New Friends

21 05 2009

Hello again … I’ve  been busy!  This will be a little bit longer post, if I can get my thoughts together and get it finished in the time I have. 

On Monday, the missionaries introduced me to Gumy (if I’m spelling that right), and she has helped me out some since then.  Her sister, for example, wanted to ¨buy dollars,¨ so she gave me a 1% better exchange rate for bolivianos than most places are giving.  She also helped me find a phone card yesterday, which I had tried so many times by myself without any success.  She also volunteered to help me make it to the church, which I really would be afraid to try to find by myself after dark.  I have an invitation to vist her at home this evening at 5:30.

Last night, then, she told me to meet her at the Plaza 25 de Mayo downtown at 7:00 en punto (on the dot).  I hurried and was a little early … She was there perhaps 5-10 minutes late.  She and I walked together to one of the places where buses line up, and she showed me which one to take and how to pay.  There was nothing shocking about the bus ride (if you were hoping). 

By the way, I have figured out how traffic works here, and it’s a much simpler rule than you ever heard.  It is just this: The people here have 12 times the tolerance for risk than we do in the US.  That is a precise calculation.  Six inches of clearance here is equivalent to six feet in the US.  Also, as to “mad drivers honking their horns all the time” – That’s not true.  They honk their horns for things like coming up to blind intersections with no traffic control; that way cross traffic knows that someone is coming through.  As a matter of fact, I think I function better on the streets here than in Wichita.  As almost if not quite a country girl, I never have figured out city traffic at home.

Anyway, we made it within a few short blocks from the church for 20-some cents.  The service was to start at 7:30, and at five till 8, René and his family pulled up in the SUV usually driven by the missionary family who is on furlough right now.  (I don’t know what time we got there, but we didn’t wait 25 minutes.)  He unlocked the gate, and we all went in together.  I would say that there eventually were about 10 adults and 10 youngsters.

I played the piano … they try to do things so correctly here that I don’t even get eye contact to signal what I’m supposed to do.  But they asked me last week.  I really have begun to like the pastor.  He and his wife seem just a few years older than I am; they have a 1-2 year old and another son that is maybe seven.  He is very serious, to appearances; he has a lot of zeal, a real “go get ’em” attitude.  He also has a good sense of humor, which you can see occasionally.  After service, prayer, and a couple of testimonies, he called an older lady up to the front and sat down with his family.  I thought she was going to sing, but it turned out he must have asked her to preach.

She preached on “cleaning our nets,” from the first few verses of Luke 5.  I mention it because it seemed pretty original to me.  Our nets, she said, are our lives, and they must be in good condition if we are to be fishers of men.  I enjoy the delivery here.  Although they seem so formal to me at times, René and this lady have both preached with a lot of expression and feeling.

After the service, the youngsters ran around and played (well, wait a minute; they’d been doing that all through the service, more or less).  A couple of the women wanted to talk to me, and after a few minutes I adjusted fairly well to the new accent, and I suppose they adjusted to my listening capabilities even more.  Some one of the ladies brought out a bunch of Christmas shoeboxes filled by Operation Good Samaritan and handed them out to the children.  (Now I know why some of them come without their parents.) 

When we were done with fellowship, everyone filed out with René and his family.  I was quite lost and asked Gumy where we were going.  She said we were riding in the SUV, although she didn’t yet know how.  I am fairly sure we didn’t get an invitation; if there was an excuse given, it probably was that I was “suffering from the cold,” as I had forgot my jacket and the rest of them were bundled up against the 60 degrees.  I am quite sure that 2/3 to 3/4 of the congregation piled into that SUV.  I would say that we were four wide on the bench seat, but that would be neglecting to mention that the woman to my left was wearing her 8-month-old grandson on her back, and the woman to her left had two children sitting on her lap.  The back was full of children, and the pastor’s son was standing up facing his mother in the front seat, leaning against the dashboard.  We stopped to let off one lady in a poor part of town.  We made another stop, and I thought we were letting out someone else, but we had come back to pick up Gumy and a couple of teenagers.  They let me off next, so I don’t know where everyone else ended up.

They treat me with entirely too much respect for a 24-year-old.  One of the ladies asked me a question, and after I answered I realized that all the adults were listening, and the pastor asked me another question about it.

Well, I am supposed to meet Gumy in five minutes, so I had better get off of here.  I don’t feel like I have conveyed it very well, but I hope you get some idea of what’s going on.  I will get more pictures sooner or later.

Talk to you later!

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