by Nancy Wiens
from St Joan of Arc Catholic Community, after visiting Tierra Nueva II in Guatemala
The most amazing thing happened a few days after returning home. I was sitting at the kitchen table and the radio started playing the song, “Un Millón de Amigos”. What a coincidence! That was our delegation’s chosen cultural-sharing song, the one we belted out at community parties and in church. Translated to English, the refrain of the song goes,
I want to bring this song of friendship
To whomever might need it
I want to have a million friends
And stronger will I be able to sing.
On hearing it, I was immediately swept away with memories of my time together with Tierra Nueva II community members — holding babies and children, learning names, celebrating each others’ important anniversaries (weddings, birthdays), crying together over sadnesses, working out with the women’s group aerobics class (and teaching the chicken dance!), laughing over silly icebreakers with the youth, hearing the realities of the scholarship students and their families, making tortillas, eating tamales, participating in Sunday masses, learning painful Guatemalan history, listening to the hard and hopeful stories of a Guatemalan human rights advocate, traveling in the van with Rosario and Pedro to beautiful Lake Atitlán, making new friendships and renewing old ones, and sharing so much love.
“Un Millón de Amigos” couldn’t have been a more apt anthem for our delegation. Together our two communities are writing the lyrics of our 24-year relationship. We are taking the long view, building a lasting bond by exchanging gifts of presence, respect and understanding. Our strength comes from raising our intermingled voices in song and extending our hands in friendship, solidarity and love. Indeed, with a million friends, how can a world of peace not be within our grasp?
* Song by Roberto Carlos