The Banwaon know how to party!
There is nothing quite like a feast to celebrate God’s provision for them through a harvest. It’s a great time of fellowship as families from all over the jungle gather in our village. It’s such an exciting time! Slaughtering, cooking, laughing, eating and playing fills the whole day. A beautiful time of worship and praise to God with singing, sharing and fellowship follows all night. I can hear all the sounds and enjoy the smells just thinking of these times past!
The whole village is in motion working before daylight! Wood is cut and brought out by anyone that can carry it from the jungle for the cook fires. Rice is being pounded by young and old all around the village. The pigs are butchered and prepared for cooking as smoke from cook fires blankets the whole village. A tall pile of banana leaves crowds a corner of the church. Oblivious to the work, the very youngest children play in the grassy spot in front of our house energized by all the activity. Dogs excitedly search for precious few bits discarded from the butchering.
Eventually, a mountain of rice sits ready for serving, banana leaves are set out for the plates and the first wave of celebrants sit on the church floor to eat. As soon as one group eats, a new batch of banana leaves and food is readied for the next family group and this is repeated all day until everyone has eaten.
While the feast is being consumed, those not eating go from house to house relaxing together, catching up with all that has happened in the family since we were all together last. It’s such fun meeting and holding the new babies, hearing about the births, taking pictures of the families and listening how God has helped them through a difficulty or other event in their lives.
The best part of the day begins when the church gradually fills as people make their way though the village. Music praising the Lord and worshiping our God and Savior draws the rest into the tiny building. Scripture lessons are shared through several styles of chanting and spoken by the Bible teachers and church leaders. Groups will stand and sing songs of praise they’ve written and practiced accompanied by the guitar. If the full tummies lull a few to stretch out on the floor, someone will begin a drum beat and a dance or two liven up the crowd.
Yes, we are disappointed as well because, this year, we will not be celebrating Thanksgiving with our dear friends in the village. But we will be thanking the same God who cares so much for each of us. We lift His name in praise and thankfully remember the wonderful provision of salvation and love that cost Him so dearly. We praise God for He is worthy of all our praise.
Pogpasalamat kay (we are giving thanks),