When you live in Port Vila and receive a phone call from your daughter who lives one of the Efate offshore islands, who asks with a sense of excitement in her voice for you to spend New Year
with her and her husband, what more can you ask for?
We arrive on Pele Island and go straight to worship with over 30 teenagers who sing with joy in their hearts and a smile in their eyes.
I think we look presentable. So what is funny? I wonder. The song ends and the elder announces with words to the effect that it is not part of the service, but he apologises for a lack of flowers on the island.
Nonsense, there are sweet smelling frangipani all over the village.
“Can you girls step forward with your salusalu please?”, he asks with ease. I don’t get it.
Everyone turns towards my family. A message in their faces seems to ask, “Do you like your salusalu?”
Without looking, I bend low to accept mine. Gosh this is one heavy salusalu! A silent laughter runs through the room. I look across at my wife and son and suddenly see the reason.
A full string of salusalu made entirely of fresh and tasty navele! Yummy, not in my wildest dreams have I ever thought of being treated with my most favourite nut!
Indeed, next it becomes a challenge to focus on either song or prayer during the rest of the worship especially with a string of tasty navele that rests within reach on either side of my cheeks.
Before I know it though, the worship is over. I stand up to thank God for blessing the island with navele abundance and remove the rope from my neck.
Then the distinct sound of the crushing of the crunchy navele is all that matters and my focus closes in on my most favourite nut.