1. My birthday. September 24 was my 55th birthday. Niki fixed all my favorite foods for supper - fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, carrots, biscuits and salad. For dessert she fixed a really great cherry pie and black bottom pie as well. So what could have been better. Maybe pie for an appetizer? Wait, that's exactly what happened. About an hour before dinner time I got a phone call. "Pastor can I come visit for a little bit?" Now I knew it was getting close to dinner and I kind of thought that there was company coming (although I didn't know exactly who) so at first I tried to discourage him a bit but soon decided that this was a visit to bring birthday greetings. And sure enough. Just a few minutes before dinner time the doorbell rang and there were seven hermanos at the door with a lemon pie, bottle of juice and a whole lot of birthday wishes. So we ate lemon pie and drank juice. Quite a good appetizer I'd say. I wonder how I could get that again tonight . . .
2. 24 de Septiembre. Every department in Bolivia has its own anniversary which are usually celebrated with as much gusto or more than Bolivian independence day. Santa Cruz Day is, that's right, September 24 which just happens to also be my birthday. I tell the hermanos that I am a real cruzeño. The day is celebrated with a lot of things (some things not too positive - lots of booze) but among other things many of the schools have special activities to mark the day. I was doing something earlier in the week in the house when I thought I heard drums. I went out into the street to see what was happening and sure enough there was a parade practice going on. Around the corner from our house is a guardaría (day care). They were out practicing for their Santa Cruz Day March. The day of the march was on Thursday and the kids were all decked out in special dress in honor of Santa Cruz.
The guaradía had borrowed a band from a nearby school.
The kids marched behind the band.
Then a short ceremony was performed. The Santa Cruz hymn was played.
A little guy read a poem in honor of Santa Cruz. A young girl sang part of the song Viva Santa Cruz.
All in all it was quite fun and heartening to see that even little children can be taught to be grateful for their country.
3. District junta. On Sunday was the third quarter district junta for the churches in Santa Cruz. It was held at a church with no bathroom and a building that only holds 40 or so people. I wondered why they were doing this. I was asked to teach the children, something I have not done for quite a long time. So I put together the story of Nebuchadnezzar and how he had to learn that God is supreme over nations, gods and people. The kids were fairly attentive (there were over 70 of them) and the helpers helped. And I learned a new Bolivian game. It was a hot day and not nearly enough shade but we had water for everyone.
When all was said and done it was a very good junta in spite of the limited facilities. Maybe someday I will finally learn that those things are not nearly as important as I tend to think them to be.
Good things come in three's. Thank God that they do and did. (I suppose that I could mention other things as well like winning three games of Settlers of Catan but that's another story.)