Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Worshipping with the Larco Church

Saturday evening we arrived in Trujillo and were met at the airport by Missionaries Rev. Wes Baker & Rev. Bill Bradford, both PCA pastors. Along with them was the Pastor of the church in Arevalo, Eduardo, and several other men. We took three taxis from the airport to the hotel.

The landscape is pretty barren. Trujillo, a city of about 800,000 has a desert climate, rains two or three times per year, but is a little cooler. The view out the window of the taxi consisted of preserved ancient Indian ruins, humble dwellings, and campaign ads (they're nearing an election in Peru).

As many of you who have traveled in the third world know, the rules of the road can be quite different...as in, there are no rules. Traffic "lanes" appear and disappear out of nowhere, the driver must be instensely focused because literally anything can happen at any time. Other drivers expect to be cut off wherever there's an available space. Pedestrians are not afforded the right of way, so they must be on the alert as well. Horns get used more than brakes--and a horn doesn't just communicate displeasure as it often does in the U.S., but is more of a courtesy to other drivers to help them know who's around them. What's amazing is how well it all works. We haven't seen a single accident, and the people are extremely patient with what appears to a U.S. driver as an aggressive, chaotic, free-for-all.

We arrived at the hotel, unpacked and relaxed for a few moments before joining Wes & Jami Baker, Pastor Eduardo, Jaime (administrator at Peru Mission), and Pastor Ricardo for a late meal at an Italian restaurant in Trujillo. The food was good and it was a nice chance for us to begin to get to know one another. After our meal we took a stroll down to the Plaza Mayor (the main plaza) in Trujillo, then hopped in taxis and hopped in bed.

Sunday morning we worshipped at the Larco Church. As we prepared for worship we had to adjust to some differences. First there was a the constant crowing of roosters, then the distinct smell of marijuana drifting over from properties adjacent to the church and occupied by squatters. A new and different environment for worship, but as the service started, with rapid and almost indiscernible Spanish (to my ears at least), things began to be more familiar...a Call to Worship...Confession of Sin
and Absolution...Scripture readings...interwoven with robust singing.

Then it came time for me the sermon. I had been invited to preach both the morning and evening service, and so I ventured up to the pulpit and preached through a translator (Wes Baker) for the first time in my life. My sermon went OK, by the end I felt like I was finally getting the rhythm of preaching through a translator. Here's a shot of me preaching at the Larco Church at the morning service, while Wes Baker translates:

After the sermon we offered our tithes and offerings. At the Larco Church they pass around a huge woven basket for goods, bags of rice or other food, offered as tithes & offerings, followed by a plate for monteary offerings, people can give either. We celebrated the Lord's Supper and had the benediction pronounced over us in what turned out to be a very familiarly shaped worship service, offered in a largely unfamiliar (to our ears) tongue.

Following the service we were invited back to the Bradford's home and enjoyed a wonderful lunch (with some HOT!! spices) and then joined with the Baker & Bradford families in a time of prayer and singing, before returning to the hotel for a nap before the evening service.

The evening service was very similar to the morning service, except that I had some significant challenges to overcome as I preached. Sunday happened to coincide with one of the two biggest festivals in Peru, El SeƱor de los Milagros or The Lord of Miracles. Though it sounds like Christian religious festival, according to Wes & Bill it is largely an exercise in idolatry -- images processed all over the city, people bowing to the images, etc. -- combined with what devolves into drunken festivity. Think Mardi Gras.

Then think preaching during Mardi Gras. As I got up to preach a brass band that sounded as if it could have come from the French Quarter in New Orleans began to play.

Now the sanctuary has open doorways at the front that leads to an open air courtyard, so the band was quite audible. Then the fireworks started -- sometimes nearly startling me and the congregation out of our skins. That's when the lectern collapsed. We all shared a laugh as we reassembled the lectern and I continued preaching. Despite all of the distractions I thought the sermon went pretty well, I felt like I adjusted a little better to preaching through a translator.

After the evening service we were invited back to the Baker's home (Wes & Jami and their seven children) where we enjoyed a delicious meal and some great fellowship. Then we walked back to the hotel and hit the sack.

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