Confirmation And A Cockerel

It was a beautiful morning as Bishop Bismark drove us to Kotobe. The recent storms had left the road in places partially blocked. During the war Mundri Town evacuated here and in 2000 a previous SOMA visit had included one of our team, David.

On entering the village the Bishop got out to join a group walking to church. Kay drove the rest of us the final 500 metres, a palm arch showing the way. The walkers sang their way there, for us all to gather under a tree. One of those to be confirmed was sick. We went to her home. David (a doctor) agreed with me she had the look of someone close to death. She lay on a mat while children played and chickens scratched away nearby. The Bishop confirmed her.

Returning to the church, a goat skin drum was being warmed by a fire. The service started 45 minutes late and continued, as the heat rose, for at least 3½ hrs. Not all of that was my sermon; all our team introduced themselves and other people had their say too. The worship took on new energy as the choir danced up the aisle and sang beautifully. Finally the confirmations: over 30 people, who had received 2 weeks of intensive preparation.

A saucepan full of honey with ground nuts, a local speciality, crowned our late lunch. We were given all uneaten to take home – at least half. The Bishop’s gift was a cockerel, whose first bid for freedom came as we got in the vehicle to leave. ‘His legs have not been properly tied’, someone said. Shrill protests could be heard, as he was returned. At our next stop, we assumed he was still tied securely under the rear seat. But full of indignation and protest, out he jumped. Freedom would have been his had he turned right; he guessed wrong. We would see him again, at supper with the Bishop the following day.

Tom Gillum