A couple years ago I had a dream that I was going to church but they wouldn’t let me go into the normal service because I was new. So then they made me go to the basement and there was a man reading a newspaper, a baby, a tiger, and an aquarium. It was loud and nobody was listening to the preacher so I was sad they hadn’t let me in to the normal one. Then this morning I attended my first real church service.
We woke up early to attend an English service at St. John’s church. We tried to blend in by sitting in the middle of the pews but they led us to the front instead where we sat on these special raised up seats reserved for visitors. They asked us to sing something but we were definitely unprepared and declined.
The church probably held about 300 probably inside. Throughout the service there was a lot of singing. The words were projected onto a small screen at the front of the church controlled like a PowerPoint. Then we read a couple of verses from the bible and the children came up to pray and donate money. I thought there were only like 10 or 15 children but I think maybe 40 children came to the front seemingly from nowhere. The preacher told them to greet Jesus with flowers which turned out to be wobbling your hand.
There was also a good deal of prayer seemingly (to me) at random times whenever the priest felt like it. Even though it was a Anglican church there were 2 women priests. She kneeled down and spent the longest time praying for parents who had abandoned their children and children who had never met their parents. She started sobbing and it was a very intense moment
We also heard news like wedding announcements, people looking for jobs, progress of construction… And the death of a 2 year old who fell down a well which was super sad. The main topic was sacrificing material goods. Money if you have money, knowledge if you didn’t. I think it’s amazing that so many people, however long ago, accepted these beliefs brought by foreigners and continue to practice them now. I even talked about being nonreligious with a couple other DukeEngagers and it’s funny to think that in the past, people would’ve shunned you or called you savage and tried to convert you. Now it’s all about tolerance.
The whole service lasted 2 hours and I’m glad I got to sit in. I feel like it’s not something I would normally think of just trying in the US. The people were very happy to see us and joked we would donate 100 tiles to help renovate their bathroom/outhouse and whatever else they were working on.
Now we’re waiting for the van (which will probably be an hour late like last time) by the pool with about 16 little kids swimming and screaming Swahili at each other. All the same father, probably different mothers according to Stephen. And the dad is the most obese Ugandan I have seen so far, signaling wealth. Huh money.