21 April 2013

I decided this morning I needed to write paint a picture with words to describe what has become a regular Sunday occurrence – Riviera Church.  Then I realized I could take real pictures of it all and you’d get a much better idea of the huge blessing that it is for me. So, here you go!

I feel the need to briefly pause and say – we really do work really hard here.  I wonder sometimes by writing about the fun weekend days and non-work goings-on that perhaps some of my readers may start to think that is all we do here.  Entirely untrue, though part of me just flinched at the fact that I feel I need to justify certain aspects of my life or be concerned about what my readers think… hmm.  Well, anyway, we all work really hard and by Sunday I’m definitely in need of a Sabbath rest.  Not sleep; that’s entirely different.  Rest, in a Shalom-peace-relational type way.  

The view from my lounge chair.
We have a corporate worship service, (we call it church sometimes) here on the ship on Sunday evenings, so that crew members are able to participate and get involved with local churches here in Conakry on Sunday mornings.  I’ve experienced many, many African services over the last four years that I’ve called this continent my home, and while they are wonderful and I encourage all new crew to attend, in this season of my life I don’t feel it’s the best thing for me.  I need Riviera church, or something similar if I stay here on the ship, to feel ready to face the new week with excitement and anticipation. 

So Riviera is a hotel not terribly far from the ship that we’ve struck a deal with – they allow us to use their pool area for free as long as we don’t bring in our own food or drinks, we need to buy theirs.  We have a shuttle that drives on the hour form the ship to the hotel and back, so it’s super convenient, too.  Some days the pool area is totally full of ship kids and their families, some days it’s empty.  It’s lovely, regardless. They have comfy padded lounge chairs in the sun and tables in the shade, and there’s usually some kind of music playing.  The pool is usually pretty clean (standards must be lowered in Africa), the ice in the drinks hasn’t made anyone sick (to my knowledge), and the food is delish. So overall, it’s pretty much awesome.
There are always kitties playing. They're cute as long as they don't try to play with me. 

Some of my lovely friends and I have taken to going on the first shuttle on Sunday mornings – 9am. Well, the shuttle is supposed to leave at 9am, but 9am Africa time, which is about 9:10 or 9:15.  We get there before most anyone else, so the shuttle isn’t full and we’re guaranteed chairs where we want them.
Necessities for church.
I bring my ipod, journal, kindle, sunscreen, and sunglasses – all the makings of a beautiful church service, right?  Well, it is.  We settle into our chairs and slather on the sunscreen, as the rays of the African sun making it’s way across the sky are too much even for my tan skin without some kind of protectant. About a half hour later I slip on my flip flops and go hunting for some coffee; just a few minutes later we are blessed with café au lait to enjoy. 
Cafe au lait.
As the morning continues on, I will settle in to the book I am reading, or I will write in my journal, or I will read my bible or pray or just stare into space and think.  If something I’m reading strikes me as ‘oh wow’, I’ll share it with my friends. We might talk for awhile or we might not, and eventually we all need to jump in the pool to cool off.  

As we draw nearer to midday we order some lunch, today it was hummus and cokes with ice. We’ll share whatever nuggets we’ve collected from our morning with whoever we’re reading or listening to; for one today it was the lyrics of a song that really struck her, for me it was a few lines of the book I was reading that stuck with me and we talked about for a bit. 
Hummus and Coke. Delish.
It’s the simplicity of the day and the richness of relationship that leads me to the shalom-rest that I so desperately need here.   I’m realizing more and more as I settle into this community and know I’ll be here for a significant period of time, that I need to make this rest not only a once-in-awhile thing, but a regular occurrence... whether I’m on the ship or able to get away for a few hours on a weekend. 
Something else I like about Riviera - they serve water in wine glasses. 
SO there you have it – a taste of my Sunday.  I’m going to try to post this now if the internet will cooperate… get ready for dinner in a bit and then enjoy the evening service tonight. I love love love weekends on the ship!
Hope your Sunday was divine :) Krissy

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