The day started early with a 4:30 am departure from the house to head toward the far end of town where the cultural welcome for the festival began. We and many others arrived in the dark with a light drizzle falling. The various country delegations were sitting on the beach in their native costumes and took turns singing as everyone waited for the Prime Minister to arrive.
Shortly after the Prime Minister arrived, the MC told everyone to look out to sea. A few lights could be seen on ships off shore. Soon the sky exploded with the thunderous noise of fireworks. In a country where fireworks are very rare, for many this would have been their first experience with them. The crowd went wild.
The fireworks subsided and a Solomon Islands ‘warrior’ in traditional dress, paced the beach looking out to sea for ‘enemies’. As dawn broke, a line of traditional war canoes dotted the horizon. Silently they came toward the beach with the ‘warriors’ paddling right and left on alternating sides of the canoes. Just as they almost landed on the beach, they reverse paddled backward only to once again come charging for the beach. It was amazing and glorious to watch their synchronized arms glide the canoes almost silently across the water.
Next came the Polynesian boats which had come from their home countries. It is fascinating to think about these boats navigating across the Pacific all the way to the Solomons. There was calling, blowing of the conch shell and dances like the New Zealand haka as the boats came close to the beach. It was an amazing morning!
After that exciting morning came lots of work. We began putting together the Languages of the Pacific stall. It’s starting to take shape and really look good!
We put up this huge “Languages of the Solomons” map and it was an instant magnet to Solomon Islanders who came to find their language name. We will be keeping track of how many languages we identify at the festival and have a counter to keep track. (Thank you, Carey!)
We worked on the booth until 7 pm and since the morning started early, I’m super tired. Another busy day ahead for tomorrow. The Language booth should open and we hope to start seeing people come through! You can pray that we connect well with people and pique their interest in Bible translation!