Gretchen usually updates the blog but every now and then i have something to contribute :). Ill let the pictures do most of the talking and add a bit of narrative as you scroll down to see the following pictures. To put the post into context i recently went to the islands of Santo and Malakula with a medical team from Australia and New Zealand. The Doctors, Nurses, Physio Therapist, Paramedic, and Social Workers who were on the team had just finished a four week intensive course studying tropical medicine and community development or International Health and Development. The course is offered through and on the campus of Tabor College. Tabor is a Bible College in South Australia. Once completed it can be counted for credit for the Graduate Diploma and or Graduate Certificate in Intercultural Studies (of which it forms 75%) of the course work. It was a huge blessing to be a part of the team and get to know the Doctors who teach the program as i hope to attend the program in January 2010 following our Bible translation and Literacy program in Melbourne, AU November 2009. It was also a great opportunity to practice more Bislama and get a birds eye view of some of the outer islands and villages.
On FridayI flew from the city of Port Vila, the capital city, on the island of Efate to Luganville on the island of Santo in the north. From Santo I and the team woke up early Monday morning, 4:30, and met our ship the Kiangah or "sip" in Bislama on the water front. Below is a great picture.
There wasn't much to it. She may have been 15 meters at best which made the waves that much more exciting :). I have a bad history of sea sickness and it didn't let me down. Sickness subsided for the first three hours so i was able to have great conversations or "storian" in Bislama. By hour four the wakes began to hammer the side of the boat and the side to side churning was relentless. At that time i found my old friend Mr. Horizon and the prayers began to be sent up to heaven, "God, for all that is Sacred and Holy let this cup pass from my mouth". He must have thought i needed to get used to the sickness as this is going to be the rest of my life. The nausea didn't relent. I didn't "traot" or throw up and as long as i prayed and looked at the horizon i was ok. To God's great mercy and about 100mg of antihistamines flowing threw my body on the way home i don't remember much other than the inside of my camouflage fisherman's hat and the first part of an audio sermon i hoped would lull me to sleep.
To the right is another soldier called to arms, Monique. She suffered from the "sickness" as well :). Monique is as beautiful, bright, and dedicated servant of the Lord. Ironically she comes from a long line of fisherman from the island of Tutuba just off the coast of Santo and she still battles the sickness. Her brother Kimi an energetic and comical Ni Vanuatu is an almost legendary fisherman catching lobster with his bare hands and every kind of sea creature you can think of in a single hunt. To be in his presence while he tells his stories is a real treat. Though, i couldn't understand 75% of his Bislama the non verbal communication of a Ni Vanuatu can tell an entire story simply with their eyebrows.
I spent most of my time on top of the sip with my back to a dozen or so copra bags riding out the waves and being victimized by the sun every second i was hostage to its death rays. Copra is simply the shelled out raw coconut flesh that eventually makes it into your almond joys and other delicious teats. Though the copra is a real treat the bags that it is transported with is like a giant 100 kilo bag that smells like a pair of old moldy pair of socks. I wish i was exaggerating
but due to my acute sense of touch and smell as brought on by my "sickness" i will never forget the smell. Please look at the pic below. It shows the top platform of the sip. That was my home. the copra bags are on the center of the platform.
One of the men i was able to storian with was a man from the Maskalene islands just of the south coast of Malakula. they are known for their dark skin, maritime lifestyle and sea faring abilities.
When we got to land all of our travel was by foot or transport via Truck. Elections are going on in Vanuatu now and rumor had it that an opposing political party and its supporters had dispersed a plethora of nails along the jungle roads of its oppositional parties roads. Thus the continual blowing of tires below. As well as doing medical work and talking / translating Bislama for the medical team. Ya, i did translation work. Please don't be fooled i struggled a lot but was able to get the gist, I think :). I was able to observe Zack rough cut lumber with a chain saw. Zack is a Kiwi bloke, from New Zealand, and was cutting lumber for a local village. he used a Huskavarna with a 28 inch bar that struggled with the width and density of the of the hard jungle wood. Below is a before and after picture. My team is entertaining the idea of framing our homes in the same way. The log that Zach cut the chruches foundational beems from was about 4 meters long and 24 inches wide. He was able to harvest 9 4x4 from it.
Sadly i didn't get a picture of The Ni Vanuatu, Kinzie, who helped with the project that would justify his frame and demanding presence. It was his land that the Tree was harvested from. Kinzie is about 28. He is approximately 6'4" 230lb with 1% body fat and as dark as iv'e ever seen a black man. He was not your average Ni Vanuatu. As agile and coordinated as i have ever seen any athlete he guided us into the jungle and through his coconut plantation and grazing land for his bullocks. I was privileged to do a skit with him and others later that night. It was a comical skit dramatizing the days when the Ni Vanuatu used to kill and eat missionaries. Ironically we performed for his village. As he dressed himself with the local calico, palm and banana leaves, he didn't hesitate but innately shredded and pealed the leaves and tied them accordingly to his body undoubtedly just as they had done for centuries. He obviously played the part of a Ni Vanuatu who had caught a missionary and literally carried him into the village on a bamboo pole singing out with his resonate bass tone, "kakae blo mi, kakae blo mi" or, "my food, my food" and all the while animately leaping into the air. I was one of his partners though i couldn't sell the part as he did for reasons that don't need to be explained :).
While in the Jungle i was able to get a few pics of the local arachnoid community!!!
The village that we stayed in had a prefered way of fishing. Yup, with a bow and arrow. Im telling you this is the stuff boys dream of. Below is a local villager demonstrating his "bow skills":) for all you Napoleon Dynamite fans out there. Below is where all of the meals were eaten. We had lap lap every night which is impossible to explain unless you have ever had it before. ( go on youtube.com and search for preparing lap lap and you will probably find video of people making it) We also had rice, chicken wings, and fresh fruit every night. In the mornings we we had Wheat bix, its an AU and Kiwi thing,. its like shredded wheat, granola, and rice paper all wrapped up into one. I hope they don't read this b/c im probably way off :).
This is where i slept. The kids loved the hammock. They each had their turn in it. They were alway cautious of it and were more than happy to let me sleep in it. They told me that they wouldn't be surprised to see me on the ground before the week was over b/c of it breaking on me. Praise God it stayed strong and kept me from all of the bugs, crabs, centipedes, rats, mosquitoes, etc. Once she proved herself the Ni Vans thought it was great. The big man in the village even gave it a try.
Well i better stop with that. I could go on and on. To summarize it was a great trip and i can't wait for my teammates to show up so we can do some real survey work and get into a village. Keep praying and we praise God for you all.