I spent all Saturday with my friend Han (yes, THAT Han) watching basketball. I really mean ALL Saturday. We were at the bar from about 2:30pm until maybe like 11/11:30pm. We watched the bar transition from Duke fans (awwww) to Kansas fans to UCLA fans. But I digress.
Han agreed to go to church with Floppy and I, but given that none of us knew what time "church" actually started, I said I would call her in the morning.
Cut to the next morning when I am all boozy and hungover, I get a text from Han at 9:30am. She asked if I knew what time we were going, and I said I had not checked yet. I immediately got off the phone and called for "show" times. The automated voice informed me at the English mass would be held at 10am followed by a mass in French at 11:30am. I called Flop to inform him about our dilemma, and his only reply was, "Dude, have you ever been to mass in a different language? It's kinda awesome." That was enough for me, so I told Han we were going and to pick me up at 11:10.
On our walk to the church, Han made the observation that it was strange they are having a mass solely in French as there aren't a lot of native French speakers in our neighborhood. No sooner did she say that did folks pass by of non-Caucasian descent wearing clothes not typically worn by folks in America. That's the best way I can say it (ok one woman was wearing a headdress). Han then noted, "Ohhh, I bet people from the Caribbean come here."
This was gonna be good.
We walk into the church, and probably 75% of the church was filled with people of African descent (note: at this time it was pretty clear these folks were not native Americans, but their origins were still unclear). The rest of the church was filled with whitey like us. We grabbed the flier they passed out, and took a seat. Of course it was all in French at first glance, so I didn't look that closely at it. Flop joined us soon after and we were off.
Now, let me make this clear. I know NO French. I thought "oui" was spelled "wee" until I was like 24. The only French I can speak to people is the French learned from Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast--which basically consists mostly of me repeating "le poisson, le poisson...hee hee hee haw haw haw" over and over again. Little did I know that "le poisson" means "the fish", and I was shouting "THE FISH THE FISH!" repeatedly when I was in Paris. I digress again.
The priest begins to speak, and Flop, who knows quite a bit of French began to translate which I would then pass on to Han.
"He's talking about how Jesus is resurrected."
"He's talking about how we need to model our lives after Christ."
"He's talking about how today is Easter."
I mean, duh. However, there are several problems with this whole scenario. The first is sometimes I couldn't understand what Flop would say, and would end up passing on bogus Jesus info to Han in our weird game of Telephone. Like, I think I told her once that Jesus likes Cheetos more than Doritos. Who doesn't think Cheetos are better than Doritos? I'll tell you who. Satan.
The other problem was sometimes Flop would translate incorrectly. At one point in the mass he informed me that they were going to "renovate baptism". I then turned around fully expecting to see about 80 babies behind me awaiting their key to passing through the gates of Heaven. I also had to prepare myself that 80 baptisms would mean I was gonna be there a while. Needless to say, he was wrong.
So now we're in the middle of mass, and Han reads the following passage from my handout. It says:
OFFERTOIRE: [Chant d'offertoire en langue Gouro de Cote d'Ivoire]So Han reads this, points to the top line, in bold, and asks me in a whisper, "Does that say this is offered in the language of the Ivory Coast?"
Fouanien bali dey dan kouman (bali) kougo tchin
Bezihi baba dey dan kouman (bali) kougo tchin
Kougo tchin bali. Kougo tchin bali. Kougo tchin bali, Kougo tchin bali.
Yyranienzin koula a bali zihi [Bis] Kougo tchin bali. Kougo tchin bali. [Bis]
Koule yraman fe nou (bali) bessi. Koule wi fa tri nou (bali) bessi. Bali bessi.
Kounon ile yile kounon ile. Kounon ile yile kounon ile, [Bis]
Koule blo winou (bali) bessi. Kouman dje fa tri nou (bali) bessi. Bali bessi. [Finale]
No sooner does she read this to me, then the music starts. I swear to god, it was something like straight out of Coming to America. Think of the most stereotypical African music you can think of, and that is what it sounded like. There were drums, dancing, and clapping. And it was glorious.
And then we all tried to sing along. Yep. Yours truly was trying to sing in a language native to the Ivory Coast. Here I was, surrounded by people who have most likely come to this country to escape atrocities in their country I can only witness in a movie like Blood Diamond, and me, the over-privileged white girl from Minnesota.
It took everything I could not to laugh. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't laughing at them. The music was actually really good. It was more the fact that somehow my path my life has taken had sent me there, surrounded from immigrants from the Ivory Coast. I had to bow my head to look like I was praying to hide the laughter.
Then there was communion. Normally people leave pew by pew to get the Eucharist. Not these folks. Nope.
Before we knew it, there was a free for all to the altar. I mean, we all looked at each other like,
Flop and I decided, "when in Rome..." and took Christ's love and ate it (I was thoroughly disappointed it wasn't a baguette. I mean, it IS in French...).
The end of mass finally came, and there was more dancing, singing in the language native to the Ivory Coast, and....clapping. And of course, what better way to end our French Church experience than with a round of applause.
I'm so going back. Who's with me?