This was our first Sunday in Frankadua, so Amber, Nico, and I did what everyone else in town was doing and went to church (after managing to drag ourselves out of bed… my whole body is aching). Church here is quite different than it is at home. Well, at least as far as I could tell, but the whole thing was in Ewe so maybe it was more similar than I think..? But probably not.
The first difference was the length of the service. At home, it’s an hour to an hour and a half. Here, the one we went to today was 3 hours. 3 HOURS. Yes, you read that right. We got there around 9:15 (it started at 9), and people kept trickling in until at least 10:30. Things were still in full swing when we left at 11:30, and I’m pretty sure that it ends at 12. So I guess that’s one similarity and one difference –the service is longer, and just like at home, everyone is late.
Next, there was WAY more singing. It seemed like people were just randomly deciding who was going to start each song, but there must have been some sort of method to it. Sometimes it was the choir, sometimes the people in the front right area, sometimes a group of people from the audience went up. I definitely don’t understand.
The coolest part was when they took offering. They put a bowl at the front of the room, and everyone sang and danced their way up to put their money in the bowl. After everyone was done, the singing and dancing kept going, complete with people running up and down the center aisle, one with a baby strapped to her back (who amazingly slept through the whole thing). It was awesome.
Finally, around about 10AM, they did a couple of scripture readings in English, and a woman delivered what I assume was the message for the day. Every once in a while, she said a few words in English. Not sure if that was for our benefit or if that’s a normal occurrence, but we were definitely the only people there who couldn’t understand Ewe.
Anyway, the whole thing was quite an experience. We went to the church that is associated with the school where we have summer school, but there are a TON of churches in town to choose from. I think I’m going to try to go to a different one each time we’re in Frankadua on Sunday, and I’m interested to see how similar/different they are to each other.
The other activity of the day was watching a soccer game (my favorite thing… not). The Frankadua team was playing against one of the best teams in Ghana. Apparently a bunch of the other team’s players are on the Ghanaian national team, so this was a big deal. Fernanda, Amber, Nico, and I got there just before halftime, and Frankadua was down 1-0.
With about 10 minutes left in the second half, Frankadua scored!! Everyone stormed the field like we had just won the game. It was insane. People were running around like chickens with their heads cut off for at least 5 minutes, and I’m sitting there thinking, “aren’t there still 10 minutes left?” I don’t know if goals are always celebrated that enthusiastically or if that was just because of the importance of the game, but it was pretty crazy.
At the end, with a score of 1-1, the celebration resumed with singing and dancing and people playing drums and trumpets and one annoying vuvuzela. From the looks of the party, you would think we had won the game, and when we left about 15 minutes later, it was still going strong.
All in all, I think today was a pretty good day for my cultural education. Even though I only understood about five words at church and am not the biggest soccer fan, it was really fun doing normal things and feeling like part of the community.