The church bell (a length of metal pipe hanging from a tree) started ringing at 5am, calling all able bodies to help with the task of pouring a suspended slab for the new church. Here was a chance to notch up a few frequent flyer points on god's airline. Almost every person in the village participated in some way, rotating between roles as heat and fatigue took their toll. Tea, water and fried bananas were in continual supply, and a free lunch was served for all. We could hear the yipping and yooing all day, like a twelve hour grand final. There is no doubt religion has a way of instigating action and forms a strong communal spirit, but the rebuilding of the church to make it grander, and therefore greater in the eyes of god, is a scandalous waste of money in a village that lacks basic services. There is an inter- village rivalry over who can have the most lavish church, and our congregation are determined to have more air conditioners than the neighbours. The alternative could have been a well designed open air pavilion that captured the breeze, but that doesn't speak of wealth, power and progress.
It is estimated to take another five years and billions of rupiah to complete the vision. The cathedral is being built over the top of the old church, and by the look of the watery concrete mix used, it will be danger of collapsing before it is finished. The scaffolding has been up for over two years, and locals volunteer on a rotating roster to slowly erect their monument to the big fella.