Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Never Go to Church Alone

Sunday morning I decided I would try to go to the Moravian Church. It is about.5 miles from the hospital. I went by a couple of times earlier in the week to ask about the service time and no one was there but I just knew for some reason that it started at 10. So about 9:40 I started walking that way. When Igot to the church there was a crowd out front and I greeted them in Swahili. They welcomed me. I asked what time the service was (Ni saa ngape misa...i think). And they said 10. I asked if anyone spoke english. They all denied it but one man told me to come with him and went into the church and sat down.

The service consisted of about 45 minutes of singing (the choir onlyhad 8 people but they sounded amazing) and an hour and a half sermon by a lady. I guess the pastor had the day off as he just sat at the front watching the congregation. They spoke really fast and I realized how terrible my Swahili is. They read ps. 23, Jer 23, Ephesians 2, and Mark 6. Then she talked a long time about food and children and I am not sure what else. At the end of the service they marched the house and I gave the few shillings I had in my pocket. Then we went outside and stood in a circle and I dont know what was going on but it seemed like they were auctioning off bible covers and avacados, although no moneywas exchanged. He was definitely holding up things and c alling numbers. They gave away the Bible covers and some avacados and then I heard the infamous word "mzungu" spoken. I wasn't sure what to do because I had given all of my money to the offering and had not bid on the avacados. Then he brought them to me and said in English "this is your prize" and everyone laughed and applauded. I still don't know what happened but I have some nice avacados that I will eat soon.

Everything so far was somewhat expected. But next my friend whom I sat beside brought a teenage boynambed Abraham over (I think he was his son). Abraham spoke english and is in the equivalent of the tenth grade. But the father Yusufu did thetalking and Abraham translated about half of what he said. Yusufu asked if I would like to come to his home to eat and pointed beside the church. THinking he lived next door I said yes. We went beside thechurch and jumped in his pickup with about 10 other children and drove several kilometers to a part of Moshi I have never seen before called Pasuo or something. Abraham and I sat up front with Yusufu. He asked me ifI ate pork andI said yes. This is an honor because pork is hard to find here with the heavy Muslim influence.

Yusufus house was clean and nice and about 2x the size of my apartment and I think it is shared by 2 families. He could speak about as much English as I can speak Swahili and we had good Swenglish conversation. Yusuf is a small business owner in Moshi that distributes sugarcane, peanuts, and corn. We talked for a while the Yusuf and I were served food at the table. I don't know where everyone else ate or what they had. We had ugali, BBQ, and fanta. About halfway through the meal Yusuf insisted thet I drink milk with him. I tried to say no thanks but he was persistent. So I said okay and for the first time in recent memoryI hoped I was drinking a Nestle product (I can't stand Nestle and I will tell you about it if you want to know). Nestle powdered milk is very common here. Instead I got a cup full of thick, sour, chunky, cold, white, gooey stuff that I downed in 3 gulps and chased with fanta and started thinking aboutt he brucella cases at the hospital and started having flashbacks to Tuxpan, MX and Quito Ecuador....

Other than the milk, the food was amazing and I stuffed myself. Afterward I watched a not so pay-per-view WWE Bash with Yusuf and Abraham. Ray Mysterio beat Chris Jericho for the intercontinental title. Chris Jericho and Edge won the unified tag team belts and I thought Triple H and Randy Orton were about to wrestle for the Heavyweight title and figured I should get back to the Hospital and told them I needed to leave. They proceeded to give me a big sugarcane and a bag of peanuts. As we were leaving I noticed the WWE Diva match was starting and suddenly wanted to stay but it was a little late then (typical Trent timing).

On the way back they asked me the names of my family. Since I am Nicholas here I figured my Dad would be James and my brother Patrick (all the men in my family go by their middle name). My mom got to stay Shirley. THey made me promise to greet James, Patrick, and Shirley for them and I will. They also asked me to visit again should I return to Tanzania. And we offered each other God's blessing (Mungu akubariki). I walked back to my room with a 4 foot piece of sugarcane slung over my shoulder with bags of avacados and peanuts. Dr. Sister Lymo saw me and started laughing and made me explain where I got this stuff. She said she would roast the peanuts for me and have some one cut up the sugarcane. I told her I could handle the avacados myself.

Sitting in my room later I thought about the scripture that says to entertain strangers. They might be angels. Knowing I am no angel I thought that maybe it works both ways and I was entertained by a family of angels today. People with so little offered a complete stranger so much...and my heart was strangely warmed (I had to throw that in there)...and I digested that gooey, sour, slimy, milky, nasty, goodness just fine.

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