For over two weeks I was at church daily. On weekends I was at the different churches in the village, and during the week I went to the different practices for White Sunday. I would put it into my exercise routine, making sure I ran to a specific church to watch the children, or making sure I ended at a time good for watching the children. During the two weeks I viewed seven different church practices.
The week before the holiday, school got out early several times to make sure the kids and teachers had enough time to prepare for the holiday.
The holiday weekend started with watching dress rehearsals for the children in the village next to mine. First, I went to the Methodist Church where the children performed many songs, dances and acted. It was great and I was really proud of my students. Some of the songs were church songs redone to popular music and were quite catchy with great dance moves. I then went to the Congregational Christian Church were I was dazzled by their dancing and acting.
On Saturday I went with my family to the Seventh Day Adventist Church. The children lined up outside the church and marched in together with a song. They sounded beautiful all dressed in their new White Sunday clothes. Afterwards almost everyone in the congregation came over to our house for ice cream.
The following day was the rest of the people in the village’s celebration. I was told that church started at seven, eight, or nine for the Assembly of God. I decided to go for the middle time and hope it was correct. As I was walking uphill to the church, a few families called out to get my attention to invite me over for breakfast. As I declined, I knew the day would be full of plenty of delicious food.
I showed up in my bright white tasi (I have two of them), and many of my students were seated on the benches on the church. Service used to be held in an open Samoan fale that was decorated brightly to always make you feel at home. However, a few months ago they began construction on the new church building. They had the four walls for concrete, big gaps in the walls for windows, and a roof on top of the building, making it ready to be used. The gigantic windows made a great opening for a breeze. The concrete floor was still new enough that when you walked barefoot, your feet turned white from the dust of the new concrete. The front of the church had the same amazing musical equipment to let you know that church would be full of fun.
My students looked so beautiful. Two of the boys got spiffy new white suits, which made them look so cute. It made me laugh since I have known these boys for about a year, and for the first time I saw them wear pants.
Before 8:30, the children got ready, and filed out of the building. They then marched around the church building several times singing songs. There was enough children to make the building completely surrounded, allowing us to hear the magical voices from every direction. They then came in and dazzled us with singing and dancing. At the end of the service, the children performed in what looked like a talent show. Each family of children went before the rest of us and recited a part of the bible, then performed in some way. Some children sang, others danced, while others acted. The pastor tried to get me to perform, since I don’t have a husband I am a child. I was nervous, and just spoke quickly in Samoan to my neighbors to wish them a good holiday. Four hours after I arrived at church, it was over. Time had really flown by since it was an interesting service. The pastor gave chocolate to the children as a present, a really good present if you ask me.
Although I had been invited to what felt like 100 meals after church, I opted for going to the house of another teacher.
The family is interesting because the family goes to three different churches, but they al meet up to have a delicious feast every week after church. The meal was great, we al sat on the mats in the Samoan fale in the back. There were so many delicious foods, that it felt better than Thanksgiving Day. I ate so much that I had to decline the ice cream, even though I knew that was a treat to everyone.
I headed home and took my afternoon nap, and was awoken by the bells to let me know my next church service was about to start. The Methodist Church.
I started to sit next to some people and was ushered to the front. The children were all seated on the mats in front of us. This church has many more members in its congregation, and all of the children looked amazing. I had a laugh when a few boys wore garters around their heads. During the service the children sang, danced and did hysterical acting. My favorite dance move had to be the air guitar, as well as the air piano. The other churches had finished their services for the day, and so throughout the service more and more people began filling the pews. It was great to see the amount of support everyone gives their neighbors.
At the end of the service they had a prize giving. It still makes me laugh when I see children getting excited over bars of laundry soap as a present for doing good work. I couldn’t imagine getting a gift like that when I was young. Receiving a gift that showed you would have to do some work when you get home, doesn’t really sound like the most fun for me.
The following day was the National Holiday. It was a great Monday. I woke up early and went for a long run, ate some tea with a family in another village (I actually had a type of fruit for the first time, nono’o? I don’t know exactly what it is called, but it looks like a bell pepper, and tastes similar to an apple, that is dry, and at the same time extremely moist. Weird description, I know…) It was nice to connect with my village as I watched volleyball and relaxed with everyone.