Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Church Service at Te Tautua Village

July 29, 2008--Sunday turned out to be a very special day for us. Since we missed the church service at Omoka Village, we wanted to be sure to attend the Sunday service here at 10 o'clock. We went in around 9:30 so that we could take a chocolate cake to Soloman's house. I wore a long skirt with a white T-shirt (must have sleeves), and I brought my hat (required). Steve wore his dockers, which he had not worn since Mexico, and his Polynesian shirt. Flip flops or sandals were fine to wear. Ernst arrived a few minutes after us. The whole Tapu family was ready to go, so we put the cake in the house and then walked to church.

The church was built in 1904, and it is a Christian church. It is rectangular in shape with the walls made of stucco and painted white. The trim on the windows and doors is painted blue. The window panes are bordered by small pieces of stained glass. We went inside and sat at the back with Soloman. Inside the church was lovely. The ceiling was wood with carvings of hearts and other geometric shapes. The floor was also wood. The interior walls were painted white and then there was a 3-foot wooden wainscot against the walls. A balcony ran the length of the church on both sides, and they were, of course, made of wood. The railing for the balconies and the wainscot both had vertical spindles set about every foot. We don't know what kind of wood was used, but it looked like teak or perhaps mahogany. The pews were made of wood planks painted brown, and they were mitered together so that no hardware was needed. The alter was wood and had lovely tatted lace covering it. The wooden pulpit behind the alter was raised to almost the height of the balconies, and it, too, was adorned with tatted lace. The contrast of the lace against the wood was beautiful. Finally, four antique-looking, electric chandeliers hung from the ceiling. The minister gave most of the sermon in the native language; however, at one point he spoke in English to welcome us to the church. He also said a prayer asking for God to bless us while we were at Penrhyn and also wherever our journey took us. We had heard about the beautiful singing in Polynesia, and we were not disappointed. It is hard to describe the sound. Everyone sings in his or her range, but the result is different. I just can not come up with the right words to describe the sound--you just have to hear it.

After church we returned to the Tapu house. We all sat in the main room while Banapa Tapu, the father, said a prayer, which was followed by the family reciting the Lord's Prayer in their native language. Emily then took the three of us to eat lunch in the kitchen, which is where the table is. We were served haraoa uto (coconut bread), kuru taroro (breadfruit with coconut juice), wahoo fish, and uto (heart of palm). All these dishes were baked in an "umu" or oven in the earth. We also had ika mata, which is marinated milkfish. We had fresh coconut juice to drink. Since it was the 18th birthday of Soloman's son, we sang "Happy Birthday" to him, and then we all enjoyed some chocolate cake.

I had taken some earrings to give to Emily, Leida, and girls in the family, so they enjoyed choosing the ones they liked. We sat in the kitchen and visited while the guys sat outside. We decided that we needed to take some pictures of all of us in our fine clothes, so we took a bunch of pictures of the family with us and some of individuals or couples. I told Emily that I wanted to take a picture of one of their hats, so she gave me one, and Steve and I took a picture of the hat while I was holding it. Then Emily and Leida put on their hats, and I put on the one Emily had handed to me, so that Steve could take a picture of the three of us. When we were done, I handed the hat back to Emily, but she told me that they had made the hat for me as a gift. I couldn't believe it!

A little after one o'clock we decided to leave so that the family could rest before returning to church at three o'clock. We put my hat in a plastic bag to protect it, said thank you to everyone, and walked back to the dinghy. It had been a very full and interesting morning, and we were again shown the wonderful generosity of this family. We took it easy for the rest of the day since it was Sunday, and we weren't supposed to do any work. We really enjoy that rule.

Yesterday we went in for our daily visit. I took a Pineapple Upside Down cake with me because today was Emily's birthday, and we just had to have cake. A few days earlier I had given Emily some red nail polish and some perfume for her birthday. I decided to pick out an earring and necklace set for both Emily and Leida as a gift for their work on my hat, so I took those in as well. We went into the kitchen to sit down, and Emily fixed us some coffee, and we then cut up the cake and made sure that everyone got a piece. It wasn't long before it was all gone, which was good because we didn't want to take any back to the boat. We sat and visited for awhile as usual. I had Emily help me with all the people's names as well as the names of all the food that we had eaten. Emily told us that she had a tooth that was bothering her so we told her that we would bring her some topical ointment to help numb the tooth, which we did a little later in the afternoon. In the evening we cooked up some grouper for dinner, which was excellent as always. It is one of our favorite fish to eat.

This morning Soloman came at 6 a.m. to take Steve fishing. It had rained off and on all night and was still a bit wet when they left. They were gone about 2 hours, and when they came back, Steve said that had not caught one fish. Steve had one on the line, but a shark got it before he could get it into the boat. He was so disappointed, so Soloman said that they would go again in the afternoon. We got ready and went ashore. Emily's tooth was feeling better, which we were happy to hear. Ernst was using their washing machine to do some laundry, and Soloman was grinding some oyster shells to polish them. Emily's son C.J. brought baby Mary over, so I was able to enjoy her for awhile. I happened to notice that her fingernails and toenails were painted red. When she started to fuss because she was hungry, I walked over to take her back to her mother. The three ladies were dyeing palm fronds to be used in hats--there were yellow, green, and orange fronds that were ready to go. We sat and talked for while, which I really enjoy doing, and I noticed that all three of them also had red polish on their fingers and toes. The red polish seems to be a real hit with the women here. It is interesting to talk to them about their lives here, and they ask me questions about our boat.

Soloman returned at 4 o'clock to pick up Steve for fishing. Right after they left, it began to rain very hard, and I was afraid that it might spoil the fishing. When they returned at 6:30, they had 3 large and 2 smaller Blue Travelly and 1 Pacific Lookdown, and Steve had caught all but one of them. Soloman had us take one of the large Trevelly and 2 smaller ones. Steve thanked Soloman and then began to clean the fish. For dinner tonight we had fresh raw Travelly with Wasabi sauce, Travelly cooked in butter and garlic, rice, and green beans. The fish was delicious, and now we have 3 fish dinners in the freezer. Steve had a great time today.

We plan to go back to Omoka Village tomorrow to check out and say goodbye to Alex and Christina. High tide is around noon on Thursday, and so, weather permitting, we will leave then. We have had a wonderful time here at Te Tautua village, and we will always remember the Tapu family.

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