Last Sunday our family of only eight people managed to be in five different churches. Marie went to LCC (Larnaca Community church), where she's been active for almost a year now, and Jacob went to the house church, which we as a family started attending regularly two and a half years ago. For nearly a year, I have been more often than not staying home with the three younger girls, but occasionally attend LCC, the house church, Grace Church, or St. Helena's. Last Sunday we went to Grace Church. Jörn and Lukas were in Germany, and Lukas went to church with the friends with whom he spent the weekend, and Jörn went to our home church in Düsseldorf, where he also had the opportunity to make a small presentation about what he does here in Cyprus.
This Sunday was more back to usual, in that Marie went to LCC and Jörn and the boys went to the house church, except that Katie also joined them at the house church, as a new Sunday school has been started there. (While I don't think there's anything at all wrong with children staying in a regular church service, nor do I like it when children are not welcome in a church service, three hours or more was simply too long, in my opinion, to expect any child to sit still AND to not resent being forced to be there. Or at least, it was too long for me...) So it was just Helen and Elisabeth who went with me this morning to yet another local congregation, the Greek Evangelical Church, for the first time.
I enjoyed the singing very much, being familiar with a couple of songs from the house fellowship (which is bilingual, but most of the singing is in Greek), and at least knowing the tunes of some of the others, although I hadn't heard them in Greek before. Only one or two were totally new to me, but not difficult to follow, and I understood almost everything. I understood a great deal of the talking from the front, as well, although it would have been difficult for me to translate, because my energy was going into understanding the gist of things and there wasn't any energy left to look for English words. The man who did the children's talk asked me if the children speak Greek, and when I said no, he asked someone else to simultaneously interpret. Although that was thoughtful of them, I really don't think my 17-month-old and three-year-old got much out of it anyway, being about persecuted Christians in Egypt, and then comparing it to how we might feel at school as compared to home. As I find simultaneous interpreting extremely distracting when I understand both of the languages, even as limited as my Greek still is, I probably understood less of it myself than if it had just been in Greek.
After that, "the children" were released for Sunday school. The children consisted of Helen, Elisabeth, a baby who's about six or eight months old, and one girl who I'm guessing was around 12 or 14. The baby didn't go out and I didn't plan to go out with mine, but when someone else suggested it, I figured I might as well, as they were getting a bit restless anyway. However, we never did find that one girl (and I don't think she went to "Sunday school", as when she came back towards the end, she had a drink cup from the bakery with her...), and eventually went back in for the sermon after all. The sermon was actually mostly in English, by someone who is visiting Cyprus for three months, from Philadelphia. (I spoke very briefly with his wife afterwards, which is how I know that.) As it was consecutively interpreted, rather than simultaneously, it was easy to follow and good for my Greek, as well. The talk around communion was all in Greek again, and the final song.
And then we came home and had lunch. Marie put in a brief appearance before heading off to basketball, and Jörn, Lukas, and Katie just arrived home. (Jacob is also at basketball now.) We'll be leaving in a few minutes to go to Richard and Sue's house, where we spend every other Sunday afternoon and have dinner. Marie and Jacob will join us there after basketball, so we'll finally all be together as a family then for the first time today. And tomorrow we might get around to making an Advent wreath.
Edited: Actually, Jacob didn't go to basketball today, but I hadn't seen him come in, because he went straight to his room to work on a card he was making. I was rather startled to see him when we left the house. 8:20 p.m. now, everyone home, four children heading for bed imminently...