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.

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