Sunday, April 08, 2007

Our trip in a nutshell. Coconut shell that is.

How do your sum up three weeks? I struggle with where to start! First off thanks to all who prayed for our trip. God was definitely at work and we experienced answers to prayer and know that it was because so many of you where on your knees in prayer on our behalf and cannot thank you enough!

I will try to quickly give you a run down of happenings on our trip and my, Gretchen, impressions etc.

First day (March 16th) drove 12 hours to Boise, ID to pick up Laura my sister. The kids did remarkably well during the drive. They played and slept the whole way and didn't throw much of a fit when we needed to get back on the road after lunch! Praise God.

We stayed in Boise for a day and a half then flew to LA to stay for 2 days with JJ The (previously Archer a long time friend of mine) and her new husband Chris. I really enjoyed seeing JJ again and also Kevin Orr both of whom I hadn't been able to hang out with since high school. I am so thankful to Chris and JJ for finding places for all 6 of us to stay until the 20th when our flight left for Vanuatu.

We took off for Vanuatu on the 20th at 11:30 pm with a 15 hour stop in Fiji. This was were I really experienced answer to prayer. Both kids SLEPT almost the whole 10 1/2 hour flight! I had been anxious about this leg of our trip. Jesiah loves flying and we weren't sure how Gwen would react. But on this long flight she did fabulous!

While in Fiji we rented a room at a hotel kind of place for the day so the kids could nap (in theory) and we all could hang out and relax. We were able to get a peak at Fiji a bit that day as well.
Here is were I will begin to explain to you the fascination that the women in the South Pacific had with Gwen! I am not exaggerating at all when I say that virtually every woman we passed on the street or saw anywhere for that matter either touched her, held her, or oohed and ahhed over her! Both in Fiji and in Vanuatu, women would come up and literally take her out of my arms and walk off with her (until she started to cry that is, it was then that they promptly brought her back). I have to tell you that I was thrilled about this! For some reason I wasn't nervous about her absence at all! I welcomed the break! :) Jesiah was pretty concerned when his sister was taken away though. What a great protective brother. I suppose these women do this because they never see white babies. All have probably seen white adults, but what other American mother of a 6 month old would bring her baby to the South Pacific? So we were quite a sight for the locals I am sure.

We flew into Port Villa, Vanuatu after 2 hours from Fiji. It was an amazing feeling to step out of the plane onto the land that God has called us to. Relief, in part because it was on this short flight we realized that Gwen has serious pain with the altitude change on the plane and showed us all this by her frustration on the plane, and also relief in part that we were going to be getting some idea of what the next 30 or so years of our lives were going to look like.

For an excellent run down of our locations and dates check out Laura's blog located to the right under "links". Laura is an excellent details person and I highly recommend reading her blog. I on the other hand am NOT a details person and so from this point I will kind just give you random thoughts of mine on our trip. :)

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to eat, sleep, and breath moment by moment, day by day, in a sauna? Well, if you are curious what the weather was like in Vanuatu a sauna is the best explanation of what it feels like! It is smokin' hot! I don't think I have ever sweat so much in my life! We were visiting during the end of the rainy season so it rained most of the days we were there which meant 100% humidity. I think all my clothes stretched out a full size so everything was damp and stinky for 2 weeks.

The kids did interesting things because of the heat. Both got quite lethargic but I have so say that Gwen handled it the worse. She developed quite a heat rash and I had to put some baby powder on her to help with the rash. I also had to set her down and hold her less because I found that the rash was in the print of my hands around her from holding her. But miraculously this cleared up as soon as I set her down to be by herself more often. However she then started showing that she was being bit by something. We still are unsure of what was biting, either mosquito's or ants...or bed bugs ... not sure... needless to say we had to take drastic measures and rent a hotel room (for an outrageous amount of money because of air conditioning) so she would not get worse and develop threatening symptoms.

For an example of threatening symptoms....Laura got a mosquito bite that was itched open and then got infect (in 48 hours) became literally life threatening and she got cellulitus and a fever. She had to take antibiotics and soak her leg to get the swelling down and to stop the cellulitus from spreading to other parts of her body. When in tropical climates...any ailment is intensified drastically.
Thank God Gwen seemed to be fine beside the look of the bites that are still on her a week later.

I often gave Jesiah and Gwenny baths to cool them off.

Since Houghton is a Registered Nurse he will be able to help the Ni-Van people in a huge way as well as the rest of our team. As I briefly mentioned above about Laura's leg getting infected easily, there are a number of skin problems, broken bones, etc. that people would normally just allow to fester and eventually die from because of lack of medical help or supplies. Here is Houghton looking after a nasty wound on Steve, one of our team members, leg.

While we were in Vanuatu the guys took three days to go to a neighboring island of Malakula. Me and the kids (along with my dad and sister) felt it best to stay at our lodging on the island of Santo where we knew we would have normal accommodations. The guys ended up stay a couple of the nights in a tin shack and I was thankful that we stayed behind. They were surveying the island with the intentions of looking into what it would look like for us to live on that island and serve as missionaries on that island. They got a warm welcome and it looks very promising for us to eventually move to that island after we have learned the language and some of the culture on one of the main islands in the main city of Vanuatu (either Port Vila or Luganville).

Here is a picture of Malakula from our plane ride between islands. When we get more pictures from our teammates I will add some pics from their trip to Malakula.

I will end the blog here so as to get this published for you all and will post more as we get more pics.

This is when we visited a bush village.

You can see Jesiah on the far right playing with another little boy.

Eating breakfast in one of the Ni-Vanuatu cooking hut. Her son is sitting next to me.

Here are the kids under our mosquito net. You HAVE to sleep under these nets because of the huge amount of mosquitoes around and the diseases that they carry.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

your blog is very interesting and all the cute pics make it more fun to read..although i really wish you guys were not leaving but it is good that god has found a place for you to be missionaries to. please come back and visit..and thank you gretchen for all that you have tought me with voice lessons!
God bless,
Jenny Lunde