6.am. I make a cup of tea and in the dark nearly trip over the neighbour’s cat who has sneaked into our house when the back door was left wide open. The orange cat does that in its night roaming. It’s about 8 degrees. Decide to delete two items on one of our blogs – one too pessimistic, the other a silly comment. Hoorah for the delete buttons! Find music for church, old and new songs, including ‘Al Shaddai’.
Listen to ‘Hymns Old and New’ on 3MBS radio. I think about my own Mum who has been gone now for two years.
7.30 a.m. Peceli wakes up and I chip him. ‘Hey, it’s Mother’s Day, where is my breakfast?’ He rushes around and makes tea and giant size pieces of toast in the griller. He picks a pink rose, yellow daises, a red geranium, silver leaves, wraps them in A4 notepaper, and says, ‘Happy Mother’s Day.’ Junior is sleeping in the lounge, the gas heater full on. He came back from Fiji Friday night and finds it cold.
8.30 a.m. Go to the nearby Uniting Church where I play the organ and sometimes piano. The men sing ‘The Lord is My Shepherd’ as a kind of choir, a custom in this church for twenty years on Mother’s Day. Depleted in numbers - we have many elderly people these days. Cuppa with people there and meet Latu and Susana from Sydney, down again to see their Tongan relatives, still here after the bereavement a few week’s ago.
10.45 a.m. Back at home the kitchen smells of cooked prawns, Peceli’s contribution to the shared lunch later. We leave for Melbourne, an hour’s drive on the freeway, no lights for 50 minutes until Pascoe Vale Road. It's dull, raining and even foggy on the Western Ring Road. My white clothes are in a bag to wear if the Fijian women wear white/cream as they did last year. I wear my usual black and pearls. Stop at a Macdonalds for a 5 minutes breather.
12.15 p.m. One of the ladies doesn’t come because she’s grieving the loss of her mother, who died only three weeks ago so there’s some adjustments about who does what in the service. As is the Fijian custom, women lead the Mother’s Day service. Leba looks beautiful in white and a red blazer and flowers, a ladylike Lauan woman. Tau from Gau will preach. She’s in bright pink. I don’t have to wear white [ hoorah! I’ve been given the final prayer and that will be in English, the rest of the service in Fijian, except for April’s reading. A few hugs, kisses and tears as we meet people we haven’t seen for ages. It’s a nice service and my prayer is fine after all.
1.30 p.m. The meeting room is quickly transformed to become a dining-room. The men have done the cooking as usual for Mother’s Day – prawns, mussels, dalo, cassava, crabmeat salad, stew, pork etc. Delicious. Then there’s the clean up by the young women and some of the men. Some of them just don’t get it do they – about giving women a break? Lots of discussion about the problem of relocation as the current building is going to be sold in a few months. The parish council have decided that repairs are just too costly for two small congregations. There is much fuss about insurance these days. A national church conference is on next weekend in Geelong on multicultural aspects in the Uniting Church, one session on property and the difficulty ethnic communities have in finding a ‘home’ for their church groups. Is there still an attitude of ‘them’ and ‘us’?
4 p.m. We return to Geelong and on the way Peceli sings, and then he says, ‘When you speak you sometimes are brilliant, but when you are impulsive, you go wild!’ He’s talking first about my prayer in the church, then he’s referring I guess to my comments about Benny Hinn the other night in a household where the couple admire BH very much. Hmmm. While drinking kava, they had put on a video of the meetings in Suva. Honestly, the Fiji people love crowds and the lotu, but these overseas guys take advantage of them. And the style – well, I am comfortable with Iona kind of songs and liturgies, real stuff.
5 p.m. We find a visitor already in the lounge-room yarning with Junior so kava is mixed. A lovely girl with a Fiji boyfriend who can’t get a visa. I sleep for two hours then say, ‘Okay it’s Mother’s Day, what about some tea?” ‘Oh, the sun has gone down. It’s over!’ Peceli says and I lurch out to the kitchen to find left-overs.
7.15 p.m. I ring my precious eldest son in Suva and we talk politics and the election. Happy Mother’s Day.