So last night before bed I inquired about the Sunday schedule. Being that the M's are part of a major Evangelical Pentecostal empire I knew that a big part of the day would revolve around church but I wasn't sure what else to expect. L said that breakfast is basically "make/grab your own" and that everyone should be ready to depart by 8:45 for the church. Then she said "If church is short like it was last week we should be done around 11:30...if it's "typical" then we'll be done by 1." WHOA!
Now I have to interject to say that the majority of church I've attended in my life has been Catholic Church. I was raised Catholic (until my family stopped attending in my early teens) and I actually have a high proportion of friends who are Catholic (total coincidence). I have attended other churches, but not many, and never an Evangelical Pentecostal church. If you've ever been to a Catholic Church service then you've basically been to them all. Catholic Church, for those who don't know, basically have the same format everywhere in the world. Even the few services I have attended in Nigeria have been basically the same. There is a little variation here or there but basically you do the same thing and it takes an hour. You sit and listen, sing a few solemn hymns and take communion. So when L said 2.5 to 4 hours I was a little shocked.
I headed back over to my room in the compound next door; one of the staff (A, one of the house women/nanny to baby F) accompanied me since it was late and dark. However, apparently the lightbulbs in the common area of the guest house were missing or not working so it was really dark over there. I didn't care because I was just ready to collapse into bed. I told A that the light in my bathroom was also burned out thinking that it would be helpful for her to know since they would be arranging for the common area bulbs to be replaced. She was very concerned about it even though I assured her it was fine. About 10 minutes later A, T (another house woman/baby F's nanny), and O (one of the M's adopted children) came to fetch me. I said I was ok with it, but if it were an issue of "comfort" on the M's part then I would come back over. They insisted that L was not comfortable with me being over there with not much light. So back over to their house I went, which was fine.
When my alarm went off I couldn't believe it. I slept like a rock, but felt like a bulldozer had rolled over me. Jet lag caught up with me! I knew once I got up I'd be ok. So I pulled myself out of bed and headed back over to my room to shower. Yesterday when I took a shower I had assumed that they'd just turned the water heater on, but this morning I realized it had been on all night and it still wasn't hot. Luckily the ground water stays close to the surface so it wasn't freezing, and the cool water helped to wake me up. L had said that native outfits were appropriate for church so I got the chance to wear one of my outfits that I had made earlier this year but haven't yet had the chance to wear. I grabbed some toast and drank a whole bottle of water (I was feeling dehydrated from my day of travel) and we were off to church!
It was kind of cool getting to ride with L because again, since she & F are the heads of the church she of course gets special treatment. We had a front row parking space and got special seats in the church.
Speaking of the church, it is BIG. I think L said that it seats 5,000, but as of lately attendance had been down. If I had to estimate (and I'm pretty horrible at estimating) there were probably 1,500 people in attendance today. We were sitting in some special section in the very back row. The only bad part is that it was also a walkway for people running around behind the scenes so it was a lot of wiggling to let people through. A man who came to visit the house yesterday apparently thought this was not appropriate for me and put 2 chairs pretty much in the middle of the aisle in-between the special section and the choir/band section and told me I should sit there. Slightly mortifying since we were already elevated above the rest of the church and now I was pretty much sitting by myself. I was later joined by the children's pastor but for a while it was just me!
So the first 40 minutes were some solid rocking out singing. I'm telling you, this church GETS DOWN. The only bad part is that I had no idea what they were singing and it was pretty hard to hear what the leader pastors were saying in the microphone so I was pretty lost. It wouldn't have been too bad except I was now sitting in an exposed area. I'm sure I'll catch on though. After the rocking out part then there were some short messages and speeches from other pastors. Then there was some more singing but the choir and band did most of that. Then it was time for the "main preacher" to speak. Which this week happened to be F! So F talked about the purpose of prayer...and at one point he was talking about it being a conversation with a friend, and that friend is Jesus (or God) and since you wouldn't shout nonsense at a friend you shouldn't shout nonsense to God. After that I think everyone was unsure with how to pray and worship. This was the only time that there was a similarity to the Catholic Church! It was pretty quiet while everyone was trying to absorb F's message and decide how to act on it. He later reassured them that he didn't mean they couldn't rejoice openly but to remember the conversation aspect of prayer. Pretty funny.
I was feeling pretty jet lagged the whole time and it was pretty warm so I was struggling to stay awake at a few points. When my seat mate joined me he helped make sure I stayed awake! At one point he elbowed me pretty hard which was funny. The other thing is that the only bible I have is a Catholic study bible and I didn't realize it but it's labeled "Catholic Study Bible" on all sides of it. At one point he looks over and says "Why do you have a Catholic bible?" and I explained that I was Catholic (a half-truth). He said "Oh, I see." I told him I didn't mind going to different churches and that basically the text was the same, just paraphrased a little different. L told me after we got home that he came down to talk to her at one point and said "We need to get her a real bible." Ahahahahahaha. L said "It IS a real bible, just a different version!" So I think my plan is working: if I confuse them about my beliefs they won't ask me too much about religion and my religious views!
After church we went back to the main house to prepare lunch. Apparently afternoon lunch on Sunday is the biggest meal of the week. All of F's family members congregate to enjoy time together. Various other people also come over and everyone eats and chats and spends time together. We had a nice lunch and got to do a lot of talking. Right now it's after lunch and since people are working on my room I can't really take a nap so I thought I'd squeeze in a quick blog (which actually turned out to be longer than I thought!). We are getting ready to go to a baby-naming ceremony so I'm sure I'll have more to write about later!