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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Sunday Services with the Lutherans in Tanzania

Although Linda and I are not Lutheran, we passed whatever qualification test may have been imposed to be included on this Lutheran Vision Trip.  After two days in Tanzania, Sunday arrived and after breakfast we were off to church services at the rural Nkweshoo Lutheran Parish, about a 35-minute ride from our base in Moshi and a bit farther up the slopes of Kilimanjaro.  Note the corn fields visible from the bus windows.

As our bus arrived, we were greeted by the children of the church lining up on the steps and cheerfully singing a "Welcome" tune.
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This church has had a long and continuing partnership with pastor Chad's former parish in Chester Springs, Pennsylvania, so we were all very welcome and honored guests.

After a hearty bowl of chicken soup at 10 a.m., (who knew this was a Tanzanian Lutheran custom?) we were ushered into the front pews of the fairly large church.  I'd estimate that it could easily seat a thousand worshipers.

You might have expected a Lutheran service conducted in Swahili to be a burden for us but it was quite interesting.  Some translation to English was offered and all songs by the choir were entertaining.  Here they start off the offering of gifts.

Besides the rhythmic choir, a small brass band accompanied the organ at times.  And yes, that was a clock that you noticed hanging on the cross.

The offering itself was also worthy of note.  While most contributions were in cash as seen in the video, many were "in kind."  We'll see some of those shortly.

After the service, the congregation gathered on the steps of the church while the ministers (there were a total of five, including Chad, for this special occasion) came together in front of them.
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Nearby were the various "in-kind" donations to the offering.

The next two hours was devoted to auctioning off of the "in-kind" gifts for cash.  Here, one member of our group prepares to pay for a basket of bananas that she bid on and won while the auctioneer is soliciting bids on a basket of eggs.  On the right, there is a combination that I saw several times this Sunday and on the subsequent Sunday.  It's a bowl of maize (corn) with a few eggs.
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Most items brought "market prices" of around 1000 to 4000 Tanzanian Shillings or 70 cents to 3 dollars.  I didn't quite catch the name of this vegetable that Linda is holding.  It grows with one part below ground and one above.  Both are edible.

With the auction complete, we adjourned to the social hall where a hot meal had been prepared for us.  The meal was served buffet style and looked a lot like any Lutheran dinner you might encounter in Minnesota with a couple of "hot dishes," rice, some vegetables and pasta.  The cooked bananas were a point of difference, though.

But this was a special meal for special guests so a roasted goat was carried into the hall with considerable ceremony and carved up for us.  Individuals at the head table were served first and then a plate was passed around to the rest of the guests.  A good part of the congregation was gathered outside the hall, no doubt wondering how much of the favored beast would remain after we had our fill.  They needn't have been concerned.  For most of the Americans, this was their first goat and they were cautious about over-consuming.


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