Afterward we had our usual snacktime, although we had all paid ahead of time to have it "catered." The thirty of us sat down at a long table together to share our tamales, sandwiches and coffee. Five minutes and then back to packing, I thought. Boy was I wrong.
One girl had somehow been appointed emcee and proceeded to call upon everyone to give "a few words." Ahhh, Peru. They love a few words, but they love a lot of words even more. Of the 30 people, 23 gave speeches and 2 played special music. I wonder if the others would have been asked as well if not for the fact that lunch came an hour and a half later and we had to stop talking to eat.
The first major difference between me and everyone around me was that they love formalities, speeches, and drawing things out whereas I avoid all of that (to a fault for sure, especially considering my bad attitude). The second difference, however, became more clear as I watched and listened to all their speeches, laughing and tears. This month was a huge deal for most of the other people at the table.
67% of pastors in Peru have no formal theological education. That leaves the group gathered at the table today in a priviledged minority. As if it weren't expensive enough not to work for 1 month a year, the seminary is not cheap by Peruvian standards ($250 for the month's room/board/tuition/materials, or about 2 months' salary for non-professionals). On top of that, people had arrived from all over the country, some travelling up to 20 hours by bus. It's quite a feat.
Funny how much I take for granted and consider my right: health, education, freedom. And then I roll my eyes at the way others value those same things. I wish cultural adjustment and respect for others were easier for me. Then again, I also wish Peruvians didn't love speeches and rites of passage quite so much.