Palanca is the Spanish Word for Lever or Influence.
A palanca letter is written to lift up, support, and encourage a friend or family member. Usually given while on a religious retreat or mission, palanca letters can also be sent to someone in prison.
Whoever the recipient, they are incredibly emotional and uplifting for both the recipient and writer. Palanca letters are not terribly lengthy and are always spiritually uplifting.
NOTE: Palanca is not the note, but the sacrifice and prayer itself. The note is just the messenger — though it should be encouraging. Writing an encouraging note without sacrifice and/or prayer is not palanca, but just an encouraging note.
WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF PALANCA?
This is palanca performed on behalf of individual candidates and team members. It is most frequently demonstrated in personal notes that are not meant for anyone but the recipient.
- Include brief note of encouragement.
- Adding an encouraging scripture is recommended (reminding of God’s promises, etc).
- Let them know you are praying for them (and do it!).
- It is important to have personal palanca available for Friday and Saturday. (It’s a lever, so use it).
- You can include small items that can fit in an envelope can be included. Such as “pass it on” cards, small bookmarks, small pins, etc.
DON’T DO THIS
- Do not refer to any special events that happen over the weekend. Your palanca may not be delivered when you expect it to be, so you wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise.
- Do not refer to home or family. It’s important to maintain the focus and sequestered nature of the weekend.
- Do not talk about how you felt on your weekend. The candidate may be having a very different experience and you wouldn’t want to set him/her up for disappointment.
This is palanca performed on the weekend in general. It is most frequently demonstrated in notes, letters or posters that are addressed to the team and candidates, often accompanied by small gift items or tokens.
The letter should be addressed to the team and candidates on a particular weekend. It should include the actual palanca that you will be providing to the weekend – such as:
- A gift of prayer. Let them know that you will be praying for them. Perhaps you will pray for the weekend everytime you have to stop at a red light, or something like that. They should know it. (And you should be sure to honor your commitment).
- A gift of sacrifice: Perhaps you made something that you are giving to the weekend. Let them know the spiritual significance of the item.
- Try to include an encouraging scripture. Using the theme scripture of the weekend helps to promote the unity of the weekend.
- The letter shouldn’t be too long – a maximum of one typewritten page. Keep in mind that general palanca is read by the auxiliaries throughout the weekend when time permits, so the letter should not be too long or complex as it’s meaning may be lost.
- This IS where you can refer to your own weekend (“I sat where you are sitting…”)
- If possible, include small tokens for the team and candidates. The items should have some spiritual significance and can be as simple as some chocolate or candy, as complex as craft items that you and your Reunion Group made, and anything in between. Remember it’s the thought, prayer and service that’s important, not the actual item itself.
- Posters with brief notes signed by individuals in your church or Reunion Group are an excellent form of general palanca.
This palanca is service performed before or during the weekend, often behind the scenes and without specific recognition. (The exact definition and how it may differ from general palanca is somewhat vague; often determined individually by the user of the term. It is most frequently considered to be physical effort). For instance:
- Assisting in the preparation and breaking-down of the Agape
- Running errands to obtain supplies during the weekend;
- Serving meals to the team and candidate (aka: Kitchen Palanca);
- Serving as the cook’s helper.