We attended the second service at the Catholic church today (beautiful church, held about 800 people) and arrived 1 ½ hours into the service, though we still got to see 45 minutes. It was very uplifting even though we couldn’t understand the language (alur). The people danced to every song that is sung, even the little acolytes have a routine. The instruments are all handmade and sound a little Caribbean in style. Everyone was dressed in their Sunday best. They clearly enjoy the service and its almost as if the longer the service, the better! The priest said that time in Africa is measured by events instead of by a clock. This is certainly true. Again, we were the featured guests with children literally pushing each other to get to our hands to shake them. Such enthusiastic attention is so funny to us. The libraries are very exciting to them and we are treated like celebrities. Some of us were lucky enough to get to hold a toddler during the service. One just walked across the altar and into my arms! After the service, the children did a song and dance routine to show their gratitude.
We left the church grounds and into the building where our libraries have been stored. They were stacked in relative order with each school’s books stacked together. We tidied up some of the boxes and loaded the Zeu libraries books onto a truck bound for the installment this afternoon.
After a short lunch, we went to Zeu school (again, rock star status crowds) and started unloading the boxes and shelving them. This library is one of the largest, if not the largest, and it took a village to get them in order. We had a lot of “helpers” in the room with us that were mainly curious though of very little actual help. It made for a chaotic installment. Thanks to Nannette though, all the books are shelved and part of our group returns tomorrow to perfect the library.
These people are happy and appreciative of every blessing. Our prayer is that they USE the libraries. We continue to tell them that they are of no use to anyone sitting on a shelf. Few of the children have ever seen any kind of book other than a single set of textbooks that the teacher teaches from. The head of Zeu today told us that he teaches 150 kids in his classroom. It is about the same size as 1 of our classrooms in the states where about 25 students are taught!
All of us are in good spirits and feeling well. Everyone seems to sleep well and there are meals a plenty. Tomorrow our real work starts as we install 6 libraries: Ndrinyi, Ngume, Zale, Pagei, Zeu (finishing up), and Papoga. A heartfelt thanks to all of you who gathered the books together, cataloged and boxed them. None of this could have happened without your hard work. It has been very rewarding to have chosen books with these children in mind and to get to see their excitement. It is truly hard to imagine what a big event this is for this village.
The medical team is at work right now counting deworming pills and vitamins to be given out tomorrow. Special thanks to those here and at home who helped with this project. These children need so much medical care; it’s heartwarming to know that we will leave them in better health. Thanks and bessings to you all. Your prayers are felt!