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I apologize for the extremely post, but I needed to vent it all out. I also apologize for my bad command of the English language.
I recently moved from Egypt to North America. I came from a well-established Church in Egypt with excellent: services, priests, congregation, deacon chorus, and youth groups. I used to have a great group of friends from both sexes whom I used to play soccer with (not the girls of course), eat out with, attend midnight praise (tasbeha) with, and often be the first people in church on mass days. We had a very healthy Christian friendship and we used to often gather up and memorize complex rare hymns together in a plea to revive them.
One day, my parents gladly came and informed my brother and I about a successful immigration file to North America. Fast forward to the first Sunday in my new church, I come early enough to serve as a deacon. I see a couple of old deacons and a single young deacon (let's call him Kiro). Church service starts and is very concise and shortened. Deacon population remain at 4 until some more young deacons show up. To put you in context, I am an 18-year-old male, who is in first year university. The young deacons who just arrived were in their low thirties and had a modest knowledge of hymns, but enough to get through the mass. The deacons' chorus is then flooded by children aged 6-12 who arrive later into the mass at around the beginning of the Pauline epistle. The overall deacon's chorus now contains three old "uncles", three older youths, a dozen of noisy kids, Kiro, and I. Mass was done and it was Sunday school/ youth meeting time. At the back row I saw the 4 youths who were first year university students as well.
I approached them and introduced myself and we were engaged with a conversation about my origin and my interests. To be honest, they were very accommodating and friendly. Sunday school was not a bad experience however the 30-minute period felt like a free sample, like the one you get from Costco, compared to the full deal 1.5 hr multi-segment Sunday School service I used to attend in Egypt.
At Sunday School, I was surprised with a handful of other youth whom I've not seen in the mass. After Sunday school, the youth invited me to go have brunch at a restaurant. I thought to myself: "what a nice gesture of them!" I refused that day since I was still relatively new and still needed to settle in.
A couple of days later, I got a call from one of the guys inviting me to go out to a restaurant. I initially accepted since I wanted to get to know the guys more. However, I fortunately met up with Kiro at Walmart. Kiro told me that the restaurant they planned to go to was actually a shisha-bar! (hookah-bar). I was surprised at first because I was told that all the church youth would be there. However, Kiro told me to search up the restaurant, and yes it turned out to be a shisha-bar and he told me that all the kids go there to smoke shisha, including Abouna's son! At once I called the guy which called me and excused myself from the outing due to unforeseeable circumstances.
The first weekend after university started, the boys invited me out to go clubbing! Coming from a typical Coptic Egyptian youth group, my first thought went to a sports club, like nadi-el-ahli for instance. I heard one of the boys talk about getting drunk, so I immediately connected the dots, realized my sin, and explicitly excused myself from the outing.
I realized I was trapped among a flock of stray sheep. I noticed that Kiro did not hang out with the other boys and often secluded himself. I went closer to Kiro and found out he was a good christian boy who liked hymns as well, but was still attached to his old life in the middle east. He was always texting, chatting, and sharing Facebook posts with them. Kiro was an anti-social & secretive lad. We went out for dinner twice, but he always implies he's busy when I propose an outing. Kiro is definitely a better Christian than I am and I wanted to get to know him more and learn from him; however, my sociable and outgoing nature did not click with his antisocial personality.
The group of boys my age initially invited me to other outings such as restaurants, and cafes. However, they gradually stopped inviting me to places once I excused myself a couple of times (due to venue.) Some girls were involved in their activities, and some others distanced themselves from the youth group and made a group of friends from outside the flock. I believe in a long healthy christian relationship before commitment, so I would've loved to have met a handful of good christian girls whom I could consider for marriage later on. The idea of the religious/committed youth seemed alien to people of this church.
I feel very lonely now and unable to cope with school stress. What kept me going in Egypt were the frequent outings and gatherings which have now vanished from my life. I frequently questioned my morals and question if I should bend my boundary just a bit in order to fit in. What kept me going though was the thought that through the church's services and hymns I would keep myself free from malice yet peaceful. However, front row "uncles", who had a humble knowledge of rites and hymns, often rejected my proposals for hymns that I used to love hearing at my church and long for, due to "el wa2t (time constraint)." Abouna also often skipped on melismatic priest hymns/responses not due to his ignorance of the hymns but due to time constraints. I started losing interest when I attended the Christmas & Epiphany liturgies and was hurt by their conciseness and summarized-form. The mass was rushed and no Gregorian was prayed that day which made me lose interest in ecclesiastical occasions.