It’s been almost two weeks since I arrived in the Seychelles, and I’m sure some of you are wondering to yourselves, “is Mark actually doing anything while he’s there?” So to reassure you that I’m keeping busy, here are few days in my life in the Seychelles. On Friday, which normally is supposed to be my day off, Christine and I went to the airport to celebrate a service with the firefighters to kick off their celebration of International Firefighters Day. Christine had prepared a wonderful liturgy with prayers and blessings specially selected for firefighters. There were about 60 people who attended, both firefighters and others from the airport supporting them. You could tell that the blessing was well appreciated by those attending, and many commented afterwards that it was the most important part of their day-long celebration. The integration of faith and work in this way is something that we no longer do in Canada in our multi-cultural, post-Christian society, and there are good reasons for that. But having a Christian service in the workplace as we did on Friday was a way of integrating the daily work of those firefighters with their values and beliefs, and a way
Dominoes on firefighters day: a popular game here
What's most impressive is the way they slap their dominoe down on the table as hard as they can when it's their turn to play.
of affirming the meaning and purpose of what they do. In Canada, I think that many would benefit if our daily work was more firmly integrated with larger questions of meaning, value and purpose.
Speaking of daily work, the visit to the airport was also a bit of dÃ©jÃ vu for me. Before returning to university to study theology, I worked with Intelcan, a company that provides air traffic management systems and constructs airports internationally, largely in developing countries. While at the airport I toured the facilities, met the CEO and the head of air traffic control, and discussed with them their current air traffic control systems and how they plan to upgrade in the future. It was exactly what I would have done in my old job! Friday evening, I had supper at one of Christine’s relatives, tried a Creole octopus curry, and continued the discussions with one of the men there who is also in charge of telecommunications services at the airport.
Saturday is the day for youth at St. Paul’s Cathedral. At 9 am I observed confirmation classes for a group of about 50 twelve year olds. Their program of confirmation is very education oriented,
with the children being required to learn a large amount of information about the church on which they are even tested, just like at school! Confirmation is clearly an important rite of passage here, with families insisting on the participation of their children. But it seems that the Anglican Church in the Seychelles is experiencing what the Anglican Church of Canada has been experiencing for the last 40 years: that this didactic model of confirmation is acting like a graduation ceremony, and many of the confirmed children no longer participate in church life following their confirmation. I think that we need to move to a new model of confirmation that focuses on the pastoral needs of adolescents, one that is less doctrinal and more experiential, and that focuses on building relationships. (That’s enough pontificating for the blog, but I’d be happy to send my paper on the subject to any of you that are interested!).
Saturday continued with Youth Group at 1 pm, Youth Choir practice at 2 pm and Church School at 3 pm. Then, I assisted at the Saturday evening eucharist at 5 pm and preached for the first time. At home, when you preach, people at the end of the service always thank you for the homily, shake your hand and say good sermon (whether they really mean it or not who knows!), and there’s always at least one elderly person who tells you that you need to speak more clearly so that they can hear. Here, even though the congregation looked engaged throughout the sermon, not one person said one word to me on the way out! Oh well, so much for feedback.
On Sunday, I attended the 7 am eucharist and assisted at the main service, the 9 am eucharist. But even more fun, I played guitar as part of the band that accompanied the singing led by the youth choir. For me the singing was the highlight of the service. It was mostly up tempo contemporary stuff, and the young people sang with great enthusiasm. Most of the songs were in English with a few in Creole. Tiana’s brother, Piou-Piou, played the keyboard, and he’s the one that got me involved. We’ll do it again next week.
And finally, after services on Sunday, I get the rest of the day off! So I hopped on a bus to Beau Vallon and went to the beach for a swim, then grabbed a pizza and a Sey-Brew in a local restaurant. Well deserved, don’t you think!
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