I finally put my finger on it. That´s what is so different about Christmas in Cochabamba! These people wouldn´t know what a gift card was if it came up and hit them in the face. If anything they might try to use it to get money out of an ATM :) So that got me thinking that when the people who can actually afford to buy gifts for their friends and family actually buy them real gifts! A well thought out, meaningful gift. I always kind of thought that gift cards were the easy way out of gift giving. Not to stir up a great big debate about them or anything, I´m just saying that I like having to think about what I´m giving. Thinking about the persons likes and dislikes and not thinking ¨I have to spend at least $20 or I´ll look cheap¨. Around here, $20 could probably feed a family of 6 for a month. I spent about $1 on my nieces here and they are going to love their gifts.
Since I´m talking money... after the first of the year I will begin attending another church. I´ve been going to the International Church since I didn´t (and still don´t) know enough Spanish to understand a sermon. Plus I didn´t know where else to go. Churches down here are not on every corner and are not well advertised. But almost from the beginning I didn´t feel right at the English church. I´m in the middle of Bolivia and I´m sitting in a very western church service. That just seems wrong to me. I enjoy latino services, esp their worship time. The English church is a haven for North American missionaries to worship in their native tounge but also a ministry to the upper class of Bolivia. The upper working class either knows English or is trying to learn it. There are also headsets that translate for them. I didn´t come to Bolivia to hang out with the rich, more and more lately I have felt that it was not where God wanted me to be.
So I kept my eyes open and I stubbled upon a church sign after Babywashing a few saturdays back. All I could read of the sign was ¨Evangelical¨ and I always meant to go back and try to find out more about it. Today at a church event I was talking to another missionary and she mentioned a Bolivian church she used to go to. When I asked where it was she started drawing me a map. And guess what!? Its the same church I had seen a few weeks ago! And she offered to go with me when I wanted to go. I knew I had seen that sign for a reason and I can´t wait to go and see it soon. I will stay at the International church until Christmas but them I´m going over to the other one.
It seems to be hitting me a lot lately (due to a really good book I´m reading called The Irresistible Revolution) just how much the Bible talks about the poor. We all know that Jesus was born into poverty (in a manager for crying out loud). But I realized today while I was watching a skit that God chose to announce the birth of Jesus to the shepards (poor people) FIRST, not last. Jesus didn´t grow up the son of a King living in splendor, he grew up a son of a carpenter. And then he was a refugee and then homeless. He always went to the poor people, talked to them, listened to them, hugged their children, healed their sick. And the poor people listened to him and most of the rich people didn´t (but not all). I won´t quote the chapters and verses right now but just read the gospels and you will see too. If you can, give that book I mentioned a good reading. I don´t agree wholeheartedly with everything in it but I believe the Bible says what it says for a reason. Compared to 70% of Bolivians I am fithy rich. Compared to the middle class of North America my total monthly income (donations) wouldn´t pay thier mortgage and car payment much less anything else. Don´t let yourself not see the poor, I think thats all Jesus ever saw. Think about it. The love of Christ will change you!