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The Food Suitcase

Leer el Blog Completo en Español

Bienvenidas y bienvenidos a Puentes, a Spanish-language, frequently bilingual (Spanish and English), and sometimes trilingual (Portuguese will also find a home here!) blog about congregational singing and congregational song.

It is our hope that this will be a forum where voices from everywhere in the Americas come to exchange ideas, pose questions, and share resources and materials related to congregational song and congregational singing. As the name suggests, we aim to foster wide-ranging interactions by welcoming the perspectives of musicians, pastors, poets, theologians, composers, or anyone who treasures the song of the church, past and present.

We look forward to expanding our song menu by learning from fellow Christians what it is like to sing, play, teach, and/or compose in their particular faith tradition and cultural context. So, every new post will be an invitation to taste some of the treats offered to us by our many contributors.


Here is a sample of what is coming up:

  • a new composition for voice and guitar from Guatemala
  • lessons from Mexico about strengthening and inspiring the voices of the congregation
  • experiments in translation
  • reflections on bilingual singing in North American communities
  • and from Brazil, new music for organ inspired by a favorite hymn freshly-translated into Portuguese.


All the groundwork we did in preparation to launch Puentes has been accompanied by a cheerful sense of anticipation. There was plenty to do and many of those necessary actions felt akin to the steps one takes before going on a trip: where to go, what to pack, what sights not to miss, what foods to try, what pictures to take, what souvenirs to bring back home. These similarities may have prompted me to link our vision for Puentes with a story I heard a few years ago. At the memorial service for Yoli, one of my church’s most faithful choir members, one of her daughters shared the following memory:

We all looked forward to mom’s annual visit, including my son. In one occasion, he was sharing with classmates at his elementary school the great news about grandma’s arrival. He proceeded to tell them that he went to pick her up at the airport noticing that, as usual, she had a lot of luggage. That was a good sign: he was sure there would be plenty of presents for him. He continued: “After taking the food suitcase to the kitchen, I followed her to our guest room and couldn’t wait to see what she had brought me this time!” One of his friends interrupted him: “The food suitcase? What is that?” My son was confused by his friend’s apparent ignorance: “You don’t know? The food suitcase is the one that grandma fills with food instead of clothes, shoes, and presents. That is why we take it straight to the kitchen and not to the bedroom like all her other bags.”

What explained the need for a food suitcase is that Yoli lived in San Antonio and her daughter, son-in-law, and grandson live in Atlanta. So, among the essential items Yoli packed on her visits to Georgia, she always made sure to include some of her family’s favorites: tortillas, tamales, salsa, sweet bread, cookies, and other treats. For, although those same items could perhaps be found in Atlanta, for Yoli and her relatives they could not compare to the ones originally made in the Alamo City, all of which she carried with much love, all the way from Texas to Georgia.

Here is why I find this delightful story an appropriate illustration for the hopes and dreams we have for Puentes: it includes a long-distance journey, the expectation of a pleasant encounter of family members, and the anticipation of giving and receiving gifts. Because we are aiming to hear from our Christian family from places near and far, we too expect that the contents of this blog offer plenty of diversity, reflecting a variety of experiences and opinions. So, we invite you to check each new post. We hope that it will be just like opening that special food suitcase.


Writer: Originally from Recife, Brazil, Maria Monteiro serves as Lecturer in Church Music at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and as music director at Primera Iglesia Bautista Mexicana (First Mexican Baptist Church), in San Antonio. Dr. Monteiro is the editor of the new blog Puentes.