Sunday, November 18, 2012

My First Sunday in 'Ofa

Sundays in Tonga are full of church, eating and resting.

Nothing else. Seriously, don't even try exercising. Once in Fatumu, my host mom followed me because she knew that I was secretly trying to get a run in.

If you wish to watch TV or listen to music, it must be of the Christian variety (and guess what? Christmas music counts! Even Mariah Carey. In fact, Tongans love "All I Want for Christmas"...even with some questionable lyrics!).

So how did I spent my first Sunday in the village of 'Ofa?

I woke up, ironed my tupenu (long wrap skirt), put on a dressy shirt, tied my kiekie around my waist and walked to church.

I've discovered that it is quite fun to walk through 'Ofa. And on Sunday it seemed that I couldn't walk more than 10-15 feet without somebody yelling "Hello Man-DEE!" - They really like to accentuate the last syllable in my name. Well, I waved back and yelled "Yo!" (Hey!) or "Sai pe?" (Are you good?)

I entered church, sat down in a pew and observed for an hour and a half, attempting to learn some more Tongan. Instead, I thought about the speech that I'm going to give at my sister's wedding and about half way through the service a very round lady sitting in front of me turned and handed me her fan. Hallelujah! I don't know if it was the sweat dripping from my eyebrows or the puddle I left on top of my hymnal, but she helped me out big time. After church, I met the feifekau (minister) and he invited me over for a Sunday feast.

By far the best lu (remember, meat, coconut creme wrapped in lu and taro leaves?) I have ever eaten was made by this guy. We also ate vai lesi (papaya, onions, coconut creme, cooked together) and root crops - Can't forget those root crops, people. I sat with a table full of wonderful women who talked about the "olden days in Tonga" and how much things have changed since they were growing up. Two women, Milo and Winnie, spoke about how the youth today are very different because of technology (especially the cell phone). They are ruder to their parents, disrepectful all around and are lazy. I found it interesting that even though I was sitting at a dinner table in a developing country having this conversation, that this talk really could have taken place pretty much anywhere - America, Tonga, you name it. We all may be different and lead very different lives, but it's interesting how many of our problems are the same.

After a lovely lunch, I was excused to go back to my 'api (house) and rest. I can't sleep when it's 95 degrees out and 100% humidity so I did some yoga (inside so nobody would see), learned some Tongan and watched Friends. All in all, a wonderful first Sunday here.


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