Sunday is a "day of rest" but still very busy. I still think of my neighbor across the street in Clayton that said "I would never join your church because you are gone all the time, and all day on Sunday." Looking at this lifestyle from the outside, it is like that. It is so difficult to explain the peace and satisfaction that comes from "trying" to live more Christ-like. Isn't it nice to have less stress and an Eternal perspective. Life's puzzle pieces just fit seamlessly together, and all the other garbage just falls away.
We have been assigned to attend two branches, the Libala and Woodlands Branches. They both meet in the same building on the outskirts of Lusaka. Libala starts first at 9:00. We found the church after a couple of wrong turns and pulled into the parking lot at ten minutes to 9. No other cars were in the lot, and there was not a soul around. It was our first introduction to "African time". Unless you work in a big building with electricity and clocks, time is sort of relative. We started about 9:15 or so. Folks just kept wandering in. By the time Sacrament meeting was over there were 70 or 80 people there.
Here is Kristi checking out the Church's flowers.
Below is the Primary and since they were outside I just had to take a photo.
Their teacher is Sister Mushala.
I so wanted to take out my camera in church but I know better since it is totally frowned on and I need to set an example. Their were six or seven young women sitting a couple of rows in front of us and each had a different hair style. I tried to sketch them, but that wasn't too successful either. Some might have been wigs, but they were really beautiful. I thought how all the high school girls at home worry if they don't look just like their friends.
There is a piano and a key board for an organ sound but no one to play in the 9 am Branch. The chorister sings the first line then everyone starts in at the beginning.
In Sunday School they also have an opening and closing hymn. A sister chose "As Sisters in Zion". I've heard it sung a few times but I must admit I didn't know the words or had I ever sung it before. I am finding a lot of firsts in Zambia for me.
This sampler of the Relief Society mission statement was hung in the Relief Society/Sunday School room. The Sunday School teacher is a school teacher during the week and I haven't heard any better teaching. Honest.
On July 6th we will be involved in the District Family Fun Day.
I got brave and snuck a photo in Elders Quorum. The teachers are excellent. Notice the chalk board in front of the white board. I have noticed this in all the chapels. It is hard to keep markers, but chalk is abundant and so it is just a small example of Salt Lake not listening to outlying areas.
Here are a couple of young men chatting and trying to practice/learn to play after church. Sister Louthan, (Public Affairs Missionary) teaches piano lessons two times a week. When they have learned the first book of simplified hymns to her satisfaction they get their own keyboard. She is doing a great service.
The building doesn't have a recreation hall yet, but there is plenty of room for the addition when warranted.
I kept telling Kristi that one fellow reminded me of someone and I was wracking my brain to think of who. Finally, she said that Bro. Banda looked like Johnny Mathis. That was it!
I am sure as we get to know the two Branches we will attend more activities and I can introduce you to more of our friends. It is just awkward taking photos on Sunday at/during church. We do stand out a little bit since everyone for miles around is black. The members are very friendly and gracious.
The men shake hands (not just at church) with a handshake, a lock of thumbs with outstretched fingers, and a shake again. The women just delicately grab the first few joints of the hand (fingers) and shake. Sometimes they will do that and hold their elbow up with the other hand and curtsy just slightly. The women will greet each other at times with a brush of both cheeks while shaking hands.
I heard two object lessons that day, that I thought were interesting. First of all the teacher was talking about "enduring to the end" and said we should all do that like Elder Skidmore. I smiled but, WHAT!, am I really that old or old looking? Then I realized we really are old compared to the people we see. I read that the median age of Zambian people is sixteen and a half, due to AIDS and sickness. The statistics that were just posted said that the life expectancy here had been raised from 37 to 44 years due to improved immunizations.
The other example used was when the instructor was talking about taking inventory of our lives. We might relate that to going to a doctor for a check-up. They spoke about the guy in the village that comes around with a bathroom scale and charges you to be weighed. That is how they judge their health. If you are not gaining as a child or if you are losing as an adult then your health is not as good as it should be. We are fortunate and blessed to live in the USA.
After Sunday School in the Libala Branch we attended Sacrament Meeting in the Woodlands Branch and all their meetings. That makes for five hours of church. We then headed home and prepared for a meal with the other missionary couples that are in town.