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Time has passed quickly…but the memories still linger on in my heart and mind. Here is one of those precious memories:
It is 5 :30 Sunday morning in Kinshasa, dark, quiet and humid. I got up and got ready to go to church with Pere Francis, our host.
He had explained that it was a very, very poor part of town, and that the people were extremely humble. I decided to wear my simple African dress, with a very simple bracelet, it was either that are my favorite khaki’s. (the one pair that I had for work )
I wanted to honor the fact that they had invited me, and I was proud to go.
I was ready, so I grabbed a soccer ball that I wanted to give to the children of the parish, put it in a bag, hopped in the truck…and off we went.
Driving through this poorer part of town, we arrived at this beautifully manicured court yard. We were early because Pere Francis was part of the mass. All of a sudden, the most
Beautifully dressed woman started to arrive, one more beautiful than the next. Their hair and jewelry were amazing, not to mention their spectacular shoes and dresses.
( I actually felt a little shy…looking like I hadn’t made enough of an effort.)
Congolese people are many amazing things…but 2 of them are their strong religious beliefs, and their pride in their appearance. Rich or poor, they are clean and well dressed.
The church ladies put me in a chair right up near the alter and I sat and listened to the mass in Lingala,and clapped and felt goose bumps as the choir sang some of the most beautiful music I have ever heard. Although I didn’t understand the words, I certainly understood the feeling. I was welcome and I felt it.
The mass was ending, and Pere Richard made an announcement. I was totally taken a back …all of a sudden everyone was looking at me!!!He was talking about me and the soccer ball!!!He took the soccer ball out of the bag, raised it in the air and told the parishioners that I had brought the ball for the children. I felt so shy…geez …it’s just one soccer ball. They all got up and clapped and I felt that warm feeling that made me understand…it’s one soccer ball yes…but more than that it was a connection, and it was amazing.
After mass, all the women came to say hello and ask me about my church compared to theirs. I could hardly answer…there really was no comparison.
I will never forget that Sunday morning in Kinshasa