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Virtues: The fruits of a good life

Saturday November 01, 2014 Written by Published in Virtues in Paradise
Aitutaki children were so much a part of the colourful Nuku celebrations on the island.  14103112 Aitutaki children were so much a part of the colourful Nuku celebrations on the island. 14103112

Devotion is whole-hearted commitment and a passionate focus on our beliefs and our purpose. 

It is giving all that we have and all that we are.Devotion has been shining brightly throughout Nuku week, the annual celebration of an event that changed life in the Cook Islands forever.
On October 6, 1821, the Gospel, or ‘good news’ of Christianity came to these shores for the first time.
A contingent from the London Missionary Society landed on the island of Aitutaki, where the Mother church – the very first Cook Islands Christian Church – was later built in 1852.
On Gospel Sunday, I attended the multi-church service in that beautiful edifice, which was packed with believers and overseas visitors.
Through its windows one can see waving palms and the turquoise Aitutaki lagoon. Its coral stone walls rang with more than a hundred voices, the men’s deep baritone cascading with the women’s high, sweet tones.
My husband, Dan and I have traveled the South Pacific for decades, and have never heard such vibrant, melodious, and passionate singing as here in the Cooks. They did indeed ‘make a joyful noise unto the Lord.’(Psalm 100)
The marching Girl Guides and band of the Boys Brigade were in fine form.
We were graced with the presence of Mama Caroline, at 103 years of age, the oldest person in these islands.
Tautu pastor and Chairman of the Aitutaki Konitara Ekalesia (AKE), Reverend Charlie Okotai gave an impassioned speech in Maori and English about unity and harmony within and between the churches.
AKE secretary, Teva Simiona said some beautiful words, also thankfully in both languages.
“The Cook Islands are fruitful. Fruits from the land, from the sea, and from the hearts of the people.”
He recited a passage on virtues from Galatians 5:22-23 “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control.”
Once again, the message is clear that the fruits of a good life are the virtues –  reflections of the Divine in our lives.
And here, they grow abundantly.
The Nuku celebration on Monday at the Tautu rugby field was conducted with pure joy and enthusiasm, and talk about devotion!
Islanders of all ages threw themselves whole-heartedly into the pageants, the choir singing and the Christian dances, not to mention the preparation of multi-colored costumes.
My visiting Canadian friend remarked that the children are so much a part of everything, and we both delighted in watching a tiny toddler wearing a head ei and a bright sash join in the dancing, waving her plump little arms in time to the music. There was a bountiful feast prepared for everyone.  People on this island eat with great enthusiasm as well! Through the exuberant songs and dances, the often hilarious enactments of Bible stories, (complete with a hidden canister for the fire of the burning bush), Nuku celebrations are, in my view, a perfect blend of Faith and culture. 
The Cook Islands nation is one of the last places on earth to fulfill the prophecy in Mathew 24:14 that “this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations…”
I would say that here, in the virtue of Devotion, the Cook Islanders also fulfill another scripture:  Mathew 20:16 “The last shall be first…”

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