Sunday, June 2, 2013
As the president of DIAKONIA World Federation, I had come to Fiji to make a presentation at the DIAKONIA Asia-Pacific conference. “The traditional welcome ceremony will begin soon,” our hostess said, and she ushered me into a lovely room where I quickly showered and changed into a skirt.
I was looking forward to a ceremony that would welcome members from Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Indonesia and was shocked to learn that the purpose of the ceremony was to welcome me as a visiting dignitary. Fijian men and women sat on the floor while visiting deaconesses and deacons were offered chairs. I was escorted to a place of honor at the front and sat on several beautiful woven grass mats.
A professor from the local seminary gave me hints on what to do when and made traditional responses on my behalf. There were lengthy speeches that I did not understand except for the occasional “Louise Williams” and “DIAKONIA.”
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