Rumbling Rabaul – The raging Cauldron of Tavurvur
On the topic of Sunday, Papua New Guinea, the third-largest island state in the world, was missionised under a significant German influence. Back then the substantial tensions often led to the white sacristans being eaten, however today the church plays an important role in the lives of the Rabaulans. I met teacher Chris in the church as he battles with the cable salad of the sound system, then with sweat.
The sun beats down on the roof as early as 9am with such intensity that your internal organs begin to incubate, but somehow it feels good to see not only yourself but also the locals melting in the heat. The rehearsals still seem somewhat rough, however with each passing minute they become more synchronised. From a church perspective, every Sunday is special since it is the day of Holy Communion and outside the youngsters from the Gazelle Peninsula were excitedly waiting to be marshalled by altar boy Dominik and hang the plastic crosses he will gave them out of a paper instant noodle box around their necks.
The ceremony started after a short delay and the pastor and the decorated youngsters entered the church to the sound of bamboo drumming and tribal singing. Then Chris began to tinkle the ivories and the wonderful chant “Dance together as friends forever” illuminates the bleak nave.
All of the senses absorb this wonderful authentic, heartfelt atmosphere and tears of joy roll down my cheeks on account of the many curious but nevertheless friendly and welcoming gazes in my direction. Having a foreign guest in their ranks is especially exciting and special for the children, particularly one who has so many interesting pieces of technology with him.
But all the technology in the world cannot describe how you feel when almost every individual in the entire church greets you with a handshake and a smile or when Chris starts up on the piano again to begin a new song with his fosterlings.