Church in Togo

Eau de Vie Church

The invitation read  “Les femmes de l’eglise “Eau de Vie” de Kpotame vous invitent à prendre part à leur fête qui aura lieu le 04 Novembre 2018 à 08 heures précises.”  (The ladies of the “Water of Life” church invite you to partake in their celebration on the 4th of November at 8am sharp) My first invitation to attend church in Africa was from Akofa, the Penny family’s house-help.  On that Sunday morning, Christine (my good friend here on the compound) and I went together in our best African skirts to the church 3 miles up the road and down a really bumpy side street, which was more like a off-roading road than a street!   Chris informed me before we left that we needed to bring a gift to exchange with the ladies, so we each took an African handmade bag and put some money in it to give to Akofa. I had no idea what to expect but Chris mentioned it would most likely be a very long service and quiet loud, lots of singing and dancing, and the seats would be really uncomfortable…she was right on all three!

Upon arriving we were immediately created by Akofa and several other ladies.  We took a seat and instantly a little girl came and sat beside us, she looked no more than three years old.  Chris told me that it’s customary for the Togolese people to send one of their children to go sit with a newcomer so they don’t feel lonely or unwelcome.  Every lady that was part of the lady’s group wore their best white embroidered shirts and beautiful colored fabric skirts, and under each of their seats was a silver pot or some sort of gift.

 The service began with some hymns, accompanied by trumpet,  in French and in Ewe (pronounced eh-vay). Once the worship was over, the lead Pastor’s wife welcomed all the ladies and announced they would be starting the ladies service now.  First they were going to exchange gifts with the ladies whom they been praying for this past month or year, I lost that part in translation the other Pastor’s wife who was translating in French spoke so softly and wasn’t aloud to really finish speaking  before the other lady spoke again! But for however long they did pray for each other, they did so without the other lady knowing and would now be revealing who they had been praying for and give them a gift. I looked at the center of the church and saw that that would mean we may be here a while since there were at least 25-30 women sitting in the middle section of the church!!  Chris was right again church was going to be long…I hoped that my poor back would last that long sitting on these very hard pews! The first lady to go was the lead Pastor’s wife, she announced which “Madame”  she had been praying for and they all clapped and got really excited as the lady approached the front of the church dancing.  The ladies hugged and proceeded to sing and dance together.

This went on for an hour…meanwhile behind me sat four kids, three of  which had snuck in some glitter in a dried up tube of glue. They were sharing it amongst themselves and spreading it all over their hands and arms.  The youngest of them decided she was going to smear it across her face! I turned around to see what all the commotion was for, well she looked like a glitter raccoon.  The kids were frantically trying to remove the glitter off her face, but it was so humid and hot in the church that the sweat on her little face had stuck the glitter on pretty good!  I tapped Chris on the shoulder and motioned for her to look behind her. A few minutes later the little boy sitting next to her touched my arm, I turned around and he just looked at me like a deer in headlights…was I going to get mad or would what he had done be ok ?!  I just smiled and he had this look of relief on his face. The glittered girl decided she would do the same thing, this is a frequent thing amongst the children here they all want to touch the Yovo’s (white skin) skin, well her hands were entirely covered in glitter so she left a trail of it on my arm.  She thought that was so funny that she had to do it again. My arm was now green with glitter! This went on for about 10 minutes until I had an entire arm covered with glitter. Then she wanted to touch my hands too, so let’s just say this little game became quite popular and I was now the glittered Yovo!  

Getting glittered! 
Akofa dancing with and her gift 

   Once the gift exchange was over all the ladies danced in a circle with their gifts on their  heads, sang loudly, and marched out of the church. The pastor then did a mini sermon and Chris and I thought afterwards that meant the  service was now over, but we were wrong and Akofa met us at the door and said we needed to go back to our seats they had a couple songs they were going to sing soon.  So we begrudgingly went back to our seats. The ladies came back into the church walking in two lines up to the front of the church while singing. They sang three songs, which reminded me of the music from the movie “The Power of One”, and then marched back out of the church.  They were beautifully sung and made me want to go up and dance with them while worshiping the Lord. Once over we thought for sure this time it was over, but even if it wasn’t I couldn’t sit any longer in the pews my back was beginning to really bother me. I had been suffering from back pain then for over 6 week and sitting on hard surfaces triggered terrible pain across my lower back.  But as we walked towards our car Akofa came over and thanked us for our gifts and for coming but we couldn’t leave yet. She took us both by the arm and lead us down the road to a house, which we later learned was the Pastor’s. They brought out a couple chairs and a table, and now Chris and I were a bit confused as to what was going on. Akofa and several other ladies were going in and out of the house very quickly.   Akofa finally stopped long enough for us to ask her what was going on, well they were going to feed us lunch now! I couldn’t believe it what a truly awesome experience and blessing to partake in this meal. They served us some rice, which contained green beans and a red sauce in it, and beef which was a lot like beef jerky in texture and quite flavorful, and lastly a bottle of soda and told us to enjoy our meal. Akofa said that since we were leaving early and they had planned to feed the whole congregation that the pastor’s wife told them to go and rush home to feed us!  We both felt guilty for leaving early and touched that they went out of their way to include us in this meal. When we finished our meal Akofa showed us all the food they had prepared this morning since 4am! I have never seen so many pots of rice, 50 kg of rice was used to feed this congregation!!

So many pots of rice…there are more behind me…

   Church in Africa is long,  loud, and hot but it is also a beautiful thing to be a part of.  To be able to witness our brothers and sisters in Christ here in Togo worshiping and serving the Lord was pure joy.  For them to see us and take the time to make sure we were included in the meal, even though we had left early, was such a touching  gesture and one I will never forget.

Chris, Akofa, and Elizabeth 

One Response to “Church in Togo”

  1.   Debra Greenlee Says:

    This is amazing! How beautiful! This experience will be a part of your heart forever. God bless you! Love you so much!

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