Sunday, July 29, 2012

Dinner with the President of Kiribati

July 12 is Kiribati Independence Day from Great Britain, which they gained in a peaceful transfer in 1979.  They have a week-long celebration, though, and go all out with a parade, sports competitions, music competition, dance competition and a carnival with rides -- much like a state fair, but on a smaller scale. 
  The picture to the right is the entrance to the presidential residence, where a big dinner party was held.  We senior couples were invited as guests for a sumptuous banquet and entertainment, along with about 200 other people.

All the servers were dressed in white.  A rope bannister, with palm leaves attached, lined the walkway back to the large patio where the meal was eaten under the stars.

We are still waiting for our invitation to America's White House for a dinner.

Parts of leaves were tied to the center veins of leaves to make bows on streamers.

These Kiribati singers entertained during the dinner.  They are the singing champions this year.
As we entered, the president and his wife warmly greeted each of us with a smile, handshake and "Welcome.  Thanks for coming."

We were seated with other guests before they officially welcomed us.  The tall thatched structure housed the rows of tables of food.   A different church leader gave an opening prayer, but they asked Elder Bonnemort to offer a blessing on the food before we went in to fill our plates.

Sunset over the water in back of the patio made a picturesque scene.

The Minister of Commerce and his wife are members of our church.  In fact, Pinto is the first counselor in the bishopric of our Moroni Ward.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs is also LDS and in a bishopric in the church.  We have been meeting a lot of members of the church as we visit some of the events, as well as church.  Those members who are successful business people are still very down-to-earth and enjoy being around the other saints.  You can't tell the difference among them.  These are a happy people.

Judy and I have continued doing workshops in music and personal finance, as well.  It has been gratifying to see our "students" applying the skills.  We just attended a ward conference in Betio 2nd Ward and found a young girl Judy has been teaching conducting the 30-voice choir.  In the next meeting with the Betio1st Ward, another of Judy's students was the chorister in Sacrament Meeting.

At a celebration of the Moroni HS students (for taking first place in both the island track meet and the music competition), they had a dance afterward.  Their music has great rhythms and beat, so Judy and I went out to dance a swing with them.  Their dancing was just typical teenage dancing, but they enjoyed the swing so much some of them were trying to do it and a few started taking pictures.  Some parents even clapped.  We may be doing some more dance instruction before long, but this time, not pioneer dancing.  We still get tired by the end of each day doing normal missionary support and then teaching at nights, but this is fun stuff.  It sure is better to wear out than rust out, as President Kimball said.

1 comment:

  1. That all sounds so exciting! Sounds like you are having a great adventure! I'm so happy for you.