Rain poured down on us as we made our way up the steep hill into Matata Village. Umbrella’s casted a canopy of colour as we carefully made our way up, being greeted with smiles and waves of the villagers as we went. Matata village is a squatter village of 200, and as the rain poured down it felt like we were welcomed and greeted by all of them. This was our first village to visit, and it was the first ever visited by the Golden Oldies on there first trip to Fiji, a relationship that had grown from quiet politeness to a surge of laughter and fun, dancing in rain and mud – sharing life together.
The heart and hub of the village is the church St Micheal’s and All Angels, a beautiful building that is their shelter in bad times as it is the most stable in the village. But the Church is not where we will spend our evening, in stead we were in “the shack” a make shift hall that the villagers worked hard to put up just for us, and will spend time taking down after we left. And this is only a small amount of there hospitality. For a place with so little, they give so much. They are only happy to give all they have for the visitors that had come to their village – they welcomed us “home” with food and joy and bright smiles that could not be dampened by the rain.
It is a tough feeling accepting a large meal from a community that you know does not have much. But it is also a privilege, the people of Matata wanted nothing more that to show us their hospitality, and the large and beautiful meal was a part of that.
As the night went on we were treated to the Sunday School Children performing dances that they had practiced just for us. Entertainment while we ate dinner, but the sight was so amazing that you had to wait to eat dinner, as you didn’t want to miss a millisecond of the beauty that the children showed. Their smiles and souls shined bright as we applauded each performance. But it was nothing to the smiles that were about to come, when the rain stopped and the music turned on – the muddy grass would soon become a dance floor.
I have always thought that saying a child’s smile was the most beautiful and pure thing in the world was a bit cliché. But these children are the epitome of that saying. I have danced in the rain many times in my life, but never quite like what we did tonight. As we joined the children and village in their dance we were no longer visitors, we were, a part of them. Family, friends – brothers and sisters in Christ.