The Adventure Continues - Mike's Journal

April 22, 2005

My first night in the new house was a good one. It was a little hot last night but I fell asleep fairly quickly and stayed asleep all night. The windows in my bedroom are the only ones with screens so I can keep them open all night without mosquitoes getting in. The sky is overcast this morning so I am expecting another rainy day.

Most of my tasks are done now that I have the house and bank account. I still need to go back to the car dealerships and talk to the salesmen and figure out which brand to buy. The other thing I need to do is get unpacked and “set up house.” After living out of a suitcase for a few weeks it will be nice to have all of my stuff put away in cabinets and shelves. We did receive good news about the crate; it will be here around the third week in May which is only about 7 weeks total to get here. Then the real unpacking will begin.

Also, I need to go back to the radio station and find out about the program. I have been there several times but the person I need to talk to is always at lunch or sick. I think he gets sick or is suddenly out to lunch whenever they see me coming down the road. Oh well, I’ll try again.

It is a difficult adjustment from the get it done now world in the U.S. to the get it done whenever pace here in Vanuatu. I feel like I am not accomplishing what I should be getting done. But I do know the reality is that I need to work on their time schedule because things will not be changing around here anytime soon. The reality is this; if you go to one of the offices, bank, govt, radio station etc… and the same person you talked to the time before is not there, you are out of luck. Then you have to find out when that person will be working and try to come back at that time. Rarely can another person help you if they did not start helping you. That’s why it helps to get the names of the people who help you and ask for them each time. I can’t remember if I said this before but I think that the people here don’t want to tell you that something won’t be ready for a week or 10 days. They would rather say come back tomorrow and then come back tomorrow. It’s like there is more honor in being wrong for one day at a time rather than admit it will take a week. Hmmmm…

Just an example; the bank account we opened in the US took about 30 minutes and we deposited the money and checks were in the mail. Here the bank account took a week and a half to open. Multiply those figures to the many tasks that need to be accomplished and you can see why I don’t feel like things are getting done fast enough.

Well everything is put away except some papers I don’t have a place for so I’ll leave them in a suitcase until the crate arrives. I thought that I was really ready to move on my own but I have to admit that I miss the interaction with everyone. It has been 10 months since I was living by myself and despite some obvious drawbacks, being cramped up with 5 other people wasn’t so bad. One thing for sure here, it is quiet. No television, no radio, no one to talk to. I think a television is just background noise as much as anything. They need a good classic rock station here in a bad way! Actually, one thing that I bought before I left was an MP3 player. I could put all my music on it digitally and be able to listen to it whenever I want. It has really come in handy at times.

I bought a book last time I was here which helps you learn to speak in Bislama. I am going to spend some time in that today and do some more study in Colossians.

I walked back top the Mitsubishi dealer and talked to Pascal about the truck I was interested in buying. After confirming some information, I headed for the radio station to try my luck this week. The manager, James, was actually available but hard to understand. I went in looking for the time of day the program was running and he was trying to sell me another 15 minutes of air time. I found out that our program runs from 11:00 to 11:15 am on Sunday. The brethren cannot hear it because they are in worship at this time. It would seem to be true for most people. We are trying to evaluate the effectiveness of the radio spots. It is a great program as far as content but I don’t know if enough people are hearing it.

I made my way to the motel to see Aaron and Eric and they had just walked out to the road to go into town. I went into town with them and we tried to get our work permits. Eric has been going to the office every day and they tell him to “come back tomorrow” every day. They are approved and paid for, I can’t figure out what the hang-up is. We parted company after that and I went to the Toyota dealer to talk with Timothy. He was not there so I waited a few minutes and he came in. I showed him the quotes for the Mitsubishi dealer and he had little to say. I didn’t ask him to lower his price because he doesn’t have to. If I don’t buy from there someone else will. I really was trying to let him know that I can’t pass up saving $10,000 on a truck purchase. He asked me to wait until the new models come in at the end of the month and let him give an offer. I said ok and went home. When you think about it, we can buy a new truck and a used car or truck for the price of a new fancy model.

The day has been pleasant all day. Cloudy with no rain, mild temperatures and low humidity. A nice change from recent weather we’ve been having. It has been raining tonight though. Sometimes the rain is quite strange. It will rain very hard for a very short time and then stop. Kind of like God comes over the top of us with a big bucket of water and dumps it out until it is empty. Then it stops and in a few minutes it will happen again. Then there is a rain like we have right now, strong and steady.

The Bakers and Brandells put deposit money on their houses today and they will move in next Friday. They get to enjoy the same run around I got when they move in. There is a charge for everything here. Amazing!

Time for bed and wake to a new tomorrow.

 

April 23, 2005

Not much going on today. I woke up a little later than usual and used the day for study in Bislama and Bible. Eric and Aaron went to the airport at 2:00 pm to meet Antoni and Todd who were coming in from New Zealand. We have been corresponding with them by e-mail for several months. They will be helping with the building project in Port Vila. Eric and Aaron came by here at about 4:00 pm to tell me that we were all eating at the motel and greeting the men from New Zealand. So I went back with them and waited for the others to get there. We had a great dinner and a great time talking with these fellas. They both have thick New Zealand accents and if I am not paying close attention I can’t understand them. They are very genuine and down to earth. Antoni has for some time been interested in getting buildings for small South Pacific countries and has a fund that people give into for just that purpose. His hope is that this effort in Port Vila goes well and he will try again in other places. Todd has some background in building and is here to help with the details. The plan for now is to get a temporary shelter up to use before one day having a permanent sturdy building.

I’ve never been one to put a lot of stock in buildings but the fact that we do not have one here really puts us at a disadvantage. Most buildings here have open areas where people can be there at most any time. They are more that just a Sunday morning meeting place. Our lack of a building means that we have no where to send people for worship and studies. Everyone knows where the Mormon or Presbyterian or Assemblies of God places are and can connect who you are with the building. Right now we don’t have that. Of course the work is not wrapped up in a building but it will help when it comes.

Anyway, we spent a good evening with them and planned to travel to Eton with them and the others in the morning. Todd would preach and I will teach Bible class. Todd is a graduate of the East Tennessee School of Preaching in the States.

 

April 24, 2005

We worshiped today at Eton. All of the Port Vila people plus the New Zealand guys were there. The ride out there is long and slow. The road was nothing like it was in the past. Now it is dodging potholes all the way. You seldom get up to 25 MPH because you are driving all over the road to miss the holes. And this is with a good driver who knows the road! The trip takes about an hour and 15 minutes and you are glad when it is over. Guess we better get used to this because the road isn’t going to get any better.

Morris greeted us upon arrival but most of the brethren were slow in getting there. Eddie, one of the leaders with Morris was sick so we were not able to see him today. But many old acquaintances were rekindled and they were very happy to see us. I taught the Bible class on the information I sent in the last update about “Who will you Follow” (That’ll preach). Todd did an excellent job preaching from 2 Peter 1:4-8 and the worship was very good. Morris lead singing and during one song there were few people singing or at least they were not singing loudly, so he chastised us and lead another for us to get it right. Actually, I don’t think anyone heard the song number announced because he said it so softly so no one knew what to sing!.

The weather really gave us a break. It was overcast but not raining all day. There was a nice breeze that blew through the building all day which kept the day cool. Before Bible class started, the brethren honored us with flower leas that they presented to us individually. They were very beautiful and we wore them the rest of the day. I don’t actually know the cultural significance of this act but we felt special anyhow.

After worship the women fixed up a big batch of food; rice, lap-lap, meat, papaya, and island cabbage. I woke up that morning with a queasy stomach so I really wasn’t in the mood to eat, but I did eat a plate and some bread and felt fine. I skipped the lap-lap just in case.

After lunch we sang some more songs but stopped short because the rains were getting heavy and we need to get on the road back. It was great day in Eton.

We arrived back in Vila at about 4:00 pm and I still wasn’t feeling 100% so I relaxed did some typing and went to bed by about 8:00. The extra sleep really did me some good because I slept very little the night before.

 

April 25, 2005

I will take my fourth attempt to get a P.O Box and get my checks from the bank today. Also the work permits are supposed to be ready, but then again that is what they have been saying for almost two weeks now. I also need to get a drivers license today. There are some real hoops to jump through for the license.

Eric is meeting Steven who is helping us apply for the “duty free” exemption today. I don’t know how long it takes but either way that they decide I hope it is quick. We need to move on a vehicle in about 10 days or we will have to wait another month for a new shipment. I don’t know if I explained this but religious groups can receive a certificate for being exempt on the duty paid to receive the goods into the country. Almost everything here is shipped in so all of the goods must have a duty paid on them. For a vehicle such as ours, the duty is 15 to 20% of the price. On a 30,000 dollar truck like we will buy, that amounts to a 4,000 to 6,000 dollar savings. We will also try to receive the duty free status for the purchase of a copier. We haven’t yet picked out the copier so I can’t give any figures.

The morning was fairly successful for a change. I went into town and ran into Eric, Antoni and Todd whom were all waiting for Steven Felix to arrive and impart some needed information. Sometimes it seems like we are abusing Steven. We ask him to do an awful lot for us, especially talking to official offices on our behalf. He is a busy student, husband and father as well as taking on certain church duties. He and his wife are expecting their second child in a few months. Thankfully he is happy to help.

I went with Eric and Steven to the appropriate government office and they told us that we needed a letter from the Columbine and Port Vila churches as to out needs and financial information. They decide on a case by case basis as far as we know.

Antoni and Todd are really great guys. They are from Wellington, New Zealand where Todd preaches and Antoni works for the newspaper. They stumbled across our website on the internet and contacted us months ago. Timing turned out to be great as they planned to be in Vanuatu just as we arrived. Antoni has no special background or ability; he just wanted to do something effective for the kingdom of Christ. Therefore he has been pursuing the building project here in Port Vila. The plan is to get a temporary building erected in the next few months and a permanent structure sometime down the line. They are here to get government information about what it will take to get people and building materials into Vanuatu, and to talk with the brethren about what they think is best as far as a building. They also have rented a truck for Wednesday and Thursday and are going to travel all the way around the island. Eric, Aaron and I will go with them. We hope to meet some of the brethren in villages which we have not been to as of yet.

I struck oil at the Post Office! A p.o box of our very own. I paid for the box but had to go back in the afternoon to get the keys. All the news is not good though. I went out to see where it was and check the keys; I discovered that the lock is semi broken. The box is secure but the lock is falling apart. (HUH?) I rigged something up to work for now but I don’t want to complain too much and lose the box. When I went in originally to see if it was available, the lady asked if I had filled out an application. I said yes and gave her my name. She pulled out a folder with a stack of sheets and inch thick. There must be 200 people waiting for a box. So I don’t want to do anything to where we could lose this one, it could be a long time before we get another. The # is 2061.

From there I went and got a photo taken for the driver’s license (600vatu) and then to the police station to fill out the application for the license. I had to get a copy of my passport, residence permit and driver’s license from the States to give to them. You get a sheet that says that you have been given a drivers test but actually you don’t take a test. They just consider your foreign drivers license as proof that you can drive. The charge at the police station is 1000 vatu or about $10. From there you go to the Customs and Taxes office where you actually get the license. However, at the time I was there, either someone had gone home or the camera wasn’t working or something else, so I have to come back tomorrow. Oh boy where have I heard that before??? By the way there is another 2000 vatu charge at this office so the driver’s license total is 3600 vatu or about $36. Oh ya, when I get done at the Customs and Taxes office, I have to go back to the Police station and give them the number off the license issued by the other office. But it’s cool after that.

I chanced to stop at the bank to see if my checks were ready and hallelujah they were! However, they did have an extra initial in my name, Michael David M Olson. When I pointed it out the lady was concerned because if I had to wait for new ones it would be another week or 10 days at a minimum. (Actually I think she said it would be a “long time” yikes!!) I asked her if the checks would be alright if I just scratched out the “M”or even left it alone. She said it would be ok to scratch it out so she did so with all the checks. I guess we’ll see if it is a problem.

While I was standing on the sidewalk looking for the place I needed to go, a group of 4 young boys (about 9-10 years old) came up to sell me a paper. The papers are sold this way most of the time, kids run around town and offer them to everyone they see. I didn’t want the paper because it was mostly in French but the boys kept of begging me to buy. Then one boy asked if I was from Australia. This is what everyone asks, if you are white skinned then the assumption is that you are from Australia. I said I was from America and they were impressed. After a moment another boy asked me if I acted in the movies. I said no I’m not in the movies. Then right away he said. “You’re a fighter.” They don’t see too many people my size so that was his best guess. I laughed and said no I wasn’t a fighter. Then another boy said “You are with a church.” And I said yes I teach the Bible. I don’t know how he knew but it was nice to be recognized as being here for that purpose. We do talk to a lot of people and tell them about our work and news gets around pretty fast in a place like this. The boys ran off to sell papers and I headed home.

On my way home for the afternoon and to get some lunch, I passed by the Toyota dealership. Timothy the salesman I deal with called and waved me over to talk with him. He took me out back to see the new shipment of the latest trucks he was telling me about. They were very nice but still too expensive. I said they were kind of fancy for a missionary and he laughed very hard. He commented that the Mormons drive these. I said well the Mormons are rich and we are not. He agreed. We went back inside and sat there really with nothing to say, he understands the position I am in financially. I feel bad because we have a good relationship and I would like to buy from him but the other trucks are more in line with our budget and needs. I am not trying to give the impression that we are under funded as far as a vehicle or that we are settling for a poor quality truck. It is just that the Toyotas are loaded with extras that we don’t need which make the price $10,000 higher than the Mitsubishi base model. Our needs are for functional 4WD transportation and that is it. Buying a truck with air conditioning, CD player and fancy interior etc…is not good stewardship with the funds which have been so generously given.

After lunch I studied in Colossians and read from the Spiritual Sword. The Spiritual Sword is a brotherhood publication that I would highly recommend. It is printed and mailed 6 times a year for only $6 a year. This is the best publication going for Christians (The Entrusted Word not withstanding). Actually I have a CD-Rom that has the first 31 years on it. What a great resource!

Later in the evening I walked to the grocery store and then to the internet place to check e-mail. I have been breaking in a new pair of sandals which I bought just before leaving the States. It is too hot to wear tennis shoes all the time so I have these that I wear almost everywhere. The problem is that I have developed some dandy blisters on the bottom of my feet from all the walking. I almost took a bus home from the internet café even though it is only about a ten minute walk because my feet hurt so badly. I will have to go back to t-shoes for a while.

I am about ready for bed. I don’t know if is good or bad but I am seeing more geckos in my house each night. They are little lizard like creatures that run around and eat bugs. Maybe that means I have more bugs than I did before. Well the rain should provide a cool night for sleeping. Until tomorrow……………

 

April 26, 2005

I’ll go back into the Customs and Taxes office this morning and hopefully either the camera is fixed or the right person is there and I can get the drivers license fiasco finished. The rest of today I will look into getting a large gas tank for hot water. I don’t use it for showers but I will need it for laundry and for guests. Right now I am prepared to absorb the cost so this is the time to do it. The initial cost for a tank is about 15,000 vatu or about 150.00 dollars. A refill after that is about 13,000 vatu or $130.00. For me, one tank should last almost the whole year.

The last hurdle to consider is the phone. If I get a mobile or a land line it is expensive either way. Eric has software to call through the internet to the States for cheap but calls around here will need to be done conventionally. I would like to get a mobile so that I can be reached at any time for church purposes. The real drawback of the mobile phone is the price to purchase one. In the States if you sign up to a service they usually give you one, but here they cost $200 to $300, then you pay for the service. I will probably just start saving some money for a phone and get service a little while later.

I got the drivers license but forgot to go back by the Police station to give them the number. I can do that later. Also, I went down to the phone company to inquire about service. A phone line here at the house amounts to a $92.50 new line installation charge and then 20 vatu or 20 cents a minute for calls. The mobile plans are for either unlimited usage at any time or you can have a pay as you go set up. You buy refill cards that give you a certain amount of time on your phone to make calls. Prices are 40 vatu or 40 cents for the first two minutes and 20 vatu for every two minutes after. So a 10 minute local call would cost about $1.20. The lady at the Telecom office said to look in town for a phone where they are cheaper ($150-$180) than buying from the Telecom ($220-$240). I will probably do the mobile pay as you go plan and have my phone be the “church phone” also.

I went back to the Police station on the way over to the motel to have dinner and watch “Survivor” tonight with the Bakers and Brandells. I gave them the number of the license but forgot the photo I was to leave with them. I will go back tomorrow. They don’t really care anyway.

We had a nice dinner of meat, some corn and mashed potatoes. All American fare I’d say. After we played some cards and then watched the show. I had a chance to do a load of laundry while there so that worked out great. When the show was over I took a bus home and went to bed a while later.

 

April 27, 2005

This morning was the day scheduled for the house girl to came and clean. I didn’t see her the previous few days or I would have told her not to come. She showed up at 8:00 am and I told her that I really didn’t have work for her and I gave her bus fare for the trip to and from my house. She didn’t mind and wanted to take another job on Wednesday’s anyhow. She is going to send he sister-in-law to clean here every other Tuesday. I really don’t need someone every week, but when she does come it will be good. They work all day for you for $10. Cleaning all the floors, windows, laundry and whatever else you can find for them to do. I’d say that all that for $10 is the next best thing to having a wife but I probably shouldn’t. L Besides not having a lot to clean, I still don’t have hot water, and I need to buy a mop and bucket, broom, soaps, cleaning supplies etc…

We talked last night about starting Bislama classes at the University of the South Pacific. Aaron is checking into that today. Bislama can be understood when you hear it if the people talk slow enough, but people talk so fast that I can’t get much of it. I can’t wait until I can figure out what everyone around me is saying.

I spent the morning still studying in the book of Colossians; I have outlined it and done a lot of study in the first 2 chapters. I remember when Wayne taught the class at Bear Valley and he did a great job.

Other than going to the Police station to take them my passport photo for their records, it has been a lazy day. A good wind has been blowing all morning so it is not overly hot. Tonight we meet with the brethren at Steven’s house at 5:30 for singing, a small talk and some food.

The night was very good. We sang in both Bislama and English. Everyone stayed around until 9:00 pm talking and having fun. Kaela continues to be the center of attention around here. It’s funny how people and kids here like to touch babies. They kind of instinctively reach for them, touch their arm or cheek, and the kids are giving kisses and reaching out to touch her as if to see if she is real. The guys talked about the new building plans. The earliest time table for a new permanent structure is about this time next year. The plan was to put up a temporary building until that time but this is not possible, the town doesn’t allow it. Whatever goes on the land has to be the final and approved design. The guys from New Zealand are really going to town on this project. Just think that this is just one guys idea, no one to guide him. Antoni is really doing a great job. Todd is giving a lot of advice on the construction side which is a great help for Antoni. The building at Eton has been having some problems and they are also giving a hand there. One of the projects which must be completed before building can be started is the building of a wall around the existing property. Gomen (on of the members) and his sons planned on doing the work but Eric, Aaron and I volunteered to help as well.

We looked into renting a rundown looking place on the main road just outside of town to meet in temporarily, but they wanted a whopping 100,000 vatu (1,000 US) per month. We are still looking for temporary accommodations for the church to meet.

I walked home, about 15 minutes away and went to bed soon after.

 

April 28, 2005

Today was the day to drive around the island with Antoni and Todd. They have rented a 4WD vehicle and it will carry all 5 of us. We gave Morris a ride back to Eton because he was staying in town for a few days.

While at Eton, Todd looked into fixing their small electrical problem. There is not electricity out there but they have a solar panel hooked up to a car battery which runs a few florescent lights. We saw Eddie Karros today which was good since he was sick on Sunday.

Part of our trip around the island would take us to the village of Epao. There is a fairly new congregation there and we wanted to meet some of the Christians there if possible. Eddie gave us the name of his brother but he was in Vila at the market. We met some locals but the combination of my English/Bislama mix and their lack of understanding me was a comedy of failure. We left by telling them that we would be back in a few weeks with Morris and Eddie. At least we know where to go to see the right person in Epao.

The rest of the island is very beautiful. The rugged coastline and dense vegetation on the hills of the interior provide quite a contrast. There are a few resorts up at the north of the island so they are used to seeing white people in vehicles. We stopped at a tiny WWII museum. It is a place that has a few old artifacts from the WWII days in Vanuatu. Vanuatu was essentially next place on the list for the Japanese to overtake in the South Pacific before the Americans and other allied forces stopped them. There were air bases and about 5,000 American troops on the island of Efate at that time. Several planes could not make it back to the airstrips before running out of fuel so there is a great deal of wrecks to be seen. This little place offered a tour to see two planes in the water (just down a few feet) but we did not have the time.

Most of the road was pretty good after you got to Eton. The extensive amount of traffic between Vila and Eton makes that road really bad. As we got around to the far side of the island the road got worse and there were points where I was wondering if the truck was going to hold up. What the trip really was, was an opportunity to see the people who need the gospel. Morris and Eddie know people in all these villages and can get us in to teach at some point.

When we got back Antoni and Todd gave me a lift home and I walked over to the supermarket for some food and household items. They came back by a few hours later and we went to the Olympic Burger for some burgers and chips. After, we went to the e-mail place where I tried to catch up. It is amazing how you never hear about anything going on in the world here if you don’t have a TV with satellite. It is both good and bad. I can do without the TV but sometimes I wonder what is going on in the US and elsewhere. You even forget about things while you are here. You forget about the war in Iraq, the NFL Draft, and the stories which were so prevalent in the States. It’s like right here is the whole world.

On the walk back for the internet café I stumbled across something interesting. There is a meeting hall down the road from where I live and a group called the “Shalom Club” was meeting. There was a Jewish man (I think he was an American) speaking about the new world order being brought on by Western thought. I only caught the tail end, but it was that the whole world is about money and power and has anti-Jewish sentiment and the Jews are still God’s people. He was giving some Old Testament verses out of context to prove his point. There is a guy speaking on Bible prophecy and Israel tonight and I will try to go back. This may be something we need to teach about in the future.

Even more interesting was some literature on a table in the back about “Replacement Theology.” This is the “opinion” (according to the paper) that the Jews have been rejected and the church is now spiritual Israel. Of course we know that the church is spiritual Israel and the Jews rejection of the Messiah (John 1:11) cost them their lofty status. But more importantly we need to remember that the church was a part of God’s eternal plan (Eph 3:10-11) and was always intended to be the place of God’s people whether Jew or Gentile. See Ephesians 2:11-17 which shows how Jesus brought Jew and Gentile together in the church. The paper quotes a lot of O.T. verses again out of context to prove that Israel is still God’s chosen people. He actually uses New Testament terminology from Romans 11 about the root and being grafted in to the olive tree but only speaks about the Old Testament. I am interested to see tonight is they use any New Testament teachings. It is a Ni-Vanuatu speaking tonight and it would be strange to hear them reject the New Testament. Another piece of literature stated that the church (Christians) needed to be grafted into Israel as part of God’s plan so there is some “Compromise Theology” (my term) going on here. I’ll let you know what happens.

 

April 30, 2005

Eric and Aaron came over in the morning and asked to move in here until they move in on Tuesday. That was the plan all along that whoever got a place first we would all move there until all found housing. They had already paid for two weeks in the motel and that time is up. They won’t bring all the stuff over until Sunday morning before church. Then we will all walk to Steven’s house for worship. There was a place that Aaron spotted a few days ago that could possibly be used as a meeting place near town but the guys went over there with the owner and it was a dump. For $550 a month it would not be worth it. We are trying to enlist the help of the brethren in the search for a place.

I found a place to rent for meetings for only about $80 a day. It is the same place where the meetings I talked about earlier were being held. The building probably holds 150 people and would be perfect for gospel meetings. In fact I would like to be able to rent it out once a month for preaching to showcase the church here in Port Vila. We’ll see. I’d like to rent it when Wayne comes for some meetings in the evening. There is a smaller building to rent in the complex and I will check to see if we can afford it for Sundays.

I spent most of the day working in Colossians, writing up some outlines from the first two chapters. There are great lessons in this little book. The Brandells and Bakers came by later in the evening to drop off some of the things they had purchased to use when they move in here and eventually to their own place. I finally bought some cleaning supplies; mop, broom, soaps etc… but I didn’t get enough. Little things are really expensive here. An average size kitchen trash can here costs about $17. I am looking for a bucket on the side of the road somewhere. A decent sized broom is $17 to $33 so I opted for the small one for $6.

Later I walked downtown to go to the internet café but it was already closed. The coming Monday is a public holiday so most of the places will be closed. This will be a long weekend.

 

May 1, 2005

I rose up at about 8:00 am with all the stuff in the back of the motel owner’s truck. HeI rose up and prayed and waited for the rest of the grto get here and move in. I wrote up another outline from Colossians while waiting. They all showed up at about 8:00 am nice of him. He also said that we could come over on Tuesdays and watch “Survivor” in one of the rooms as long as he has an opening.

Steven’s house is about a 15 minute walk from here so we left a little before 10 am to go over there. They don’t have Bible class right now but we are going to suggest a change to where we teach class for a month and one of the Ni-Van men does the preaching. I am interested to hear them preach to see how they do things here in Vanuatu. Todd from New Zealand did another great job preaching for us this morning. He is really impressive in his knowledge and the way he words his sermons. They will be gone next Saturday and I will miss both Todd and Antony. They are really doing a bang up job on the building project. Todd stated that they really had all the information necessary and Gomen (one of the members here) is a builder and has given a lot of help as to the design and building of the new building. There is a man at Eton village named Bill who has two twin sons here is Port Vila attending the University of the South Pacific. They are Kal and Manu. We met them for the first time today. They are like most Ni-vans, quiet and very shy around new people. After worship we ate “small kaekae” and talked for about an hour. Every first Sunday of the month the brethren here have a fellowship meal. Good chow!

We went in the afternoon after Kaela’s nap to where Todd and Antony are staying near the lagoon. They have a nice place and we went to the resort island across from where they are staying called Erakor Island. You can take a free water taxi over and swim or wade in the waters around the island. The place is loaded with starfish and sea cucumbers. We stayed for about 45 minutes just cooling off from the heat of the day and headed back. Todd and Antony are going to the island of Tanna tomorrow and won’t be back until Wednesday. Tanna has an active volcano which you can see at night spewing up its lava. The island is a big tourist destination because you can get pretty close to the volcano to watch.

After we arrived back here at the house Shawnda and I cooked dinner, chicken stir fry with rice. I had some hot peppers and cooked up some of them also. I don’t want you to think I am getting wimpy but these are HOT peppers. I fried up some peppers with some onion and the resulting fumes from the cooking peppers make you choke and cough terribly. The whole house was gagging. We had to eat outside because it was to volatile inside. I was the only one to eat them but they were right on the edge of being too hot! I won’t cook any more until they all leave.

Tomorrow is a holiday so not much will be happening in town. I need to go back through the list of things packed in the crate and list out all the new items for the customs people. Some of the items can be charged a duty so we need to list out all that will be used for work and we can get an exemption on it. We will end up paying some duty on new items it looks like.

 

May 2, 2005

I woke this morning and prayed for a while before getting a little something for breakfast. I moved into another room to give Eric and Shawnda my full sized bed. All the other mattresses in the house are twin sized. At least when the crate gets here I can put my queen sized in the room and have a full and 3 twin beds for others. If you come and visit I will give you the big bed.

With today being a public holiday, there may not be much going on here today. It is “Ascension Day” a Catholic holiday but it is observed by everyone. I will probably go into town to see what is happening and get some fruit from the market. We will also be working on the customs lists to have prepared for when the crate gets here.

Everyone went around to different stores shopping for food, household goods and the like. We are having a going away party for Antony and Todd on Friday night. They are leaving back to New Zealand after two weeks here in Vanuatu. It should be emphasized that they made this trip primarily with their own money and donations from their home congregation. All of the time was out of their work and family schedules, and this effort was all their own doing. No one told them to do it or even that there was a need. Antony looked on the internet and saw a need could be met. They have enough information to go back and begin raising money for the total cost. The final total should be around 50,000 US dollars or five million vatu. Antony asked us one day out of curiosity what we would do about a building if they were not interested. We told him that we had no plan as far as the building goes so we are particularly indebted to them for their efforts.

Todd has proven to be an excellent teacher and preacher as well. Sometimes he sounds like he was trained at the feet of Wayne Burger the way he phrases some things. Actually his wife is from Alabama so that may be the reason he uses some familiar phrases. I think I said it before but I hope to go there some day and visit their city and congregation.

Shem took his wife Rose into the clinic today for some unknown ailment. I don’t think it is serious but I have been praying for her. Shem is a kind of herbal doctor. He knows the plants and their medicinal value. I’m not saying that I will be going there for a cure any time soon, but it is interesting to listen to him talk about it.

Morris came by during dinner tonight. He was an unexpected surprise and we gave him a plate of food. It is nice to hear the wisdom of someone who has been laboring in the field for the last 20 years in Vanuatu. He gave us some great ideas for getting our name out here in Port Vila. That has been my feeling all along, the church is just not well known here and we need to have a visible and recognizable presence in the city. Having a gospel meeting in July when Wayne is here could be just the ticket. Morris wants to use that to pump up the radio program and get the name of the church out in the city. I would like to make up flyers for the meeting and set out tracts and sign up people for BCC’s as well as set up personal Bible studies. The only other thing we will need is a place to meet for worship on Sundays. All of this is contingent on the brethren’s approval.

Morris is really glad that we are here but is frustrated by the lack of work among the brethren already here. Some good news is that Eton appears to have some new men coming up as leaders of the future. Morris and Eddie will not be here forever and it is important to have other men prepared to lead. Overall, Morris is full of good ideas and information, the kind we as outsiders need the brethren to give. He stayed for a couple of hours and left for Steven’s house.

Tomorrow I have a busy day trying to get more information:

Mitsubishi dealership- auto availability and payment information

Radio station- payment information and scheduling, ads

Bank-money, apply for ATM card

Marant Social Center- rental information

Air Vanuatu- flights to Ambae?

Star wharf- boat to Ambae?

Bakers and Brandells are moving to their house in the morning.