Monday, March 7, 2011

From religion to politics... the more things change, the more they stay the same

From religion to plitics... the more things change, the more they stay the same
Text by Raymond Poirier
Photos by Cyrille Durand and Paul Lagassé

Last Sunday (February 20) we had gone to mass in Lunahuana with the orphans, but this Sunday (February 27) we went to mass as a group in Cañete. The local priest, Alejandro Zelada, had visited our worksite during the week.

What a surprise when, without any warning, he pulled out his phone, rang up his bishop and handed the phone to Huguette Boisjoli and asked her to speak with the bishop. No need to tell you that she had to think fast but as usual we were well represented.

Sunday morning before leaving for church, and based on previous experience, Denis had asked Régis Gosselin (who speaks Spanish quite well) to prepare a short presentation in case the priest invited someone from our group to say a few words. Good call!

After his sermon the priest explained in detail to his parishoners (the church was full) what this group of Canadians was doing for the orphanage in Cañete. At the end of mass Régis had an opportunity to address the congregation. He thanked them for their warm welcome, provided details of what we were doing on the project and told them that we were quite happy to have the opportunity to help the children of Peru. We could feel the pride in the parishoners when Régis ended his presentation by saying "VIVA EL PERU" and they started applauding. We in turn were quite proud of the job that Régis had done.

The priest then invited the whole group to come forward for a special benediction (with holy water if you please) and as we leave the church we are approached from all sides by people who want to shake hands and tell us "Gracias".

A lady approached us while we were still on the steps of the church and asked us to follow her which we did without knowing exactly what she wanted......we do a lot of following without knowing exactly what will happen when you are in a big group and don't really know the local language...

We follow her around the town square to a place in front of the municipal office which is located across the square from the church. Two municipal officers handed us the Cañete flag and told us to place ourselves in the lineup for the parade directly behind the politicians who were carrying the Peruvian flag for the official flag raising ceremony at noon.

To the sound of marching music our group carried the cañete flag around the square to finally end up in front of the speaker's podium. After a political speech, the flag of Peru was raised by the group of political people who had carried it.

It is then our turn. Some members of our group are invited to assist in the raising of the flag of Cañete. Régis is then asked to say a few words (luckily he had had a rehearsal in church) and then Louise Durand and Denis Robert joined Régis for the raising of the flag. The crowd was very enthusiastic when again Régis ended his presentation with a "VIVA EL PERU" as he had done in church.

A really good experience for our group and another bit of the mission is accomplished as the people of NPH had reminded us that we were not only ambassadors for Canada when we spoke with the people but also ambassadors for the orphans. In church as well as in the town square we could say "Mission accomlished".

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