Church In Togo

I went to church with my host father. I really need to congratulate the missionaries to Togo. There are more Christian churches, and Christian religious expression here then I have ever seen. The fervor that these people show for worship is rivaled only by the Hassidim of Mysersharime (spelling?).

After fighting our way to a seat (the pews were crowded to the point of breaking) the service began. Before I describe the happening of worship I want to describe what the church looked like. (this is when Dad’s writing ability, Eric’s amazing photographic eye, or Katie’s amazing hand with a brush would come in handy). The building itself reminded me more of a large shed than anything else. It probably had 15 to 20 rows of pews with enough room to sit 6 comfortably (10 to 12 by Togolese standards). In the right side front three pews was the choir. Everything about the choir was normal. They had black robes with white linings around the collar. They all looked to be about the age of any choir you might find in small town US. The one striking difference was the mortar boards they all wore. Having just graduated myself, I at first thought that this group had just graduated and were now being honored by the church. It took me a good ten minutes to realize that this was actually the choir. I’m not sure who the first person was to give these hats (which in my opinion are odd even at a graduation) to this group of singing old Togolese ladies. It sure as heck got my attention!

In the pews on the other side of the graduating choir sat the band. There was also an organ and organist in the front. But why use an organ when you have a band? The band consisted of the same band (I think) that greeted us on our arrival in town. There was a trombone, some sort of trumpet like thing, a snare drum, bass drum, and a couple other instruments that made sounds that were eventually drowned out. The first hymn was started by the organ. After the normal intro so everyone can get the melody the band (drums and all) struck up their driving cacophonic sound. Add to this the graduating choir of grandmothers, and you have quite a sight and sound!

The service lasted three hours. This time included: a skit in Eve (local language) that I did not understand but got everyone else laughing and cheering, about 15 to 20 (I’m not kidding) songs some of which included African drums and people (including me) dancing in the isles and in the pews, a few sermons, an auction for different vegetables and food stuffs, and more dancing.

It is really amazing to be in a place that actually practices religion. It is such a contrast to the anti-religion preached by so many in the US and Europe. I sat in the church thinking about the devotion these people showed. I saw just how happy everyone was dispite the fact that probably only 1/5th of them had electricity and none of them running water. I keep asking myself how much of America I wish for them.

9 comments:

Lava said...

and reading this, i keep thinking how much of THEM (the Togolese) i wish for America. this country (US) NEEDS passion and devotion and simplicity and appreciation for the 'little things' such as is described here. just came across your blog, and this post touched me so much. i can't stop reading your entries, and i'm supposed to be working :-). i long for experiences like this some day, which i pray i can experience soon. congratulations on such an AMAZING journey!!

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