Sunday, December 21
In June, Kayla and Jason bought their plane tickets for their trip to the Solomon Islands. In July, Fiji Airways and Solomon Airlines began fussing like two spoiled toddlers. Because the two airlines have yet to work out their problems, our friends lost two days on each end of their trip. Four days lost meant we had only from one Thursday to the next Thursday. And we had to pack up our house in Marulaon and return to Honiara in the midst of our time together.
I grieved over potential lost experiences in this amazing culture and over time lost playing games and singing together. And then God stepped in. He didn't restore the lost time, our friends still had only a generous week in the Solomon Islands. But he gave us other gifts. Like finding out about the ordination of the priest on the other side of the Russell Islands only a week before it was to take place. Oh, and it would happen while our friends were here so they would get to experience it, too.
And discovering that a Mother's Union group of more than sixty people arrived this morning at 3:00 from the Lengo/Doku language group on Guadalcanal. Although our friends were going to miss Christmas in the village with all of its rich tradition and celebration, God gave them a traditional welcome party in which to participate! After church, everybody from Marulaon gathered on the beach to await the canoe shuttle service that was bringing the large group around to the prepared welcome area.
One of my friends asked if Sarah would be willing to participate in the welcome dancing, so my willing teenager sprinted up to the house to get the bark skirt she made last Christmas. Jason and Aaron joined the group of men that would give each guest a garland of flowers.
I was also asked to join the group of dancing women (thankfully, minus the traditional costumes!), Kayla stood in as family photographer, and the rest of the kids spread out among our friends to fulfill their roles in the community singing and baby holding.
Chief Leonard was all decked out to welcome the guests in traditional shell money and a dolphin teeth headdress that both belonged to his father.
When the group finally arrived, they were greeted with traditional warriors who shot arrows over their heads and challenged the visitors with spears. When everyone had finally come ashore, Chief Leonard welcomed them and the men of our village gave each visitor a necklace of flowers.
Then the party began! We had already been dancing and singing as the boats approached, but now the Marulaon ladies led the newly arrived group as we danced and sang our way almost to the end of the village
and back to the tables set with bowls of steaming food. It was one of the best cardio workouts I've ever had!
Marulaon gave speeches and songs, and the other group reciprocated. Then we filed through the lines to shake hands before our guests finally got to sit down and eat. When the introductions and polite formalities continued, I snuck into the shade feeling a little parched. I noticed Jason and Kayla hiding in the shade, too, so we snuck up to the house to sit down and get a drink and ended up realizing just how wiped out we were. So, we stayed at the house rehydrating until the rest of the family finally joined us when everything down below was finished. So thankful that our friends got to experience a little bit of life in our small corner of the world!