This morning Naomi, Jake and I decided to go to the local church while Andy and John went diving on one of the many WWII wrecks here in the atoll (everyone has their style of worship, right?). When we pulled the dinghy up to the quay we were greeted by no less than 15 kids. I might even be understating that a bit. The kids here are extremely friendly and find us white people quite intriguing. Jake was a bit overwhelmed with all the staring but began to soften a bit as the morning went on.
Naomi had figured out how the church bell system worked so we heard the first bell (time to get up), then the second (time to head towards the church), then the third (time to start). The only problem is, there are two churches and we weren't distinguishing between the two so we ended up arriving a little early. But no worries, we had a gaggle of kids to keep us entertained. Some of they are trying to learn English and Naomi is getting quite good at Marshallese so Jake and I tried to catch up on our numbers...we made a weak attempt anyway.
We were welcomed into the church by smiling faces all around (quite unique from my experiences in Majuro and Ebeye). The men sit on the left side and the women sit on the right side. The service itself was pretty normal for a protestant service. It was in Marshallese so we didn't understand most of it, but I think I could distinguish the sing song way the Lord's Prayer was said. About half way through the service, the pastor broke out some English and welcomed us to his church and his community. He threw a little English in here and there throughout the rest of the service as well. There was a fair amount of singing. The Marshallese aren't really known for their voices like the Samoans or Marquesans, but what they lacked in beauty they more than made up for in volume! The collection plate was passed, prayers said, then congregation dismissed. At least we think they were...it looked like Sunday school might have been to follow but we thanked the pastor and took our chance to leave. We walked back to the dinghy in the rain accompanied by our little escorts and off we went. All in all, it was very nice morning. I asked Jake to tell me some of the differences he saw between church at home and here. His perspective was very much that of a child...."They don't have a TV [Papa and Gigi's church has a monitor as well as Uncle Cary and Aunt Caroline's church], they don't have those pretty windows, and it's smaller." The different language thing totally escaped him I guess!
Andy and John had a nice dive on a Japanese war ship (with unexploded ordinances!) but I'll save that for a little later when I can post pictures. He was able to get some good ones of the propeller and various other aspects of the ship. It looks like there are at least seven other wrecks to explore while we're here so there will be lots to show.
It looks like we're going to practice the local tradition of doing nothing on the sabbath as it's raining and dreary outside. Tomorrow we'll head in and meet the Mayor and do our official check in. Lots to explore here...
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