News: Letter from Tarawa, Kiribati

Marlene Rasmussen, from Townsville, is providing administrative support and training for staff of the Diocese of Tarawa and Nauru.  She tells here of her experience attending important community events, such as ordinations.

Squeaky clean primary school children on South Tarawa
Christmas 2009 has come and gone. Time does not stand still for anyone. Just before Christmas I travelled to Abemama Island to an ordination of an MSC priest.  I arrived by the Government charter aircraft.  It rained while travelling on the truck from the airstrip to the ordination’s maneaba (traditional spiritual and community house). The ordination was well presented. The singing, the liturgical dance, maneaba decor and costumes from local coconut trees were beautifully co-ordinated. The ceremony was spiritual and prayerful.

Most of my friends from Tarawa slept in the maneaba for the night. The local parish provided food for all who attended. The Government delegation left the maneaba at 5pm, only to find our plane could not land in Tarawa after 7pm.

Back we go to the maneaba…

It was a dark, wet, soaking, deep potholed, hour-long bush track trip back for help. All delegates travelled in a big rough truck sometimes bouncing a metre off the floor of the truck. Demai, Kiribati’s Vice President, invited me to travel with her. She arranged accommodation in a local guest house and we rose at 4am to compete our weekend in Abemama.  It was an experience.

I spent Christmas in Oman and was in Australia for about 2 weeks.  I enjoyed my stay. I am pleased I made the effort to go home.  The office has been extremely busy since I arrived back; work has taken over my life for the past few weeks.  With the 4 ordinations behind us and all priest transfers almost complete. It should settle down. I have cut down hedges and shrubs and tidied up the place. I enjoy doing the garden.

This month I went to Makin for a diocesan priest’s ordination. Makin was clean and a well organized island. The taro plants, bananas and breadfruit were lush green and there was plenty of local food. The island looked more established than other islands I have visited. Once again, I travelled with the government chartered aircraft. They treat me like one of them now. The Government and church worked in unison.

I have a housemate at present, an Australian female giving a workshop on global warming. Many of our villages have been threatened recently (by high tides and collapsed seawalls).

All children are back at school.  They go to school so clean and tidy it is a credit to the parents. 95% of them would draw water from a well and wash their clothes in a small basin. So much for mod cons!!

I guess you could say I am contented in Kiribati.

Marlene

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