Sunday, June 29, 2008

Tanzanian Church

Pastor, H, Mama, Michelle, P., and Megan after church today.

By invitation of Pastor and his family, we attended the morning protion of Pastor's church today. I would not consider myself a very religious person and do not attend church, so I was a tad weary of attending a Protestant church service in Tanzania. I wanted to be respectful of Pastor's beliefs, though, and show my support for the work he does, so I woke early for the 1 1/2 hour dalla-dalla drive to the Village. Megan, Morgan, and I were expecting the dalla-dalla drive to be smooth sailing this morning as it's Sunday and much of Arusha closes down on Sunday's. We were incredibly wrong. There wasn't much traffic today to slow us down, there just weren't very many dalla-dalla's traveling to the Village. What is usually a 5 minute dalla-dalla transfer in Arusha turned into 30 minutes today. Finally, already a half-hour late, we arrived in the Village.

Pastor met us at his favorite tailor shop and walked us to his church. The church is nestled deep within the Village and has a beautiful view of Mt. Meru. As we walked up to the church we could hear the villagers singing a beautiful song in Kiswahili. We were escorted in by an older female villager and shown to a bench on the right side of the church. The Village church is a large log cabin-esque building with a tin roof. Sunlight and the breeze constantly filter through.

The full church serivce at Pastor's church typically lasts 8 hours (from 10-6), but we told Pastor we could only stay from 10-12. The portion of the service we sat through was very unique. Mama and Pastor sat at the front of the church on the left with another Kenyan, female pastor. Pastor's daughter, P., and her cousin, H. sat with a handful of kids on the left side of the church. There was a great deal of singing and dancing, all lead by the older children, including H. When we walked in I didn't even notice H. leading the singing at the front of the church as she looked so grown up in her red top and skirt. Once Megan pointed her out to me and I smiled at her, she grinned a huge grin back at me. Along with the singing and dancing, there were large chunks of time devoted to prayer chanting. This was a little uncomfortable for me, but I bowed my head and listened intently.

The portion of the sermon we heard was led by the Kenyan pastor. Her preaching style was very passionate and loud. She requested a great deal of Amen's and Halleluiah's, which the villagers willingly gave her. I couldn't follow her sermon as it was primarily spoken in Kiswahili with the occasional English. She did mention pregnant women a lot and appeared to be reading a story about Samson. I did pick up on her request that people disregard the people in your life who bring you down and that you should forget about yesterday as it's dead and won't be coming back ever again.

When we left, Mama invited us for lunch on Tuesday. The plan is to come for lunch and to see the updates on the house. It'll be exciting to see how much progress has been made.


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