We arrived to the church for youth group as usual just after 7pm but the church was locked. We made some phone calls and found out that everyone from the church was at the pastor’s house waiting to surprise him with a party for pastor’s appreciation month. Within minutes friends were at church to escort us across town to the pastor’s house by bus. At the pastor’s house we sat in the living room with members of the church for over an hour waiting for the pastor to get home. When he arrived, he was holding an envelope containing a results of a medical test showing that he most likely has hepatitis. Then the party started.
Since we were thought we would be leading youth group, Johanna had her guitar and song sheets with her and was asked to lead a few choruses until the hired musicians arrived. So we passed out song sheets and about 5 of us sang while everyone else chatted. It ended awkwardly for us when the hired musicians arrived and started setting up during our singing. After the musicians were setup, one of the deacons of the church opened us in prayer and we were all given small glasses of raspberry wine to toast the pastor’s health. Then the musicians serenaded the pastor for the next hour with the crowd crying in unison “Vive el pastor!” at appropriate places in the song.
By now it was long after the time youth group normally gets out and we were farther a field than usual. Titus and Stephanie were also visiting us that weekend and were waiting for us to return home. I tried to make as quiet and polite an exit as possible using Titus and Stephanie as our reason for needing to leave early. In Ecuador, arriving late is not impolite in the least, but leaving early is very rude. Rather than being allowed to leave, we were escorted into the kitchen for reasons unbeknownst to us. Once in the kitchen we were told that if we left now at 9:45pm we would miss the dinner which had not yet been served! So we were given plates of chicken, rice, potatoes, and two types of salad. We politely ate our food, said our goodbyes and left thinking what an odd and yet delightful cultural experience. We hope we didn’t offend anyone too greatly, but staying three hours at a party we didn’t even know about was as long as we could spare.