Saturday, April 7, 2007

My tasks on the survey trip

I'm sure the main question most of you have about the survey trip is "what did you do?" My tasks there were mainly the things I would be doing for my team when living in country, Lord-willing. Those tasks fit in with my role as "logistics lady." On this trip that looked like the following: typing up team meeting notes and distributing them to the team (this picture is me typing up notes from our big meeting with other missionaries there on Santo island) and doing financial paperwork. (This picture is me checking out the market in Luganville, the one town on Santo, to get prices on fruit and vegetables. Just FYI, we got there when it was closing so usually there is much more to it than what it shows here. This is contrasted with the huge produce market in Port Vila, shown here.
The next picture is of LCM, a Chinese-run store that is the closest local equivalent to Walmart. It's far shot from that for sure! Most of the businesses in town are Chinese-run so it is an interesting dynamic.)

For finances, I was also asked to keep track during the trip of all expenses paid by each team member on behalf of the team so we could even out the expenses at the end. For example, we bought about $136-worth of food for our trip to the bush village. Rather than each of us paying a little and driving the cashier crazy, I paid the full bill. Others paid the full gas bill, others paid the full flight bill for those who went to Malakula, etc. All these expenses were tracked by me (and Brad for the Malakula expenses) and I divided it all out in the end to see who owed who money.

I was also very involved in helping my sister out with childcare, which was certainly no skin off my back! We got to do some really fun things together. This is me on the left holding Gwenyth, my 6 month old niece after I finished soaking my infected leg! To the right is me swimming with Jesiah, my 2 year-old nephew.

The whole team was also involved of course in making connections with local missionaries and in getting familiar with people there and some of the ministries going on. Here are some pictures of the staff who work at Camp Shining Light where we stayed most of our time on Santo. Phil Pinero is the main missionary there (he is pictured here in the blue shirt). He has college-age students for the most part who make up mainly shorter-term (a few months to a year or so) teams working at the camp, which is new as of November 2006. The girls pictured here with me are Cara (New Zealander), Lydia (from Indiana), Ashley (from Oregon) and me. Zach (New Zealander), in the middle of the picture of the guys is more long-term staff as the maintenance director at camp. The other guys pictured are Daniel and Tim (Australian). These staff groups were very accommodating and were a great blessing to us while we were on Santo.
Here is Nurse Jane (Australian) and I. She is a full-time missionary serving as a nurse. Locals come out to see her for medical issues. She was a great help to me with all my infected cuts and bites (since they flared up after my nurse brother-in-law left for Malakula)! Houghton got some good notes from her about medicine and supplies needed for a bush medical facility. Nurse Jane was also a great help to me in getting lists of personal items and other things needed for living in Vanuatu.

Two missionaries who live in Luganville (not at the camp but who also help Phil out) are Gladys and Bill Scrimsher. Gladys gave me invaluable information on utilities costs and items that are best to ship over from the States rather than buy in Vanautu.

A very special person I met on Santo was Esther, who is Ni-Vanuatu. I am so bummed I didn't get her picture! She came during the mornings to help with meals and clean-up at the camp. She was very gracious to me and allowed me to record her reading in the Bible in Bislama from Romans 3. I am planning to use this recording to practice the Bislama accent and pronunciations. I bought a Bislama Bible as well as some other books so I can start to learn it stateside. Esther gave me her address and said I could write to her to practice my Bislama and she would write me back in Bislama and English.

Another task of my team was to meet some of the local people. Here is a picture of me with some kids at a church in Luganville and a picture of some of the girls at a school called Matevulu College (for grades 8-13, which would be our 7th-12th grades). I got to go to this school for a chapel service on Sunday. I got a great voice recording of them busting out in song - wow, was that ever an experience! If any of you are technologically savvy and know of a way to put voice recordings on a blog site, let me know and I'll post it. It'll give you chills! These kids are not afraid to lead out in song or harmonize or sing at the top or their lungs! When 400-some students sing a capella at the top of their lungs, it is a joyful noise! Brad from my team preached at the chapel service but high school kids led out all the singing.

Another ministry we were introduced to there was one called Frangipani ministry and is for disabled children. Some of them stayed in my "dorm" room at the camp a few nights so here is a picture of them all sacked out. Many chose to stay on the floor rather than on beds because that is what they are used to. Part of the Ni-Vanautu culture is a love for kids but most disabled kids are not allowed to live. This woman, Drusilla, has a ministry of educating villages and families about care of disabled children and is working to make sure they are treated with respect and given the same opportunities to live and enjoy life as their able-bodied peers.
I met a separate missionary, Christina, who is in town (Luganville). She introduced me to Andria, who is a teacher in the primary school there. Maybe I would have some kind of connection during my short time on Santo at that school or up at Matevulu College. Here are Andria and her daughter and Christina and me. I was blessed by the librarian at my current school to bring over to Vanuatu some school supplies to give to kids. I was able to give these supplies to the principal of the bush village, Ipayato, that I visited at the beginning of my time on Santo. This is a picture Phil took of the kids at that school
(I was there on the weekend so couldn't be a part of the school experience there). He had as his picture caption that at that school there are 3 kids per pencil! I was able to pass off to them some crayons, pencils, rulers, and paper thanks to Lynn Wangen at Willow Creek Elementary. Brad got video of me presenting that to the principal so hopefully I will get to show that to some of you. The Ipayato Ni-Vanuatu only spoke Bislama and French so since I don't know Bislama yet, I had to do the presenting in French so it was pretty limited on my part, but he got the point.

I met some missionaries in Port Vila with an organization called SIL that does Bible translation but I didn't get pictures of them either! This is the building we stayed in there. Those missionaries, Ross and Lyndal, did have a chance to meet with us one time. It was great on this survey trip to have people in-country to set up accommodations with so we knew we had places to stay! I was in charge pre-survey trip for the Vila accommodations with Ross and Lyndal and Steve took care of the Santo and Malakula accommodations with Phil. This worked out very nicely!

The final task in Vanuatu was applying for visas. The area director for Biblical Ministries Worldwide for our area (South Pacific and Asia) came with his wife to be with us at this end part of our trip. Bill and Deborah Lake assisted us in our meeting with missionaries in Vanautu about entering the country. I in turn was able to assist them with some of the flight plans for them to come in from Port Vila to Santo. Here are Bill and Deborah and I in Luganville at a Chinese (Australian run...?) restaurant we went to one night.
I helped in the paperwork collection aspect of the visas and also went into the immigration office with Phil Pinero and Steve Gibb (on my team) to watch Phil do his sweet-talking (in Bislama) with the secretary there to get her to go through our packets. Praise the Lord, our money was taken (a whopping $700!) for visas and work permits and a receipt was given so we are able to come live in the country at any time! In Vanuatu the receipt for the money is all that is required to come live in the country. They'll still process our paperwork and give us the actual visa later, but we are all welcome to move there as soon as we have the support raised to do so! It was very stressful to go through that process but the Lord gave favor, praise Him!

Well, those are the main things I was involved in on this survey trip. (The guys checked out Malakula and costs there as well as opportunities so I hope to add a post about that when I have pictures from them.) There was certainly plenty to do and to soak in but it was nice to have some down-time to rest as well. It was a great mix of both. The Lord allowed much to be accomplished and many connections and new friendships to be made!

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