So I attended an Assembly of God church yesterday in Seme Podji, a town/village about 25 minutes away from the ship. About 8 total crew went, and as we bounced along in the back of a Land Rover I met some of my coworkers in the wards--two nurses from Sweden and one from New Zealand. All were really wonderful women, and I look forward to getting to know them more.
Church was a lovely affair--women on the right, men in the middle, and then children and visitors (us!) on the left. Clothing was a mix of western clothes and more "traditional" wear--big beautiful, colorful prints for both men and women. I will definitely have a two-piece outfit made of some beautiful fabric... maybe even one of the elaborate hats if I am really feeling brave. The kids sitting in front of us were definitely distracted by us! A couple of their mothers kept coming over and reminding them to behave.
The service was led by the youth/young adults, and they did several songs (plus dancing of course), two dramas, and there were about 4 offerings taken (you have to dance up the aisle, drop your money in the box, then make your way back to your seat). As I have no CFA (local currency) yet, I didn't participate in the offerings. Because it was a youth service, it was longer than usual--it went a total of 3.5 hours! I was glad I brought water with me as I might have melted otherwise. The windows let in the occasional breeze, but it is always blazing hot and humid here.
After church was finally(!) over the pastor had us over to his house and his wife made spaghetti for us--a very good, spicy spaghetti with some sort of fish in lieu of meatballs. We also had peanuts (seem to be the main appetizer at least in my experience so far), sodas, and at the pastor's insistence, an apertif made of some mint pastille liqueur which looked and tasted rather like mint mouthwash. Some of my fellow crew members put up a bit of a fuss about it (mostly on the way home) which was both unecessary and embarassing. When people go out of their way to be gracious and hospitable, the least you can do is eat and drink--at least try-- what is put in front of you unless there are really good reasons not to. If nothing else, no need to comment at great length about the taste (which, being nearly identical to mouthwash, was obviously not terrible!). Anyway, probably only the first of many times that I will be embarassed for the tactlessness of fellow travelers when in a foreign country.
Anyway, on the whole church was very good, but after we got back at 4pm I was so exhausted that I kept wanting to fall asleep and finally allowed myself to go to bed at 9pm. Sleep and hydration are my friends at this stage of the game!