Well, as you can guess the first part of our big news is there is going to be a new addition to the Crosland clan, number 6 is on the way. This was an exciting surprise for us. We are all very happy and can’t wait to see the eighth member of our family. This announcement complicates our next big news but that is just part of God’s plan for us and we are excited to see what he is doing in our lives.
The second big announcement is that we have accepted a new assignment. We will now be working at POC (Pacific Orientation Course) fulltime. I will be the center manager. I will look after day-to-day operations of the center, facilitating language learning classes, and teach some anthropology classes as well. Tiffany will look after the store on the center, coordinate devotions, and help new students adjust to life in PNG. This new assignment means that we get to live and work more closely with Papa New Guineans. It also means that we get to help train missionaries that will serve all over the South Pacific with lots of different agencies.
We are very excited about all the new things that God is doing in our lives. Keep checking back lots of new information will be coming soon!!!
Ok, here it is the last post about the singsing. I am sorry to say that I can’t post the video surprise that i had promised.
When we reached the edge of the village we organized into two lines. We hint all our kundos (drums) at one time and shouted to announce our arrival. We could see the people gathering in the distance in the field near was papa’s house. We began to move again. This time we were in two line and walking in unison and hitting the kundos. As we marched into the field one of the men close to me told me to follow him and to do what he did.
We entered into one side of the field and the women entered from the other side. Both groups began to circle in different directions. One of the interesting things about all the dances is that the women generally stayed on the outside. The men stayed toward the inside and did more of the dance steps.
The singsing went on for several hours. We had an intermission in the middle. Waspapa brought out more buai at this point for all the people participating in the sinsing. It ended with us performing one last version of the “katim long daik”. The two line went out the same way they came in. After everyone washed in the river. We all came back for the feast that the other people in the village had prepared.
(The Croslands all bilased up)
So as I said the other day bilas is decorations but that is really an over simplification. Like so many tok pisin words bilas can mean a lot of different stuff. And in this case it meant just about all of them. As you can see from the picture above it can mean decorating yourself and that is what I'm going to talk about today.
The afternoon of the singsing finally arrived and it was time for us to get ready. At this point the men and women went to separate areas to get ready. I can’t tell you exactly what the women did but hopefully Tiffany can do that later.
(Tiffany and a friend decked out and ready to go)
(Mae and Rita)
Matthew, Isaac, Silas, and I went across the river and a into the bush a little ways to the haus tamaran (men’s house). This is a place where the men go to do things like coming of age ceremonies and prepare for singsings. The first thing that we did was to gather all the necessary bush materials.
Some of the younger boys were sent up a coconut tree to get new leaves. Some went around gathering brightly colored leaves. Others went and gathered a seed pod off a plant that they called diwai pen (tree paint). Still others were collecting kokonas dri (coconuts). While other were making decorative rope. It was an amazing thing to take in. All sorts of stuff was going on at one time and everyone seemed to know exactly what to do without being told. Everyone was laughing and having a good time.
(Matthew and Isaac taking a break between sets)
The diwai pen and the gris bilong kokonas were mixed and we were all slathered liberally. Turning us white skins and interesting orangeish red color. The boys then put on the red laplaps (wrap) and I put on the malo (loin cloth made from tree bark). After all this was done we were adorned with leaves, ropes, boars teeth necklaces, headdresses, and paspas (arm bands). Finally, we were given our instruments. I was given a kundu (an hourglass shaped drum) and the boys were given sticks.
We marched back across the river and back into the edge of the village. And then we …
You’ll have to find out in part 4. I promise there will be a special surprise too!
(Bilas made from fresh flowers)
Kaikai (food) and bilas (decorations) are the two biggest things that have to be prepared for a singsing. The headdress is just the tip of the iceberg as far as decorations go but I will touch a little more on bilas at a later time. right now I want to talk about food.
It is essential that there is an abundance of food for everyone that has come to the singsing. And since singsings are very popular events lots of food has to be prepared. As I have said in past posts abus (meat) is a very prized food. So it is essential that you provide abus to your guests. Our waspapa provided two different kinds of meat at our singsing: kakaruk (chicken) and meme (goat). The goat belonged to our waspapa and was one of two goats in the whole area. So it was a particularly nice meal.
(Silas and Isaac helping clean the goat)
In addition to the great meat we also had heaps and heaps of of garden vegetables. A group of women, headed up by Tiffany’s friend Beti, set out a piece of plastic in the clear spot in front of our house and other women brought giant bags of kaukau (sweet potatoes), taro, corn, pitpit, kumu, bananas and other things and poured them out on the plastic. This mound of food was probably 5 feet across and 2 feet tall. The women made quick work of the pile and it was all peeled and put into giant pots in less than an hour. The women made several fires around the houses and began to cook all of this food. In addition to this food, people who came to watch the singsing also brought pots of food to contribute. I guess it goes without saying but Papua New Guineans can eat an incredible amount of food.
Next time bilas !!!
The day before we left Songum was one of the best days there for me and that is saying a lot. This was the day that the village had a singsing for us. The first thing that you should know is that a singsing is an all day thing.
Right after breakfast (7 am or so) people started showing up at Waspapa’s house. They brought all sorts of stuff with them (card board boxes, old batteries, paints, knives, feathers, and lots of other stuff). We would be performing a singsing that my Waspapa had made up called “Kating Daik”. It was all about the life of a particular sea bird that is called a Daik in tok pisin. This singsing required a special set of headdresses so we started working on them right away that morning. (people working on their headdresses)
Every one made one for themselves and some people made some for our family. The cardboard boxes became the wings for the head dresses. The old batteries were broken open and the acid inside was mixed with water to make a black paint. White paint was liberally applied to give the birds their color. Everyone brought their own special feathers on springs that they applied to their headdresses to make them distinct. One chicken also gave his feathers for the headdresses and his meat for the meal that followed.(the chicken who gave it all for the singsing)
By late morning the headdresses were finished and we were moving on to other aspects of the sing sing that needed to be taken care of. Part two to follow soon!!!
(silas trying on his headdress for size)