Sunday 27th September 2015
We dressed up in our Sunday best and went ashore just before 1000 to attend the church service. The tide was very low and we almost went aground trying to find a way through the reef, but a very nice chap who was bathing in the shallows with his two sons pointed out the way in, and we beached the rib without problems. As we walked toward the church we hoped the tide would be up a bit by the time we returned!
As yesterday, there was not a soul around when we arrived at the church. We sat on a nearby bench to wait, and slowly a few people began arriving. We moved to sit outside the church, not wanting to go inside without being invited. A lady came out to talk to us – she spoke very good English and explained that most of the congregation had gone to the village on the south of the island. Once a month there is a combined service, and the villages take their turn at holding it in their church. Today just happened to be that once a month, and so the service here in Anelghowhat would be attended only by those people who had not made the journey to the next village.
We chatted for a while – she was in fact from Tanna, the next island north, and was here in Aneityum because her husband was working here – and then Colin came and introduced himself. He was to take the service here today, and we chatted about the village and our travels. He used to be a Customs official in Tanna, and had retired back to his island of birth. He invited us to take a seat in the church, and while we were waiting for the service to begin, the dozen or so ladies in the congregation led some hymn-singing, which we enjoyed listening to.
The service lasted an hour, and we were again impressed by the excellent behaviour of the children of all ages throughout that time. We didn’t understand most of it, but we were glad there was no fire and brimstone this time and Colin welcomed us in English at one point. Afterwards an elderly man came and spoke to us, and he turned out to be Colin’s father. We found the people more reserved than the Fijians, but no less friendly. It seems this island was not too badly affected by cyclone Pam earlier this year, and so was recovering well. It was good to meet some of the Ni Van people.
The church is Presbyterian. Very plain and simple inside.