From January 27
The big day of celebration began with lots of early bell banging to wake up everybody for communion and morning prayer. The kids started school as soon as they had finished their “Jesus Time” because they wanted to be able to go down to the feast and eat with their friends. Around 11 o'clock, the bell rang for people to begin to take their food and themselves down to the feast. I took out the kora and tried to cut it into slices, but it was still too warm and fell apart. I ran over Nancy's house (Chairman Hensi's wife) and asked her what to do, and she said I could just take the whole tray down with a spoon. Our camera battery died just as the feast was beginning, and we discovered that the battery charger isn't working, but there is just no way to describe a feast here. Poles were stuck in the ground and more poles were laid on top and covered with banana leaves to create several long tables. Parcels of food, halves of fish, spoonfuls of rice, and chunks of pig filled the tables. Everybody staked out their favorite spot and waved flies away with their hands or small branches. At the “big man” table, there were bowls of rice, but everybody just uses their hands to eat. Our kids love it! A list of names was read out to qualify people for the “big man” table, including leaders of the community. Our family was included on the list, so I asked Kiko if there was any way we could get out of it. She told me that it was an honor and that we should just accept it. The kids begged to eat with their friends, and Kiko said that would be okay.
After the food was blessed, everybody grabbed whatever they could hold and sat down to eat. Eating was followed by speeches and presentations of bags of rice to the District Priest and a man from Marulaon who had helped finance the celebration. Then we were dismissed until the evening festivities began.
I walked to the store to buy some tea and sugar as a small gift for the family to use this evening. On the way, I visited with some friends whose little girl had burned her hand. I promised to come back and doctor her hand later. The little girl's mama, Sylvester, also mentioned that she didn't have any more uvikola/cassava to make lelenga for the District Priest's farewell tour on Sunday. I invited her to come with me to the garden and take some of my uvikola. The full sun of the morning was quickly being covered up by dark clouds approaching from the East, so I went to move the clothes underneath the house. The full sun has been nice for the batteries, but the things I just planted could use a good rain.
Later, I walked down to find Susie, the little girl with the burned hand. I found her on the steps of one of the two little stores here in Marulaon. After I got her hand fixed up, the lady who runs the store, Margo, asked me to take a look at her daughter's leg. The little girl had weepy sores all over her ankle and the top of her right foot. I asked if I could take her daughter up to my house so I could wash her foot well. We have a great brand of antibacterial soap here that does wonders for sores. I washed her foot well and made a big bandage out of some gauze liberally dosed with antibacterial ointment and took her back down to her mom, along with some soap for her mom to continue to wash the sores. I returned to the house and had just begun to take clothes off the line when Mary Edith came hustling up the hill and in an agitated voice explained that a knife had just fallen on her baby's head. Would I be willing to bandage it? Her husband came close behind her carrying the baby and holding leaves on the cut. We love the leaves they have here, Aaron had benefited from their medicinal properties many times. Thankfully, the bleeding had already stopped. Aaron and I worked together with the flustered parents and very calm baby. We grabbed our hair cutting scissors and asked the dad to cut the baby's hair so the bandage would stick. His hands were shaking so much we were afraid he was going to cut the baby's skin! Baby Morris was so still and quiet and good until we began to try and tape the gauze to his head. Then Aaron just laid the baby on his lap, and the little one settled down all comfy while we finished taking care of the wound. Whew!
After Evening Prayer, we waited and listened a while to know when to go down for the rest of the festivities. They were supposed to start around six or seven, Solomon Time. At eight-thirty, we decided to stay home, so we turned off the lights. Of course, the music began right after we turned off the lights!