Today at the fellowship, I sat beside at least 4 different people at four different times. You could say there was a high turnover rate in my row. Moreover, in general, the service feels a little "busy" in that there's lots going on. People come for the first 15 minutes of the time, and then leave. Or people join for only the last 10 minutes of the service. Attending church here is very different than in America. Here, as people enter the sanctuary, they are eating their morning bread, talking on the cell phone, and or greeting their friends. (This care free entrance continues throughout the service as well.) During the service, people freely leave to use the restroom, or just leave entirely. Some of the older women come in carrying fresh produce that they just bought on the street. People are answering their cell phones. I remember last year, we even noticed that some of the guys were smoking in the back of the sanctuary.
Although I usually have a hard time concentrating during the service, I really enjoy attending. I love observing the older people in attendance. I love to see the way they interact with each other. Sometimes it’s polite; sometimes it’s not. I like the simpleness of the sanctuary. There is nothing fancy here: Wood pews, a wood pulpit, large windows that can turn a full 360 degrees to open and close. I love the greeters, the elderly women that say, “Bless you” in Chinese and hand you a bulletin.
The choir is another drawing point for me. They perform every week, and they do a pretty amazing job. They also have choir robes (that they wear every time). I noticed that the robes have changed since Easter. The formerly deep red robes with white sashes, are now creamy white robes with light pink sashes. There are usually two soloists—one bass and one soprano. The music is anywhere from loud and spirited to minor and melancholic. Oh yeah—and I forgot to mention that before the service starts, there is a time of practice where the congregation follows a song leader in singing through each hymn one time. This part really helps me because I have time to get the words down and look up new words that I don’t understand.