Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sunday in Bougainville: February 1, 2009

A new experience.  Preaching in Bougainville.  The clouds cleared out for the first time in several days and it was a very warm morning (and I have to dress up!).  

Church was fun and interesting. Several different things going on and both Pidgin, English spoken with the local dialect thrown in from time to time.  The singing was typical of island singing, ragged beginning as one person starts it out and people join in a few at a time, but by the second verse, the harmonies (and dissonance) are in full bloom and it is wonderful.  The Wesleyans in Bougainville do not use instruments because that is what the Pentecostal churches do and we won’t be as worldly as they.  There is a push among the young to introduce instruments and so there is tension in the church over how worship music is to be used.  Sounds way too familiar.  

When it was my turn I got up to speak with not a little nervousness.  Stepping into something strange is always a bit scary.  I shouldn’t have worried.  God was right there to help.  I should 
mention here that one of the things I have been stressing with the men in class has been the importance of prayer for the preacher.  Ten minutes before class was to start, I gathered with the students and had them pray for me.  It was a very special time.  They are good men.

The message went well.  I told the story from 2 Chronicles 20 where a choir defeats an army.  The choir sang just before I got up to speak, so it was very timely and the people seemed to be with me throughout.  I had to speak very loudly, so my voice is a bit tired tonight.  Fortunately, I only had to preach it once, instead of the usual 4 times I would at Faith.   

After service there was “refreshment” which is really Sunday dinner.  It was good and the foods
 are familiar by now: kaukau, green vegetables, baked pumpkin, there was a fish and a chicken dish that I passed by and lots of rice.  The greens were a bit different than I had had and were quite bitter.  Otherwise, it was very tasty.  I am becoming a big fan of kaukau - the white sweet potato they have here.  The flesh is very similar to the consistency of boiled potatoes, but had that hint of sweetness so they can be eaten with nothing added and be quite enjoyable.  

When I arrived for refreshment, one of the women in the choir - a very outgoing sort - said she was sorry that she had kept her sunglasses on top of her head when she came forward to sing.  I joked with her that I thought she had four eyes and needed them and everyone laughed very loud.  Then I let her know I had not even noticed, but it did not matter.  The choir was good and we had a good day of worship.  

Chief Ezekiel showed me the drums they use for celebration and for communication with other villages.  They are very large, made out of logs.  They are dug out but only have a small slit open on the top through which all the material must be removed.  The Chief told me it takes many months of work to make these drums.  There were three there, each larger than the next.  They really follow the four part harmony pattern with these with the smallest being the highest and so on.  The bass drum was not there - Chief Ezekiel said it was what we would call a “woofer”!  (See yesterday's entry for a photo of Ezekiel and the drums)



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