One of the best parts of moving to a new locale is the world of new daytrips it opens up. On Saturday, we took a short drive and visited St. Marie Among The Hurons, a reconstructed Jesuit mission to the local Wendat people (who were called Hurons by the French). It was Aboriginal Days there and so we got to interact with different Native groups showing their wares and skills. Some parts were more interesting than others for D and P. They were almost embarrassed when a Native in full garb did the Chicken dance while his troupe sang traditional Native music to the beat of a huge drum. They enjoyed trying some Native games including a lawn dart game that used modified corn husks as darts. The young man in period garb let them help him try to strip the corn cobs which they found harder than it looked. They also found it pretty challenging to grind corn with a huge mortar and pestle and make flour using a small hand mill.
I think the experience of seeing how people lived in the 1600’s made them a bit more appreciative of the modern comforts we routinely take for granted. I know it had that affect on me. Back then, people didn’t leave the fort for fear of being attacked by enemy Natives. Their whole lives took place inside the walls of St. Marie’s. Most of their day was taken up with just survival. Their leisure activities, usually enjoyed over the winter months when the schedule was less demanding, were very simple to say the least. It’s really hard for me to imagine being entertained by them for more than a couple of days.
The most exciting thing the boys took away from the day was how to start a fire using friction. They had heard of this before but had never seen it actually done. I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical that the young man in question would be able to get a fire started seeing what he was going to use. He totally surprised me and got a flame going in about a minute. The boys took careful note of what he did and asked good questions. They certainly want to try what they saw him do at home.
They also took home some Okis they made. Okis are Wendat good luck charms. The gal directing the boys told them that the Natives usually dried the clay disks over fire but she wouldn’t allow them to do that because they might explode. D and P’s eyes lit up and I don’t doubt that their little smiling Okis will at some point end up in a fire. I made a corn husk doll (not pictured) but couldn’t get the boys to try one. There was no talk of anything exploding which made that activity far less appealing to the guys.
Apart from an appreciation of modern comforts, I also took home some thoughts on the Jesuit men who risked so much to bring the Good News of the Gospel to a people group that had never heard about Jesus. Their zeal and devotion convicted me. They left friends and comforts to live in a new world that wasn’t particularly welcoming to them. They learned new languages and ways to reach a hitherto unreached people. They sacrificed much for the few converts they made. It’s something good to think about and hopefully the thinking will also lead to appropriate action. There are people all around me who are as ignorant of Jesus and the Bible as the Wendat once were.