Monday, August 16, 2010

Bishop's Arrival

Saturday, July 31

Marulaon's choir finally held a practice last night. They discovered that another village had backed out of providing the choir for Sunday, so our choir had to prepare for two services. Aaron didn't get home until 11:30. I love to hear them singing, but the church is too close to the house to make sleeping possible.

Since our neighbors don't follow precise clock time, I decided that the alarm could be set for 3:30 and still be okay. I woke up easily and grabbed a hand full of havu and a big glass of water before I went down. I had some leftover banana cake in a container and I tossed in some packets of coffee mix so Eileen and her girls could enjoy an early breakfast. Everything was very still and quiet, so I admired the beautiful ocean under the moonlight for a little while. Then, I decided it was foolish to wait, so I sat down by Eileens's kitchen and began to peel the obikola. I'm really slow still, and I knew it would take me a long time. After I finished my bag, there was still no noise from her house, so I went up to our house for a bathroom break and another drink. I went down and pulled Eileen's bag of obikola from her kitchen and began to peel them, too. Sarah came down after a little while and asked if I wanted coffee, so she went back to the house brought me a mug of piping hot coffee as she navigated the dark rocky hill. She stayed and helped me peel. As it began to get light (a little after six), our friends began to stir. They couldn't believe I hadn't woken them. We all began to work on the lelenga with a vengeance! Olivia and Katherine came down and began to help scrape obikola, too.

A small market gathered for our usual Saturday morning, but most people were busy getting ready for the Bishop's arrival at 3:00. Everyone from the surrounding villages had planned to show up around noon. I went up to start the fire in my outdoor kitchen while Aaron left pavillion building and Eileen left lelenga making to attend another choir practice. While I was slowly getting the kindling ready, Sarah came flying up the hill to tell me that the Bishop's boat had arrived. All of the sudden, this sleepy little village went into overdrive. Very few things were ready for the Bishop's arrival, so the pavillion was quickly finished and the news was spread to gather on the beach for a ten o'clock welcoming party. Naris said she would finish parceling the lelenga so I could go change out of my smoky clothes. Aaron and I had been specifically asked to join the select group on the beach to welcome the Bishop and his entourage.

Boats began to bring the youths from Isabel to shore, and finally the Bishop with his family and several priests came ashore and we escorted them up the hill to the pavillion and the rest of our community who welcomed them with songs and speeches. By the time all of the welcoming was finished, I was so tired I was shaking. The Bishop's early arrival turned out to be a really good thing, because Aaron fixed a quick lunch and I crashed for a nap.

The confirmation service began around five o'clock. As our family was entering the packed church, Janet (the chief's wife) came out shaking her head. Even though the choir had reserved seating, she had so many in-laws in the choir that she couldn't find a place to sit. The Lavukal (along with most Melanesian cultures) have strict rules about interacting with inlaws. Over seventy children came to be confirmed. The boys sat on the right with over fifty youths from Isabel behind them. They filled up the men's side of the church. The girls to be confirmed sat on the left with the choir behind them. Our children sat in the floor alongside the wall while Aaron and I sang in the choir. Most of the adults had to sit in the floor at the back of the church or on the ground outside.

After the two hour service, everybody went to get the food they had prepared earlier. We brought a pot of rice and some parcels of lelenga. The eating and music began around eight o'clock, followed by dancing and singing provided by a bamboo band, the women of Karumalun, and the youths from Isabel. Aaron straggled home around 10:30, but the party went on until almost midnight. Our neighbors sure know how to celebrate!

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