Epau Village - Ladies Day

Ure, Cindy, Kaela and I left Saturday morning to go to Epau. The other ladies from Vila couldn't go due to various other things, which was dissapointing, but we had a nice time nonetheless. We arrived in Epau at about 9:30am. When we got there only two of the Christian women were there, Leisong and Winnie. They told us that the women all thought that we were having the Bible study in the afternoon since Cindy and I were spending the night, so they had all gone to the garden, to a wedding, or to town. So we just sat down, talked and enjoyed ourselves. There were so many children around. When we first got there this little girl, named Balina, was so interested in my hands (I think partially b/c they were white) - she just kept taking my hands and turning them over and feeling was so cute. I sat her on my lap (she's about a year and a half I think) and she inspected them quite thoroughly.

Since all the kids were gathered around, we started singing songs that they knew. Since I have been teaching Bible class in Vila this month, I was familiar enough with the songs that I could at least help them start them (even if I got a little mixed up with the words in the middle...) It was so fun. I loved just sitting there with the kids. We talked with Leisong and Winnie and enjoyed their company too - in between Winnie keeping busy with the chores that she needed to do. She brought out the coconuts and coconut scraper and I said, "Mi wantem givhan long yu, sipos i oraet." (I want to help you if it's alright.) I then proceeded to scrape a coconut (just like Lissie had taught me a few weeks ago - she'd be so proud). I really got the hang of it and ended up scraping 3 whole coconuts (that is, 6 halves). At the end, I was really hot and sweaty but wanted to do them all, so I just kept going until they were done. They took the coconut meat that I had scraped, and made coconut milk to put on our lap-lap for lunch. We ate lunch, but I was a little nervous about teaching in Bislama, so I couldn't eat my whole plate of food. I ate half of a huge piece of lap-lap, most of my rice with island cabbage on it, and a piece of grapefruit.

After lunch we all moved a mat out under a shade tree beside the road and relaxed - or in Bislama "Yumi go spel nao" (You and I go rest now.) It was so nice and relaxing. We sat on a big, pretty mat and I found out that Leisong had made it. I immediately recruited her to make one for me (of course I will pay her whatever she would get if she sold it at the market) and she agreed. I am really excited. She is even going to do the stripes red so it’ll go nice in my living room (I'm such an American). I gave the kids some lolli (candy) and the ladies too – we sat around and talked. Some young guys from Epau walked by who had been fishing (with their “spears” they had made from some sort of stake or something) and one of them had caught a blow fish! It was so cool to see one in real life. When we asked the ladies what it was, they couldn’t tell us a name, they just said it was a fish that has lots of needles all over it’s body. We finally figured out it was a blowfish and told them we had only seen them in a book and in a movie (Little Mermaid, of course). By that time, the guys were already down the road a ways and they called that guy to come back and show us the fish. He did – it was really cool looking (actually a little ugly, but cool nonetheless!)

After a while, Cindy decided to try to put Kaela down for a nap – while she was doing that, Leisong asked if I wanted to go to the river and feed the fish. We walked down to the river with about 5 or 6 kids and we sang all the way there and all the way back. They taught me the words I had been missing in the Bislama songs they sang. It was fun. I later took Cindy back to the river and about 10 kids went with us that time. I felt like the pied piper – it was kind of funny.

Finally at about 4:00, the other ladies were back from their various places and we began. We sang a few songs and then I taught. I feel like I communicated well and Cindy told me later that she was really proud of me. She said I did a great job. It was a good first experience in teaching Ladies in Bislama. Many more to come, I am sure… :o)

We ate dinner, talked, sang and then went to bed. It was really hot Saturday night so I felt like I was swimming in my own sweat. I think it was because it was raining – really humid. When we woke up I "swam" (took a shower) and I felt much better. I then put on my island dress and was ready for the day [on Saturday, Winnie presented Kaela with an island dress and then later in the day, she gave both Cindy and I matching island dresses]. We both said we were not going to wear island dresses unless someone gave us one. Winnie gave the dresses to us with the instruction: "wear these tomorrow to Paunangisu for worship." So, that’s just what we did. I have to admit I felt a little funny at first, then I forgot I was even wearing it. I always think white women look funny in island dresses, so I swore I wouldn’t wear one and be one of those weird looking white women trying to look like the locals…but when Winnie gave them to us, I knew it would be fine. Especially in the village (though we probably still won’t wear them in town).

On Sunday morning, Eric arrived to carry us to Paunangisu in the truck and we all piled in. Worship was nice. I enjoyed meeting some new people and worshipping with the other Christians.

We finally left Paunangisu at about 2:45 or so. It had been a long day already. I do like the fact that I am not having to think so hard when I am around people speaking Bislama. My brain doesn’t get quite so tired anymore. It’s cool that I don’t have to think about what people are saying, do a translation in my head, formulate an answer, translate it into Bislama in my head and then say it. I am getting to the point that when I am with a group of people, I can’t even remember after I have left if they spoke in Bislama or English, because I understood what was being said. It was a nice change to the Sundays I had spent in the villages before today.

All in all, I think the trip was a success! We look forward to doing it all again next month in Eton, where it will be Cindy's turn to present the lesson. I am sure she'll do a great job.