New year, new resolve and along with giving up booze for lent (which I am regretting after one day), I also decided to try again to find a church in Hong Kong that suits me and Eve. I have started going to a rather good bible study group run by a colleague so asked around the members and one church was suggested. It struck me as being a bit happy clappy for high church anglican me, but I am willing to have an open mind so trotted off there this Sunday.
It started off well. I was quite warmly greeted and told that I had the option of Eve attending Sunday school or the service. Finally, I thought, I can worship with my daughter. There were lots of children in the service, which started with two songs and Eve and a little boy danced happily at the back while people looked on smiling. I was feeling really rather positive that I had found a place that we could call our church.
Then it all went wrong. "Will all children under ten now leave" came the announcement. Um, what, my child? I didn't really feel I could pipe up and say that the nice lady outside had told me that children could stay in the service. So I left. We were carted off to a classroom where the children watched a video about buying a cow for a village in China. All well and good, except Eve had seen the climbing frame outside and was refusing to sit still. The video, which was a bit too raw in its detail of life in an impoverished village in China for your average toddler, ended with a large, fat man coming in to tell us that every child had to bring in twenty dollars next week to send to the village. Um, hello? Shouldn't children do something more meaningful than asking their parents for money? Earn it? Do a sponsored swim? But then this is Hong Kong where money is supposed to solve everything.
Then it got worse. All the parents left, except me. Three teenagers then taught the Sunday school. Except it involved giving the kids a colouring book about Jesus and then trying to stop them hitting each other. For about half an hour all they did was keep the kids colouring. After about ten minutes Eve was trying to make a break for the climbing frame again so I took it upon myself to read her the story she was colouring and try to engage her a bit. Then we sang a song, by which point Eve was so bored and annoyed with her Mummy not letting her go to see the climbing frame that she just went and opened the door herself.
Then all main service finished and all the parents came to pick up their children. So, in effect, all this actually turned out to be was moderately religious childcare. The teacher even had the audacity to tell me that Eve was a bit too young to concentrate for that long and maybe I should take her to the creche instead. I bit my tongue and restrained myself from simply replying that she was bored out of her mind colouring for 45 minutes.
So we left and I will not being going back. The sad thing is that Eve really quite enjoyed it and has been showing the Boy and H her little bible book that she coloured with real pride. She is even talking about Jesus. This is enough to keep me going and try to find a church that Eve and I are both going to enjoy being at together.
Watch this space.