Any given Sunday you will see the dirt roads full of people dressed in white on their way to church, and in this way Easter is just the same. Everyone put on their Sunday best, including wide brimmed hat, and filled the churches. There are two in my village, unlike some that have six or seven, and so it’s easy for me to keep a good relationship with both of the faifeaus (pastors). It’s important to do this when living in the village because church is more of a social event than anything else. Show up every week (10 pts), donate plenty of money (10 pts), sing in the choir (10 pts), participate in church functions like cleaning the church, painting the church, washing the asphalt outside the church, etc (10 pts). You can see how easily not being involved in the church can hurt your social standing! I alternate between churches. Most volunteers do this so they don't get involved in any village organization more than another. There are raging rivalries between churches in Samoa because they run like businesses. The more members the more money and the more money the nicer the church.
This last Sunday, a news crew came to our EFKS Church (pronounced Eh, Fa, Ka, Sa) to film the service and put it on TV. They go around to all the villages in Samoa and do this so people can see how nice the churches are in different villages, how well the people since and dress, etc. Like I said, it's a big competition. The flowers were done beautifully, everyone was in their absolute best white dress and members from the Methodist church, this was astounding, even joined the service to fill out the pews, boost the choir and probably to just get on TV.
Every Easter, the Methodist pastor preaches at a different church and so we had the Methodist pastor from Asau visiting. After church every week we have to’ana’i (a feast), but Easter went above and beyond (pictured above).Visitors, especially high standing ones like pastors, provide the village with an opportunity to demonstrate superior wealth and hospitality. The lavishness of the food and extravagance of the gifts given are purely demonstrations to earn the village a good reputation. It’s a competition. We must have given three ie togas (fine mats, pictured below), which take up to a year to make and were used as currency in the old days and over 5,000 tala in canned food, cooked pigs, soap, coffee, cash, sugar and other valuables. The pastor loaded up a truck and hauled it all away after giving appropriate speeches. When our village pastor came back from his visit in Sagone, we could hardly be disappointed with his bounty. It was much the same type of gifts and they were distributed to the all the matais in the village. I was even given a Costco sized box of ramen, a five pound can of salted beef and 50 tala. What I really wanted though was one of the apples. I confided this to Talava and minutes later my hands were full of round red apples!