Church in the US is predictable. We love schedules. We love knowing how many songs or hymns are going to be sung before and after the offering. We know, down to the precise minute, when the pastor is going to make his final point and begin wrapping things up. We like being able to depend on the service being only 1 hour and so many minutes. We know what to expect. And we like it that way.
Church in Niger couldn't be more opposite. I never know what is going on, let alone what is going to happen next. I never know how many choirs will sing or how many numbers they'll do . . . or how many special offerings there will be or what they are for . . . or how many different men will stand up to give reports or how many hours the service will go.
Don't let the M persona fool you. I'm a lousy church goer. It's hot, and I have a hard time sitting still. I think the only reason I've made it this far is that I get to leave three quarters of the way through and go sit with the five year olds learning about Moussa in the basket being watched by Miriyamma hiding in the tall grass . . . or Dauda killing the giant with his sling shot. Yeah, this is my level.
But before they dismiss us kiddos, I get a good, long chance to look around. And that means (I know, it's been a while) fabric sightings!! And Easter Sunday was a great day for it! There were melons, and cacao beans, and the alphabet, and two hands passing a blooming rose, and even a neighborhood of apartment buildings! My favorite from Easter was what I could only determine were satellites . . . not the dish kind, but the orbiting in space kind!
I've seen some other really good ones lately too: ajar doors with an arm and leg poking out, cracked egg shells with three egg yolks, (my favorite of all time) cameras, eyes, flashlights, ladels, roosters, and chalk boards. One of these days I'm going to break down and join in the cultural festivity.
When I'm not busy looking around, scoping out what the other women are wearing and how they have their head scarves tied, I'm either making the kids in my sunday school class giggle or the really littles hide their faces and cry (you'd think by now they'd be used to the sight of me by now). And more often than not, I'm scanning to room trying to figure out if one of the three clocks in the room might possibly be working so I'd have an indication of what time it is and how much longer I'm going to have to sit there, waiting for that blessed moment when all the other children jump up from the pews and race for the door. But you'll be proud of me . . . so far, I haven't joined in the sprint, but have restrained my inner greyhound and always walk to the door.
So there you have it. Straight from the horse's mouth . . . I'm a missionary who's lousy at going to church. Blame it on the language barrier or the heat if you'd like . . . but truth be told, sometimes, I'm just a crappy churchgoer.