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The Light of Belen


I went to my first misa de la luz de Belen (mass of the light of Bethlehem) in December.

I went with a new friend from Poland and found out that this Girl and Boy Scout tradition happens around the world, and that the light is actually being passed from city to city as well.

We went to mass in La Plaza Principal, and I took pictures of some really cute kids as they were lighting their candles.



Children taking turns lighting their candles.

There must have been over one hundred children from different troupes, and after the mass we processed with our candles into the plaza.

From there, we passed out candles and hot chocolate to people who had not attended the mass. With each candle that we gave, we said “La Luz de Belen,” and in this way we lit up the plaza with the light of Bethlehem.

It really impressed me how in that night, in that plaza, if for just a moment, everyone was equal. People from all walks of life were receiving candles; all ages, ethnicities, and social statuses.

Most smiled, only a few refused, and all laughed when the wind sprung up to blow out their candles and we offered to light them again.

There were bashful refusals from both men in business suits and women in traditional dress, and when an individual accepted, there was humanity in that shared moment like only in the moments that you want to hold forever, to stop time so that the good will never end.

[su_youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXcceFixxxc”]

“Campanas de Belen” – a traditional Christmas carol song sung at masses during the holiday season.

Valerie served for two years (2014-2015) in Cochabamba, Bolivia working with CUBE (Centro Una Brisa de Esperanza) to raise sexual violence awareness and prevention, and in CEV (Comunidad Educativa Para La Vida) teaching and nurturing children six months to 8-years-old. Valerie grew up outside of Wichita, Kansas and graduated from The University of Tampa. She found her way to Franciscan Mission Service after 12 years of working in higher education where she worked with international students and designed and taught a class called "Avoiding Violence: Be A Part of the Solution."