Our family is in Peru for two years to serve with Extreme Nazarene. We are living in the jungle city of Puerto Maldonado supporting our team of 8 missionaries as 12 churches are planted here in 18 months! Please keep checking in to keep up on our our ministry and adventures in Peru!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

An Interesting Easter

Just as Tracy mentioned, Semana Santa has been a huge part of our time with our family, school and out on the town. While Semana Santa has been a constant source of amusement and conversation it has been an incredible open door to learn more about the Catholic traditions and typical Peruvian religious views. Additionally, it has been an incredible opportunity for us to share what it is that makes a relationship with Jesus such a big deal.

As previously described regarding this crazy week, the culminating event for this week of as you would expect is the Hanging and Burning (or Blowing up) of Judas. I was quite surprised when heard about this rather strange tradition after seeing how involved they are in the processions on Palm Sunday, on Good Friday and throughout the week. When we heard about the Quema de Judas events around the city in the wee hours of the morning on Easter Sunday, Olivia, Andrew and I knew we had to see what this was about. We had heard that they string up a Judas character, read what they call the "testament of Judas" which is a series of humorous political commentaries and then they burn Judas. The likeness of Judas as you see in the picture is of their president Alan Garcia, which was a source of much of the humor. Anyway, following the testament we found ourselves closer to Judas then anyone in the crowd, probably because we thought he was going to get burned. To our surprise it was less of a burning than a fantastic explosives demonstration. I can't explain how loud it was to experience each of Judas' paper Mache and bamboo limbs exploding only 15 feet away. We tried to back up when we realized this was a pyrotechnic display but the crowd prevented it. As Judas shrapnel was thrown past or covered faces, I heard Olivia scream out "I'm hit" as a piece of bamboo hit her an inch above her eye. While we were shaken and quite humored by the whole ordeal we were pretty excited to receive at least 10 seconds of our 15 minutes in Monday’s newspaper. This is news and not "Where's Tyson," I'm in there.

While the Quema de Judas and Semana Santa introduced us to this new culture this also provided an excellent platform for us to share how the Christ we know is so drastically different. I have two professors that have helped me understand this week which has been interesting considering they both hold drastically different religious beliefs common to Peru.

Marcos, in the picture to the left is my morning prof and an architecture student at the local University. He and I have a lot in common, we both enjoy writing music, aviation and learning about many different things. He has read through the Bible twice and has had a difficult time justifying what he has read with the Catholic traditions of his mother and the atheist views of his father. As try to wrap my head around the fact that they burn Judas rather than celebrate Christ's Resurrection on Easter. Marcos and I found ourselves in agreement as we discussed the irony of the celebration, knowing that Christ wasn't about revenge, dispise for Judas or for anyone. I then got to share why His Resurrection has made us free from the religious heirarchy and the tradition of praying to Mary. Instead it's Jesus alone; His sacrifice and the relationship we can now have with God is what give us freedom in life.

A cool order of events took place just the other day when Marcos brought out a Spanish crossword puzzle in class and wanted me to fill in some answers. I had done two or three and then he asked me to do the question that was looking for a 6 letter book of the bible. The hitch was that the second letter needed to be an "S" because of the other word running through it. I named off a bunch from the New Testament (names of the books are different here) and none matched. At this point we were struggling with this question and Marcos could have asked me to move on to another question but he didn't. So, I took out my pocket bible and went through the Old Testament. I then flipped to Isaiah or Isaias in Spanish and landed on chapter 50. I then turned to chapter 53 and asked Marcos to read. He did and as many of you know 53 is a very specific prophesies of Christ's death. He read and quickly realized that this was about Jesus, that it was way before Christ and it was a direct prophesy. He appeared floored and I believe that being here during Semana Santa was divine timing for us here in Arequipa and for Marcos. I look forward to what's to come.

I have another professor named Set who is a very strict Catholic and I'll share next time about her beliefs and how they mesh the old Incan traditions and religion with the her Catholic beliefs and how we’ve been able to discuss these differences.

I'm so excited to see God reveal himself to the people here in Peru, because they have a very different view of God, and yet so different that we do in the states.


Jeannie said...

Great blog. What an adventure. I love hearing how God is using you, even in language school! You guys are amazing. Keep it up.

Praying for you-

Jeff Patterson said...

Love reading the story. Keep bringing the people back to Jesus; His worth, work, words + ways!