Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas in the village

Christmas in the village in Vanuatu is community times a billion!  The principal for the local secondary school (grades 7-10) set up an agenda for the day that started at 6AM and ended around 10PM.  Everything possible was done together - everyone together.

It started with breakfast at 6, eating bread baked in what used to be a drum of fuel but was hollowed out and set in cement to become an oven.  Then there was time set to shower and get dressed and ready for the Christmas service.  This involved singing and Houghton sharing a gospel message.  Unfortunately, the distractions were at a maximum and heat was too so it was difficult to hear him and to focus, but he had a chance after church to share again, which was very well received.  After the service was a community present-giving time.  Parents who purchased things for their kids gave the presents in to a community spokesperson, who called out the name on each package.  Each child came forward and received his/her gift(s) and everyone clapped for them.  Afterwards was lunch all together.  We were asked to cook 2 soups and some cakes, so these went into the food line along with pig meat, watermelon, various types of the national food of laplap (a dish made with local starchy vegetables), and a variety of baked vegetables.  After lunch there was a time of presentations and Houghton was asked on the fly to share his thoughts about Christmas.  Since he wasn't sure what was wanted, he just asked for questions.  The questions asked by the village men didn't necessarily relate to Christmas, but they were excellent spiritual questions.  Distractions were at a minimum this time around, and the village men seemed to participate with avid interest.  Please pray for God to work through these opportunities to bring understanding of who Jesus is and what salvation is.

This time was followed by activities, led by some of the village men.  Pictures follow.

 Everyone lining up for lunch.
  Kids first!
Sack races for the little ones, complements of empty flour bags from the morning breakfast of bread.
 Watching the events:  Gwen, Evelyn, Addy, Dora.
 Trying to kick the ball through a tire.
Blindfolded walk to cut a sucker (lolly for you Aussies) off a string.
 You Miles City-ites...notice Jenita (woman on the left) and her t-shirt!
 Boy's soccer highlights.
 Tug of war!
 After all the activities, everyone sat around and chatted a few hours until dark, when it was time to eat together again, and we were asked to show some Christmas videos.  The principal has a system for showing movies so we watched a few together until about 10PM.  It was a long, full day.

One other thing for prayer is that God would bring unity within the village.  Only about 3/4 of the village participated in the activities, as the remainder choose to separate themselves out and not be a part of Christmas events, as well as others throughout the year.  We'd love to see the village come together so pray with us that God would make this a possibility.

We enjoyed all the festivities of Christmas in the village, but decided to do our own present time just as a family. 
 Kaiden and our unintentionally semi-adopted dog Mandy, both seem to enjoy the same presents...
This was a hit with Addy the chef!
 Grandpa and grandma made me rich!

Addy showing off her present to Houghton.

Merry Christmas to you all!  May you be blessed by Christ's humility in coming to earth for us and experiencing a human life on our behalf.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The chicken and the egg

 We recently got a shipment of baby chicks of our own.  We had help building a chicken coop and run.  Unfortunately, our original surrounding fence didn’t keep out hungry village dogs, so we lost the majority of our chicks in the first week, but 7 of them are still going strong and are enjoying a more fortified coop.  We look forward to finally having fresh eggs available to us!

Merry Christmas!

Decorating in Vanuatu has been fun with our little things we brought from the US.  Here's my cute little tree!  When our sun is good or we're running the generator, we get to enjoy the lights. 

My new favorite fruit

We just got introduced to a new fruit this last month.  We have no idea what the English name is, but it has a crazy long Bislama name:  nandule ndule and the language name is taure (tow ray).  It can't really be compared to anything else I know.  The texture is maybe most like a pear but the taste is sweet and not so grainy.  Delicious!  It comes in this shape and a tiny baseball sized pumpkin shape too.  You can eat the skin and flesh, but not the seed.  We hope to plant some around so we have our own in a year or two!  If you recognize it, let me know what it's name is in English!  :)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Family fun

My parents came to see us in Ambrym in July-August!  We had a great 3 1/2 weeks with them in country.  We spent a week in Ambrym in the village, and the remaining time in Vila.  We didn't do anything extraordinarily special, other than just hang out, which was special enough in itself.  So thankful they work so hard and save up to be able to come see us.  
 The view on the way to the volcano.
We did go to the active volcano, Marum, on our island - or at least most of the way to it.  Here it is behind us on the ash plain. 
 Dad did some playing with wood and bamboo out in the village.  So many new wood varieties to explore!  He carved Jesiah a little outrigger canoe.
Yanik cutting off a Limri wood plank for dad to take home.
Mom helped us paint in Gretchen's cupboards.  Bill's son Marcus really hooked us up with these cupboards and we can easily fit 6 months of stores in the pantries and other shelving he made us!
 We got to participate in the ceremony for Sylvie and Stephanie to go to Pentecost island with Tobie, her fiance.  This is usually just an exchange of a bit of food and money showing that Tobie's family will take care of her from here on out until they can afford to get married (ridiculously expensive here because of paying bride prices and money and food to all the extended family).  But Elder Harry, Sylvie's dad, asked that people see this as their marriage before God that they are legitimately together and had Houghton pray for their new lives together.  And no, the state of Temar's (Sylvie's brother, left foreground) shirt above, is not unusual.  You wear your clothes until they fall off of you here!  Thanks to Grace Bible Church in Miles City, Montana, US, we have a crate full of second-hand clothes we get to pass out when we return to the village on October!  (The guy on the right is Principal Sandy, who let us stay in his house for 1 1/2 years while we were building ours!)
Here is the new family on their new island (Tobie's home island)!  We got to see them off as they joined us on our boat ride to the airport.  We had to fly through an airport on Southern Pentecost island (the island just north of us) rather then through our usual one (at West Ambrym) because of land disputes blocking the ground the airstrip is on.  Its great that we could see a new place, but the water between Ambrym and Pentecost is open ocean and has very high swells that we don't enjoy a whole lot in our little banana boat!  We have heard that the W Ambrym airport may be opening again the end of this month, which would be a huge answer to prayer!
 Go go gadget arms!  Mom and I in Vila walking around Hideaway island.
Hanging out at Hideaway for the day.  It was too cold for me to swim, but the kids got in!
We have a great full-family shot from this day that I need to get from the Richards and I'll post it in with these.