l'église

9.26.2010

Today I had the privilege of attending church for the first time since we arrived in Africa. It was a Free Methodist Church, but the service was non-denominational. I didn't know what to expect, considering that I knew we would probably be the only muzungus present. (Muzungu is the local term for white person or foreigner. You can't walk down the street without hearing muzungu from children and adults alike. It's not meant in a derogatory way- it's just part of the culture here.)

I have to say that we were welcomed to the church with open arms. We didn't feel out of place or uncomfortable at all. The service was done in French and then translated in English and there was a mixture of French and English hymns. The choir was amazing. They sang a traditional African hymn in either Swahili or Kirundi and it was beautiful. I couldn't understand a word of it, but the rhythm, along with the obvious faith of the choir members, was incredibly moving.

 I spent much of the time watching others in the congregation. Sometimes I get frustrated here when I think about all of the wonderful things we have back in the United States. I think about how nice it will be to back in the real world. It's also times like these that I think about the people here who will never see anything else. I often wonder what keeps them going- what things they look forward to. After the service today, I think I have a good idea. The people here have such a strong faith in God and find tremendous joy in their worship.

 Despite the fact that this is one of the poorest countries in the world, and many of them have lost countless loved ones to war, genocide, or illness, there was a true joy and reverance in the room that I haven't seen anywhere else. It didn't matter what kind of building they were worshipping in, what anyone was wearing, or whether or not they had the latest technology: they were thrilled to be there. It was incredibly inspiring and moved me to continue to seek a stronger faith AND to be thankful for everything in my life.
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