There's something to be said for getting up early. The day is so much longer and tends to go by at a more relaxed pace.
Despite going to bed really late (maybe 1:00 A.M.) we got up and went to the sunrise Easter service. I was exhausted all morning but it was worth it.
The inter-denominational service (our pastor contributed the opening prayer) was held on an open field next to an empty government building in Capitol Hill, one of the higher villages on Saipan. The service participants did their bit in front of the building and we all sat on the field sloping down away from them. It felt a little weird to be sitting "uphill". From this elevation you can see the Philippne Sea to the west, on your right, cool blue in the morning. On your left, to the east, the sun is cracking over the Pacific, rising as we sing songs of the Risen Lord. I got a little choked up as the sunlight blazed over us as we sang "Above All" and "Lord I Lift Your Name on High", reminding of the light of the Resurrection. It was a beautiful moment.
The music was the best part of the service. The homily was nice, I'm sure, but it was lengthy and my mind drifted. It's hard to take in a full-on sermon at 6 o clock in the morning. But the music was lovely. . .After the homily the members of the local Chuukese congregation sang a song. They sang in Chuukese, and though I only remembered a few words of the language (I used to live in Chuuk, another Pacific Island far more remote and undeveloped than Saipan), it really touched me. . .brought back a lot of memories. Classic Chuukese music, with the everpresent keyboard riff, and the slow, slightly droning, repetitive choruses sung in a high-pitched harmonies. I realize it doesn't sound very beautiful but that's partly because my description really doesn't do it justice.
A lot of friends we hadn't seen in awhile were there. Russ and Kanae, just back from five weeks in the States. Rex and Clarie, our friends and mentors in Marriage Encounter. Rod and Jean, the couple from Oregon who Barbara and I "took care of" during the last Marriage Encounter Weekend. I was looking forward to getting caught up with everyone after the service, but as soon as it was done, one of our church members, Joel snatched us up, inviting us to breakfast at his house. We couldn't say no, so we said hasty good-byes to our friends and were off to breakfast.
Joel and his wife, Lovely have recently built a new house and were eager to show it off. It's a nice place, far larger than what most of our church members live in. It was interesting to note the differences in American and Filipino tastes and preferences though. The outside had a vaguely Mediterranean feel, white walls and red tile roofing, with lots of garden landscaping. So far we were on the same page. Inside, however, the house was very different from what our American sense of style was used to. The ceilings were low with heavy chandeliers, and they were all kind of "recessed." I don't know how to describe this. I wish I'd brought my camera. It's like how in a U.S. home you have crown molding, well in this house the crown molding was like seperate from the rest of the ceiling. It stands out from it--a kind of 3-D effect. I'm making a real mess of describing this.
Anyway, it was like nothing I'd ever seen. The rooms were spare compared to American rooms--not a lot of furniture, and the bathrooms were small and dark--even the master bath. I don't think anyone other than Americans puts so much emphasis on the bathroom, turning it into a kind of palace. Some American bathrooms are bigger than people's bedrooms in other cultures.
We ate a breakfast of a creamy chicken chowder, some kind of butter topped pancake muffin, lots of orange juice, and bread. The pastor was there and another friend of ours.
We left around 9:30, and headed over to Rex and Clarie's house where we spent about an hour and a half roaming Rex's landscaped gardens collecting seeds and cuttings and whole plants for Barbara's garden project in our own backyard. It was a gorgeous day--brilliant blue sky, puffy white clouds, a panoramic view of the reef and lagoon spreading out below us. Walking among the plants, the beautiful flowers, listening to the quiet, the gentle breeze, the birds chirping, was soothing to the soul.
By 11 we were on our way to the airport to pick up Edwin, our speaker for the Youth Week of Prayer. Babs and I, along with the other teachers, met him and took him to lunch at Truongs, a local Vietnamese restaruant.
At noon, the day wasn't even half over and already it was full.
After lunch, we dropped Edwin off at the apartment where he's staying, went home, and took a much needed nap.
We spent the late afternoon watching "Grey's Anatomy" on the VCR from last Sunday last Sunday night (since we were busy with the dinner theater). Babs worked in the garden. I washed the dog, and surfed the net.
All in all, a quiet island Easter.