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“You’ll need to remove your hat in the village and take off your shoes before you enter the church” remarked our escort from Paradise Cove as we arrived at Soso Village off the speedboat. It was Sunday morning and we’d arrived for church services. I had no idea what type of church we were heading to, just that we’d be in the village worshiping with fellow Christian believers. I was ecstatic not only for the opportunity to go to church, but also to do visit the village – population 400.
We did as we were asked, hats and shoes off. Upon entering the church we were seated toward the front as honored guests. It also happened to be Mother’s Day. There was nowhere else I would have rather been, celebrating with the two people who make me a mum.
A man dressed in a crisp white collared shirt and smelling of Irish Spring shuffled past me on his way to his seat in the pew, seated with the other starched bright white shirts and dresses. Along with them, were Bibles worn by time and the elements. Because no one was wearing shoes it was easy to notice their feet, not pampered, but made broad and tough by heat and time.
My body had been more than adequately fed and rested. My heart was full for having this special time with my kids, watching them blossom into the people God intended. My mind was full of new information, a collection of facts learned about a new culture. And now, my spirit was feasting on this special time spent in the company of fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. My ears may have been hearing an unfamiliar language, but my soul understood every word. The congregation began to sing, their voices united in the most melodic a capella harmony, as if they’d been practicing together all their lives.
When you don’t know the language, your mind is more prone to wander, and wonder. Expression, tone, emotion, countenance, all provide clues in deciphering the speaker’s meaning. As the service went into the second hour, being in the moment became more of an exercise in patience. It was hot in the church. Bodies slouched, eyes closed, and heads nodded with each passing speaker. Thirst, hunger and discomfort competed for our attention.
This entire experience, including the time it took to commute by boat to and from the village was but a few hours in our life, and I considered it invaluable for my children. Later, I asked them what they thought. They said that they “liked it” even though it took “so long.” They wouldn’t have dared make a scene in the church in front of our hosts. They didn’t believe they had a choice. They had to wait.
There aren’t too many things in their lives that they have to endure. They don’t usually wait for much. I’m grateful for the chance to cultivate patience. Sometimes in life you do have to wait and it’s best if you learn to do it with grace.