March 20, 2014
Breakfast today was made of several delicious trays of fruit, boiled eggs, and platters of cheese and bred with fresh fruit juices on the side. Not being into strange cheeses I decided to leave those alone. It was surprising how well fruit will stay with you—I wasn’t hungry until around lunchtime.
We spent the morning working on preparing for our meetings. I found myself trying to imagine my audience so that I would be able to taylor my sermons for their needs. It was frustrating not being able to know who I’m going to be talking with. In the mid afternoon all the presenters and the church pastors and the translators met at the hotel for an orientation meeting. A local group showed off some of the cultural dances, which the officials made sure we understood were Peruvian culture, not necessarily part of the Adventist cultural. During orientation we found out which churches we would be speaking for and the translators we will be working with. They split us into church districts to pray and organize. One pastor has 10 churches, but most of the pastors we’re working with only have five.
My translator’s name is Cesar, and he is a pastor of a country district with 22 churches! He learned English when he took it in college because they required it for theology, but then he translated for several mission groups in South America. He hasn’t spoken English in five years, but he seems to understand and speak very well.
As Cesar and I talked during supper tonight I learned more about the people. His district is made up of mostly small churches (5-15 people). They struggle to keep members because there is a rush to baptism, and the doctrinal grounding often gets skipped. For that reason they might baptize quite a few, but then most of them leave when difficulties arise. There are a surprising number of correlations between the work in Peru and the work in America with the one glaring difference being the number of churches a pastor is responsible for. To get to one of his church Cesar goes half-way on his motorcycle and then walks for another eight hours.
Many of us were asked to present the Sabbath School lesson this Sabbath and/or share a thought for closing the Sabbath on Sabbath evening. Wow, I need to stop writing and go work on more sermon prep if I’m preaching three times this Sabbath!