Today, I went to an African fishing village for church worship and a prayer walk around the village. It was awesome! What a wonderful opportunity this was and it probably will be one of the highlights of this trip.
One of the chaplains from Africa Mercy went also and three ranger rovers full of crew members. We arrived to the sound of music and singing. A generator pumped the sound system. Mostly there were drums. Some young ladies did percussion with gourds covered with a loose net with beads. The women and men sat on different sides of the church. The children were outside under a canvas tarp having their Sunday school. There were about 50 adults and as many children. Church is at least a three hour service. There is also the social time that follows.
Everyone sang worship songs. The women got up first and danced. It was like follow the leader with simple rhythmic movements. Then the men, girls, and boys each took turns dancing.
The pastor, called James, spoke in English and someone else translated into the local language, Ewe (pronounced A- way with the accent on the first syllable). Everyone was friendly. Children came and wanted to sit on our laps.
After the initial singing/dancing, our crew pastor talked briefly about spiritual gifts. Then we walked around the village. The whole area is sandy. One of the local girls was actually wearing two inch heels! It didn’t seem to hinder her from walking.
We met the wife and younger brother of the late chief who donated the land for the Christian church. We also met one of the tribal officials. Pastor James told us that this official, along with many others in the village, worship idols, and practice voodoo. Some of these idols were pointed out to us. Mostly, they were 12 to 20 inch round pieces of cement with about a dozen one inch shells stuck in various places in the cement.
Anyway, this official, Michael in English, fought to save the church. When the chief who gave the land died, many of the people wanted to destroy it and reclaim the land because it was donated, not bought. The official told them that this church was a way to remember the chief and should not be destroyed.
This official’s house was made of cement. The roof was made of palms leaves. Some of the houses were all made of palm leaves and had dirt floors. Tarps covered the roofs of some houses. People sat on wooden benches. There were a few cooking utensils, a few pots, etc. The clothes they were wearing were little better than rags. The church goers with us were better dressed, but some still had small rip and holes in their clothing. They probably wore their best clothing. Most women wore African dress. The younger girls had western style dress with skirts covering their knees.
We also saw the house of the current chief. This one was different from the others. The front door was open. Not only did it have a cement floor, but it was covered with what looked like linoleum. There was furniture, and I saw pictures on the pained walls. The outside was painted too. I think the colors were blue and yellow. They had bars and glass on the windows. In the other dwellings, there were cloths over the window openings or nothing at all. The wife of the present chief goes to the church I visited, but her husband is an idol worshiper. He was not at his home when we went by.
We also met a man at one of the houses who told us he has a hernia. He said he was angry with God because of it. Our chaplain told him to come to the ship to be evaluated and then we would help him or refer him to a local clinic that works with Africa Mercy. It could be that we won’t have a physician on board to do the operation. Doctors come for a short time and do whatever is their specialty. When I first came, they still had some openings for hernia surgery, but I don’t know if that procedure is currently being done.
After walking in this area and praying for the people, we walked along the beach a short distance to a newly build government clinic. It is not open yet. We saw some beds, two in each of the four rooms. There was an office desk, a scale, and two exam tables. There were wooden benches on the porch. I was modern for that area. There were tiles on the floor and tile half way up the walls. It was painted and well-constructed with windows. I saw two posters on the outside. One was offering polio vaccines and the other had something to do with vitamin A. They were not in English. We prayed for them and then walked back to the church.
The church building had a cement floor, walls and ceiling. I wouldn’t want to be in there during an earth quake. There were cement columns. Wires were hanging from several places in the ceiling waiting to be hooked up to electric lights. There were holes for the windows and doors. It was pretty empty except for some wooden benches and a podium.
It rained last night, but it was very hot today. There was a breeze in the village which made it tolerable. In addition to sand and water, there were some palm trees, lots of prickly pears, a few hints of a grass, and some leafy weeds. I spotted two skinny dogs, a few goats and a few chickens. I also went by a beauty shop attached to someone’s house and a small store along the beach.
That’s about all I know of the village. I work on Sunday next week end. If there is a vehicle going the Sunday after, I’ll try to go again. I am covering for someone this week end, but only Saturday and Sunday dinner.
Last night, Saturday, we had a Mercy Ship International Film Festival. It was a kind of contest among crew members for who could make the best movie. I didn’t realized one needed formal dress for this trip. Many of the male crew members wore suits, the women evening wear and heels! I didn’t go, not only because I would have been under dressed, but I was tired from my shift.
Later this afternoon, some of the crew will be playing soccer. We were challenged to a completion by the Togo Ministry of health.
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