There’s nothing like going to your own church on Sabbath. It’s a comfortable because you enjoy worshipping God with people you know.
There’s also nothing like visiting a church far from home. Imagine visiting this little church in Sojwe (pronounced SO-jay) in Botswana. This would be a real privilege because your mission offerings have helped to build this church.
First, you should plan to get there before Sabbath school starts, or you won’t have a place to sit. The membership is growing fast, so they will need to buy more chairs soon. Adults and children are seated together for song service. There is no piano, but they don’t really need one. The song leader keeps time by thumping her Bible. Everyone seems to know all the words to each hymn. They sing in loud, full voices with lots of harmony.
When it is time to divide for classes, the children pick up their blue plastic chairs, head outdoors and arrange themselves under a shade tree. The teenagers take their chairs and sit beside the termite hill. When it’s time for church, the kids pick up their chairs and head back inside.
On the Sabbath we visited, there were only two cars in the large dirt parking lot. One member rode a bicycle to church, but everyone else walked.
The members are quick to greet each other and welcome any visitors. With a little practice you can learn the proper way to greet someone in Botswana. It’s a triple handshake: a handshake, a thumbshake, and a handshake. At the same time, place your left hand on your right arm, just below the elbow. (This comes from a long tradition of showing that you come in peace and carry no weapons.) Accompany this with a quick curtsy or a bow to accomplish a polite greeting. It’s actually very dignified, once you get it sorted out.
You might wonder about the metal bowl in the back of the church.Now and then someone will leave their seat, pick up the bowl, and go outside.Then they come back and return the bowl to its designated spot. After church, you’ll know exactly what it is for.
It’s very hot during the day in Botswana. Fortunately, there is a tap with running water outside. The metal bowl is used as a cup to take a drink. If there is a lineup, just pass the bowl along to the next person. Water is very precious in this dry country, so no one ever wastes a drop. Since nearly everyone has to walk home after church, it is important to have a good drink before starting back.
No matter how far away you are from home, there are certain things that make you feel at ease.The stars at night look like the stars you see at home. A smile and a friendly wave makes you feel good inside. A warm welcome at any Adventist church where you can worship God makes you thankful to be part of a worldwide church family.
Remember to offer a friendly welcome to visitors at your church. You never know how far from home they may be.
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