Tuesday, December 16, 2008

it's not even winter yet

Was it one of the first or last storms of the year?

From the other end of the world...

Our friend John, who is serving in the Peace Corp sends daily updates...this one would make anyone smile.

Good morning,
It was an unexpected interesting weekend. Saturday evening my power was out (for about 4 hours) and I went down to the little chapel to see if anyone was out of power besides me. There were a few priests having coffee on a little patio just outside the chapel. One was the Provincial for the Silesians in this part of the world (he’s based in Melbourne Australia ). He was up for the ordination of one of the Samoan Deacons that transpired Saturday morning. Also, a priest from Fiji (he runs a seminary over there) was there also (it’s his place I’ll be staying at this week when I head to Fiji ). Because there was no Mass at Don Bosco on Sunday they asked if I’d like to join them at a Mass on the other side of the country. Naturally I took them up on the offer (they drive vehicles with AC). While we were chatting the power came on by the way.
At 8:00AM Sunday morning we were headed to the other end of the island. The Mass turned out to be a big shindig. Eight priests were included in the celebration along with about 16 alter boys and of course all the flowers, decorations etc. Mass lasted for 2 ½ hrs. Everyone had to make a speech it seemed (all in Samoan of course). It was so hot in the church that many people were leaving a wet imprint of their posteriors on the pews when they stood up (that’s the first time I’ve seen that).
When Mass was finished we headed back to the truck (parked next to the priests quarters). We were invited in for a drink (coffee I expected) before going to breakfast. We got seated on the veranda and out came a couple bottles of wine and beer (there were 7 of us). After an enjoyable half hour or so of chit-chat and a couple glasses of wine we headed across the street for breakfast.
When we got across the street I was really surprised. Here was a big fale (used for meetings etc. – a roof held up by pools around the edge). There were very large tables set up (with table cloths) and everyone seated was dressed in their finest. The guys I was with were the guests of honor so naturally they were seated at the head table. Even though I protested, I was seated up front also. From then on I was addressed as Father (that’s a first except for my kids). There was another large fale next to ours that housed a band, more people, and a group of traditional Samoan dancers.
As with every Samoan get-together, food was plentiful and piled everywhere. Young adults (men and woman both) served beer (to the head table only), and different kinds of food dishes to everyone (guests are always feed first). There was taro; Oka (raw fish that is delicious) fried chicken, salads, a big platter of lobster and crab and a whole pig (about 40 lbs) almost in front of me. There were also several young women lined up in front of the head table fanning both us and the flies. It was one of the most elegant feasts that I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending (and naturally I didn’t have my camera).
At the end of the meal there were more speeches and then the gift giving started (people are always giving away most everything they have around here). The new priest had his brother hand out envelopes to everyone seated at the head table by name (including me) and evidently some close friends in the audience. When I got home I opened it and there was a 50 tala note. I was shocked. I’d only met the fellow once before when he gave me a ride to town and that’s a lot of money in Samoa . That poor young fellow will be paying for those gifts and that feed they put on for years. He certainly made a very positive impression on all those that attended though (his village probably covered the food bill). You only get ordained once in a lifetime so it should be special.
When I got back home (at about 2:30P) it wasn’t difficult in joining the rest of the country in a Sunday afternoon tradition; malolo (a nap). Another memory chalked up.
Have a great week. Fa, soifua………………..john

I love the 'tweedy-ness' of this, but upon inspection, I've already botched it up...argh!

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