On Sundays at Glide, I love it when we open the windows, knowing that all of the neighborhood can be part of the music we all sing together. It was no different in the small chapel in the heart of a slum in Nairobi today. Except that the windows today were crowded with smiling faces of local children peering in. The music was just as heartfelt and touching as anything we sing at Glide. What a gift today has been.
Music from the Huruma Tent of Prayer UMC
Today we traveled through Nairobi (by bus and matatu) to worship with the Huruma Tent of Prayer United Methodist Church. I've noticed that various slums in Nairobi have a few things in common: dirt roads, few cars, and streets lined with stalls selling things from cooked corn on the cob to used clothes. They are full of activity, full of people.
Today's sermon was partly about Psalm 30, "You turn my mourning into dancing." This was a hopeful message in the midst of so much that seemed so hopeless: I saw lives turned into dancing, people smiling, full of joy, praising.
One woman said to me, "Welcome home, my sister. So glad you are here." I felt that connection that I was present and finally at home. During part of the worship, a little girl came and sat on my lap. She held my hand and laid on my chest. We definitely had a connection, as did all the kids I played high-five with after church. What a beautiful day to worship and enjoy each other!
|The sermon was given in both English and Swahili. |
The Huruma pastor translated for Rev. Lloyd Nyarota (right)
|Everybody on board? Riding a matatu is definitely and "experience"|
|Standing at the front of the Huruma United Methodist Church with our new friends|
Imagine a lengthy and narrow rectangle shaped structure - 1,200 square feet large would be an over-generous guesstimation of its footprint... No wider than six stackable plastic chairs wide - with raw earth ground and stone under your feet - with the exception of a small patch of linoleum the size of a coffee table area rug underneath the preacher... Wooden branch beams no thicker than five inches in circumference with flat riveted sheet metal up above serving as a roof to keep the rain out - sheet metal walls covered with purple tapestry from floor to roof - and smack in the center of one Kawangware's 12 'middle-class' slums - - bursting (BURSTING!) with smiling faces, greeting us with the most arms-open welcoming imaginable.
A beautiful reflection was realizing that it doesn't matter if you're in the St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan, GLIDE on Taylor and Ellis in San Francisco, Notre Dame in Paris or the UMC Hurmura Tent of Prayers where the Ray of Hope Team visited today - every. single. sanctuary - whether it's a structure, or, if your own personal sanctuary is not a physical place, but within your own heart - each and every place of worship is beautiful, special and sacred in its own unique way.