Some of you remember my first ni-Vanuatu friend, Elodia, who showed me a local kitchen and how to prepare various island foods out at her home in Pango village on S Efate island (just 1/2 hour or so away from Vila). She gave me my first island dress. Check my August posts for pictures and stories from hanging out with her.
I first met Magreth at a church I visited. She was visiting as well and we chatted afterwards. She told me she wanted to give me something later that same Sunday so she got my phone number and rang me later from SIL's driveway. She was there with this dress and that was the start of our regular hang-outs. Her family is from Tongoa island just north of Efate.
Talua College up north on Santo island had a ceremony for Ross, Lyndal, and I on our last day at the school last October (see Oct. posts for those stories). Lyndal and I received dresses and lei's and Ross, an island shirt and lei. Someone must have told the ladies that I was tall because this is by far the longest dress I ever got. Ross, Lyndal, and I matched for several hours, but changed into our regular clothes when we left campus to catch our flight back to Vila. We felt a little too much like silly, matching tourists. :)
Wini, Magreth, and Jen - the sisters! At the katikati (check out that post), Magreth won a few dresses and then proceeded to pass them on to Gretchen and I. Wini sewed it, we helped put elastic in the arms, Jen was as always, fun and provided comic relief! :) You'll see them throughout my blog, my time with friends was largely dominated by hanging out up at their place.
Claudia is my friend from exercise class. She's from Malakula island northwest of Efate. She's also the friend I mentioned in my e-mail with my December newsletter whose boyfriend/husband? was in the hospital for blood issues. She gave me this blue dress the last day I saw her. Afterwards, I went with her to to visit some relatives who were to be married the next day. She brought some gifts to the family property, where one room in the house of the couple-to-be was set aside for receiving gifts. Yards and yards of fabric for making island dresses, pounds and pounds of rice, and stack and stacks of weaved mats nearly reached the ceiling!
Madeln and her daughter Bali are new friends from Pakaroa Presbyterian church, where I visited most often on Sundays. Bali quite often came up after services, held my hand, and chatted with me. She told her mom that I was a good friend and should be given an island dress! Madeln asked me if I had a picture of myself that she could give to a seamstress so that the dress would be the right size. Not sure how a picture would have helped, but for some reason she was surprised when I wasn't carrying one with me in my Bible. :) However, even without the aid of a picture, the dress I was given is the closest to being even remotely close to my size of any I got so she must have described me well. Island dresses seem to be made to be unflattering so it is still that, but at least I wouldn't be able to fit 4 of me in it!
The last time I was up at her house, Magreth gave me this red dress as a farewell gift. She also saw me off at the airport this last December as I was taking off to come here to Australia, which was very sweet, but very emotional.
Finally, here is Anna, a friend my expat friend Anna introduced me to. I know, Anna and Anna... :) She didn't give me an island dress, but I haven't put her picture or story anywhere in my blog yet so this is as good a place as any. Anyway, Anna is a cooking mama at the market with her own little table and cooking area. I went and storied on with her quite a bit. When I had time, I bought a meal from her for around $3.50 and sat and chatted, but if I didn't have time, I just went by and squeezed her hand and said hi. She is from Malakula island and is very sweet, although was definitely one of the hardest people for me to understand in Bislama. She has this horrible habit of mumbling and then turning her back when she's talking. I went to practice Bislama with her and felt pretty pleased when I was able to follow most of her words just before I left Vanuatu.
I hope to put some updates and information here about Australia, but expect that posts will be less frequent. Everyone who told us before we came that school was going to be so hard and so intensive was right! I'm working hard to stay afloat so be patient but do keep checking back. :) Please pray for all these lovely women in the pictures above. I miss them and ask that God would grant them understanding of Him and of the Gospel, that they might be saved!