Sunday, June 10, 2007

Dan vs. the Pacific

Saturday morning I went out on a boat with three friends for a day of snorkelling.

Kosrae's reef is very near the shore, so the lagoon is quite small. Therefore, you have to go outside the reef to get around the island.

The waves were pretty big out there on the open ocean, but we made it to Walung and snorkelled for about an hour or so.

Then we came up and had lunch on the boat, during which it started to rain.

The rain got worse and worse and the wind began to pick up. We pulled away and started heading back to port, but the waves became monsterous.

I was sitting on the bottom of the boat holding on to the side. When I looked over the edge, sometimes I would see the trough of the wave 20 feet below me and sometimes I would look up and see it towering 20 feet above me.

After about an hour on this trackless roller coaster, we pulled into the village of Utwe. It didn't seem safe to return to Lelu harbor. We sat in Utwe for a couple of hours waiting for a taxi to bring us home: wet and cold, but alive.


On Sunday morning I returned to the church in Malem for the final day of their village celebration. Choirs came from all over the island: Walung, Utwe, Tafunsak and Lelu, not to mention the Malem choirs. It was a huge celebration of music and the church was full.

Nothing beats the power of Kosraean choral music. No accompaniment, all a cappella. A friend of mine compared it to bagpipes, and there are some similarities: the power of the sound and the lack of subtlty being two of them.

Even the hymn singing during church is a cappella, and when I was surrounded by the sound of singing on every side, it rumbled through my insides like being in the middle of a hurricane. What a wonderful experience.

The Malem church building is massive, as large as a gymnasium, but beautifully decorated and maintained. The seating is moveable so the choirs can perform up front. Behind the pulpit there is a clock instead of a cross (I've noticed this in several Kosraean churches I've been to). The women sit on one side of the church and the men on the other.


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