This morning we travelled to church about half an hour away from our hotel. We had heard that our driver drives the bus like some people drive a bike, and he lived up to that. I can’t believe some of the tight spots he can get through – narrow roads, sharp turns, steep roads. Driving is a whole different thing here. Lots more honking. I could grow to like it. I think my brother David could move here for that reason alone.
Church was good. What we call evangelical, they seem to call evangelistic. The service is similar to what you could find in Toronto in a Spanish church.
What really struck us is going upstairs after the service. The church runs a transitional center for younger children who have been given up by their parents or rescued off the streets. We saw a couple of very young children who had been abandoned. One of them had been found in a box in the rain when he was about a year old at the time. Some kids are abandoned due to poverty. Some of the older kids are delinquints. The kids live there until they’re old enough to go to the orphanage outside the city. Besides the kids who live here, Compassion serves 210 kids in that one project alone.
One of our guides, Oscar, told us the big difference between Catholics and evangelicals. Catholics have big buildings and expect people to come into them. Evangelical go into every neighborhood and don’t wait for the people to come to them. They seem to be everywhere, and also very engaged with the community. He said it about Catholics here but I know I felt a bit convicted on this – not a Catholic problem at all.
After lunch we did some site-seeing, then stopped at a mall. They have every American chain you can think of here, both in stores and in restaurants. The prices are similar to what we’d have at home, but the income here is a lot lower. Also a lot of cell phones around, with people texting and taking pictures all over the place. We stopped in a small pharmacy, and staff were in every aisle to make sure nobody was stealing stuff.
I asked about Christmas presents. Few presents, because there’s little money. Same for vacations – they’re rare. I asked about credit cards. They’re easy to get, and people get in over their heads just like at home. There is a middle class here, but the economics of their lives don’t make sense to me given what I know. Money is tight.
Tomorrow we visit a project and make a couple of home visits. We even have lunch at the project, which will be nice. We’re already getting a sense of what Compassion is able to do through local churches here, and we’ve been hearing some stories. It will be nice to see for ourselves.
P.S. Forgot the cable to transfer pictures from my camera to the computer. Drats. Pictures will have to wait until we get back.