Sunday, April 28, 2013


Early this year, the men here in Tulwei Village had a meeting regarding some objectives that we could focus on for the year to ensure that the congregation is positively influencing people through good works. One of the things that I suggested they do was initiate a "WidoWork Day" in which all available Christians spend one day per month helping one of the members, Leana, with whatever work she chooses.

Leana was widowed shortly before their 5th child was born almost 9 years ago. Village life in Vanuatu is physically taxing, and while Leana's five children (3 boys aged 9, 11 and 14; 2 girls aged 18 and 21) do help out a lot, the family can still use the assistance. A family without a male leader/provider is at a distinct disadvantage, not to mention that Leana has had some health problems recently.

Most men in Malekula have formed "work groups" wherein 8-10 men rotate working for each member of the group one day each week (you help other members during "their" weeks and they all help you during "your" week). The WidoWork days are formed similarly, only its the whole church helping out once per month with no reciprocation.

Recently, the congregation spent the day working on Leana's peanut garden, cleaning the area of brush, leaves, weeds, etc. At harvest time, she will prepare the peanut plants into small bundles and sell them for $1 each at the open market in Lakatoro. The work day proved to be beneficial on a number of levels, including the fostering of Christian fellowship and an attitude of servitude. Cool!

Pictured below is Leana (right) with her two oldest children, Lolin and Lolit.


During our most recent trip to Etas Village, we had a flat tire. And when I say flat I mean FLAT.

Several months ago the public works department laid new coral on the road to smooth it out, but with all the recent rains the potholes are back in full effect. In trying to miss the larger potholes, I apparently got a little too close to the edge of the road and banged into a large piece of uncrushed coral, piercing the side wall of our front right tire.

Nothing like changing a tire in the tropical sun on Sunday morning on your way to the assembly. Thankfully, we had all the tools necessary to change the tire and proceed ... dirty and sweaty, but on time nonetheless!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Special announcements

Most of you have already heard the news, but in case you haven't...

We are excited to announce that, Lord willing, our family, in conjunction with the Columbine church of Christ, is in the process of extending our commitment to live and work in Vanuatu through 2025. We intend to relocate to the capital city of Port Vila, and from there carry out the following discipleship objectives:
- Evangelize new areas with a view towards establishing congregations on each of the nation's twelve most-populated islands.
- Edify and equip Christians currently spread over five the country's 83 islands by making ourselves available for regular visits to teach and encourage.
- Produce and distribute biblical literature in the Bislama language.

In addition, we are also excited to announce that our family has been extended an invitation to serve as Visiting Missionaries at Oklahoma Christian University during the Fall 2013 semester. With the approval of the Columbine leadership, we have accepted that role. We will be "doing missions in a different context" for a few months as we promote missions based on our experience. Our stint at OC will coincide with our regularly-scheduled 2013 furlough, and we will be making trips most weekends to report and fundraise. We look forward to seeing you all then!

We earnestly desire your prayers and participation as we move forward on these two items!

Washing dishes

Having been in Vanuatu for 8 years now, there are lots of things that have become a part of our "normal" that might not be considered quite so normal to most of our blog-followers.

During a recent trip to SWB, Malekula with Shawnda's parents, I realized that some might be interested in knowing about how dishes are washed in the outer islands. First, items like dish soap are luxuries (available for those who have the extra funds, but most choose to use their discretionary income on other things like rice, tea, sugar, tinned meat, or toilet paper - also "luxuries" for outer island locals). So, most people simply have two large dishpans of room-temp water sitting outside their kitchen - one for washing (the goop off) and one for rinsing (the goopy water off). They might have a sponge or small dishrag, but usually just give it a good rub with their hands. Once washed and rinsed, they set the dishes to the side to dry, where they sit until they are needed again (no cupboards or cabinets for storage).

Cooking pots are another story, as hand-rubbing and water don't get the cooked-on goop off. Something abrasive is need for scouring, and when you live on an island the best available (and totally free) option is sand. In Lembinwen Village, every evening you will see locals down by the shoreline scrubbing their pots with handfuls of sand, and rinsing them in the ocean. For those villages that are not oceanside, locals will sometimes even carry bags of sand up to their house for this purpose.

Now you know why they prefer to eat with their hands (instead of utensils) and off of leaves (instead of plates). Not normal to some, but it's been working around here for years!

Note 1: The photo of Shawnda's parents washing dishes does have sudsy water, as we always try to bring "luxury items" to the local Christians we stay with when visiting, such as those listed in this post, as a thank you for hosting us.

Note 2: One of the things that we are most "proud" of is the way most ni-Vanuatu Christian men help their wives with children, cooking and cleaning. To see Aiel helping his wife with the sandbeach-scouring of the pots is unusual in Vanuatu.