Sunday is the day to go to to church in Congo, at least here in Matadi. Most market stalls along the streets are empty today. We arrived at the Baobab’s Church at 9.30 a.m., when the French service still were going on. We sat down in the shade and waited for our turn. We were going to attend the Kikongo service which began at 10 a.m., a service that is much more crowded than the French. After one hour the church was full, we were somewhere between 400 to 500 people. The whole first hour is devoted to gathering all the participants. This is a Congolese tradition, the academic quarter is extended to an hour here. The soft start prevents you from having any stress when you go to the church. Stress is not an especially developed concept here, the clock doesn’t chase you, you have time. Today’s church service was completed by 1.30 p.m. No one was in a hurry to get home. Sunday dinner may wait, it is more important to meet and socialize.
Today, one hundred Sunday school children assisted throughout the service. The children’s choir sang two songs, directed by two girls, about 10 – 12 years old, who took turns. It was interesting to see how they conducted the singing, just like the grown-ups. One group of children performed a dance dressed in grass skirts and cheeks painted white. We believe that the dance would reflect the history of Congo. About twenty children went up one by one and read Bible verses. First they curtsied and told the audience which Bible verse they were about to read before they started. One child listed all the books in the Bible, 66 in number. Another one read all the Commandments. All was read by heart, and everyone was applauded and duly appreciated. The children remained in the church after the service. The church invited the children to dinner today, this is done once a year. Fifteen Sunday School teachers were also there, half of them still teenagers, and all of them got encouraging words from the pastor
Six different choirs sang and they had different themes for their songs: Jesus is the way to eternal life, help me to not lose my faith, Jesus will save us, Love your children and be fair to them. The collections took almost half an hour and was as usual everyone walked up to the front of the church singing and dancing.
Pastor Edi Matthieu asked us foreigners to come up to him. We were four Swedes, two from Congo Brazzaville and our interpreter Julienne. We introduced ourselves and I conveyed greetings from Blidsberg and Hökerum. I also talked a little about what we are trying to develop in the Global Groups of our respective congregations and the different ways to enhance the contact between the Baobab and Blidberg – Hökerum.
The preacher was a young man called Ozias Mawasa. He talked for 45 minutes. The interpretation was a bit difficult, so his message went past us. Prayer is also an important part of the service. Most issues can be lifted up in prayer to God. Announcements also takes time, everything that happens in the church is notified. Here you get the news. Other, more general news are rare. This had been a church service a little out of the ordinary, with a lot of content and joy.
Afterwards we took Sunday dinner with Augustine and Yapeco. Another rooster had been sacrificed and was today served with rice, spaghetti and vegetables, and fruit salad for dessert. Luckily Augustine has many roosters in the henhouse. A tasty meal.
At four o’clock we were back at Lisanga and we took a siesta for one and a half hours. The siesta makes wonders during the hours of oppressive heat. Lennart and Julienne fixed the afternoon coffee with bananas and Marie biscuits that Lennart has a large stock of. A far-sighted man who is an asset to the club. Augustine had also been foreseeing and sent with us American pancakes. In addition to snacking, we made some preparations for the training of a new group of entrepreneurs that will start tomorrow.