Thursday, December 24
Today we began our preparations for the big Christmas dinner tomorrow. Just after breakfast, we began scraping coconut (we ended up scraping 24 in all) and obikola and peeling umalau. We'll cook our parcels of lelenga on the bottom of the motu and put our umalau on top. Then, we'll share the umalau for supper tonight and save the lelenga for tomorrow.
Melissa came about 9 a.m. to help, and Pogo showed up soon afterward. Our porch was full of scraping and peeling and laughing! To prepare the umalau, we took spoon handles and carved out holes in the umalu. Then we filled the holes with the "rumit" (coconut milk) that we had boiled and then put the scraped out umalau back in the hole. When we put the umalau in the trays, we poured the leftover rumit on top. We've made lelenga several times, and we're beginning to become familiar with how to make it. But we've never made it in small parcels. So, Pogo taught us how to take two leaves, pour in two spoonfuls, fold the leaves and tear a little bit of leaf to wrap around and tie the parcel. We took a popcorn break (see the picture with Pogo and Melissa show off their bowls), and Joy played with some of the neighbor kids. They loved the stickers she brought!
We took the stones to our new kitchen and set up the oven while the guys worked around us. Melissa made all of the small children leave while the stones heated. Because this was the first time the stones were heated, they popped and broke and threw small pieces of hot rock around the kitchen. When the coconut husks and wood were reduced to ashes, the stones glowed with heat and we put the lelenga in the "oven". It was mid-afternoon, about time for the other villages to arrive, so Melissa and Pogo quickly cleaned the porch while we cleaned up the dishes.