(When Steve and I lived in Quito, our neighbors were Oscar and Alexandra. We had such fun with them, even starting a Saturday morning breakfast habit. One week they would choose the place, and we would only speak Spanish. The next week we would choose and only speak English. Imagine the laughter! It was our great honor to be invited to the baptism of their youngest son and to the dinner afterwards. The following is a letter written to our children to describe what we saw and experienced that night — December 9, 2005).
1 Corinthians 9:23 — “And I do all things for the sake of the gospel, that I may become a fellow partaker of it.”
The baptism was simple — a completely cultural experience. It was at a fairly large church — Nuestra Senora del Perpetuo Socorro (Our Lady of the Perpetual Help). We all gathered pretty much on time and then waited for the priest to arrive. At the end an operatic soprano/friend of the family sang “Ave Maria.” Tradition! Important tradition!
When we walked into the dinner — held in the upstairs part of Oscar and Alexandra’s house — we saw beautifully-decorated tables complete with gorgeous flowers and an elaborate buffet. First though, the champagne was passed out for toasts to the parents and godparents (hurray for handy-dandy water!). The food was wonderful, and there was an amazing tiramisu dessert.
The group at our table was no accident. The operatic soprano was there and after I connected with her on the subject of music, she started asking many questions about our work and our beliefs. Interesting. She had visited and studied in the States and in other countries. The observation that she announced to the whole table was that Catholics “se dicen” (say) one thing and “se hacen” (do) another, while Christians say and do the same thing. (Oh, how I wish that was really the case with Christians). There was a younger bi-lingual couple who helped us make sure we were understanding and responding properly. Another older couple was a lot of fun, and the husband even works in orthotics and prosthetics — just like our son-in-law David.
A little after 10:00 p.m., in came the musicians — 7 of them — bongos, a guiro, accordions, guitars, etc. In no time at all they were playing, and immediately EVERYONE IN THE ROOM started dancing — children, old people, everybody! Clearly it didn’t matter whether we were non-dancing Baptists or not, sitting was not going to be allowed. So there we were right in the middle of the group learning to dance like a Latin. Wild and crazy! Those folks knew how to have a good time . . . and they seemed so pleased with our efforts to join the fun. You should have seen your Daddy. I looked over one time, and he was dancing with TWO women, while I was with a short, little man who came up to about my neck and took tiny steps. The purpose of participating was to build relationships. Alexandra told me last week that she had never met any North Americas like us. I sure hope she meant that in a positive sense.