Thursday, October 30, 2008

A breakfast and a funeral

(Still posting from our trip.)

Tuesday morning was practically a day in itself. We had been invited to breakfast with Neli Salazar, and told to come to the main square in Talavera at 8:30. We arrived in the square at 8:30 on the dot, at least by the old clock tower that is the pride and symbol of Talavera.

Neli arrived and absolutely was the smilingest, friendliest person that we had ever met. We went to her house, where we breakfasted on boiled potatoes, soya, fresh cheese, honey, and bread.

We also were introduced to her mother and father. Her father had been a pastor, and was the first believer in his village. He is now very old, and sits bent over and covered with blankets. He doesn't hear or see well, and you have to give him your hand so he can feel your arm to know who you are. Chris told me afterward that he felt like it was meeting Isaac, and that now he understood how Jacob fooled him. The mother is more spry, wears her hair in the traditional two braids, and the traditional full skirts. She has recently been through a period of really poor health, but has recovered. However, tears come to her eyes when she talks about it. Fortunately for us, both the parents spoke Spanish, not only Quechua, as is common with many elderly people.

Tears also come to her eyes as she recounts the fate of Neli's husband. During the time of terrorism he and three other men set out for Pampachiri in a 4 wheel drive pickup truck. They were never seen again. After six years of marriage, Neli was left alone with their two children.

Neli tells us that she would like to marry again, but she wants to serve God, and she has not met a single man who wants to. Neli had served with Mision Suiza in the Amazon area of Peru until her parents became unable to care for themselves.

After visiting with her father, Neli told us that if we had time she would like us to go to a funeral with her. A prominent man in the community had died, and he was a man who had been a believer and faithful churchgoer, but for the last ten years of his life would not attend church. The family is mostly Catholic, but the son, an engineer and former mayor of Talavera, is a believer and very saddened by his father's dying apart from the evangelical church and the Catholic funeral planned.

So we went. We were dressed in jeans for a normal day around the town. We were introduced to the son, who asked if Mike would preach some words of comfort and present the gospel.

This was actually not the funeral itself, which would take place in the Catholic church. Here, however, the visitation is held in the house (if possible) and they sit up with the dead all the night before. During this time there are refreshments served, and evangelicals generally have preaching throughout the night and day leading up to the burial itself. The deceased is the center of all in his coffin.

This velorio was set up to be very Catholic--lots of candles and images of Christ as Senor de los Milagros, (who protects from earthquakes). Everyone was served a plate of steak, mote, (a type of corn that you peel to eat--it has very large kernels) and an onion relish. Obviously this was a wealthy man!

After eating, Mike took his place in front of the candles and preached. Immediately afterward the coffin was closed and we joined the procession to the Catholic church, marching behind the coffin as a small brass band played a repetitive dirge. At the church itself we took a taxi for home. The taxi driver, on hearing that Mike had preached at the funeral, only charged us half price.