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staying humble at church

February 14, 2012

Last Sunday we re-visited the church we went to the first week we were here. The service started at 9:30. We got there about 9:45. In the U.S. I’m pretty time-conscious and dislike being late, but since church here is a few hours long and there’s no nursery, I figured Little D would run out of steam by the end anyway and wasn’t too concerned about missing a little at the beginning.

the church we visited last week

Look at the right side of the church in this picture. Lots of people, especially parents with little kids, sit and stand here outside in the shade throughout the service. Like most buildings here, the church has many windows, and they’re usually open to let the breeze through. So it’s just as easy to hear the service from outside as it is from inside the back of church. Since we got there late, open seats were further up or in the middle of a bench, which aren’t great places to sit with a squirmy toddler. So we stayed outside the whole time. Bonus: it was cooler outside than inside the church.

Partway through the service, D said he needed to go potty. John took him to the bathroom inside the building on the left edge of the picture, but it was locked. Relevant note: D has been getting stuck on certain phrases lately. He likes to talk and appreciates when we understand him, so he’ll repeat short sentences like “watermelon all gone. watermelon all gone” again and again. After they came back, D kept telling me, “potty locked, potty locked.” We had to ask him to use his quiet voice.

About an hour and a half into the service, the pastor said something about kids coming up. All the other parents started carrying up babies and toddlers, and older kids walked to the front of church. Well over 100 kids were gathering at the front of church. I carried D up but didn’t explain to him what was happening because it surprised us too and we didn’t know what was happening. We walked past 20 or 30 benches to get to the front of church. Tall white pregnant me stood at the back of the crowd holding D as the pastor thanked all the kids for coming up and started a lovely prayer of blessing in Pijin. Little D, tired and probably surprised by all of the other kids and the sudden change of scenery, started yelling, “potty locked! potty locked!” and started whining for me to let him down. I quickly sat down in the front pew and let him stand beside me, but he kept yelling about the potty. I was 1/4 embarrassed, 1/4 laughing inside, and 1/2 figuring out my next move. Other kids were turning to look at D and it seemed he was rather distracting, but I sure didn’t want to turn around and walk all the way through church during the prayer with a kid jabbering about the potty. With my head lowered so as to avoid eye contact with anyone, I found the closest side door exit, picked up D, and made our escape.

To mitigate my embarrassment, I don’t believe “potty” is a common term here, and D’s “locked” sounds more like “yogged,” so people probably didn’t understand what he was saying. But still.

It was a quite enjoyable service, with some songs in English, some in Pijin, and some in a different language that is often used in this denomination. It’s interesting what we think about now when we visit churches. What language is it in? Can we hear and understand some of the people speaking? How hot is it? Is there a place for us to sit or walk with D? Is there a bathroom, and might it be unlocked? How does the service time fit with D’s nap “schedule”?

Two weeks ago we went to a church we especially liked. It was pretty small and we got to meet a number of people afterward; the preaching was easier for us to follow; there were lots of students; it’s like a church we’d choose at home. However, there was no bathroom and no groups of trees nearby. It met inside a World War II quonset hut, which made it a neat atmosphere and also made it super hot inside. I feel a bit superficial letting those things influence me so much, but when services are at least 2 hours long, I’m 6 months pregnant, and we’ll have at least one small child for the next several years, well, it seems a lot more important.


3 Comments leave one →
  1. Mom H permalink
    February 14, 2012 10:27 am

    Lori, how did you ever keep from laughing? I laughed and laughed loud as I read this, but then I had the advantage not having a crowd around me!

  2. March 10, 2012 1:16 am

    Love love love the potty story! That boy!!!!!


  1. That was a GOOD song! « havengadventure

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