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.

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