Back in April, when I was visiting Levi (see earlier posts of this blog series), and when I was first looking at the possibility of going to Kenya, the pastor wrote to ask me if I wanted to stay in a hotel or in his home. I replied that whatever was most comfortable for them. It did not matter to me. But that was because I had planned on staying only one night.
This time I am here for about ten days. I am very glad that I have gotten this hotel. Despite the difficulty of getting to the church, I cannot even see how it would be possible to stay in the house of the pastor. I will explain why in a later post. But another reason that I am glad for the hotel is that I know the days will be very full.
The church has planned a week-long conference…no, it is more than a week. It is about a ten day conference. Each day I am to speak and to have Bible studies. I believe I have already prepared all that I will do, so I should not need much preparation time. But the fact is, I will simply need some time to be alone.
So it was that after the welcome service, we drove back to Kisii in the same Camry, and the pastors saw to it that I was settled well into my room before they left. I still was adjusting to the time change, but that night I slept very well.
The following day was a Saturday. It was the opening of the conference. Do not think of it as the type of conference that we would have in America. The form of it was the same as a church service would be. This was my first church service in any African country, and it was interesting and fun for me to see the manner in which these new friends of mine worshiped the Lord.
Some of the many children of the church, including the twenty-some orphans that are under the care of the church, were first given the opportunity to share some things that they had learned, or to sing a song.
Four of five of them had memory verses that they wanted to recite. The children, whose ages ranged from about four to ten or eleven, all lined up in the front. In turn, each recited their verse.
Each one began in the same manner. They began by saying, “Praise the Lord!”
To which the congregation replied, “Amen!”
They repeated. “Praise the Lord again!”
I used exclamation points in these quotes, but I actually pondered whether or not I should use them. These phrases were not shouted or even said in a loud voice, but as I came to see later, this was simply the normal way that the children or even anyone began what they were to say in front of the congregation.
“Better than my method,” I thought to myself. I think that I usually say something like, “Um…”
But the best was the singing. The children also have their own choir, and next, they were given the opportunity to present a song. One of the older girls came to the front to begin. It was in the same fashion: “Praise the Lord.” “Amen.” “Praise the Lord again.” “Amen.”
Then the choir began to sing. The girl was the only one in the front. The rest the children in the choir were in the back of the church. They also were singing, but as they sang, they proceeded up the isle, dancing as they came.
This was not an ecstatic dance or anything like that. The children came two by two, and with their arms, legs and entire bodies, they were keeping rhythm with the music. They more than sang the song, they also felt the song. Their worship was with their entire body.
I had only been with this people for a half an hour, and already I had learned so much from them. So far, I had learned the most from the children.