This weekend, all three Mission Year Atlanta teams ventured to LaGrange, GA, where the Mission Year Married team lives and works. We took a driving tour of LaGrange and were introduced to many of the social issues in their community. It's a small town with small-town politics. There is a huge contrast between the nice area of town, complete with mansions, a country club, newly paved roads and nice sidewalks, and the poorer areas of town with small houses and crummy roads. Of course the town is segregated by race as well. Ironically, the bike lanes are only present in the nice part of town where people have cars and the ability to drive to work and only use their bikes recreationally. In the part of town where most people cannot afford a car or are unable to get a drivers license (because they are undocumentable immigrants), people must resort to other forms of transportation, but do not have bike lanes or sidewalks at all. Our weekend was facilitated by Anton Flores, the city director for the Mission Year Married team. Anton gave us a look into many of the issues surrounding immigrants in his neighborhood, which include the inability to get a driver's license, difficulties getting utilities, and several counts of institutional and individual racism.
Although it's not necessarily the country, LaGrange is definitely NOT the city. So I've chosen the following song for you:
December 11 Christmas Song of the Day:
We're Goin' to the Country from Noel: Songs for Christmas Volume I
This is simply a beautiful and lighthearted song about Christmas. You can listen to it here. I hope you enjoy it!
On Saturday night, we attended a Catholic mass (completely in Spanish) to celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe. Our Lady of Guadalupe (aka The Virgin Mary) was said to have appeared to a peasant named Juan Diego just outside of Mexico City on December 9, 1531. She told Juan Diego to gather some flowers from the top of Tepeyac Hill. It was winter and no flowers were in bloom, but at the top of the hill, Juan Diego found all kinds of different flowers. He gathered the flowers and the Virgin herself arranged them in his cloak. Juan Diego told this story to a local bishop and, when asked for proof, opened his cloak. The flowers fell to the floor and the image of Mary miraculously appeared on his cloak. The cloak now hangs in the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City and still bears the image of the Virgin Mary.
December 12 Christmas Song of the Day:
Lo! How A Rose E'er Blooming from Peace: Songs for Christmas Volume V
In honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, I have chosen this German Christmas carol about Mary and the miracle of a rose blooming in the winter. You can listen to it here.
Lo! How a rose e'er bloomingFrom tender stem hath sprungOf Jesse's lineage comingAs those of old have sungIt came, a flowereth brightAmid the cold of winterWhen half-spent was the nightIsaiah twice foretold itThe rose I have in mindAnd so when we behold itThe Virgin Mother kindTo show God's love arightShe bore to us a saviorWhen half-spent was the night
December 13 Christmas Song of the Day:
Joy to the World from Joy: Songs for Christmas Volume IV
It's been feeling more and more like Christmas every day. It snowed a little this weekend, though not enough to stick. We've been doing lots of Christmassy things lately, including making our own Christmas stockings, looking at Christmas lights, and drinking lots of hot cocoa. Yesterday, we decided to make Christmas cookies and go caroling around our neighborhood. So as soon as my roommates got home from work, they started baking. When I got home, I joined them by making icing and helping decorate the cookies. Our kitchen was a hot mess, as we baked around 150 cookies! We then took them around to our neighbors' houses, singing We Wish You a Merry Christmas, Silent Night, and Joy to the World. Thus I have chosen this Christmas classic for you! You can listen to it here. I'm pretty sure all of our neighbors thought we were crazy, especially for choosing the coldest night to go caroling. Nonetheless, we had a ton of fun!
December 14 Christmas Song of the Day:
Silent Night from Noel: Songs for Christmas Volume I
Last night, Jyssica and I went to a "Silent Night" Taize service, which was really peaceful and quiet. The service focused on those for whom the Christmas season is particularly difficult because of the loss of a family member, a friend, a job, health, or any other reason. I really appreciated this service because the Church can often forget to provide a space for people to express their sorrow. But God always gives us hope and new life. I hope you enjoy this short-but-sweet Silent Night. You can listen to it here. And enjoy this poem as well...
Into this silent nightas we make our weary waywe know not where,just when the nightbecomes its darkestand we cannot see our pathjust thenis when the angels rush in,their hands full of stars.- Ann Weems
December 15 Christmas Song of the Day:
Star, Star by The Swell Season
Ok so I'm making another exception for an exceptionally good song! In case you're not familiar with The Swell Season, they're pretty awesome. This band is made up of Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, who both starred in the film Once.