Wednesday, December 24, 2008
My friend Magreth has 3 sisters. Gretchen and Tania both have gotten to know her oldest sister, Wini. Wini invited us to come up to her place (on the same grounds as Magreth's) for a katikati. I guess what a katikati is is a sort of raffle game. Two deck of cards are used. In this case, for 5o vatu (about 50 cents), a card could be "purchased." Once all cards from that deck are purchased, a card from the 2nd deck is drawn. People holding the purchased cards check theirs against what was drawn. Whoever's card was drawn wins the prize (example: 7 of hearts), which in this case was an island dress. Wini sells the dresses for 1500 vatu each (about $15). This isn't much for something hand-sewn and for a dress in general, but it is a pretty high price for island dresses here. The one dress I did buy when I first arrived was 1000 vatu (about $10) so she's getting a bit more profit than others do. Wini just stepped down from her other job working as nanny and housegirl for a New Zealand woman, so it seemed she was using this katikati as a kick-off to let women in her neighborhood know she is selling dresses out of her home now. The older generation of women wear island dresses nearly exclusively, but otherwise women and children wear them for church, weddings and funerals, ceremonies, and other special occassions. Doing the sale allowed Wini to make a bit more on the dresses (assuming lots came to the katikati and bought cards) and also allowed some women a chance at a new island dress for a fraction of the cost. Wini asked us to come up to help with prep and set-up so we had some nice times to hang out, practice Bislama, see a new aspect of culture, and deepen relationship with her and the rest of their family. Thanks to Wini's daughter Beverly, I got lots of pictures I'd never have gotten on my own!
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Tania, my teammate, and I went to Ekipe village, north of Vila about 2 hours. We stayed with a Peace Corps worker, Carol from Iowa. She was awesome to let us stay in her house for 2 nights and she totally took us around the village and to a wedding event too. Part 1 and 2 are videos made with pics Tania and I took. They may take an eternity to load, not sure, so start them loading, then do something else for awhile and come back! This was a great trip for Bislama practice, time for Tania & I to hang out, and to see village life. Also though, it was great to get an idea of what would be great to set up temporarily in the bush while homes are being built (pre- electricity and running water!) Grace!
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Magreth and her family mainly attend the New Covenant church branch on the same grounds as all their homes. The service time is set to be the same time as "the morning dew" because one can "feel God more" at that time. A crudely built box sits on the family property. This box has the purpose of containing bad behaviors and thoughts. When a person goes to a certain church, they decide to change. They must then build a box and place all their "rubbish" thoughts and behaviors into it. From that time on then, they can do what is good. The box is behind Wini (holding Addy) in these pictures. I wasn't taking pictures of the box specifically so sorry, it's a bit hard to see.
Evelyn's daughter's father headed out and hasn't been in the picture since; a common occurrence in Vanuatu. She married the father of her 2nd child, Joe (here with her). Once they were married, they decided they wanted kids together. They knew she couldn't get pregnant however, because they knew him to be sterile (he knew from past experience so I understand, and they had it verified with a doctor at the local hospital). In order for Evelyn to become pregnant, they decided to go to a medicine man (kleva). He boiled a leaf and had Evelyn drink the resulting water. Shortly after, she became pregnant and later gave birth to Joe.
Walking into my building to come home means entering and to the smells of.... well, mold and shoes. (It is considered impolite to wear shoes indoors here so in my building, shoes are taken off in the entryway. At most homes or huts they are left just outside the front door.) Not quite home sweet home, but the smell does remind me of the basements of buildings at Grace College in Indiana, where I graduated from in 2000. The memories there with roommates and friends were sweet so the smell-to-memory trigger is something to be thankful for after all. :)
Monday, December 8, 2008
2. Market and roads - I could take hundreds of pictures just at the market of all the crazy fruits, vegetables and other things you can buy there. Here are a few, along with some things seen fairly regularly out in the ocean or on the roads.
|Make a Smilebox slideshow|
3. Flora - when I first arrived, everything just looked like an overwhelming sea of green everywhere...indistinguishable and unknowable. Now that I've been here awhile, I'm starting to notice the variation and the color that pops out everywhere out of the green. Here are a few things you see just around, the side of the road, up the hill, in yards.
|Make a Smilebox slideshow|
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Monday, December 1, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
The team had a great time celebrating Thanksgiving for the first time in Vanuatu. Tania did a fantastic job organizing the whole affair. She and Jim and kids have moved from the guest house where they were staying into Jack and Kay's main house. They are missionaries that help with Joy Bible Institute here in town as well as with some other AOG (Assembly of God) ministries. They have headed back to the US for a short furlough so wanted someone in their actual place. It is a house able to accommodate pretty big groups so was perfect for hosting our full team, as well as the Gibb family and a ton of other American friends we invited. Some calling other countries home were invited as well, but only very special ones... Ross and Lyndal stopped by for a bit. They just headed out last night to PNG (Papua New Guinea) to do a revision on the New Testament they translated a decade ago. I'm already missing my fun upstairs neighbors! Sophia came as well. She's a ni-Van woman I met at Talua on Santo when I was there in October. She and her new husband, Philip, work together with Andrew and Rosemary (staff at Talua - he's American, she's Australian) on the Bislama Bible Commentary project. Philip was Houghton's contact in Ambrym for the ministry opportunity we have there and the survey work the guys did there last month. Sophia and Philip were here in town and Hought and Gretch hosted them as they just needed a place to stay before heading to Australia for a conference. Philip's flight was earlier so he wasn't able to come to Thanksgiving. From the conference, Philip will return and start on his degree program at Talua (he already has a 3 year diploma, but will now start his 4 year degree). Sophia, however, is coming to Australia with us to Equip! (She's also a graduate of the diploma program at Talua.) She'll do the introductory 6 weeks of the program and head back to Vanuatu to continue her work on the Commentary. I went around town with her the morning of Thanksgiving to help her finish up some medical stuff for her visa. I got to see more of the hospital, as well as a Western doctor's office, the Australian High Commission, and just had great opportunities to talk with Sophia. The day after Thanksgiving, we hung out more and she shared a bit about her work on the commentary. She's an incredibly smart woman of 28, was just married a few weeks ago, and is a hard worker. She's still ni-Van though with her non-Western sense of time. She decided to start a load of laundry just as Hought and Gretch were out the door for Thanksgiving. She also missed her flight the next morning and had to re-schedule everything for a full day after, which is why I was able to hang out with her another day. We are so looking forward to her, and one other ni-Van (Pastor Peter, the head of the Vanuatu Bible Translators organization here) being at Equip so we can continue to speak Bislama with them and learn from them.
At our celebration, turkey was really the only customary food we were missing out on but we were able to order roasted chickens for the same price as frozen ones so the white meat on them tasted pretty close to turkey; yum! Otherwise, we were able to get potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, gravy, bread, homemade stuffing, all the good stuff. Gretch and I spent the entire day the day before making pumpkin pie, cheesecake, cookies, muffins, apple pie, and banana cream pie. It was really nice to have a traditional American feast, made complete with the feelings of being full to the point of popping. The nicest though was being able to fellowship with other Christians and spend some time in thanks-giving prayer. God has blessed us with so much.
There are a lot of events happening all around town all the time. Sometimes I hear about them from ni-Van friends, sometimes from expat friends, and sometimes I stumble upon them. Port Vila Day was one I stumbled upon. I went to market on Friday and saw booths set up all over in the seafront park so wandered over to check it out. They were making an announcement about Port Vila Day(s) being through Saturday. These kinds of things are a lot like fairs in the States with different booths, a few carnival-ish things for kids, music, and sometimes other entertainment. Amber and kids, Tania and kids, and me with Gretchen's kids (she was feeling sick this weekend) went to hang out a bit on Saturday. You can expect a bit of a mix of food you'd recognize (sandwiches, rice, pineapple) and island-style food (some stir-fry stuff with either fish, chicken, or beef, meat sticks, roasted taro or some other root crop, fried egg-roll-ish things with meat in them, sometimes laplap, etc.). I got sandwiches for the kids (one egg and one tuna) a plate of rice, taro, and beef stir-fry for me, and a young coconut with the top cut open for us to drink. Yummy. I ended up being in and out with Gweny and some bathroom issues (she's potty trained now but has lots of accidents) and left early because Jesiah had a sudden stomach ache, but it is always interesting to check out the culture of these sorts of events. They get packed out with people (shady spots are hard to come by), for the most part it is far quieter than similar events in America, and booths are made out of local materials. Check out the palm leaves that made up the walls and fronts of these booths! It's a fun atmosphere. When we arrived on Saturday there was a play on the stage about two crabs being chased by a cat (acted out by some guys from a group who called themselves "The Monkey Boys" - these are guys in their early 20's mind you!). Jesiah kept jumping at the narrator's vocal animation as the crabs tried getting away. The crowd was loving it, laughing. A note on the quiet thing: we went to a concert that was held in a park nearby Tania's house a few weeks ago. It had some local string bands, a local pop band, and some bands from neighboring countries, among other groups. Emily Gibb was asked to play her violin the night we attended so after a French clown act, she opened the concert. Brave girl, and she played beautifully! The crowd really packed in after dark, but even when she played at dusk there were several hundred people all sitting on the grass to listen. I was realizing as we were all sitting there in a big white-man clump :) that we were the loudest ones present. We were talking throughout the concert, kids were running around playing, and we were up and down the whole time. All the ni-Vans around us sat quietly, now and then mouthing or whispering to people around them, and kids for the most part sat and listened too. Concert etiquette here is quite different than America, that's for sure! The ni-Van pop band was trying to get people to stand up, come closer to the stage, and clap and participate more like an American pop concert would look. No one took them up on that but stayed put sitting quietly in the grass. No one standing, swaying and holding lighters... I was telling Jane when we left that everyone around us would probably be happy to see us leave so they could go back to enjoying the concert in quiet. :) Don't get me wrong, a lot of churches and concert set-ups like this have microphones and sound systems set up and they crank the sound, but the audience tends to be quiet, at least in the experiences I've had.
We've been also trying to implement some girls' get-togethers as a team. Friday afternoons are now girls prayer times, which is great. The guys get together for weeky or twice-weekly meetings so it's high time for girls to do the same! :) Tonight we had a girls' movie night. Amber and kids weren't able to make it, but Anna joined us. She's without her husband too (Ben's on Santo and our team's guys are on Tanna, as I mentioned above). Anna is the current Office manager for SIL/Wycliffe (so I see her a lot in the office since I live here) and she also works with YWAM with her husband, Ben. See earlier posts for a pic of them together. Anna has been a great friend here. We've gotten together for Bible studies and prayer, just to hang out, to meet friends, to go to an exercise class, and she's introduced me to quite a few ni-Van friends. She, Tania and kids, Gretchen and kids, and I ate junk food and watched "Secondhand Lions" together at Tania's place. On our way home Anna ran into some friends so walked home with them and Gretch and I caught a bus back to our place.
I think Christian fellowship here is definitely at the top of my list for what I'm thankful for. What a blessing to have friends as a team but also be able to get to know and enjoy others working here and learn from their experince and insight.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Last Sunday when I went to meet Elodia, I found myself there a full hour early. She told me church started at 9 so I came a few minutes before. Some Churches have acappella singing (just spontaneously led) before service and other churches just start sometime after they've rung their bell and enough people have showed up. Because it can vary so much beyond Western ideas of time, it's hard to know what time to really come. When I arrived not only was no one there, I saw signs for the church saying service was at 10. Hmm, an hour to burn and I was downtown on a Sunday when nothing is open. There is a park right at the sea front just a bit away from the church so I went there to sit and read my Bislama Bible. I found some shade under a Christmas tree and started reading.