Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving in Bolivia

Being back in the USA for 10 years next year the significance of Thanksgiving has receded to what most Americans think of- eating, football and family.

But in 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996 & 1997 I lived in Bolivia and Brazil and the holiday had a different meaning and I still think about those times today.

A few months ago I met a lovely young woman who is a student of my friend Poet Kristy Odelius, it turns out that she is the children of missionaries in Cochabamba and that when she was a child I met her at our annual American Thanksgiving.

Cochabamba, where I lived for 93,94, and 95 has allot of missionaries. Most of the Americans were Evangelicals there to steal Catholics from the Church. But in my work in the jail I became close to some Evangelicals and they included me a 'pagan' in their Thanksgiving meal. They were all so uncomplicated. Most Catholics in Cochabamba were leftists and they were working for justice for the poor- the evangelicals were working toward Metanoia a change of heart and moral change it was a strange juxtopostion.

There was also a woman who was an inmate who was American- in for a drug offense and I remember going to the comandant to ask for a day pass so she could eat with us. I explained Thanksgiving to him- and he explained it to me. I said this was our national festival of thanks and he said "this is a holiday where you Americans give thanks for the land you stole from us the indiginous people of the Americas" ok I am put in my place. But she was able to eat with us and
I was thankful for that.

But having said that it was nice to spend a day with Americans eating American foods and thinking about cold autumn in the hot summer of Bolivia. I was thankful to these Evangelicals with whom I shared nothing except for a Passport for including me in their meal. It remains a sweet memory.

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