|Mili demonstrates the beating of the lali in Naturu village|
The service did not begin for another half hour and Chris was fidgeting already. Only about twenty people had shown up by the time the wild haired preacher, who looked a little like the actor James Earl Jones, began his sermon. It was all in Fijian but one could guess there was a fair amount of lecturing going on by the gesticulating and shouting. Someone gave us a Fijian Bible to join in the singing of the psalms and we did our best, probably amusing a few of the onlookers. After a while, an old lady came over to our bench and, in good English, thanked us for joining their small congregation. A wooden carved plate was handed around by a young girl and everyone gave a donation. Then an accounts book was read and people's names and figures were given out. Some people got up to give five or ten dollars - monthly tithes? At one point, the minister directed questions to the children. They must have given the correct answers because he looked approvingly at them. At the end of the service as we shook hands with some of the people and one man exclaimed to Chris "You were singing in Fijian!" If only it were that easy!
|Methodist church at Naqara village|
Inside the house, food platters covered in cloth were laid on chequered runners along the length of a large room with space for people to sit on either side. When the cloth was lifted we gasped in surprise. There were plates of roasted pork, chicken and potato curry, baked fish on taro leaves, tureens of ham and noodle soup, thick rounds of baked taro root, mugs of lolo (coconut cream), little heaps of salt and fresh hot chillies still on the branch. When the women found out I was a vegetarian, they sent over a plate of bele (spinach-like greens) fried with onions and covered with lolo and later, a platter of breaded egglant rolls containing canned tuna. The men and guests were seated first and the women and children waited until we had finished and moved outside. There was not much conversation during the meal as everyone piled up their plates and ate until they were fully satiated.
After the meal, we were mobbed by the children as we headed for the door. They jostled each other, played pranks and posed for our camera. We thanked the ladies for a wonderful meal and asked the kids to come outside and let the hard working women eat in peace. Kids being kids continued their horseplay on the grass and eventually one of the men came over to tell them to be quiet. We thought that was a good time to bid everyone adieu.
|Rani tries to protect a little girl from being crushed by the ''mob''|
|And, they all fall down!|
|Dua, rua, tolu, jump!|
The wind had swung to the east, so we sailed back to Nabouwala Bay for a comfortable night at anchor.