The main work Melissa and I are doing here in Peru is with the congregations. In Callao, we attend the Monte Sion and Filadelfia congregations. In Huanuco, we attend the Huanuco congregation.
At Monte Sion, we currently have adult class on Fridays, then kids class and church on Saturday. When I was here in 2011, we had basically a full house every week for church. It was a fun mix of adults and kids of all ages. This time, it is a completely different story. Last weekend, no one even came to church. I am curious why? What changed? It can't be just because of the colder than usual weather. The kids still come like it's their job. Showing up promptly when we arrive, which is impressive considering this is a culture of people routinely showing up late. Also, they have an actual church building now with a concrete floor and space and chairs with backs on them instead of benches. What gives?
Then, in Huanuco, I think the congregation is getting a little burnt out. Like in Filadelfia, it is all family members and not that many, so they have to be prepared to preach and share and open their home (as that is where they are meeting for now) every week. The difference from Filadelfia is the amount of motivation to keep things going. Callao is closer to Lima, so when people from the church visit Peru, they visit the congregation, but Huanuco is a bit of a trek considering the amount of time and the reasons people come to visit. Plus, Wilfredo and Virgilio, the driving forces behind the congregations in Callao are nearby to keep things going, not just visiting a few times a year. It makes it easy to have a lull in activity when you don't have anyone watching you making sure you are keeping up with the routine. It is also easy to get caught up doing other things that life gives you to do such as working, going to school, being in a relationship, taking care of your family, sheep, goats, chickens, and pigs. There is plenty to keep them busy without having to add the responsibility of church to it.
Church in Peru is currently quite traditional, with the exception of being open to using recorded music and PowerPoint during services. A nice thing about their traditional is that people do get up and clap and sometimes even dance/move to songs. There is always a sermon, anywhere from 20-60 min long. Church always follows the same patterns - not a lot of audience participation. Services last an hour and a half to 2 hours. Kids don't seem to attend services anymore.
I'm not saying there is anything wrong with the traditional, but coming from San Francisco, where we had a much more free flowing method of doing things, it is weird to be confined to this type of service again.
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
New International Version (NIV)
11 Yo sé los planes que tengo para ustedes, planes para su bienestar y no para su mal, a fin de darles un futuro lleno de esperanza. Yo, el Señor, lo afirmo.
Dios Habla Hoy (DHH)
On a more positive note, we had a blast for El Dia del Nino! The theme was Jesus Christ is my Superhero, so we dressed up as superheroes of course! It was by far the most fun we have had at church. :) We need more days like this. Special events require a bit more planning and time, but that is when people seem to be most energized. Hmm, how do we make everyday feel like a special occasion?