My counterpart called me up on a Sunday, 2 January, and asked if I would be interested in going to a Melitopol church that was founded by American citizens. Of course I agreed, because I never decline an invitation, especially in this new town of mine. We were picked up by a future student of mine’s mother and driven southeast slightly outside of the city to the middle of nowhere and factories and a giant church complex. There was a pyramid fountain and palm trees encased in glass or plastic to shield them from the cold. This is Ukraine, afterall. We have to keep our palm trees warm...
I knew that going to the church would be weird, but I figured it would be a learning experience. Plus, we weren’t supposed to actually go to a church service. However, by the time I was walked into the service hall with its’ giant flat screen TVs and ushered into a seat, it was too late. No big deal. New church, new people, new experience. An hour of life is not a lot to give, right?
One hour turned into three and a half hours. Three and a half very interesting, long, and confusing hours. The service hall was huge, with two floors and two giant flat screen TVs. Cameras circulated above all the churchgoers and over the stage which held a full band—two guitar players, a drummer behind a glass case, a bassist, a cellist, violinist, rockgroupish singers, and a chorus of young women all dressed in black with pink belts. The music was very pop rocky and melodious. Some people were jumping up and down in the crowd and holding their hands upwards. Some were whispering under their breath. A lot of people were overcome and crying. One woman moaned and sobbed. All while the camera circled above over their prey. I made sure to look down to the floor every time the camera swooped over my head.
I guess I can say that I am glad I had this experience, but I will never do it again. I respect everyone’s right to practice their religion and in the end, this experience made me think of mine—which is not really a religion at all, but a positive mindset.