Two Sabbaths Ago
It’s Sabbath and as per usual we took a trip up to Melamoo Village where we are holding a Branch Sabbath School. The trip is really quite an experience if you have never been there before! There is a “paved” road which runs right over the mountain to the other side where a small village sits, nestled among the bamboo trees and in the jungles. The road itself is in very poor condition and extremely steep. In some places there are more potholes than road. It gets so steep that even in first gear your 4X4 groans and moans as it tries to keep the wheels turning. It’s so steep that seldom do you get above third gear. Mostly second and first gear all the way! Twisting and winding up, up and eventually over the top of the mountain, and then down the other side. Melamoo is a good hours’ drive from where we stay.
We used to meet in a family’s bamboo hut where we would all crowd together on the bamboo floor. But last Sabbath we were in for a surprise. The family in whose hut we usually visited have obtained a small piece of land on the hillside for a church!
Some boys were hired and they began the huge task of “cutting out” a huge chunk of the hillside, in order to level it for the new church building. When we arrived that Sabbath, the leveling-out work was complete. They had a huge plastic sheet laid on the ground, as well as several mats to sit on. This was our new church site! Praise the Lord. If you would like to see photo’s just click here!
We always take a group of students with us when we visit Melamoo village, and everyone was excited to have our first worship service on the new site. A small group had gathered, along with curious on lookers! How wonderful it was to have church outdoors in God’s nature! Sitting among the jungle trees and listening to the sounds of nature, as well as the villagers all around us. We really felt like a “Light on the Hill”.
Last Sabbath we visited the local SDA church in Mae Salit. This is about three kilometers from where we stay. It’s a small wooden church built on stilts, up on a hillside. You need to park your vehicle at the foot of the hill and then begin your walk up a very steep pathway. You cross over a stream on a very rickety bamboo footbridge, and then up a steep cement pathway.
The little wooden church is soon filled to capacity with happy singing children. The many hard wooden benches are simply not enough to seat everyone. Mothers with babies sit outside on the veranda. Others sit in the shade under the church.
Today is a special day! Many babies will be dedicated, and that will take some time. Today is also a Baptism, followed by Communion Service. Then everyone will leave the church and go to the pastor’s house for lunch. But before lunch the pastor has asked that I preach another sermon at his house! THEN we will have lunch! All in all it was going to be a very looonng day!
I counted six people in total that were going to be baptized. Two of whom came from Melamoo village where we hold our Branch Sabbath School. Praise the Lord! Already we see the results of seed that has been planted.
The baptismal font is a small brick pool which is outside the church in the open, and filled with cold mountain water. Everyone stands around eagerly watching and singing hymns, while the baptism takes place. If you would like to see a video clip of the baptism (6 minutes), you can do so by clicking here!
Communion Service is also a little different! The foot-washing gets done outside the church in the open. There is no separate place for men and women, you just find the nearest shady spot where you can wash someone’s feet. It’s very different yet very nice. Water is obtained from a huge rain water drum at the entrance to the church, and there are very few towels to go round. So after someone has washed your feet, you just stand in your sandals (flip-flops) with wet feet and then wash the other persons feet. No real need for towels, as it is so hot your feet dry very quickly. The cold water on your feet is very refreshing in the heat of the day. Here you are surrounded by village huts, the local dogs, chickens, pigs, crying babies etc. , not to mention curious onlookers!
Finally the service draws to a close and everyone walks to the pastor’s house. Luckily he does not stay too far from the church(about 1km), but in the midday heat you are thirsty and tired by the time you reach the house.
The house has a large sitting room area, and all the children shuffle in. There is not nearly enough space for everyone, so the rest of the children and teachers sit on the veranda, and the stairs leading up to his wooden house. The window shutters are opened and everyone is seated and ready for their second sermon. Just before it was time for me to stand up and preach someone walked in with a huge birthday cake!
Apparently it was someone’s birthday (I think the pastor’s son), and we all had to first sing Happy Birthday to him. Watch him blow out the candles, and then I could begin. I tried to make my message as short as possible, as I had an audience of very hungry, tired and thirsty faces staring back up at me! I’ve never had to preach through windows to people seated outside before – it was all very challenging, yet exciting.
I am not sure how your Sabbath was, but I must say I was truly blessed?
If you would like to see more pictures just click here!
You can also click here to see the video of the baptism (6 minutes).
I look forward to that day when we can all meet together in God’s kingdom to celebrate that first Sabbath together in our new home!
May God keep us all faithful until that day.