Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Hello to you all on this Christmas Eve day. I am just updating to let you all know that we will be finishing up our updates (on Vanuatu and Christmas, and Si's 4th b-day) when we get to Australia. We leave on Saturday. Today is FULL of getting things packed...Christmas Eve service tonight...and then tomorrow JUST CHILL for Christmas day. Then full of packing the day after as well as celebrating with Louis and Monique, Suzanne, Timo and Fred with their family on Friday.

I wanted you all to know that you will not hear from us for a while as our Internet router was fried during a lightning storm so we are using Internet from our teammates house to update this entry. So we will be getting Internet while in Australia.

Have a GREAT CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Updates! :)

Just a reminder to keep checking up our account through You Tube to see our latest videos....

You can visit this link just by clicking on "our youtube account" tab on the right side of our blog under "links"

Our December

Addy ended up getting Impetigo. It is a skin rash that is pretty common here and even in the states. However, it is more prevalent here because it is not treated for the most part and therefore, because it is highly contagious, there are more cases of it. If you are interested in knowing more go to . It started in her diaper area and then they started popping up on her face. Because she is so young she really doesn't even notice that she has these sores thank God. The only thing she complains about is when we give her the oral medicine as it tastes awful! She has had it for about 5 days now and it hasn't spread since she has been taking the antibiotic. So we are hoping the sores will be gone soon.

This is the largest sore. They start out as huge blisters and then when they pop they look like this. This sore appeared overnight.

Houghton, Si, Gwen and Laura along with Suzanne, Fred and Timo went to a hip hop dance competition this week. I was TOTALLY bummed to miss it but because Addy's rash was still contagious I needed to stay home with her. These are some pics of the crowd...It filled in a lot once the show started. But they got a great front row seat.

You can see our crew up in the front here in this pic.


We got on the topic of glasses. And the comment was made that I wear which MUCH confusion arose. So I took one of my contacts out so they all could see it. It was like I was a magician. Hilarious! But they were amazed that I would have something in my eye to help me see. Later a kid came up and asked if I could take the "marble" out of my eye again so he could see it again.

Winnie sowing up an island dress. If you look at the machine it is a hand crank sowing machine.Taking a bath

The inside of a house. A frame with tin is pretty typical for in the city.

Winnie's son, Joshua, with an unhappy Addy. Addy was wanting mommy this day. It was quite hot and she couldn't fall asleep because it was so hot. So she was a bit grumpier than usual.

Addy playing with a fan

Gwen has taken a liking to Willie...this little guy (or not so little) is about 6 months old and I think is trying to eat Gwen's dress. :)

Climbing trees is done a lot. Si is just now starting to get into it.

I think this picture is great as it shows how chaotic it can get at times. Sometimes I have all three of my own kids crawling to be on my lap, as well as some local kids thrown into the mix. I wouldn't mind as much if it wasn't so amazingly HOT. :)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


The guys went to Tanna for another Survey trip. We had a number of goals and purposes for this trip.

  1. Help an SIL missionary who has been ministering in a village for five years. He and his family just returned from a furlough and we offered to assist him while he prepared their home in the bush.
  2. Observe infrastructure of Tanna.
  3. Observe two SIL families who are currently living in the Bush. We simply wanted to observe how they live, what their routine is like (husband, wife and kids). How they got resupplied. Etc. The list really does go on and on and on.
  4. Observe culture and practice Bislama.
  5. We also had a bit of fun too.

By Gods grace were able to accomplish all of the goals and even had time for number 5. I have to admit I wasn’t expecting the huge opportunity and NEED there. They have literally had over 150 years of missionary work done on the island of Tanna alone and for whatever reason I can say with no reservations that there are plenty more years that could use some ministry in respect to this island.

As I shared in my first review of our North Ambrym survey, Tanna has well over 100 years of reputation to uphold with folk and legend. After only 4 or 5 days there I am now a believer. We have been to Efate, Santo, Malekula, Ambrym and now Tanna. I can simply say as all the locals do, “Tanna is an island, culture and world in and of its self.” The diversity of languages (six) does not seem to effect the universal traditions shared by the island. If I understand it correctly all the villages and language groups drink kava, perform circumcisions, marry, etc. with similar policy and procedure dictating accordingly.

In regards to the local "koolaid" kava.Yummy yum yum in my tummy tum tum. Actually not. It tastes like a mud and alfalfa concoction and looks like what comes out of a horse or cow. The backside of a horse or cow that is. It, kava, takes on the fashion of the stool of a large farm animal b/c on Tanna the locals or young virgin (non married) boys must masticate it prior to drinking. The boys masticate and masticate presumably to get the texture just right or as my theory goes as long as it takes to get a buzz themselves before serving the kava sludge on a large green leaf . Pre -men are not permitted to drink kava, though they are the only ones who are able to handle or prepare it with their hands. They simply take the "first fruits" from the mouths of the masticators, of which were stored on the leaf, and place it in a piece of cloth in order to pass water through it and finally into a halved coconut shell. After the Chief and remaining men who have chosen to drink that night consume or "flatten" (Bislama for drink it all at once as fast as you can because it tastes horrible) the shell of kava from oldest to youngest, they eat island kakae (local food). They purposefully don't eat anything after lunch in order to maximize the effects of the kava in the evening.

To completely simplify the kava experience let me put it this way. Its like an entire nation of "hippies" or "stoners" in high school who have smoked some marijuana at lunch time and cant wait for school to get out so they can hit up the local Taco Bell and gas station for ding dongs. Again, that is to over simplify it but basically that's the gist. When I understand the cultural significance of it a little more I will elaborate but at this time those are my observations "only". I have observed other things like prayers being made during kava drinking, rules about women and kava, special times to drink kava etc. but would like to leave that out until I can explain it a little better. At this time its enough to know that Kava is a HUGE deal in Vanuatu and we will one day have to make some very hard decisions in regards to it.

Please enjoy the pics below and if you have any questions just leave a comment and I will reply individually or on the blog. oh, and check out the YouTube link on the right. I'm trying to upload video but the Internet connection is a little rough these days. Trust me you will like the video!

Tree house at a Nakamal in Tanna. Young boys who participate in the circumcision ceremony sleep in the tree houses for weeks separated from their mothers.

Two young pikinini in Kens village. The older siblings really help out a lot. It was very common to see pre teen boys and girls with an infant or toddler on their hip.

One of Kens water tanks. We purchased some parts for the gutter in Port Villa and brought them with us to the village to repair his gutter. This tank was used for the kitchen water. He had a similar tank on the other side of his house which is used for the bathroom.

Kens house and adjoining "bush" shop.

A fresh water shrimp that "Moon" caught. During one of our 12 crossings of the river. He spontaneously stopped from his marathon pace and reached under a rock with both hands. About three minutes later he came up with this. Once he came up with it we understood the delicate manor in which he was blindly scavaging the backside of the rock. Check out the pincher on this thing.
A man that we ran into on the trail. He was trying to catch the fresh water shrimp as well.
Only he used a spear and mask. (Yes they are all this ripped!)

The water fall that waited at the end of our trail. We started to hear it a few hundred meters away though we couldn't see it because of the thick canopy and dense jungle. It was incredibly refreshing.

Moon showing off his waterfall. It really was his.

The Volcano from Kens front porch. The rim of the valcano under our feet. We could see the fire and lava a couple hundred meters away.
This was the best and last explosion that we witnessed. The lava literally went over out heads. At that point we decided to go home. I will post video of our reaction to this explosion. It was spectacular, surreal, and terrifying at the same time.

Monday, December 08, 2008

“Waetman Bae yu go nao!” (Ambrym part Two)

The rainbow that greeted us as we pulled up to the beach.

The front part of the boat that we had to navigate through. This pic is from the top of the ship. From this view we had to turn right then right again to get to the stairs to go down then go straight out the front and on to the beach.

“Waetman Bae yu go nao!” or, “hey white guys its time to go. This is your stop.” As I think of that statement, “Whiteman Bae yu go nao!” I cant help but to think of the non negotiable and irresistible drawing God used back in the day to get me to simply go. "Go, you working class, middle of the road, comfortable, spiritually fat, knowledgeable beyond your obedience, soft, hunky dory, white picket fence all around you, with your fancy backpack, over priced shoes, and ridiculous sunglasses. Get off my boat!" "Get out of the boat PETER. Do you LOVE ME PETER? Tend my sheep PETER. Don’t worry about him (John 21) PETER. Don't even worry about the death that I have chosen for you for my glory. Just get out of the boat and GO!" Oh, how they go hand in hand when I read scripture and ask God to continue to lead me by His Holy Spirit. To get out of the boat as sheep to the slaughter.

Thank God that this day, as we pulled up to the beach, was not the day of our slaughter. Not even close, nor were we a bit hesitant or frightened, but we did have to get out of the boat. I, for one, was anxious. 23 hours on top of a jello jiggler takes its toll. That evening, while on solid ground, my mind and body continued to ride the jiggles (waves).

We dawned our backpacks and were squeezed down a narrow stairwell. I'm still not sure how Jim, our largest teammate got down. He is approximately 6' 2" and was carrying a Kelty 6500 cu inch Red Cloud backpack loaded to the hilt. He is the kind of guy you hoped for as a marine in WWII while storming Iwo Jima. You wanted to be behind a massive piece of flesh like his and stay behind it. Brad and I are of a smaller stature. Statures that would dawn black pajamas and hide behind jungle vines and in snake holes if you know what I mean. Statures that persuade agility and stealth (I’m embellishing but please go along with it) J.

So Jim stormed the beach and Brad and I stealthy took up the rear high stepping off of the lid of the boat with every bit of agility we could muster and taking our first step on solid ground in 23 hours. The ground wasn’t exactly solid. Our first step off the ship was in knee high sea water and our ankles were berried in black sand. Our next obstacle was maneuvering through the dozens of Ni Vanuatu assisting in carrying off all of the cargo belonging to the remote island of Vanuatu.

It didn’t take us long or Philip long to find the three white guys on the north side of the island. As far as the people were concerned there wasn’t a good reason for “white man” to be there at this time of year. It was currently taboo to visit the volcano, the main attraction, due to a local taboo that is practiced every year from September to December. The belief is that if a man visits the volcano the local yam will be spoiled. We didn’t want to spoil any yams so we didn’t visit the volcano but we did eat plenty of them!

The kids saw us coming and came running towards us.

We met a teacher with her kids during a recess.

Me talking to Gretch who was islands away at this time.

A common scene as we went up and down the coast from village to village.

For the next 7 days we were in survey mode. We hiked, boated, and drove the entire north side of the island looking at infrastructure (road conditions if a road existed). The “one road” was all dirt and mud weaving in and out of the canopy of the jungle and on to the sand beach and through creak and river beds. Though, only one road existed it went just about the entire length of every village that bordered the North Coast. It is in desperate need of care and repair but a blessing to see none the less. Just to have a road cut into the jungle is a huge step that we wouldn’t have to do if God lead here.

We also assessed medical availability. The best we could come up with is that there is one and at best three dispensaries or clinics for the north side. Each clinic is staffed by one RN and his or her aids and stocked with remedial supplies every so often. I could go on in regards to what we observed but I’ll leave it at that to give you an idea of what we were looking for during this trip. I would like to address the spiritual condition and local church existence, but it is way too premature to address those issues at this time due to my limited understanding of the culture and language. However, I do feel comfortable to saying that opportunity for ministry is limitless.

I would like to end this post with the following. During our initial survey trips we are making observations of infrastructure (buildings, housing, stores, clinics, roads, trails, accessibility to the outside world via air strips, vehicles, boats, ships etc. church and Church, local diet, language, culture, health of the people, leadership, land disputes, etc). Once finished with each trip the team’s goal is to go over the information, videos, pictures and talk and pray about it. Please be praying for us during this time. Decision made now can impact the next decade of ministry in Vanuatu.

During our next phase we will pick a few “top” opportunities and revisit them and pray about them etc. At that time much more information, blessings, and prayer requests will come your way. At this time we believe we won’t be in that phase until next year after our training in Australia, or maybe even after returning from America (our first semi furlough) May 2010. This is a long road and process and we appreciate your patience and prayer for us. Please keep up the battle in prayer and sacrifice for the work here in Vanuatu.

On our way to the northern tip of the island to Magum, Olal, and Wilit.

Local Nakamal (a place where the men hang out and have meetings and drink Kava. This one is in a Kastom village and was full of Tam Tam totems. We got permission to look but that was it. We weren't sure how close we could get so we took some quick pics and left. If the men had been there drinking Kava we probably wouldn't have been able to look unless we drank with them. Woman are not allowed to look at the Nakamal when the men are drinking and preparing kava. On Tanna the woman aren't even allowed to know what goes on at the Nakamal or let on that they do know. It is the weirdest thing b/c everyone knows :). If a woman walks by at night she literaly has to look the other way.

Open mouth and insert "stick". It is really that easy. After they are roasted all nice like they stick the other end of the stick in the ground and pick the bones clean. No need for plates or even clean leaves. Just a stick!

The guys ran this pig down. I wasn't able to join b/c i had stomach issues at the time if you know what i mean. I was running in more ways than one. I have a story for this if you want to hear it just ask. Otherwise its not appropriate for the Blog :).

They built the platform for the fish within minutes. It is right over the fire. The fish were excellent. you just had to pick the meat off the bones. No fillets with theses guys. You must eat everything.
On our way to a Kastom village.

They have huge hard and soft wood trees that we hope to harvest for house building.

Hiking through a village. We had to get permission to do so at times.

Tam Tams. Hand carved by the locals. They were used to call meetings, create rhythm for dancing, etc. In order carve you must pay for the rights and you can only do that if you already have the rights to carve in your family.

A local Dispensary (clinic).

While on the motor boat going north we passed a lot of local paddling their canoes.

Blessings from our trip:

  1. Many contacts for future survey trips and fellowship / ministry.
  2. Bislama learning.
  3. Immersed in the culture for 7 straight days.
  4. We now have an experience on a ship which is “the” method of travel for a Ni Vanuatu. This blessing alone has been the foundation for many conversations and deepened relationships (as best we can tell).
  5. A possible permanent island and language group to minister in.
  6. Attained a greater understanding of kastom and “Magic” though we still don’t have a clue.
  7. Deepened a relationship with my Ni Vanuatu contact that I met at Telua Presbyterian College. My prayer is that God would lead him to be a future leader in the church in Vanuatu. He and his wife have huge heart for ministry in villages and Bible Translation.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The making of a Christmas tree...Vanuatu stlye

So we decided it was time to go hunting for the perfect Christmas tree. For most this entails donning your warmest clothes, and carrying a saw, all while you trek through the freshly fallen snow and you are surrounded by the silence of thick, heavy pines blanketed with fluffy white.

BUT for entailed...soaking yourself in mosquito spray, throwing on your flip-flops, and grabbing a machete as we headed off to trek through the jungle while tropical birds were cawing all around us. We were looking for the perfect shoot of bamboo and palm branches to make the tree, and wanted to gather hibiscus, ferns, and leaves to go along with the bamboo.

We had a super fun time. Check out us on youtube for the video of this little adventure. But here are the pics of the finished product... We are not sure how long each flower will last so everyday the kids get to pick new flowers to add to the tree. It will be fun!

Si and Gwen with the finished product...for today anyway, we still have to find a good spot for it and make it look a little less like a flower arrangement. :)

Gwen watching as Houghton drills holes in the bamboo shoot so we can stick things in it. Bamboo is SUPER strong so he had to really work to get the screwdriver to go through it.