Sundays in Tanzania can be quite long these days. Many churches have two services now; an early English service and the second service is done in Swahili or a combination of Swahili/English. Throw in an hour of Sunday School and a few other events/activities and you can have a really long day.
This past Sunday was an example of one of those EXTRA long days. We left the house at 6:30 am for the 30 minute drive to the TAG church in Nyegezi Corner. The first service was at 7:00 and usually finished around 10:00. Sunday school is normally from 10:00-11:00 but this Sunday they used this hour to raise funds for their building project.
This process in and of itself can be quite lengthy. The name of every member was read and they were told how much they were to give. Yes, that’s right, they were TOLD how much they would give. Then each person was given the opportunity to publicly ask for their designated amount to be decreased or increased.
The second service started at 11:00 and we made a quick trip to the pastor’s office for some chai and chapatis (hot tea and tortillas). The second service went until 12:45 (mercifully, Tim shortened his message a little) and then another fund raising hour for the second service followed.
In addition to the services and fund raisers, there were 7 offerings taken. One of the Associate Pastor’s five year old son was rushed to the hospital in the night and died shortly after arriving there so they were announcing visitation that evening at the home of the bereaved as well as taking up an offering for the family.
We always go prepared for 3-4 offerings, but seven offerings had us scrambling a bit since it is expected of us to give in the offerings. Thankfully, Tim had extra cash with him.
After the final offering and “amen” we were served a nice lunch of rice, meat in gravy and cooked greens. We were given a tour of the new buildings going up on the property. We were thrilled to see how this church has grown, we first attended a service with them years ago when they just had a small tarp covered building with walls of reeds and grasses.
We finally reached home shortly after 3:30 pm. It was a long day but a good day in many ways. I think after two years of being stateside I have to become accustomed again to the long Tanzanian Sundays.