At the end of May I stayed in Ely with the Sisters and Brothers from Melanesia.
This was a week of Living Simply and experiencing worship and praise with the Mission but also to hear the story of their lives in Melanesia. Each day we went to Ely Cathedral for 7.30am Morning Prayer followed by Holy Communion and then a day until 7pm working with the Mission. On the Friday we left early to come to Ipswich and spent a day there.
They face similar problems as we do in the areas of Prayer and Social Justice but face other hardships. One of these was the effect of global warming on their islands as the sea levels rise. One of the Brothers spoke of his island-several years ago it took 16 minutes to walk round his island and now it took less, possibly only 7 minutes. Families have had to move from their ancestral island home.
The Brothers and Sisters were on the front line in bringing peace and reconciliation to the islands at the time of the Ethnic tension, where seven Brothers from the Melanesian Brotherhood were martyred. One brother had gone to bring a warlord to talk about peace, the brother was killed. Six other brothers went to look for him but they were also killed. Their bodies were not found for 3 months. years ago it took 16 minutes to walk round his island and now it took less, possibly only 7 minutes. Families have had to move from their ancestral island home.
They don’t have 3 meals a day, only 2 and not as much as we do. But as the leader of the Mission put it “the Solomon Islands is probably one of the poorest areas in the world but probably one of the most happy”.
But one of the things I will also take away from the week was the joyful and beautiful singing of Psalms and hymns. They brought their own musical instruments and played home made pan pipes using flip fops. Seeing adults dancing in the Presbytery of Ely Cathedral and the joy of the girl after Choral Evensong dancing with the Brothers and Sisters following Evensong.
It made me grateful all that I have. We face similar problems but we have an abundance of so much.
Many thanks to the Brothers and Sisters for their kindness and friendship throughout the week.
Rev David Messer