Church is a cultural experience here in Congo. I can’t speak the language, so I don’t understand a thing that is said. I usually bring along a novel, or read through my Lonely Planet Swahili book during the sermon. Many large cities in foreign countries have churches in English, but not in Bunia.
Most of the service involves much singing and dancing (at our seats), and I can certainly move, clap, and enjoy the music even if I don’t know the words. Sometimes I do recognize a tune and can sing the English version – usually with much more rhythm than its English counter-part. The church we attend features multiple singing groups in every service, but our favorite is the men’s choral group who sing acappella beautifully. The other groups range from an ear-shattering choreographed dancing children’s choir, to middle-aged women’s choirs, to multiple mid-range mixed choirs. Every choir wears coordinated outfits or robes, and some of the colors can be a bit shocking, such as those on Sunday that you will see in the pictures below. Jon and Cher call it the Pepto Bismol look (after the intense pink stomach medicine), and the decorations at the front of the church, the offering baskets, and even the microphone wind socks match. During congregation singing, several women pick up the flags at the front of the church and walk up and down the isles waving the flags on their long poles.
Sunday’s service was particularly spectacular with five singing groups, and a very boisterous congregation. Thankfully, I brought my big camera this time but wished I had brought the video camera. Here are some photos from the service. Can you feel the rhythm, the joy, and the praise?
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