I went to the Catholic Church in Namaacha with my host family during the first two weekends of homestay. But, for a variety of reasons including the fact that mass is usually two to three hours long and Sundays are my only free day all week, I have been successfully avoiding mass since the third week. Maybe not the best choice for my soul, but rather necessary for my sanity.
However, this weekend was my host cousin (I think?)’s confirmation, and I told her that I would attend. My mae informed me that we would be leaving the house at 8 am. Which meant I could sleep in, because last weekend when I did my laundry, my host aunt woke me up at 4:30. Before the sun was up. Anyways, I was shocked yesterday when, at 7:45, my mae was ready to go. We never ever leave or get anywhere early (which has been an ongoing struggle for my obsession with being awkwardly early to everything). So my mae and I set off for church, arriving at about 8:30. Which turned out to be a problem because mass started at 8. And since it was confirmation, the church (which is probably twice the size of St. Joseph’s) was completely packed. My mae sent me upstairs (which I later found out is the area for the old people and babies) where I stood. Through a 99-person confirmation and the resulting four hour mass.
Luckily, my electrolyte imbalance and dehydration that had resulted from my case of “Pre-colonial-southern-African-leader’s Revenge” (similar to Montezuma’s Revenge) had finally resolved itself. Otherwise I probably would have passed out. I stood next to this really nice nun (which gives me hope for the next two years of living on a Catholic mission), who shared her program with me.
In Mozambique, right after the collection, during the portion of mass when the gifts are being carried to the altar, they have a number of people carry items of food to the altar as well. I imagine that this food is being donated by the congregation, but I don’t actually know. Anyways, in the States this procession is usually all of four people and during the two masses I went to earlier in Moz, it was about 10 people. However, because the Bishop was there and it was confirmation, the procession yesterday was about 30-40 people. I zoned out a bit during this part, but the nun elbowed me and said “that goat looks fresh.” At first I thought that my Portuguese skills (or lack thereof) had just massively misinterpreted what she had said, so I asked her to repeat. Turns out my Portuguese was correct, and at the end of the procession, two men were carrying (a fairly large) live goat up to the altar. Where they presented it to the Bishop and then quickly carried it back outside.
After mass, I went to study for my final language test. And split close to a gallon of neapolitan ice cream with three other people. It was amazing.
I’m in Namaacha until the morning of December 8th and then will be heading to Maputo for swearing-in at the US Ambassador’s residence. After that, I will be at a supervisor’s conference until Monday when I finally move into my new house. I am so beyond ready to be living by myself (I have a site-mate who will be living about five houses away). Then it’s on to a month of intense chemistry cramming so that I can start teaching chemistry (in Portuguese) in the middle of January. I’m a little/a lot freaked out about teaching chem, but it’ll work out in the end (and will be great for my Portuguese skills). Prayers for the rapid accumulation of chemistry knowledge would be appreciated. I hope that everyone is enjoying the holiday season (and that finals are going well)! Miss you all!