As we mentioned in our last post, An Early Easter Celebration, Bolivian elections prevented us from going to church on Easter Sunday, so it was a great opportunity to Skype in to watch the Easter service at Bethany, our home church.
But even better than watching the service was the cumulative hour we spent after the two services talking with (and seeing) dozens of friends. What a blessing it was to “be there,” catching up a little, seeing new babies and how other kids have grown, and sharing and receiving prayer requests. We even heard from a couple people that they didn’t get a chance to talk with us because there was a line! We felt so loved and missed and cared for, so to those of you who were there: Thank you!
Sunday Morning, March 28, 2010
5:15am – Our alarm went off. Not that we particularly wanted to get up that early, but it was the day of the joint Easter March and Service among all of the evangelical churches in Cochabamba.
Yes, we realize that Easter is actually this coming Sunday, but the Bolivian government decided to change the date of elections to Easter Sunday, which means no meetings of more than 10 people the entire weekend. So the Easter celebration had to be moved up a week to Palm Sunday (which, ironically only the Catholic churches celebrate).
5:50am – Left home in a taxi, meeting in a plaza in the middle of town.
6:00am – Like typical Americans, we arrived right on time to see just a few dozen people scattered around the plaza. We walked around and didn’t see anyone we recognized, so we just waited. Within a few minutes a couple people from our church showed up, so we stayed and chatted with them.
6:15am – We moved over to the starting point for the march, the end of one of the more major roads in town. We scouted out the growing crowd and found someone else from our church, who tried to convince us to walk in the front of the group with a bunch of pastors. We declined, and found a spot right behind a group from the Salvation Army (Ejército de Salvación).
Pastors receive a lot of respect in Bolivia, often being brought up front on special occasions. At our church’s anniversary, several visiting pastors were seated on the stage facing the congregation during the entire service. Personally, we feel more comfortable with everyone else than in a place of honor, so we moved back a little in the procession.
6:25am – The march began. There were actually two starting locations, one towards the north of the city and the other in the south. We walked straight south, and in the process blocked one of the major intersections downtown for a few minutes.
Marches are common in Bolivia, often used as a means of protest or making your perspective or ideas known (in this case, letting people know about Jesus’ resurrection). For example, a few weeks ago when the bus drivers were upset about a new law, en mass they walked down the streets, gathering in the main plaza for a demonstration. (Well, they didn’t just march, they also parked their buses in the middle of major intersections for two days to let everyone know they weren’t happy…) But marches are a normal way of life here – if you get caught by one while driving you go around or wait till it passes. Nothing out of the ordinary…