6/21/10

AFRICA TRIP 2010 - DAY 6

Sunday, June 6, 2010
I was awoken this morning at 3:30am sharp by a chorus of roosters screaming at us directly outside the open window above my head. It seems as though they were informed incorrectly of their duty to welcome the SUNRISE, which would not happen for another two and a half hours. Unfortunately, falling back asleep proved more difficult than when I laid down initially and I drifted in and out of consciousness until it was light enough to get up and get ready for the day. I dodged the roosters as I walked outside to the outhouse. There were several small brick structures outside the main building that served as our restrooms. Most of them had nothing more than a hole in the concrete floor, but there were actual toilets added to two of them in anticipation of our visit. These toilets technically “flushed,” but with no pipes or running water, they were limited to single use before adding more water from the containers outside. Either way, it was a vast improvement to the hole.
Before breakfast, we grabbed a football and played a dawn game of 3 on 3 in the dirt lot that made up the parking lot. It was a gorgeous morning with a sunrise that would challenge even my hometown of Phoenix with its beauty. We walked in and had a breakfast of poached eggs and toast along with what would prove to be a lifesaver on the trip…Starbucks VIA coffee.
Soon after breakfast, we climbed into our vehicles and headed to the church service. Again, we drove for probably 45 minutes to get there on amazingly bumpy dirt paths through the trees and bushes. We showed up as the men were outside performing a feet-washing ceremony and the women were inside the small church building. One thing that I will never forget about this trip is how well the Zambian people sing. Throughout the ceremony, they sang what sounded like old hymns in perfect harmony and pitch. A young man would start the song, then, as if rehearsed, the whole crowd would begin singing along in harmony. It was unbelievable. I have traveled the world as a performing musician for several years and have never heard or seen anything like this. They sang every verse to every song and when one song ended, they waited about five seconds before starting the next song.
After the ceremony, we all crammed into the church building. I would estimate about 200 people fit inside with many others looking through the windows. The windows had no glass and provided a small breeze that saved our foreign noses from the oppressive smell of a people who had never taken a bath or shower in their life. We sat through the service for about an hour that included singing more songs, announcements, announcements about the announcements, and a full-blown fire and brimstone sermon. After this portion of the day concluded, most of us lifetime churchgoers would be streaming for the doors and heading to the nearest lunch buffet. Not here. We were not done. Not by a long shot. We all moved outside to accommodate the growing number of people attending and began the next segment of the service. They began with more songs, then a song by the youth choir, a song by the women’s choir, two songs by yours truly, and finished with another full length sermon. The sermons were all quite significant in length, but were made even longer because they were being translated from Tongan to English and sometimes vice versa.
When the service ended, we headed back to our temporary home to eat and prepare for the afternoon activity…soccer with the kids. That’s exactly how it was phrased to me. So we head out to the enormous soccer field and start kicking the ball around with a few young kids. So far, so good. Then, about 8 men came out on to the field wearing no shoes and ratty clothes. We assumed that the few of us would play a friendly game against these guys and then call it a day. We couldn’t have been more wrong. Just then, we looked over and saw 12 high school boys with cleats and uniforms walking onto the field. It turned out the few men with no shoes were our teammates and we were playing against the high school soccer team. Awesome. We played for about five minutes before they scored their first goal. We figured out how to keep the ball away from them for the last ten minutes of the half and survived down only 1-0. I think they felt sorry for us because they wound up trading a couple of their players for our not so great players and we routed them 3-1. They were kind to the Americans when they could have easily destroyed us. Thank you Zambian high school futbol team.
We wrapped up an exhausting afternoon and headed in for dinner. To my surprise, dinner was the EXACT same thing we ate at lunch. I was starving, so I ate as much as I could. The compound had a generator that powered two light bulbs and one outlet in the main room for about an hour after dark. We talked over the events of the day, then I crawled into my mosquito netted bed and read until the lights went out.

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