Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to play the guitar with a couple of guys from a church plant here in Arequipa. These guys have amazing talent and I was honored that they asked me to come and practice with them. I’ve been playing guitar for over 15 years, so I thought I was prepared to blow them away with my skill. Going into the music practice, I heard and was familiar with “Andino” music… or so I thought. I did not know it as well as I thought I had. I did not appreciate the intricacies of the rhythm and strum patterns. I had not listened close enough. It all seemed so counter-intuitive to my experience.
I think it is safe to say that music is a vital part of any culture or even sub-culture. You cannot understand a culture if you neglect their musical tradition. When I first met with these guys, you could tell they were excited to share the music of their heritage. The were eager to teach it to me. Whatever experience or skill I had seemed utterly useless as I tried to play with them. My 15 years of experience seemed to be like 15 minutes as I struggled through their strum patterns. As you could imagine, it was a very humbling experience.
Serving in the mission field, it is easy to overlook the intricacies of the cultures and sub-cultures around us. Our four months in Arequipa and even our year and a half in Latin America only begin to scratch the surface of understanding culture. It will take us time to see and understand these cultural dynamics. The only hope we have in reaching the people of Peru is knowing that the gospel is equipped to reach every crevice and shine light into every shadow of this culture and any other culture.
For your listening pleasure, here is a brief example of the style of music we have been working on: (This song does not have an official name, but “Vuelve a Jesucristo” (turn to Jesus Christ) is a line of the chorus.) There are three of us playing.
or right-click this link to download: http://www.crosscollaboration.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Vuelve-A-Jesucristo.m4a