2009-10-11: Children’s Day

Yesterday was children’s day at the church. The service started with
what appeared to be sprinkling of the younger children by the pastor.
It was very packed and I grabbed a seat in the back to give room for
the cell-phone-picture-taking parents (as a side note I find it a
bizarre paradox that some villagers have nicer phones than most
Americans but don’t have a flush toilet). Kelly nudged her way to the
front row to get her own pictures. After the sprinkling, the children
sang a few songs. I thought they did very well, but afterwards Samalu
said their pitch could have been a little higher. Kioans take their
music very seriously.

After the songs one of the older boys said a prayer at the pulpit and
the children then began reciting their memory verses. I’m not sure if
each had their own verse or if they where all saying part of a long
verse. Regardless it was very entertaining watching the youngest of
the group recite their part.

After about 45 minutes of recitation it got pretty boring. The
younger children were starting to get restless and began to make a
commotion. Complete pandemonium was averted however with a sharp poke
of a long stick to the misbehaving midgets from a nearby teacher. I
then noticed that each teacher had a similar instrument and were
strategically placed at the end of each row to inflict quick
discipline. After watching a few trouble makers get the business end
of the rod, the recitation finally ended and a song followed thus
ending the service.

After lunch we napped. The heat is really starting to come full on
now. Yesterday I may have gotten a mild form of heat exhaustion from
the intense sun and sultry heat while working in the garden. It got up
to 85 in our house and today was not much better. So napping was
about all the activity we could muster up.

The church bell rang early and we proceeded to church for part two of
the children’s services. This time the service was mainly skits. The
Sunday school teachers had made a make shift curtain from string and
fabric and brought it to a close after the introductory songs. Behind
this was a flurry of activity for about 15 minutes.

It resembled a mass herding of cats through thick grass. The tornado
of activity behind the thin veil soon tempered a bit and out sprang a
young girl in a black ferry dress. She stated something in her native
tongue and then the curtains were brought back and onward proceeded a
wavy line of equally young boys and girls. I think they where
supposed to pretend like they where falling over dead as they
approached the dark ferry as immediately after they began marching a
young boy dropped solidly to the ground in the prone position. Soon
thereafter another fell and thus the pattern began. Some weren’t so
willing to sacrifice for the performance and soldiered on much to the
dismay of the teachers. A quick backhand though solved that problem
and down went the disobedient marchers. One lone soldier stood
against the black ferry, uttered something with a huge grin, and then
slayed the foe with his wooden cross.

That performance was the highlight of the show. The rest lumbered
along in sloppy and unorganized fashion for about 45 minutes. It was
all very painful to watch and later Samalu commented it is typically a
much more organized affair. He said that even though Tuvaluan is his
mother-tongue, he had no idea what was going on most of the evening.
Regardless, it was a welcome change to the shouting bonanza that is a
typical Sunday sermon.

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