Duviara Village, Ambae Island - May 2006

Robert Martin, former missionary in Fiji, American Samoa and Saipan, and Ken Forrest, minister at the Red Bank church of Christ in Tennessee, came to Vanuatu to teach Pacific Islands Bible College courses in Duviara village on the island of Ambae. Robert has been running these PIBC courses for several years and I was blessed to be able to go with him this month to help encourage the brethren on Ambae.

Friday, May 5
Our flight left from Vila at 8am and was headed to Santo, which is an hour flight. Once on Santo we deplaned and re-checked in for our continuing trip to the island of Ambae. We were only in Santo about 45 minutes before we got back on the plane and took off. The small turboprop seated about 20 people and we again headed for Ambae, but stopped off at the island of Maewo (pronounced “my-woe”) to drop off some passengers and then continue on. The weather was good and made landing on a grass strip much more palatable.

Once we landed at Longana airport we piled our baggage into the back of a truck and headed to Lolowai where we would meet Paul Vuhu, one of the Christians from Duviara village where we were going to teach. On the road to Lolowai the driver of the truck swerved to miss a pothole and nearly missed one of his passengers…I nearly fell out of the truck! Luckily I grabbed onto the side strong enough until I could be pulled back in. Whew, close call!

We met Paul at 3:45 pm and piled again into the back of a 4x4 truck and headed up the mountain. Our destination was about 1.5 hrs by truck up the mountain and then 20 minute walk uphill to reach Duviara village. We stopped at Ambanga village where Paramount Chief James Anga had a ceremony for Robert. The ceremony was to 1) show his sorrow for the passing away of Robert’s son, Steven Martin and 2) to have Robert kill a pig to rise in status among the chiefs in Ambae.

By the time we reached Ambanga it was dark and the reverse lights of the truck were the only lights we had. Nonetheless the ceremony went ahead. James had Robert “kill a pig” which meant to chop the skull of a pig with an axe. Don’t worry though, this was the skull of a pig that had long since been dead. Robert whacked the skull with an axe and we all cheered. Then James presented Robert with the custom mats as part of the ceremony and gave a special lap-lap to Robert and we continued up the mountain.

Our jam packed day wasn’t finished yet – when we reached Duviara some more men were waiting to again have a ceremony for Robert regarding his son’s passing away. A man named Nelson gave a speech and said a prayer and we were welcomed with another mat and lap-lap. It really was a kind gesture for the people of Ambae to show their love and affection to Robert and his family. Robert has taught these PIBC classes in Ambae once a year for several years now and has really grown close to the people of Ambae.


Duviaracongregation May6ceremony
The congregation in Duviara Village Locals watching Aaron's "pig-killing" ceremony
May13Neihala May18Martin
New congregation established in Neihala Robert enjoying "Sweet, Sweet Mary