OK, so Spanish church is THE MOST AWESOME THING EVER. Primarily because it’s in Spanish. An obvious point I know, but it was so cool to see the language in a totally new context – you don’t get ‘Worship and Prayer’ in a textbook =D
So yeah, begin at the beginning. I wore my WWJD bracelet like, every day to my language course, to try and assert to everyone that I was a Christian without overtly shoving it into conversations. I didn’t know quite what that would achieve, but I did it anyway. So then, a girl comes up to me and asks me why I’m wearing it; I replied rather glibly, ‘Because I’m a Christian.’ Turns out she was a Christian too! We swapped testimonies (hardest thing I have ever done in my LIFE) and agreed to meet up on Sunday morning for an 11.30 start at El Hogar Cristiano (The Christian Home: http://www.elhogarcristiano.org), one of only two evangelical churches in Alcalá.
As me and Inken were walking up the road to the church, we heard the worship music thumping and everyone singing. I hadn’t been to church for about six weeks, and hearing the old chorus again smacked such a giant grin on my face that it remained for the whole service! A lovely motherly Spanish lady double-kissed us both and then led us to the only remaining seats – in the second row. Oich.
They finished singing, and then this smiley rotund Spanish man took the stage. He was the pastor, Juan Carlos. He shouted out, ‘I hear we have some visitors from Galicia? Stand up!’ A Spanish family stood up and the congregation applauded. Then, ‘and some people from Cordoba, where are you?’ A group of young people a couple of rows behind us obediently stood up, and again the congregation applauded. People kept standing up, and the applause kept going, and Inken and I exchanged rather worried looks. The stream of visitors seemed to be petering out, and we thought we’d got away without being noticed, but then a woman in the front row (women in the front row will ALWAYS know if you’re new) pointed us out. Now, since arriving, I’ve been told many times that I look very British – British eyes, British nose, British mouth, British pretty-much-every-part-of-my-face. Pastor Juan Carlos clearly recognised this, and tried to speak in English for me, so after the kerfuffle of explaining that yes, I was English, but yes, I could also speak Spanish, me and Inken stood and introduced ourselves to the congregation, and got our own wee round of applause.
Then, we had communion. They prayed over the bread and wine, then sent the bread man out into the crowd. As me and Inken were near the front, we were served first, so we were just standing holding a lump of bread for a while. We weren’t entirely sure whether we were meant to eat it already, and we didn’t want to turn around and stare at everyone else to see what they were doing, so we just ate it. Then the wine lady came round, so we drank our wine while we waited for her to get back to the front. Then Juan Carlos goes, ‘and now we shall eat this bread, the body of Christ…’ – the entire congregation obediently eats their bread, while me and Inken are standing there, breadless, feeling ridiculous. Same thing happened for the wine, and though we were giggling quite audibly, I don’t think anyone noticed our faux pas =S
The preach was on the vine, and I learnt a lot of new viney vocab! Win. It was super long though, and listening to Spanish things takes a lot of concentration, so I think I missed some rather large chunks of it while I was fidgeting.
But then the MAGIC happened. Juan Carlos stood at the front again and said, ‘Right, everyone, can you put the chairs to the side so we can get the tables out for lunch.’ I didn’t want to get too excited, but it sounded an awful lot like FREE LUNCH! But then he came down off the stage and up to me and Inken, and asked us to stay for lunch to get to know people! He was so lovely. We were introduced to the student leader, Ivan (along with a bunch of other people that wanted to practise their English and German), and then lined up at the food table. Apparently, every second Sunday people bring in phat dishes of something tasty (and generally meaty – Inken asked if there was anything without meat, and was directed to the salad), then it’s all shared between the entire church and everyone hangs out together and the children run around a lot. It was wonderful. We sat with Ivan, and made lots of other student-y friends. Then there was PUDDING! I don’t even know what I ate, but it was rich and delicious (and had biscuits in it…?) and I was pretty much just the happiest I’ve ever been =D
As we were leaving, we were double-kissed by a good fifteen people, all asking us to come back and visit again. I can categorically say that we will =D