Saturday, May 7, 2016

Leaving Vanuatu...for a bit

Our last few weeks in the village were spent hurriedly passing the baton on to our local team, finishing up projects, and with our work team from the US.   
Philip (left above and below) is the Translation Team head while we're away, and so far they've continued to meet together each week, which we are so excited about.  Please pray for them for faithfulness and wisdom, as well as health.  They have reference materials and prepared work for them to finish editing Mark and to draft Genesis and Acts while we're away.  When our teammates get internet, we'll be able to receive their work and do edits and exegetical checks on what they send us.
Philip, Alice, Lala (dealing with pain and swelling in her knee now), George, and Elder Harre (continues to deal with pain and lack of movement in his left leg).

We also walked around the village to say our goodbyes for the next several months.
 Elsie in her kitchen with 2 of her boys.
 Some of the local kids outside Marrro's sleeping house.
A game the kids will have to explain to you when you see them (that involves hopping on one leg between 4 squares and kicking a rock/shoe/coconut shell and spitting).
 Same game. 
Addy hanging out with Momon while she washes clothes.

I think because we were leaving, everyone came out of the woodwork for medical issues as well, getting last-minute treatment.  Jowed came to me for a massive boil in her mid back.  It was when helping her with this that I remembered why I decided not to go into medicine.  I can't hack people being in pain and seeing nasty things.  

Her boil finally came to a head and her daughter drained it for her for the most part, but when I went to cover it, tons more nastiness came out and I had to just stop and cover it because I was too grossed out.   She insisted that it didn't hurt, but I didn't believe her.  :)  Look at the size of the hole in her back!

When she came back the next day, I forced Gretchen to do the dirty deed and I just helped get the bandages ready.  

Boils are a regular occurrence and people get them everywhere. 
Jesiah and I in the Richards' kitchen.

 The day we were to fly out of Ambrym and to the capital city, we had a miscommunication with our boat driver so he was pretty late to come pick us up to drive us to the airport.  Depending on the engine (currently we are using a 15hp because our 40hp filled up with saltwater when the boat capsized a few months ago) and how many people are in the boat, it takes usually anywhere from 1-3 hours to get to the airport.  We made it late and they delayed the plane for us, so we were grateful.  We are likely their most regular customers, and fill up 7 of the 9 available seats, so I guess they couldn't do much but wait for us....
 Because of the delay, however, we got to spend a bit more time with those who walked down to the "wharf" to see us off.  Houghton and Yanik/Willibae
 Temarr and Malibu.
 Gretchen, Kaiden, Malibu, Alice, Evelyn, Gwen, Sarah, and Lea.
 Jesiah hanging out with Yanik.
 Matakon, Ana, Alice, Gretch and Kaiden.
Everyone waving goodbye to us as we drove away. 

We usually fly with an airline owned and operated by the father of 4 local girls I did Bible study with in Vila back in the day, so we try to support their business.  Not many ni-Vanuatu families have the financial ability to start and run a business like this, but they are doing a great job with it.  They have 2, 8-seater planes (but it makes 9 when someone sits up in the co-pilot seat).  It's not pressurized, so you can open a little portion of the window while flying.  They just land on grass strips like this on the outer islands and on the asphalt runway in Vila.

Just before leaving the village, Houghton got the audio format of the Family Story Bible out to a few people so they could share them around the language group.  People cook over fires and wash their clothes with a brush, but quite a few use smart phones, which is pretty crazy.  So an application made it possible for us to put the Family Story Bible on phones and people there are pretty savvy about how to share those kinds of things around.  So please pray that this phone app would be something that's still being passed around and listened to while we're away, and that God would use it to draw people to Himself.
 In the capital city, Vila, hanging out at the market to pass off the Family Story Bible phone app to anyone interested.  Houghton also was able to put it up on a Facebook page for people from our area to download it to their phones as well.  Like I said, they have a really weird mix of technology and rugged living.
Houghton sharing the Family Story Bible audio form with Bong (sitting in the middle with the hat on), Elder Harre's son, who lives just outside of Vila.  The other guys and kids pictured are also originally from North Ambrym island and speak the language.  Bong will be able to share the app in turn with all of his other family and friends in Vila that are from our language group.

We had meetings with our translation organization in Vila and then headed out the 8th of April to the US.  It was great to be able to have something completed to leave with everyone from North Ambrym for them to read and hear while we're away.  The printed version of the Family Story Bible should be done and shipped to North Ambrym by mid to end August of this year.  A dedication ceremony is planned for it and will be locally organized, and Houghton plans to return for to distribute it.

Thursday, May 5, 2016


In March, we were joined by our new teammates, Casey and Val Ellis.  They are from the US and have two boys: Beckett (4) and Julian (1).  Back when Beckett was about 6 months old, they visited us in the village and started talking to their friends, families, and the church where they ministered (in New Jersey) about coming to work with us in Vanuatu. 
Rather than doing the same translation track we had completed in Australia, they did training in Canada in how to develop materials helpful to people groups with newly translated Scriptures.  Their kind of training is called "Scripture Engagement" and their job is to come behind us and produce materials and curriculum to get people using their newly translated portions of Scripture.  For example, they would write and translate Bible studies, Sunday School curriculum, Bible reading plans, or whatever materials our language group requests to help them engage with God's Word.
 Addy and some of her friends playing with Julian.
 Hanging out with the Ellis family in our front yard.

 Houghton and Casey working out the kinks in transferring the audio version of the Family Story Bible to cell phones.
Val chatting with Philip Joses, one of our translators.

For now, Casey and Val are settling in to a village about an hour's drive north of our village in our same language group.  They are learning culture and language and determining where to settle in for the long-haul.
 Hauling some of the Ellis's stuff up from our village to theirs in a "taxi" truck.
 Moving in.
Addy played with Julian a bit so Val could unpack and clean.
 Gwen sweeping with a local broom.
Jesiah cleaning shelves.
Beckett playing in his bedroom.
 Outside their temporary house.
The guy standing next to Casey is his main local contact to the area.  He's very friendly and helpful so we're hoping and praying that relationship develops and they are able to encourage each other.  The other 2 local guys are the driver and crew for the "taxi" truck.
Our director, Greg, came up to visit us for a few days and see the Ellis family too.  We had a Translation Committee meeting while he was there for him to meet some of the key players involved in translation with us.  Elder Harre stood in as acting Chairman for the meeting. 
 Casey sharing his envisioned role in the ministry.
 Chief Laan is our boat captain, and makes a business with the boat so he explained how the boat wins money for Bible translation in Ambrym.
 Our translation team attended, as well as quite a few from Casey's village that are interested in getting involved.
 Philip Joses discussed the (recent) history of translation in the language group and what the translation team has achieved so far, and is currently working on.
 Houghton encouraged those from Casey's village to get involved and how they could be a part of the translation work.
 George discussed some training he, Philip, and Elder Harre were able to attend in the capital with other translators in Vanuatu.

We are so excited to have the Ellis family on board with us, and are grateful they can be in the language group when we are on furlough back in the US.  Please pray for Casey, Val, Beckett and Julian, for their adjustment, relationships, and language learning and that God would use them to bring North Ambrym men, women, and children to Himself for His glory.

Work team

A week or so before we left for the US, we had 3 friends come and help us with work projects on our house.  All three are from our main sending church in the US, Grace Bible Church.  Scott and Jenette had been out to help us initially with house-building several years ago, and came back for more sweating and hard work.  :)  Matt came for the first time and with his electrical specialty, was able to help us with some random electrical projects.  In their week on the island, they painted the entire house, made cyclone shutters, and helped with some inside painting projects; relocating my ceiling fan, and fixing some lights and electronics. 

 Jenette and Scott on the boat coming to our village.
 Fixing my ceiling fan.
 Matt soldering some electrical pieces together.
 Scott even cleaned all our ceiling fans!
Installing the new cyclone shutters.

We are so grateful to these guys for their generosity with time and money to come help us out!  And they even came in the hottest time of the year!  Getting help with practical things is a huge blessing and we are so thankful for everyone who has poured time into our ministry in these ways.