So I suppose waiting for the plumber to come fix the shower so we can turn our water back on is a good excuse to finally slow down and write about our experiences. In some respects, it’s been tough to even imagine writing it all down, because we feel like we’re inundated with sensory overload. But let me try to touch on a few highlights, and give a sense of what we’ve been through.
We arrived during the final week of preparations for the General’s visit for the Congress weekend, that would include the commissioning of the Proclaimers of the Resurrection session as well as the formal retirement service of the beloved territorial commander, PNG’s own Commissioner Andrew Kalai.
It was an exciting time to arrive. It was also a bit of a frustration. Everyone kept apologizing to us that there was no time to give us much attention because of all the work getting ready for the Congress! But thanks to our neighbors Majors Phil and Deslea Maxwell
and to the chief secretary and his wife, Colonels Neil and Chris Webb, we did not go hungry, and we found our way around enough to survive.
While Sandy tried to acclimate herself to the finance department, I was bustled into band practices. We tried to pitch in where we could, and stay out of the way for the most part. It was exciting to watch as each day the crowds grew. Folks traveled in from all over the country for the Congress. The Salvation Army’s school on the compound became a makeshift tent city, filled with tents, tarps on the ground, little cooking fires in every free space of dirt, children playing everywhere, mothers cooking in big pots, people gathering in sparse shade to eat their family meals together. Classrooms at the school were assigned to divisions, and those without tents slept inside on the floors. At night, as we were trying to drift off to sleep, we would hear throngs of voices singing praise choruses in multi-part harmonies.
On Friday when the Congress began, white uniforms filled the open auditorium. There were clusters of bright colored t-shirts, as each division was represented by their own color. There are six divisions here, and each one brought many people to the Congress. It was reported that there were nearly 3,500 people gathered for the weekend. Meetings were long, and it was hot! But the spirit of the Salvationists was amazing. I wish I could adequately describe the singing. It’s exuberant, and loud, and filled with close harmonies. They sing sometimes in English, but then a familiar chorus will transition into pidgin or Motu, and if the tune is still familiar, we would still try to sing along in our English lyrics.We saw many cultural dancers, timbrels, songster brigades and dramatic sketches. There were terrific musicians and singers leading worship, and the brass band played well. (Most of them had only been playing for two years!) The general challenged Salvationists to live holy lives, and to proclaim the one message of salvation to the world.
Oh, a word on the timbrels. We noted on our first Sunday in PNG, at the Koki corps here in Port Moresby, that the timbralists, who sat all together in the front rows, would all play a specific routine together for each song and chorus. At the Congress, there were probably 40 or so timbralists who all sat together in the front, and again played a specific routine for each song and chorus that was sung. It was interesting to note that young girls sit at the edges and learn by doing, as they watch the experienced young ladies play.
NOW THAT WE’RE HERE …
Update to Web Site – Now that We’ve arrived, I’m going to try to enhance this blog to make the site more attractive, easier to use, more informative, and with a broader variety of content.
Please be patient with me as I learn. Your comments and suggestions are always welcome, particularly if you’ve got web design experience. 😉
Thanks for checking in. Until next time, then …