Well, as I sat in the church ‘building’ this morning, waiting for the folks to get there, I couldn’t help but reflect on how different it is from my home church in Florida. We’re using the same building that we taught literacy in back in the fall of 2009 and where we presented the Gospel. It changed a bit between there - we removed one side wall so that there was enough room for the whole village to sit and hear. But as it’s a tribal building, it doesn’t last that long between the dogs and the kids. The siding has been pulled out by the kids almost completely on two of the remaining walls. The thatch roof is still good but the rest of the building has literally gone to the dogs! I could see more of the village than I could walls this morning as I sat there! Before we got started though, we had to remove the siding (sago palm frond stems) from the pieces of flooring that we sit on. It’s basically a tree bark that they use and right now they’re sitting on little logs for us to sit on. My knees are almost in my nose if I sit with them up too far. J Anyway, the siding was all over the spot where the ladies usually sit so I tossed those out. Then we started noticing the little piles of dog poop laying around. Elias got a shovel and removed one but then one of the ladies came back with the shovel to remove three more piles further down to my left. The ladies were all commenting on the flies – that were there because of the poop – child and dog bits left over from the last meeting. So we seemed to be free for the moment of poop and its smell. But then here came one of the little pups carrying a piece of burnt pig skin, running from his siblings and the older dogs – the church building being his hideaway. But he was soon chased out, only to have one of the bigger dogs take away his find. So the yelping and such was louder than the conversations happening in the little broken down building as we waited on the crowd to gather. I don’t think I can really paint a picture here of all that I saw this morning but perhaps you can catch a glimpse.
The smells and sounds and light coming through the various spots where there used to be a wall….or the sight of watching three little boys (two years old or so) running away together from the building so that their mothers would have to leave the teaching in order to bring them back and make sure they don’t beat on each other or head to the river and fall in. Or of the slurping of the snot from folks all around me as they deal with the latest cold going around the village. Or of the interruption at the beginning of the teaching as a guy heading off to the nearest town called for his mom from the meeting to take his son from him. Or as I watched the crew that followed these guys upriver rather than coming to church – just to send them off. Or of little Yeniyo wanting to toss a container back and forth with me in the middle of the meeting as he stood in the middle of the floor. Or of little Brooks pooping on the floor while we prayed….or of Bundos practicing his balance as he walked across a pole lying on the floor in the building or of how Elias just continues to teach through all this stuff. This is a fairly normal Sunday or Wednesday morning for us. While the building has no floor, one wall and a roof, plenty of dirt, trash and poop laying around, the people that make up the real church here continue to come to hear His Word taught in this little ramshackle of a building. They continue to read Scripture in the meetings and grow in their understanding of who God is. In between hearing the lot of them very noisily pull their snot back into their head this morning, I could just hear Fabel thanking the Lord for His power and goodness, His love and mercy. I could just hear Dakruma praise the Lord for sending His Son to pay for her sins. I could just hear the praise of His kids as they sat in a messy and by western standards, disgusting little place of worship so that they might praise and worship Him. Not exactly Florida – no carpets, no air conditioning, no nice smells or certain time of service but I can’t imagine being anywhere else at the moment.