A Religious Experience

This Sunday we had the special honor of attending Nurse Love’s church, Holy Spirit Church. Since the chapel is located on top of a five story school building, it offers quite a fantastic view of the communities surrounding Ho. I’m not particularly religious, but as someone of Irish Catholic heritage that attends the occasional funeral or wedding I thought I had some idea of what morning mass would be like. Not quite.

Truth be told, the service was a lot longer than expected. We woke up at 6 AM to walk to the church before the mass started at 7:30. After we finally left at 11:30 AM, it dawned on me why virtually everything is closed on Sundays- church is an all day affair.

Still, the service was very enjoyable. I lost track of how many songs the entire congregation jubilantly sang. The lyrics and readings constantly switched between English and Ewe, the local dialect, just as the congregation was a mix of people wearing modern Western style dress or the colorfully patterned full length skirts and blouses with cloth draped over the shoulder.

After starting with incense and music, the reverend read a few passages in English and Ewe and delivered a sermon about how wisdom is greater than wealth or knowledge- indeed, it is one of the greatest gifts one can receive. Various members of the church also spoke, their speeches punctuated by the occasional “Amen!” from the laymen or even a song and dance. At one point some members brought baskets of bread, fruit and banku and we all danced down the aisles.

It was pretty obvious that we were visitors, but the welcoming aura of community was overwhelming. Indeed, towards the end of the ceremony new members and visitors were specifically welcomed twice, and afterwards we were greeted by the church president. Part of the service involves turning to all your neighbors and giving them a handshake.

After being here for a month, it is somewhat of a mystery why the plane here had so many missionaries. Christianity, both Catholic and Protestant, is everywhere and plays a central role in the culture and community life of Ho. At the same time, diversity is welcomed and we’ve been accepted regardless of our differences in faith. In any case, I was sure to get my measurements taken by a tailor so that I could get my own African style Sunday best.

~Kerianne

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One thought on “A Religious Experience

  1. In reading this post, I was touched by the sense of community present in the particular congregation that you attended. It is almost the embodiment of the principles that are encouraged by many religions, especially Christianity, but that seems to be lost in the US. The acceptance of varying views in regards to religion is another principle which seems to be lost to many, not just westerners. In a world where religion is often used to justify conflict and oppression, it’s nice to see it used for purely benevolent reasons. I hope you are safe travels and keep taking your Mefloquine!

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