2 BIBLE STUDIES & 1 VERY INTERESTING BUS RIDE
Tuesdays are busy for Pr. Jairo. Two bible study groups meet on different sides of town. The 'Fátima' group meets in the home of the Contreras family in west central Bogotá at 3:30pm while the 'San Agustín' group meets in the home of Marie & Jesus in south eastern Bogotá at 6:30pm. An interesting bus ride separates the two groups.
Pr. Jairo and I actually arrived at the home of the Contreras family at 12:30pm because they had us for lunch. The Contreras family treated us to a fabulous meal of trout (prepared similarly to the fish I ate in Villa de Leyva, but even more delicious), rice, French fries, an avocado salad (basically like guacamole), a caramel-like rolled dessert, coffee, a shot of wine, and a beer-soda combination drink. Needless to say, I was stuffed. Pr. Jairo caught a quick nap while I practiced my Spanish with Eliecer (the patriarch of the family), both of us sharing family pictures and family histories until the bible study started.
Both bible study groups had the same structure - a couple of a cappella songs, a prayer, the study of a particular passage from the bible guided by Pr. Jairo and finally time for closing prayers. Oh, and of course, food and drink to follow.
Yesterday, both groups studied the first chapter of 1 Samuel - the story of Hannah and Samuel. Even without being able to understand every word, you can tell that Pr. Jairo is a good teacher. Guiding conversation. Evoking responses. Gently moving discussion to another level. Tossing in helpful background information here. Adding a personal story there.
Again, without catching more than about one in every twenty of the Spanish words that fly by in conversation, it seemed apparent that even though the groups both had similar structure, they had very different spirits. Very different souls. Not that one was better than the other. They were just different.
The 'Fátima' group, which meets earlier in the afternoon (at 3:30pm) and is pictured here, was a bit larger - about 15 people. They were a bit more passionate in their singing and personal stories as they connected with the bible. Their was hardly a moment of silence and sometimes two or three people talked at once. Their prayers at the conclusion of the study were fervent. You could tell they were serious about personal relationship with God in Christ Jesus.
The 'San Agustín' group, which meets later (at 6:30pm), was a little smaller - only 7 people counting me. Folks straggled in a few minutes late, likely coming straight from work. Though they greeted each other just as passionately, as if they hadn't seen each other in a month or more, there was a different character to they way they interacted. Even as we turned to the study of 1 Samuel, it was as if there was more concern, more focus on one another than on a personal relationship with God. There was less comfort (or maybe familiarity?) with the bible story, but as deep of a concern with what the story means for how to live in relationship with one another. How to live with neighbor.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind AND love your neighbor as yourself.
And then there was the bus ride in between. I hadn't been on one of these 'cross-town' buses so far in my time in Bogotá. Some time I'll write about the bus system in Bogotá, but for now I'll just say that this was the first bus that we had to pay as we got on the bus. As Pr. Jairo paid for us, I found a seat - which was apparently a luxury since there are times when Pr. Jairo has to stand for the entire hour plus bus ride.
I sat down next to a man whose face told a certain weariness of life and whose hand clutched a canteen smelling as strongly of liquor as the man did of the streets. Young people, old people, families and couples packed into the bus as we made our way. I read my book through the first twenty minutes when all of a sudden a young boy (no more than 16 years old?) hopped on the bus (literally hopping over the turnstile at the entrance of the bus), proceeded to speak to the whole bus, then sang a passionate tale of a song. The song was rough without much rehearsal or polish. The boy was dressed the same.
After we got off the bus, I confirmed with Pr. Jairo that the boy had first spoken to everyone about how he would rather sing and beg for money than rob a store and then sang a tale of sufferings throughout his life.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind AND love your neighbor as yourself. Two bible studies and one interesting bus ride. All in one day.