Some enchanted evenings warm the heart

It began with a small swatch of color — a bright cotton dress peeking out from a thick wool coat. Slowly the colors spread into the music, the food and the faces of the people attending mass at our small Catholic church in Appleton, Wisconsin.

A ubiquitous luster, especially vivid during these frozen February days, has been the continuing legacy of our Micronesian population. Lured by the prospect of better education, they left their tropical home and, one by one, migrated Northeast to Wisconsin.

Thanks to a cooperative compact between the United States and Micronesia, Micronesians can live, work and study in the United States without a visa. Micronesians volunteer to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces at approximately double the per capita rate as Americans; they are also eligible for admission to U.S. Service Academies.

We celebrated with our island friends last night at our parish’s annual Micronesian dinner, a friendly explosion of taste, sound, color and dance. Icy snow crunched under our feet as we made our way into the building past trees that had not seen a green leaf in four months. We pulled open the door and smiled immediately as warmth and spicy smells chased this tiresome winter away for a few hours.

We piled our plates high with colorful food and sat down to enjoy the feast and the entertainment of some tiny South Pacific dancers.

A slide show depicting facts and photos played in the background and prompted this thought: The cooperative compact works both ways. That is, Americans can live and work freely in Micronesia without a visa as well. Field trip anyone?

These girls moved with such grace and joy!
These girls moved with such grace and joy!
wide eyed dancer
The entertained us Saturday night, and sang in the choir on Sunday. These little girls have been a wonderful addition to our parish.
Dinner and servers
They laughed as they explained the pink rice (festively treated with food coloring) and generously served up some delicious plates.
My plate
This is my colorful plate. The chicken salad was labeled “hot”, which I ignored. Rookie mistake, but nothing a lot of lemonade couldn’t fix. My favorite was the tender sweet and sour pork, but I really loved it all.
Tiny dancers
It hardly felt like winter at all with these sweet little ambassadors greeting guests.

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