Saturday, May 21, 2011

South Pacific Campaign - Day #21

Jimmie and Ron both preached this morning as we worshipped God.  Then the room was cleared for the tonai (Samoan feast).  The tables were spread with a wonderful assortment of dishes, including oka (raw fish and vegetables marinated in coconut cream), breadfruit, taro, chicken curry, and more.  I used to get requests for pudigi fai (banana pudding) when we lived here so I made a huge one early this morning.  Judging by the speed it disappeared, it is still popular.  Ron preached his last lesson this evening and our campaign work was done.  But the evening wasn't over yet.

Following the closing prayer Omeka asked Ron and Carolyn to come to the front and turn to face the crowd.  Samoans have a lovely custom of presenting gifts to guests on their departure, but the Gilberts didn't know that so they were looking a tad mystified.  Until the procession started. The ladies of the congregation (who had initially rushed outside) began coming back in one at a time.  Mariama was first and she wrapped both Ron and Carolyn in a lavalava then put an ula around their neck.

Mariama presenting the lavalava
Lamesi decided it wasn't quite right, so he taught Ron the proper way for a man to wear the traditional Samoan skirt.

The the whole process began again with Jimmie and me as sisters presented us with small tokens to remember them by. 

It truly is a heart-warming tradition - especially since each gift presented is followed by a hug and kiss.

Then more hugs and tearful goodbyes before heading back to the English home to pack.  It was our last full day in Amerika Samoa and that always brings a touch of sadness.

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