Today I escaped from my Hindi studies to visit two veteran French missionaries, Frs. Cocereau and Debois at Naililili mission station. I was impressed by the fine old church despite the green fungus on the walls. I heard that Fr. Debois polled his way in a boat up the aisle to say Mass there during a flood. It is still no bother to him to tramp in his big boots to nearby villages.
Fr. Cocereau showed me his tavioka flour factory. The Rewa delta is very vulnerable to flooding. The root crops then all rot unless they are all taken out of the earth within a couple of days. But they can be stored only for a few days before they become inedible. Fr. Cocereau has found a solution. By peeling, drying and scraping the tavioka into flour it can be preserved for a long time. The villagers can cook and eat it until the new crops, planted after the flood, are ready. Impressive!
They invited me to lunch and even offered some homemade wine. I was impressed again. The wine was poured into the three glasses, and I raised my glass to drink. I was embarrassed to find wine trickling down my raised arm. I hoped they hadn’t noticed. I sipped the wine again - very carefully. But once more a trickle of wine ran down my arm. I was totally confused. The two Frenchmen burst out laughing. The glass was perforated right around, near the lip, with tiny holes. Whatever way it was tipped the wine would leak out. They had caught out many guests with this trick!
Columban Fr. Frank Hoare lives and works in Fiji.