Now, I bet many of you wanted to put matata after that word. Right? But I’m actually thinking of a different song – Hakuna wakaita sa Djesu. This is one of the songs that we regularly sing in church here, and means there is no one more powerful than Jesus. It’s in Ndau, one of the two main local languages here in Beira.

Apart from songs in different languages, there are other things that are different about church here. So this month I thought I’d give you a flavour of what a church service is like.

In my church, the service starts with a Bible study in groups, for around 30-45 minutes depending on when it starts. At the end of the Bible study, all the groups come together to say what they learnt and recite the memory verse (I saw this in Peru as well, but it still seems odd having a group of adults stand up and recite a verse). The added bonus of having a Bible study before the service is of course that by the time the actual service starts most people are actually there!

The next item on the agenda is always asking who has had a birthday the previous week, and singing Happy Birthday to them (despite the fact that this is one of the few songs in church in a language I understand, I still don’t have the whole song yet). It’s always a part of the service I appreciate, everybody celebrating with whoever became a year older, young or old.

Songs and prayers always break up each item from the next. These are all very ad hoc. For songs, the leader normally says “We’re going to sing a chorus” (or two, or three, or four), and the song seems to be chosen simply by who in the congregation sings first. Prayers are said by whoever the service leader decides at that moment.

As well as songs for everyone to sing, there are also often presentations from different groups in the church. During the presentation, someone in the congregation will often come and wave a capulana at the group to show their appreciation.

One song will always be to greet each other. Before this song, the leader will ask if there is anyone new in the church and get them to stand up and say their name. The greeting song is then either one to welcome visitors, or just to greet each other in the church. My favourite is definitely one where we give everyone high fives, and once I was visiting a church that sang “Good morning” in English.

At least one psalm will be read, either by the leader or with the leader reading odd verses and the congregation reading even verses. What isn’t usually read though until the sermon is the text that’s actually going to be preached on.

Each month has a theme and key verse, and the Bible studies and sermons usually are based on that theme. Sermons are also translated into a local language – which local language this is normally depends on the translator (I’ve now learnt for my church who translates into which language, but it’s always a guessing game when I go to another church).

One challenge in my church is always trying to work out the families. Families here don’t sit together (the children sit on one side, men on the other and the women at the back). Neither do they always arrive at the same time. One thing that does help though is that the whole family will sometimes wear matching outfits made from the same capulana – and yes, when I say the whole family I do mean the adults as well. Makes it so much easier to put people together.

That’s a taster of church life here in Beira. Some bits have taken some getting used to, but also some unexpected gems. During the last few weeks I’ve come to appreciate my church here more and more.