Friday, February 13, 2009

Life Tua (out back, on the southside)

I was a teine Samoa (Samoan girl) the other day. All the pastors from the Christian Congregational Church of Samoa in the district came to our village for some sort of meeting. This meant the village went all out in preparation. I got to witness this first hand since they used my house (both fales) to prepare food (it’s next to the church and big fales where they were doing the meeting so I said yes when asked, I didn’t know though that meant people coming over to my house at 5:45 am when I was still sleeping). Basically, all of the village women, matai (chiefs), and village men were at my house that day, it was very crowded and busy. There was a church service at 7 am, breakfast, a meeting, and then lunch (I was helping the village prepare and serve food the whole day). Lunch was insane because all the pastors also got goody bags to take home. I’m not sure what all the goody bags contained, but I do know they had at least 1 lb of canned corned beef, taro, palusami, and a whole pig (I think there were 12 pastors so that is a lot of pigs). This is on top of the platter of food they got for lunch which also involved a whole chicken. Pastors are well taken care of here, and that is an understatement (it is somewhat frustrating to see the wealth they have in comparison to the poverty of the families providing for them, but just another cultural lesson to get used to). Everyone else had enough food for at least 2 people, so it isn’t like they starved either. I didn’t do nearly as much as the other women did, mostly because they don’t usually let me do anything, but I got right in and helped prepare plates and serve food. They were happy to have the help and thought it was cute I was helping and being a teine Samoa (I got some respect for that, always good). The women were really generous to me for letting them use my house; they gave me some of the things left from the cooking: a loaf of bread, 1 lb sugar, and almost 2 dozen eggs (I made French toast for breakfast the next day). This is in addition to getting breakfast and lunch (and dinner since I had some left over). It was interesting to see the preparation of everything. The fales were decorated with flowers, mats, and even tables and chairs. I know that sounds funny to make a big deal over tables and chairs, but eating at a table is rare and having the pastors sit at a table is a sign of respect (being seated above someone is a sign of high authority/respect, or in my case more of “we can see your legs are hurting you so come sit on this chair” although I’d never sit on a chair at a matai meeting, that would be really bad form).

I was sitting in my fale one day, typing up a report when I saw several of the village women carrying heavy loads of rocks and broken coral to be put in the area in front of the church (it isn’t paved, just a bunch of rocks). All of the sudden the women started singing. It was beautiful to witness the hard manual labor juxtaposed with sweet sound of the song.

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