Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Methodist Church of Nigeria...and more.

Church in Nigeria. Supposed to go from 9:00 a.m. to noon. (Pretty much everything starts on Nigerian time here – which is whenever they get around to it) We showed up at 10:00 a.m. and they had just begun the service. Women and girls have to wear dresses that go to your knees and wear a head covering…and Mare has a couple traditional dresses which she wore today.

They sing hymns and have a youth praise band that helps lead a few songs throughout the morning. Lots and lots of songs throughout – the pastor would break into song while praying and while preaching. And every time the pastor yelled “Hallelujah” most of the congregation would shout “Amen”! It happened quite a bit. I have to be perfectly honest – I almost fell asleep about 10 different times. It was so hard to sit there for so long! And I really only slept about 6 hours in the past 2 days…but it was kind of funny too. What is interesting is that there were many other people nodding off at different times as well, especially after the power went out. No fans = warm sleepy people.
The two pastors lead the congregation in intercessory prayer about 2 hours into the service and had all the youth come forward first. Well, Mare and I both qualify as youth because we aren’t married or mothers. So that was pretty interesting – the two of us with about 20 students, that would be really hard for me all the time because there isn’t a place here for an adult woman who isn’t married. Then they prayed for the mothers and then the fathers. Lots of "Amens". They also had first time people come forward – so me and 3 others came forward to receive a handkerchief made of pure cotton (because we are all the same in the Body of Christ) and get more prayer. It was a very passionate and moving experience.

After about another hour of announcements they had the last of 3 opportunities to give an offering. They started singing this praise song and dancing and then the people started moving forward to give their offering in a box that is labeled with "Offering" on one side and "giving" on the other. It was fun to watch every person pass by dancing and singing. What I didn't realize is that they were all going up row by row, so when Mare tried to hand me money so that I could go forward - I tried to tell her I wasn't going to go up. But then she pointed out that everyone was I did! It was a little awkward...walking with a beat but I think I managed okay.

I hate to say it but finally after 30 more minutes of announcements the service ended with the choir processing out...

We were invited by the Methodist Diocese Bishops wife to come over for a cold drink and "Kola". Kola nuts are given as gifts to visitors entering a home, usually with some formal ceremony...Mary Ann and the girls presented Kola with a prayer to me yesterday when I first arrived. They ended up making us lunch and also gave us the fabric that she had made for the 20 year celebration of the Methodist Church in Owerri. I am including a picture of the fabric wrapped around me - they made clothing out of this material for all of the committee. And some of them make skirts to wrap around them. I have it on like a toga but they would actually have both shoulders and chest completely covered. I was so moved when she gave it to us though. I think she and her husband were impressed that Mare and I both group up in the United Methodist Church.
Mare and I headed back to GCM at 3:00 p.m. so she could unlock the doors to the cyber cafe. Then we both took about an hour and a half was lovely! We went for a walk this evening to get eggs and tea. It is crazy to think that most of the people that saw us, only see white people about 2 times a year normally. So most of them try to say "Good evening" or "onji oncha" which means white person to us...they have all be very polite though. But it's funny to be a spectacle. We walked to get part of our dinner from a street vendor - a meat that is cooked over a fire called Suja. A little like beef jerky but much chewier. I was having a hard time with the first piece cause I kept chewing and didn't really get anywhere with it. I was a little like chewing gum cause it didn't break up at all. And Mare made her 2nd quote of the day, "You keep chewing and it just keeps getting bigger". We thought that was pretty funny at the time. Not really sure what part of the cow we were eating...but it was spicy and good. On our way back from getting some Suja, we walked around the back of the neighborhood. Clouds were rolling in for the evening storm and I could see beyond the buildings to the green was an incredible sight. To see the contrast of color and light with the dark and then the contrast of that beauty with the extreme poverty and trash right in front of us. I mentioned how beautiful and hard it all looked...and Mary Ann said, "Yeah, it's like where Heaven meets Hell". So true and heartbreaking. I tried to take a picture of the sky once we got back to the GCM building but it's not the same as what I saw. We ate our Suja on the front step and were joined by 3 very young kids...probably 4-6 years old. They talked with us and played and then sang close to 8 songs about Jesus. This area is very Christian. There is no separation of church and state so even their t.v. shows are about hearing the Holy Spirit talk and then a rap is very interesting. So after we played with the kids...we have been upstairs...talking, me on the internet and just being in the same room together.
Good day.

No comments: