of our church took their first communion that night :) The neatest thing about the evening was getting to place yourself in the shoes of the disciples as they tasted the lamb, took communion, and had their feet washed... and the symbolism of why this particular night was chosen to be the eve of the crucifixion, when the lamb would be slaughtered once again to save the Jews from death.
Good Friday I woke up early and met my hiking group to hike up Mt. LamLam, the highest point on Guam. This was actually my first boonie stomp here way back in September. At that point, I was told it was a Guam tradition for the locals to hike up it on Good Friday as a Holy Week pilgrimmage. As we pulled up, I could not believe the miles and miles of cars parked on the side of the usually empty lonely road on the south side of the island. There were literally thousands of people making this journey.

Different today than last time were the small numbered crosses along the way to the top. We joined up with my hiking buddy Renea and her kids, who were reading a scripture from the Good Friday story and a prayer at each stop along the way. I love that my friends pulled their kids out of school to participate in this cultural and religious experience.
At the last minute, my friend Kristen decided to make the long drive down from the north end of the island to come on the hike. She just moved here about six weeks ago, right after getting married, and she happens to be a graduate of the University of Florida! Go Gators! Her husband is a helicopter pilot. They are the only Navy squadron that is based up on the Air Force Base.
Rosary stop in the jungle along the way
And finally we made it to the top! I say finally, but it's really only a mile :)

Later that day, we played golf :) And then we went to our church's Good Friday service, which was held at the top of Nimitz Hill, a massive hill on Guam. This particular site overlooks where the Marines landed on Guam to liberate the Chamorros from the evil Japanese back in WWII (really accurate history lesson going on here). The speaker, one of our church members and a Guam history teacher at a local high school, tied in the death of Jesus with the historical gore that happened right on these very hills. Such a memorable evening, especially once the sun started to set :)

Such beauty... followed by such darkness.

Easter Sunday was a wonderful celebration to tie everything together. I was in charge of coordinating our Easter brunch, which was a fundraiser for the orphanage we are working at in Manila. Many church members pitched in food, plus we had a donation from the local Indian restaurant (yum!), so we had a fantastic spread.
Everyone had a great time hanging out after the services. And the best part was, we raised over $1,200 for the orphanage! My stretch goal was to get to four figures, so needless to say, I was thrilled to leave there on Easter knowing the impact of our mission trip will be even bigger because of the generous hearts of our congregation. Pretty awesome outcome of the day :) The service was great too. The church looked beautiful. I sang in the Hallellujah choir. And our pastor's message was so poignant. The gist of it was that Easter is the most practical of all of the holidays, because it helps us deal with the everyday difficulties---and even the once-in-a-lifetime Good Fridays in our lives. Because Jesus died, we too can be "Easterized," and death and hardship and heartache no longer have the last word. Hallellujah!

And now we're off on our next adventure, which means I have to jet :) Happy Easter everyone!


  1. I forgot how much I love LCG at Easter, sounds like you had fun! I wish I could have met Kristen before I left but she moved to the island right after we left but I'm glad she got to join you on the hike!

  2. Love love loved this. Jealous!


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