St. Peter's Blog 'A Sunday in Belize' from St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church – North Wales, PA's Blog

A Sunday in Belize

Image Monday, Feb 20, 2017
Author: Pastor Andreas Wagner

We spent our first full day with the people in Maya Mopan village yesterday. The church, I learned, is not of the Pentecostal variety, but a Nazarene church.

Herman, our wonderful guide, told me a funny story when we were chatting after breakfast. It will sound so much funnier when I share it on Sunday at church, so you’ll have to wait… But the gist of our conversation was about the differences in our faith traditions. Most members of his church never drink any alcohol; they use lots of “testimonials” during their worship services and, as we discovered soon, they sing a lot. I told him about our traditions, way of praying, about the Lutheran emphasis on grace and that we treat alcoholic beverages as a gift from the creator, unless addictive patterns set in.

Of course, church here is a little bit longer compared to St. Peter’s. And you bet it doesn’t start on time. Yesterday’s service was slated to begin at 9:00 a.m. That just referred to the time when people started to trickle in. So, about 15 minutes later, the whole affair began with Pastor Ara leading most of the singing a-cappella. There were about 40 people there besides us, one third of them children, and just like in our church, the children left at some point and had their own program. But they came back later and sang their little hearts out. It was cute and wonderful to see (and hear). Most of the people in this church speak a dialect that we can’t understand. It’s called “Ketchi-Mopan.” Even Herman says that he has no idea what they are saying half the time. It’s apparently a Mayan dialect with Spanish words mixed in.

Our hosts are providing every meal - usually something with a little bit of chicken and rice or beans and some greens. We even picked a few coconuts yesterday and people in our group drank the juice before Carlos (our driver) expertly cut the coconut with a long machete-like knife to get to the flesh. I advised our group members not to attempt it! In the afternoon, we visited families nearby and got to know more people in the community. Everybody is super friendly and one can just walk up to people’s homes and start a conversation. While people don’t have much in this part of the world, this is a kind of lifestyle that I would prefer not to call poverty. While people have little and conditions are primitive, they have the essentials and are content. When I visited Haiti two years ago, it was very, very different. There I found desperate poverty…

  

We needed a little bit of rest and shade after our short excursion into the neighborhood because of the heat and humidity. Needless to say, nothing is air-conditioned here, so one has to find a cool spot with hope for some breeze.

So, there was a service at night and I was asked to preach, and our group prepared to sing a few songs from on older American hymnal that they have here. We are so grateful for the musical gifts of our guides, Herman and Marian. Herman accompanied us on his guitar and the couple sang a wonderful contemporary song, very moving and very well done. Considering that we don’t have a lot of singers in our group, I was positively surprised how well even our singing came together.  In my message, I focused on Ephesians 4: 1-5, a very beautiful passage about Christian unity. I hope at least half of the people understood what I was saying…

And yes, I got some earplugs (from Robin) yesterday and had a good night sleep. Stay tuned!

Pastor Andreas Wagner


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