Fr Simon Brandes, Simon Morgan and Simon Gordon Clark, a travelling companion from East London, joined in mass at St Simon & St Jude on 13 June 2010. On arrival they were greeted by the local Mother’s Union who sang and danced outside the church.
This was followed by a greeting from the many children in St Simon & St Jude’s children’s church.
It took some time for the service to begin, unsurprising as many people had walked long distances. Apparently, some members of the congregation walked between 15 and 20 kms to join the service. When it began the service, which followed the Book of Common Prayer, was conducted in Kwanyama, although outside the formal language of the service Fr Elias spoke in Portuguese, with Portasio Hileni or Toni Cusso, a church worker, translating him into Kwanyama.
Fr Simon Brandes co-officiated with Fr Elias and Fr Simon Hiambodi. The service was an uplifting, faith affirming combination of singing, movement, dancing in the aisles, quiet moments, carefully listened to passages from the Bible and prayer.
Hymns were sung in Kwanyama and many treasured well thumbed Kwanyama hymn books could be seen. A youth choir lead the singing, with the quality and volume of the music being memorable.
A series of gifts were exchanged. ‘TATT’ – Time at Ten Thirty – St Nicholas’ Children’s Church – had made a beautifully coloured large altar frontal for St Simon & St Jude which was handed over to loud ululating and another dance up the aisle, and in return hand woven straw offertory bowls were produced by the Angolans.
Numerous babies, small children and adults were baptised by Fr Simon Brandes,
Fr Simon Hiambodi heard an (under the breath) public confession from a handful of adults, the procession to place cash in the offertory bowls weaved around the church, the choir jived to and fro, the Mother’s Union sang a hymn they had learned especially, the queue for communion or for a blessing was long and many many hymns were sung. All told, more than three hours passed by before the service finished. It was an extraordinary experience for those of us from West London participating in it, quite unlike anything that can be seen on Chiswick Mall; a great testament to the strength of people’s faith and a powerful indication of how central the church in Namacunde is to the community’s life.