We woke to a drizzling rain. The rain is welcome as yesterday one of the water tanks ran dry. At 6:30 am the church drum pounded out a rhythm that sounded like it would never end. We ate a little breakfast and got ready to walk down the hill to the church service.
The church building is a long building made of bush materials. The floor is loose pieces of coral. It is a typical Anglican style church. A wide aisle separates the women’s side from the men’s. As worshipers enter the church they drop monetary gifts or lay produce from their gardens at a cement stand.
Heavy wooden benches provide seating with the added luxury of a back to lean upon. Scattered among the pews were kneeling pads woven from pandanas leaf. The two priests assigned to this church were not in the village so the service was lead by the local catechist. Prayers and liturgy were said in the English language with some people reading along in their prayer books, but much of it would be said by memory.The Scripture readings were read in English. Some day they will be able to read them from the Zabana New Testament.
After the service we wandered back to the house to wait for the drum for Sunday School. The appointed hour came and went and it appeared that Sunday School might be cancelled for the day. Eventually the drum was sounded and Lee, Robin and I went down. Lee and Robin are both Sunday School teachers. I went down to take some video and photos.
The Sunday School was filled with preschoolers through teenagers. The teacher led them in singing – some in English, some another local language and then in their own language of Zabana. Their strong voices belted out the songs in rich harmony. The kids were broken up into their various classes for a time of Bible teaching and then came together again for the closing time.
At my special request, the teachers helped arrange the kids in the new church building, that is almost complete, so we could video tape them singing in the Zabana language. Over 150 kids patiently stood in the church and joyously sang out – many with animated faces. What a privilege to be in this place and hear them sing and pray in their own language. I couldn’t help think about when we are all in heaven and standing at the throne singing praises to God. Maybe some of it will be in the Zabana language.
After lunch we played a board game that the Lees taught us and then we went down to the church. We were going to videotape the village kids playing a game with coconut shells, but when we got there we found a feast about to start to honor a woman who had died a year ago. People were standing in lines facing each other. Between the rows of people, banana leaves were laid end-to-end and covered with food. Sweet potatoes, fish, clams, rice and even sea turtle meat was ready to be enjoyed. After a word of prayer, the feasting began. Not one piece of silverware could be seen, but clamshells were being used as individual scoops by a few. Each person helped themselves to the food in front of them. People continued to eat as the family and friends of the deceased said a few words of kindness.
After a short time the food was finished, the bowls, pots and banana leaves were cleared away and the churchyard was returned to its normal state.
The kids soon gathered to play the coconut game for us. They had fun playing it and it was good to get it on video.
Tonight we are going on a crocodile hunt! We asked the boat driver who took us to the island yesterday if we could see a crocodile. Tonight the adventuresome among us will go out in the fiberglass boat and paddle along the coastline with a strong flashlight and see if we can spot a crocodile. We’ll keep you posted as to whether you can call us ‘Crocodile Matzke’ or not!
Sunday Night – ‘Crocodile Hunt’
Just after dark we made our way through the village to the house of our boat driver. The narrow muddy trail meandered between houses that were illuminated by kerosene lanterns. Our flashlights lit the trail in front of us and as we passed by the dark silhouette of a person we would greet them with ‘redu vehana’ (good evening) in Zabana.
Ian, our boat driver and host for the evening, lives in a house built on posts over the edge of the lagoon. We visited for a while and then we headed out in the fiberglass boat to look for crocodiles. Ian sat on the bow of the boat with a long paddle while his nephew steered from the stern. Vowing the kids to silence, the boat glided into the dark lagoon. The sky above was full of ominous gray clouds. The waveless water was black except for the phosphorescence stirred up by the paddles. Each time the paddle dipped into the water and was drawn back, the plankton were disturbed and emitted a trail of small glowing lights that faded behind us.
The shoreline around the lagoon was silhouetted against the gray sky. As we neared the far side, our hosts shone large flashlights along the shore looking for crocodile eyes peeking above the water or any other sign of a crocodile. Now and then we heard a noise in the mangrove trees at the edge, but no sign of any crocs. Occasionally our flashlights illuminated fish jumping out of the water and we wondered if something was under the water chasing them. The men said it was too early in the night for crocodiles and when it started to rain, we gave up the hunt. Our driver started up the engine and we motored back into the village and home to a shower and bed. Seeing a crocodile would have been fun, but we won’t soon forget the trip around the lagoon, listening to the sounds of nature and seeing the shore dotted with the lights of houses along the shoreline.
Tomorrow – Monday morning, we begin our teacher training workshop.