Sunday, July 8, 2012

July 8: Church services in Naibor!

Today was dedicated to observing spiritual services for the various religions represented in Daraja's student population. I would have liked to attend a Muslim service, but because the Islamic holy day is Friday, I found out after breakfast that a Muslim service was not going to be held. Instead, I walked with some of the Form 2 girls, other people from USD (Chris, Shirin, and Rob), and Ashley (one of the Daraja interns) to Naibor to hang posters and make announcements about the Community Health open day meeting. We took a different route to Naibor than the first time I went (on Thursday, 7/5). It was sunny but cool, so we had a nice walk to Naibor at a very easy and relaxed pace.

We passed the river on our way to Naibor. Lilian is about to throw a rock into the water to see how high the tide is.
I would have loved to take pictures at the church (or at least of the church), but thought it may have been disrespectful to do so. In any case, I went to Celebration Gospel Church (at the end of the road in the photo below this paragraph) with three Form 2 girls and Ashley. I am Catholic, so the service was very different than what I am used to. There was a lot of singing, which was the first thing that I noticed about the church before even going inside. When we entered the church, I was surprised that we were the first people there--the pastor and four women from the congregation were singing very loudly into a bad sound system (so it was kind of overwhelming and grating to listen to), so from the outside it sounded like there were a lot more people in attendance. After about 20 minutes, Ashley and I went outside so she could give me kind of an informal tour of Naibor (we didn't understand anything that was going on and after the singing into the bad sound system started up again, it was really hard to be in there). We returned maybe 30 minutes after that; the church was almost full and our girls were doing a dance up on the stage! There were single churchgoers, couples, families, men, women, children, old and young alike. Additionally, all the children that I saw were incredibly well-behaved. I found out later than the pastor asked the Daraja girls to come up to dance with them--the girls were taught the dance, which seemed pretty simple and easy to learn, and were just finishing up when Ashley and I returned.

A view of Naibor from the main road. There is a herd of camels right behind that first building!

During the readings, the pastor called up different people from the congregation to translate his Swahili into the mother tongue. After Ashley and I returned, the pastor spoke in English and whoever was translating spoke in Swahili. I was touched by the thoughtfulness of this simple act, and after the readings and another round of singing, the pastor asked Ashley and I to come to the front of the room and introduce ourselves to the rest of the church. I told them my name, where I'm from, why I'm in Kenya, and how I came to be in their church. The pastor translated everything we said, and even though it was just for that short while I felt completely embraced within the little community of Celebration Gospel Church. The congregation was so friendly and I thought it was funny that the smaller children kept turning around in their seats to stare at me (and Ashley). 

Faith, holding a Community Health poster written in the local tongue, is from Naibor.
When everyone from USD reconvened outside in town (we had to leave the service before it ended to get back to Daraja in time for lunch, which ended up not happening anyway!), Chris, Shirin, and I decided to buy sodas for all the girls. At 30 shillings each, it was only about $0.36 for glass bottles of Coke, Fanta, and Sprite. We had a long walk in front of us back to Daraja, so everyone appreciated the refreshment and I felt good about our little gift to them. We also bought a ton of lollipops on our way out to the main road and passed those out to enjoy for the walk.

We finally arrived at Daraja around 2 pm. In all, it was an incredible bonding day for me and it was extremely enriching to spend time in a local community and attend a church service that was in several ways very different and foreign to me. If I ever find myself back in Naibor, I would love to say hi at Celebration Gospel Church!

Shirin, Chris and Rob smile for the camera on our way back to Daraja!

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