March 23, 2014
After preaching three times on Sabbath I was tired. But devotional time, breakfast at 7:00 and our morning training required me to be on my toes. As soon as training was done we all scattered throughout the hotel campus to work on our sermons. You could see some people sitting in the lobby on the rattan chairs while others stayed in the training room to work with the projectors. You could hear most of us muttering under our breath as we “preached” to ourselves. The big deal about tonight is that we would make our first appeal, and that made a bunch of us nervous so most of us were preparing in earnest.
It’s interesting trying to customize someone else’s sermon and make it your own, but add to it the challenge of already prepared slides in Español and your options are quickly limited. Personally I’ve made modifications in the stories, but I’ve left the spanish slides alone so that I don’t mess anything up. I preached one of the sermons on Sabbath and from that experience I realized that even if I don’t feel totally comfortable before the sermon, as I begin to preach my own voice and ideas come out and in the end the people don’t realize that it’s someone else’s sermon.
This is rough estimate of our trip from the hotel to my church in Morales (Av Peru 220, Morales, Peru). It doesn't take us 11 minutes like Google maps suggests because there are so many speed bumps and traffic issues. There are very few signs that identify roads, the direction a road goes, or who has the right of way at an intersection, so sometimes things get slow down a bit. Everybody seems to take it in stride—you hear very little horn honking and nobody gives you the evil eye for trying to turn in front of them.
The meetings were suppose to start at 7:30 but our translators and drivers told everyone we needed to leave around 7:00 or 7:15 at the earliest. We wanted to be there early to set up so we convinced them to pick us up at 6:30 or 6:45. When I got to my site I set everything up and waited for a long time. 7:30 came and went and the only people there were my translator and myself and one of the deacons. 7:50 came and we had about 10 people—all assisting with the meetings. At 8:00 people started arriving. At 8:05 song service began. I wasn’t stressed at all, but I began to realize that our sense of timing isn’t the same as what the people in Perú have.
One thing that amazes me about churches here is the music. It could be a church of 50 people out in the jungle but they have an entire orchestra and choir as background to their congregational singing. Granted, it’s in the form of an audio clip or video. The union here as developed a hymnal app that they can use that includes the words, beautifully orchestrated music, and wonderful song leaders. The result is simply fabulous and everyone loves to sing along to them. In a way it’s like Karaoke, but everyone sings instead of just embarrassing one person.
Tonight’s topic was “The Secret of the Seed”, referring to the Word of God and how God plants it in our hearts. I called for a decision and asked that they surrender their heart to be the good ground and let the seed of faith grow without hindrance—every single person stood! Praise the Lord.
We had to wait for a few minutes after the meetings and I caught this photo of a Motokar repair shop. Apparently they’re working on a tire because Pastor Justo (my driver) leaned over and said, “pnumatico” or something like that.
Tonight I began to feel my first twinge of gastrointestinal discomfort—hopefully that doesn’t stay long. TMI? Well, most of us have gotten it already, or are likely to get it sometime soon—things are not as clean as they are in the US and its hard to remember to wash your hands all the time. Even if you do wash your hands, the water could be contaminated, so it's kind of a no-win situation.