church

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Two men walk into a church.

A Maori man, probably in his 40’s, wearing a Bob Marley t-shirt, and a white boy, perhaps in his early 20’s in shorts and jandals.

As they enter, the older man turns towards the younger and points up towards the sign.

“Mansfield Street Gospel Hall…. Mansfield Gospel Hall…”, he says.

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He wears dark wrap around sunglasses and a long greying goatee. His head is completely shaven except for a little bit at the back.

Some keys hang from a lanyard around his neck and his black track pants with white stripes down the side meet bare feet.

As he opens the swinging doors of the church, he turns again and puts his finger to his mouth.

The boy in jandals gives a nod and they enter through the doors.

Directly inside the doors, a wooden partition blocks the view of the front of the church and forces new arrivals to turn left or right.

The two turn left, the older man walking slowly with hands behind back, and the younger making flip flop sounds. They take a seat at a pew right at the back and facing towards the middle, rather than the front like all the rest.

The boy sits with bad posture and hands in lap. The man with knees shaking.

In the pew in front of them (the first of the pews facing the front), three people sit.

A middle-aged man with light brown hair and beige collard shirt, a dark headed middle-aged female –also beige shirt but without the collar- and a younger man with longish black hair and dark blue t-shirt.

The woman in the middle is handed wine by a bearded man in short sleeves who approaches from the front. She drinks silently as the man next to her watches, resting his jawline in the crook of his hand.

They exchange the wine, he takes a sip, passes it back to the woman, and the man in short sleeves returns to take the glass.

The younger man with longish black hair and dark blue t-shirt rubs the back of his neck and scratches his head.

The man in the Bob Marley t-shirt continues to shake his knees and rub his face and the younger one in jandals stares at the ceiling with jaw dropped.

The three in front sit with their heads bowed.

-cough cough-

A microphoned voice comes from the front…

“We give thanks for the offering. Father God we thank and praise thee Lord for the preciousness God has given to us to come and talk around thy table and to take part in his worldly meetings….”

The man in the Bob Marley t-shirt begins to stand up to leave, but then quickly decides not to for some reason.

“…Heavenly Father, we thank and praise thee today. Father God we ask you to bless this little mite…

-cough cough-

“…that we have today, for thy work here, Heavenly Father, in New Zealand and in other parts of the world….the preciousness of our lord and saviour Jesus Christ…”

With the mite now blessed, the man in the Bob Marley t-shirt decides that the time is right to leave. He taps the boy in jandals on the knee, and makes three upwards motions with an upturned hand.

The boy, once again gives a nod, and they walk out.

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