The Value of "La Familia" at Chase Oaks En Español
For over eight years, Chase Oaks En Español has provided a sense of family and a church home for members of the local community. Below, Dr. David Harms, En Español Campus Pastor and Rodrigo Hurtado, En Español Campus Program Director, share more about “la familia” and other values which anchor Hispanic and Latinx culture and help to shape this unique Chase Oaks campus.
Rodrigo Hurtado: Growing up as a first-generation immigrant from Mexico in a Spanish-speaking household, my identity and my family culture were deeply rooted in the values that Hispanics hold dear.
A lot of these traditional values, such as family (with the extended family of uncles and aunts, cousins and grandparents living in close proximity) and hospitality (as seen in the sharing of home-cooked food that remained pretty close to the food from back home in Mexico...minus some hard to find ingredients) are vastly different from those in American culture.
David Harms: Courtesy is also a high value. For example, many Hispanics greet one another upon arrival and departure with a light hand clasp while looking down with a slight curtsy. This gesture is not meant as evasive but actually means “I humble myself before you.” Hugs are part of greeting and even used in formal circles, like between two heads of state. Even children as young as two or three are taught to “saludar” (or greet) others. The word itself is derived from the word for “health” and expresses a sincere wish for health to the person being greeted.
We enjoy giving compliments and making the other person feel good. We will also ask how the other person is doing and expect a "newsy" answer. The practical “Hi” of Americans just doesn’t do it.
RH: Growing up in Plano with mostly American friends, I found my world view widened. I began to adopt the language, culture, and values of this country. I mainly spoke Spanish to my parents, but English to my siblings. I was eager to move out of my parents’ home after high school, and found myself falling into many of the traps and temptations that come for all of us who grow up within the popular culture here.
I mention these things first to set the stage for what many Hispanic families bring with them as they enter Chase Oaks en Español for the first time. Some are new arrivals in the United States. Some are alone in this country with their family living abroad. And some have fallen for the traps and temptations that are prevalent in this culture. Many come in search of answers and a community that reminds them of their home country.
DH: We have lots of countries represented in Chase Oaks en Español and even within the larger countries, there are pronounced regional differences. Mexico is the biggest group but we have several people from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and a few from Costa Rica. Panama has been represented, with a good seasoning of Colombians, Brazilians, as well as Venezuelans and Peruvians (who are sought-after as cooks throughout the world). Puerto Ricans are a separate category because Puerto Rico is a Territory of the United States with all the benefits that brings.
Latins have a real pull for their homeland since most still have family and friends there. Of course, immigration status plays a huge role in being able to visit one’s family. For example, our Pastoral Resident Eddie de la Cruz has not seen his parents in Mexico City for 30 years. He has just this year gotten his U.S. passport and is looking forward to finally seeing them, some time soon.
"What we find at En Español is a church that accepts us for who we are. A church that through the Holy Spirit transforms us. Our God that empowers us to make a difference. In Chase Oaks en Español, we have found the family that we have been missing." (Rodrigo Hurtago)
RH: I first walked into Chase Oaks en Español over four years ago, and my whole family was welcomed with the same warmth that I remember from when I was a child, walking into my grandparents’ home with all my relatives there. We were invited to a life group, and the family that was leading the group has become our extended family. Our children are now best of friends and even call each other brothers and sisters.
Christ became the center of our faith, and with Him as the Head of the church, our family in Christ has been a blessing through which we get to receive and share in God’s amazing grace. We celebrate each other’s triumphs, we pray for each other’s needs, and we learn and practice the Gospel together both at church and in our homes. We may show up a little late, but we stay even after the coffee and dessert are done.
Being a part of Chase Oaks en Español has brought the following Scripture to life for my family and so many others, as it shows what our church is all about: una familia en Cristo. This value that is so important to Hispanics both anchors and connects us.
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other. (John 15:12-17)
How wonderful and amazing is God’s grace, that in a distant promised land we have found our familia in Chase Oaks en Español!
Interested in learning more about different cultures and perspectives? Find out more about Chase Oaks En Español or make plans to participate in a Unity Table.