I’m missing home tonight..so I’ll write a blog. Hopefully we will stop by the internet cafe tomorrow when we go into town for market day after we work at the clinic.
The past couple of days have been similar to what we thought..Saturday to Nairobi for market day. It took us over 4 hours to go through..and that was just one section of this huge market. It was crazy, but I got pretty good at bartering for prices by the end of the day!! That was a fun day. Sunday we went to a community church..more in a little bit. Monday we did not go on a mobile medical day, which I was kind of sad about, but it was a busy day at the clinic. I really am starting to feel comfortable there. Tuesday we went to Amboseli National Park for a safari. So cool. God’s creation is breathtakingly beautiful. We saw tons of animals, some really up close! I took approximately 400 pictures, which we can’t upload but those of you who are interested, look forward to this when I get home. (Liane, our tour guide even explained the Masai giraffes and I thought of you! No rhinos though). Tomorrow (Wednesday), Thursday, and Friday we are back in the clinic. Should be fairly typical days. We’ve been pretty busy these past couple of days, so prayers for some time to rest soon.
Ok, so I’d love to explain worship here, especially Sundays. It is drastically different than what I’m used to at home. Whether fellowship (chapel-like) time at night with the kids, or in our two Sunday church service experiences so far, fairly consistent parts of worship are: music, lots of it and loud; clapping and drumming; dancing; and joy. The fellowship time with the kids at night are usually only 15 to 30 minutes. Here I am most impressed with the kids’ commitment and ability to memorize verses. One kid stands in front of the others, every night, and recites one or two verses. Without a Bible in front of them. They probably have more scripture memorized than I do..even some of the younger ones. And to my knowledge, no one is making them learn one a night or anything. I don’t even think every child has a Bible. I’m humbled when I hear them reciting this scripture and then explaining what it means to them (even though I’m still only understanding a few words of what they are saying.) It inspires me to be more disciplined in learning the Word. Now onto explaining Sundays:
Sunday is not a day where I commit a few hours in the morning to church and then plan on using the rest of the day for other things. It is a full worship day. You don’t really know when it will end, just whenever it does. You don’t make plans for after, you just worship. Here at the home, the kids have Sunday School around 9, with worship “starting” around 10 and lasting well into the afternoon (the day we went to church with the kids we got done around 1:30. And start is a relative term. Similar to what I explain later with the community church, singing takes place before the actual start of church, but then just flows into the service with no real beginning point.) A short break for lunch, then they have like a Bible study all the rest of the afternoon until dinner. This past Sunday we went to a community church in the town over. We left at 9. It’s a good thing the church doesn’t really have a starting time, because what should have been about a 30 minute travel time turned into an hour and a half to get to church. You have to wait who-knows-how-long for a mtatu (like a van that acts as a taxi). Then you wait for it to fill up in town. Finally you leave. Then you drive, and unload, and walk a good 10-15 minutes more to the actual church. When we got there people were singing and music was playing. This lasted awhile, they served us chai while we sat down. Then around 11, the pastor had us all move forward so there were no empty seats. It is a building that has 3 walls and the other side is just open to the outside. Plastic picnic chairs were set up in rows, and a tent covered the back half rows because the church has outgrown the building. They said it’s pretty bad in the rainy season (which I can imagine with most of the plastic chairs sitting in the dust, and not a solid structure covering them). But it is cool to see how God has grown the church! For about an hour (which is similar to the worship service at the children’s home) we just stood and sang. Throughout this, more and more people are showing up. Around 12 the church seemed to fill up. At the children’s home, it wasn’t until 2 hours into the service that the main speakers started talking. Yes, speakers plural. Up until then, they invite multiple people to come up and greet the congregation – which can be anything from hello, I’m happy and blessed to be here, to a 10 or 15 minute mini-sermon type thing or testimony. Then the sermons begin. Music and singing and dancing is mixed into this. At the community church, we not only had a church service, but also a wedding and an ordination..all wrapped into one. Why not? Needless to say, church got over around 4 or 4:30 🙂 I’ll be honest, it is really hard to stay focused and engaged for that many hours when none of the service was in English. But there were definitely some powerful parts.
“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises.” Psalm 98:4
“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come into his presence with singing. Know that the Lord is God. It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name. For our Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.” Psalm 100
A lot of times when someone is talking and I don’t understand in church, I pull out my Bible and read. These two verses in Psalms struck me early in the service on Sunday. It’s something that has really made an impression on me here. The joyful noise. The people here sing their hearts out. And they don’t stop there..there is clapping and dancing and jumping and moving and dancing down the aisles and shouting and “ey-ey-ey”ing. Worship is free and powerful and full of joy. And it amazes me that I am here, making a joyful noise to the Lord with a different part of the earth. That I am witnessing first hand that there are people all over the earth singing praises to our one God. I am honored and blessed to be getting this opportunity. To worship my God in a different country and language and culture. Worship here is powerful in such a different way than I’m used to. They hold nothing back. You dance and move and sing out for God. It doesn’t matter what the person beside you is doing or what they might think of you. You go all out because you love God and he moves you. I desire this freedom. Don’t worry those of you who attend church with me..I don’t really forsee myself dancing down aisles at either St. John’s or H20. But I want the freedom to enter into the presence of God with my worship. To not be distracted by what is going on around me, but to just let myself go all out because God is present in my life. Pour my all out to God. Because worship is not about me or what I feel or what I get from it or what I learn. But instead about praising God, who is worthy.
The other super cool and powerful thing that is common here is praying out loud. I don’t mean just all saying the Lord’s Prayer together, or having one person pray out loud for the group. But instead, everyone talking to God at the same time. It’s really powerful for a place to be filled with the sound of prayer..all praying their own thing, but praying together to our God. Knowing and realizing that God hears and cares about every single word that is said, and those that go unspoken. I don’t understand what they say, but I hear alot of “asante” which means thank you. Joining together, yet individually in thanking God for what he has done in their lives and praying whatever is on their hearts.
And what is consistent is this deep joy. I don’t know how to explain it. But whether the kids, the staff and adults, the community, there is a nearly tangible joy filling the room in worship. It pours out of people. You can see it in their eyes, and see it in their movements, and feel it in the place. A joy that fills the people around me and fills me.
I’m growing in my worship of God. I’m learning what it means to worship even when I don’t know the songs or don’t understand what is being said. I’m learning how to seek God even when I don’t know what book of the Bible they are reading out of. It is challenging, but it will be growing for me and my relationship with God.
That’s all for now. Sorry if this is a little choppy and unorganized. It’s late and I’m tired. Lala Salaama (goodnight)…even though I’ll not post this til tomorrow evening which means it’s morning in the US, it is bedtime for me now!
PS, Aunt Karen, I’m really missing the 3rd of July celebration tonight! I hope you all had fun and I’m allowed to come next year 🙂