I recently went to Malakula, the second largest island in Vanuatu. They have over thirty different languages alone! I was able to hear 6 of them. That was a fantastic opportunity. I went to Malakula to survey one of these languages, Na'ahai. Na'ahai is spoken by almost 1500 to 2000 people on the south coast of Malakula. They do not have a Bible in their language 'yet' and have been frustrated with the Bislama (national language) Bible. Simply, they say it is not very clear. I should point out that the major problem is not with the translation itself. Its due to the fact that Bislama is a second language, and for most from south coast Malekula it is a third or fourth language. This added to the fact that Bislama is a very imprecise language makes for very interesting interpretations and discussions about what God has to say to us in His word.
I worked in coordination with SIL, Summer Institute of Linguistics, and with a local man from the area, Aman. He is fluent in 6 languages alone! My partner in crime, Jim Kenner, is currently in the states so it was just me and Aman. During the survey i visited 9 villages, slept in 4 of them, recorded 4 130 word and simple sentence wordlists and transcribed 3 of them. A final 29 page report was completed and sent to SIL at the end. The hope is that one day a Bible translator will move into the area and begin to learn the language, love the people, translate the Bible and begin Bible teaching/discipleship.
The first few days of my trip were spent in the Maskalyene islands south of the south coast of Malakula. I attended the Presbyterian General Assembly. It was a great time to advocate for Bible translation and the importance of missionaries living in villages throughout Vanuatu rather than staying in the capital city. Not surprisingly, before i was even able to get started the rumor was out about me and many of them came to me to talk. The remainder of the trip was spent on the south coast of Malakula.
Below is just some pics of the trip and some short excerpts. Thanks for your support and prayers!
Above: children are singing in the background anticipating a visit from the Prime Minister. He was visiting b/c the Presbyterian church had their general assembly on the Maskylenes this year. If
I'm not mistaken he addresses them annually.
Maskylenes are well known for their reefs and fishing. And for good reason! I had fish most of the nights with dry rice. Everything but the bones went into my belly. Children are fishing above.
Just one of the evening meals. The village provided free food at the assembly but the guys i bunked with were from Tanna and preferred to pay 120 vatu (about $1.20) for this plate of dry rice and fish. So that's what i did.
Men and women pealed yam, taro, and kumala (sweet potato), all day for about a week and a half to keep up the demand. Over 500 men and woman attended the small island during the assembly. You can imagine the stress the village and gardens experienced. A lot of the food was shipped in in preparation for the assembly. The people also grew more root veggies in anticipation of the assembly.
This little guy (rainbow lorikeet) turned out to be my best friend. A local guy in the village trained him though he just lived in the trees in the village. For whatever reason (the locals figured it was b/c i was white or he liked my blue shirt) he followed me everywhere.
The men of the village performed a custom dance for the prime minister. During the dace they lead the PM to the church. Kinda interesting!
During the last day of the assembly each different session from all over Vanuatu had a ceremony to literally 'pass the torch' to the next province who would host the assembly next year. Man Tanna are in the orange. I bunked with them in a single hut. Man Ambrym are in the Red. Malakula is in the purple and Santo is in the green. They will host next year.
The hut where i slept with roughly 30 other guys. Concrete floor with 3 layers of mats. Concrete blocks about hip high then woven bamboo the the walls and a thatch roof. Aman is in the orange. My pack is on the left. A favorite bag to pack belongings into are rice bags. They are large and water proof. You can see it on the right.
Everyone packing up and getting ready for the 16hr boat ride home.
During my 6 hour boat ride to the mainland we stopped on the island of Axamb. Absolutely gorgeous! B/C of rising sea levels and depleting reefs the island is disappearing into the ocean. Thus many of the locals have moved to the mainland to a different culture and language than their own on the small island.
This is the party i traveled with and our small boat in the background.
Having a smoke after breakfast. Many of them grow their own tobacco.
Just an example of some of the toys they make from the jungle.
Of all of the young strong boys standing around when we left the village they picked these three girls to pack us out of the village and to the next leg of our trip. My pack alone was 23 kilos. Way to heavy. Believe it or not we struggled to keep up with them. As soon as we hit the trail they threw their sandals off and got to work.
This was the end of the trail for them. They prob saved me 5 kilometers of walking up and down and through sand. It would have killed me. From this point we went another 10 strong kilometers or so. It was a long day to be carrying the weight i was on sand beach. Trying to pack lighter but its the recording stuf that weighs the most. I just have to stay in shape!
At the end of their leg the took a dip in the large cool river.
Children washing clothes in the river.
Walked through a large cocao (coco/chocolate) plantation.
Going to trade tobacco for oranges with a village on an island off the mainland
No food, clothes, resources or space is taken for granted or wasted. Woman using her ear to hold a coin
When he found out i was from the US he had an unlimited number of WWII stories. Everyone of them worth recoding and listening to! This story was about the time he spotted a Japanese sub off his island. He reported it with the radio the Americans gave him and a few minutes later fighters were chasing it off. As the story goes they blew it up next to the island of Pamma.
This couple is heading home after a day in the garden. The village has a salt water lagoon with an island in the center of it. Most of their gardens are on this island. During high tide they canoe to the island. During low tide they canoe out.
Preparing for a bride price ceremony. Who said woman aren't valued in this part of the world :). This was a dual ceremony as there were two weddings. Each price was about $500 US.
The price is payed in cash. Each member of the woman's family touches the money and passes it to another member. I was told that this symbolizes that each will get a share (the price isn't about getting rich) and that each accept the union.
The man waiting for his newly purchased bride. The club symbolizes that he can protect and the bow and arrow symbolizes that he can provide.
The woman covers her face with the leaf (taro leaf) that represents her clan.
Mr. Love patrol (tee shirt) is holding the money waiting to pass it off.
Second man waiting for his new wife. He walked down the alley and she, with her family of ladies, followed behind.
A fleet of canoes and fiberglass boats.