My first American church experience
Woke up around 7.00 this morning to shower and get ready for my first church experience in America! My host family attends a church called "Grace Gathering", in case you want to look it up. Back in Sweden I did not normally go to church. Just a few times a year when my sister performs with her choir.. so today was a very new experience for me. And in many ways it was very different from what I am used to back in Sweden. The church was a pretty big building with offices, a cafeteria and also a gymnasium - where the "mass" took place. Actually they did not refer to it as a mass, but I do not remember the term. It is a non-denominational church, which means that they are open for any kind of Christianity. We sat in a circle surronding a stage, where the priest/pastor spoke. There was also a stage where the performers were placed. They did not play on a pipe organ.. it was actually more like a normal band. Piano, drums, the guitar.. and the singers were so good! I was suprised by how much they sang, and most people sang along. The lyrics appeared on three large screens. People even put their hands in the air and got a lot of feeling. The church was actually really casual. You could wear whatever you wanted really. People even ate during the.. I want to call it mass but yeah, I was told that is a catholic term?
So even though we sang a lot, there were also some talking involved. We talked about what it is like to not have a father present in your life. I could not really relate, since I grew up with a father who loved me, LOVES me. And who I love. But apparently about 1/3 of the people living her grow up without fathers.. and those people are more likely to have a "bad life". The stastistivs were so chocking.
After the "procedure" I introduced myself to a lot of peoplee (and most names I have already forgotten), but I did not get to meet any jonior girls who will attend New Haven High School! A girl named Carenna and I tried to hunt down someone who will be in my grade, but we did not succeed.
Sue, Todd and I walked back home, and Bianca came over (sophomore girl who I met on my first day here in New Haven). We had lunch, which was a delicious salad!! If my mom is reading this, remind me of giving you the recipe. Bianca and I took a walk around the neighborhood and talked about all sorts of things like the American flag, the election that is coming up, make up and future. By the time we came back home we were so swetty! Got to meet my host cousins (I think that is how we are "related") who loved to play Minecraft. They had actually tried the Swedish candy I brought and they loved Marabou Mjölk choklad! Bianca tried some Swedish salt liquorice and she turned out liking the "tyrkisk peber"!
I wanted to go get a pair of sneakers, so we went to Kohl's. I did not find any Converse shoes in the size 8,5.. nor any of the shoes I wanted.. Bianca did help me find a nice pair of joggers and a thin hoodie that goes with the dress code. Back in Sweden I used to be so cheap but I have saved so much money to come here.. I need to be able to treat myself.
We dropped Bianca of at her house and Sue dropped me of at Grace Gathering, because I wanted to try youth group, or MOMENTUM, as they call it. I find it kind of difficult to get to know new people but I got to talk to a few. It was fun though. When I arrived we were told to take our shoes of and then we partnered 2 and 2 and did this game where you were supposed to step on each other's feat. Won the first time, failed the second. Although I am not complaining about that because then we got pizza! I have had so much pizza this week.. I should be ashamed. But I bought joggers in large instead of medium, just in case. Haha. So after pizza we walked into this smaller room and played a game where you had to throw M&M's into your partners mouth. I am usually very competetive but Carenna and I kind of sucked to be honest! After that, the youth pastor (is that the correct term? Let us just call him Kyle) showed us a video of last year's olympiad - it is an event where kids from the church gets together and do fun competitions. I have not decided if I want to participate yet. We will see. After that he gave us the option to vote between worship and asking questions about life. Everyone voted for worship. So we spread out in the room and looked at videos with Christian music. Then we went to sit by the front of the room, and those who had bibles took them out (everyone had them except for me. I should download an app because I saw a lot ot the kids had that). Kyle read a piece from the bible which we discussed. Will not say that I participated much in that discussion.. but we talked a lot about how we try to be better than others and how we through social media create this fake life, in order to impress others and to seem like we are something that we are not.. while we instead should be the best version of the person God created us to be. All we got to do is to use the abilities God gave us and to serve others. We are not expected to do more but to do our best. These are not my words but I thought it was nice that we adressed an issue that I believe a lot of us can relate to. In the end we got a paper with 22 questions to ask ourselves, basically we were supposed to use it in order to "measure" how good of a Christian we are? Or I mean, how good our relationship with God is. Since I am not used to being at church and expressing my beliefs.. I suppose I have a lot to work on.
So for all the exchange students who will be attending church during their year even if you normally do not do it - be open and go anyway! It is most likely different from what you are used to and can be a great oppurtunity to meet people.