I am thankful for my church.
I can’t say this is true every single week. In fact, lately I’ve been struggling to go to Mozambican church. However, overall, I am thankful that I’ve been attending the one I do.
It’s a small city church with a lot of young people. The pastor is a smiling, humble man, who encourages the youth (single 18- to 30ish-year-olds) to take part in leadership and outreach. On the Sundays that he doesn’t preach, he often sits at the back cuddling with his youngest daughter and giving affection to other young children. All of these descriptions are unusual characteristics of Mozambican pastors.
I originally started attending this church partly because I already knew several people through Oasis. I thought it would be a good start for getting to know others. Unfortunately, I attended for many, many months before anyone else really spoke to me. Then one day I was on a chapa sitting across from one of the mães (mothers), who I’ve always admired because she loves to dance during worship. Even when she was 8 months pregnant, she’d be jumping around. We chatted a bit, and she paid my fare. Ever since then, she makes a point of greeting me at church, and a couple of the other younger mães also now speak to me.
I made more progress with them several weeks, during the church’s anniversary lunch, when I insisted on sitting with the women on a mat on the ground, instead of in a chair. I couldn’t join in the conversation that jumped quickly from woman to woman, and switched back and forth between Portuguese and Sena, so I sat with a silly grin on my face and pretended like I was really enjoying myself, which actually I was despite feeling so awkward. When I was getting ready to leave, extending my awkwardness as long as possible, one of the women asked me when I was going to dance with them in church. I laughed and said I was shy, although secretly I’d love to work up enough nerve to dance down the aisle with them one Sunday.
At work on Monday a couple of my colleagues, who attend the same church, told me that after I left the mães were talking about how pleased they were that I had eaten with them on the mat. One of my colleagues also asked me what my response was about dancing. We agreed that before I leave, I will dance once with the mães.
In the meantime I’ll continue to dance and clap in my pew and thank God that I have the freedom to worship in this country and have a congregation to be a part of.