Sunday, September 22, 2013


Ninyi mliopo hapa mbele ya Mungu na mkutano huu, mko tayari kuthibitisha ninyi wenyewe ile ahadi na nadhiri iliyofanywa wakati wa ubatizo wenu?
You who are standing here in front of God and this congregation, are you ready to prove you own the promises and vows made at your baptism?
Tuko tayari.
We're ready.
This morning, I had the wonderful opportunity to witness Confirmation at the Anglican Cathedral in Dodoma.  More than 100 (by my best estimate) young Tanzanians were confirmed.  The cathedral was packed with families and friends all there to witness.  It was an experience unlike any I have had so far! (I apologize for the fuzzy pictures.  I was sitting in the back and my camera was confused.)
 This is the cathedral.  You can see the group of people outside the door.  They are standing there because there are no more seats inside the cathedral.  Every pew was packed and all the spare chairs they could find were occupied.  I was glad we went to the earlier English service so we could be sure to have a spot.  Don't worry about them being able to hear.  The speaker system inside the cathedral works very well and even those in the street opposite the parking lot can hear what is happening inside!  Wouldn't want ANYONE to miss anything!
Outside the Cathedral is this tower.  It is really neat with a giraffe pattern decorating the outside.  Apparently, it was un-patterned until a few months ago, when the Archbishop of Canterbury made a visit to Dodoma.  This is how Tanzania puts their best foot forward!  The main building is just to the left. 

Here is a picture (below) of the inside the church in the brief 30 seconds before it filled with Tanzanians.  We had a shorter morning prayer service for the English speakers this morning (about 45 minutes) to make sure there would be plenty of time for confirmation.  It was a nice and simple service and we even sang some songs I remember from church back home.  Don't ask me which ones now, because I couldn't tell you, but it was nice to not need to look at the words for a chance.
Confirmation was presided over by the bishop of Central Tanganyika, The Rt. Revd. Godfrey Mdimi Mhogolo.  The entire service was in Swahili, but even so, I didn't feel completely lost.  I may not have understood his 45 minute sermon or knew what I was actually saying, but I knew he was giving a sermon and could tell when I was praying.  I even picked up a couple of words.  I'm pretty sure that at some point, he was telling a story about a table that had cake and chapatti, and even picked up on some numbers on occasion. 

During the part of the service when the actual confirmation was taking place, I tried to keep track of the number of people who were confirmed.  I'm not exactly sure, but I have a general idea.  After the part of the service when they are asked about their faith and affirm their beliefs, they were called up, 3 rows at a time, to line up at the kneeler at the front where Bishop Mdimi would lay hands on them. They did this 4 times.  I estimated that about 10 young people could fit on a pew, which means... 120? 

I couldn't help but remember my own confirmation and note the differences.  First of all, I was in high school and most of these were younger.  I had a small service at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Meeteetse, Wyoming.  You could easily count those of us who were confirmed, though don't ask me how many there were.  Maybe 10?  I remember being excited and nervous at the same time.  I hated having attention focused on me and had to try  not to cringe every time someone wanted to take my picture.

And speaking of pictures, can you see all the people standing up in this one?  Parents and family members came equipped with cameras, tripods, and video cameras.  It reminded me of reporters covering a press conference, all vying for the best spot.  This picture was taken before the service, before they asked them to be sure to stand to the side and not across the front, which resulted in a group of tripods set up facing the pulpit and several men with cameras standing to the side at the front.  There are also a lot of places to sit in this picture.  I couldn't see any pew once it started.  People were sitting shoulder-to-shoulder, overlapping at times, and always with younger children on laps.
After each one had been blessed by the bishop, the choir sang one more song, and those of us who only understand English snuck out the back at the advice of the priest sitting next to us.  Apparently all that was left was listening to any visiting bishops speak, in Swahili, and we weren't ready to try to understand what they were saying.  We didn't feel too bad about it though.  We had already been there for almost 3 hours between the two services! 
This little guy likes to join us for Sunday services.  I've noticed him the last few weeks.  Here, he is sitting in front of one of the windows in the roof.  He makes me smile every Sunday!


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