Marou Village - October 2006
Our trip to Marou Village (Emao Island) this month was originally scheduled to take place the 12th through the 15th. However, when we arrived at the landing on the north side of the island and called the boat to come and pick us up, Captain Jacob informed us that the ocean was too rough to travel. Having come all that way (about a 2-hour drive) for nothing was a bit disheartening, but we were very grateful to hear that the Christians had met on their own for the first time the prior Sunday (not counting the Sunday we were there last time). They assured us that they would again meet to worship that Sunday, and we set up a plan for us to come to Marou the following weekend (19th-22nd).
I learned from my mistake and called Captain Jacob on the 19th from Vila. He said the waters were still fairly rough, but that he would meet us at Takara Landing at 3:00 that afternoon. Mike and I headed for Eton Village about 1:00 where we picked up two Christians from Marou, George and Mara (George is in Eton working until December). I was glad George was able to accompany us, as he is one of only a few men in the congregation at Marou. We also picked up Bill in Eton, who was scheduled to be my “co-worker” this trip. Bill was born and raised in Eton, and has been a Christian for about eight years. He was very excited about going to Emao as he has not traveled much, and he was especially intrigued by “being a missionary.” Traveling to Emao is nice because the costing is “per boat” rather than “per person,” as it would be to travel just about anywhere else outside the main island. This enables us to take many workers on these trips with little or no added expense.
Mike helped us load our things onto the boat, and headed back to Vila. The waters were indeed pretty rough…I was totally soaked by the time we docked at Maroanga Lagoon. I was thankful that I did not have to experience a “shipwreck” such as the apostle Paul had on a few occasions (but I did wonder a few times). My first order of business after getting settled in was to go and visit Chief Noubat. It was refreshing that as I approached his house, I heard a hearty “alo Eric!!” It’s always nice to be recognized and welcomed by a village chief. I wanted to let him know that I was in the village, and that I was prepared to teach as he had requested during our prior visit. I had hoped to teach publicly on both Friday and Saturday mornings, but he asked me to teach on Saturday morning only. I thanked him for welcoming me into his village once again, and headed back to the house for dinner. Dinner was a bit later than usual, and I knew one of the Christian men was sick and two were out of town for the evening, so we did not have a study on Thursday night (I had planned to once again meet with the Christians for study and Q&A each evening of the trip). My plan for the Christians’ studies was to study the five acts of worship, as the congregation is still very young in the faith. We were scheduled to study singing and giving that Thursday, but since we didn’t study them together I asked Jethro if he would present the studies to the church on a subsequent Sunday morning. He and I went over those two studies on Sunday morning to make sure they were clear. I was tired by the time the sun went down, so I slept well Thursday night.
After breakfast on Friday morning, I spent a couple of hours talking and answering Bible questions with some of the Christians (and a few non-Christians as well). It was at this time that I “re-met” a Christian named Daniel. I say re-met because I had actually met him during our first ever trip to Vanuatu in 2003, which is when he was baptized (he had been in Vila during our previous trip). In fact, it was during a two-week series of lessons in 2003 that Daniel, George (mentioned above) and Alan were all baptized into Christ. They had all three formerly been leaders in the Presbyterian Church. The church started in Marou as a result of these men returning to their village with the truth. It was a blessing to get caught up with Daniel. I would guess he asked me at least 25 Bible questions during the weekend…he truly is a student (and unfortunately the church in Marou has been spiritually malnourished because of the previous ban on missionaries). My time with him made me remember how grateful I am that God has reopened the door to Marou.
During our last trip, just before we departed for Vila, I set up a Bible study with two young men, Edmond and George. George was in Vila this weekend, but Edmond was one of the ones who participated in Friday morning’s discussions. I asked if he was ready to go ahead and study and he said yes. I was excited to study with him because he had worshipped with the church for the past three Sundays, which shows that he is genuinely interested and already has shown a level of commitment. We studied for about two hours, focusing on three points: sin is what separates man from God, salvation is found in Christ, we are to be baptized into Christ. I actually have the study as three questions (with those points being the answers), and Edmond provided a first for me. Following our completion of point number two, he asked, “how do I get into Christ?” WOW!! I was really encouraged by his forethought and let him know that was exactly the question he should be asking. I let the Bible answer the question for him by reading Romans 6:3 and Galatians 3:27. A smile came on his face and he asked if he could be baptized into Christ. We spent a few minutes talking about the consequences and longevity of such a decision, and he assured me that he was ready to take that step in his life. We walked down to the lagoon and Bill baptized him.
Edmond had to go and work in his garden for a while, so I took a bath (in the ocean) and read for a while. I really enjoy going to the village, because while there is much work to do, there is also a considerable amount of much appreciated “down time.” After lunch, Bill and I walked up to the primary school as he wanted to see some more of the island. Some of the boys were playing soccer, so we watched them for about an hour. We headed back to the village and dinner an hour or so later. We started our evening study about 8:00 with ten local Christians present. We went through prayer and preaching, and there were a number of good questions following the study. I turned off the generator and had a customary cup of tea, at which time we continued an informal Q&A session.
I won’t go into too many details, but I awoke early on Saturday morning and headed straight for the bathroom (which is a about a 2 minute walk away, and unfortunately just a cement stump). Little did I know how much of my day was going to be spent there. It dawned on me after my third or fourth trip what caused the trouble. Jethro had caught and cooked some fish on Friday, and gave some to Bill and I. I was actually napping when he brought them over about 1:00 in the afternoon, but the locals “saved” me one, which meant I had to eat it for dinner. I am guessing the fish sitting on the table for 6 or 7 hours did the trick. It took some courage, but I made it through a study of “Biblical Unity” with the community that morning, which included about an hour of Q&A. I am continually encouraged by the interest shown in those community sessions. I truly believe that many more will be converted to Christ soon.
I laid down the rest of the day, and didn’t eat or drink anything. By the afternoon my stomach felt a little better, but I had a fever and chills along with aching joints. Having laid down for most of the day, I ventured out to the beach about sundown. George and Jethro were there, so we talked about various things for 30 minutes or so. After everyone ate dinner, we studied the Lord’s Supper. It seemed to be a very beneficial study, though I had to teach sitting down as I didn’t have the power to stand. Bill had some pain medication that he shared with me, which were effective and helped me get to sleep right away.
Sunday morning was similar to Saturday morning, but by 8:00 I was feeling pretty good. I received word that morning that we were going to worship in the Presbyterian church building because the locals wanted me to preach, and wanted to learn more about how Christ’s church worshipped. I met with some of the men first, to ensure that they understood what we were and were not doing by worshipping there. So, we had about 35 visitors to our morning worship service, including “elders” from the Presbyterian Church and the Church of the Bible denominations. Though Bill was originally scheduled to preach, he was a bit shy of preaching in front of so many. I preached a lesson answering the question, “Who is a Christian?” So many people today think they are Christians without realizing they have not met the biblical requirements for being such. I felt comfortable enough with the group to be pretty blunt, which I think was beneficial and helped many of them to see exactly what I was trying to communicate. It is always a blessing to be able to speak to so many lost souls who are eager to listen.
My stomach told me I still wasn’t ready to eat, but I sat with the brethren during lunch, at which time they once again took opportunity to ask a few more questions. We packed up and loaded the boat to head back to the mainland. The waters were still pretty rough, and because of the tides, the trip from Emao is always more rigorous. The combination of rough seas and a queasy stomach led to the inevitable…throwing up about four times (I am not sure how since I hadn’t eaten in almost 36 hours). The worst part was the fact that everyone felt so bad for me…the captain even thought it was his fault. Once we finally reached land again (soaking wet), I went and lay down in the back of the truck for a few minutes. I was still a bit uneasy, and thankfully Mike drove us back to town. We dropped Bill and George off in Eton and headed for home. I was so pleased with Bill’s contribution to our trip. Best of all he has a renewed excitement for evangelizing and equipping his countrymen.
In spite of my physical woes, the trip was certainly spiritually-rewarding. We gained a new brother, Christians were taught and strengthened, and lost souls were presented with the truth of God’s word. Please continue to pray often for all of the locals of Marou Village.