Tuesday, March 3, 2015


Two weeks or so ago we had a fair-sized earthquake that caused a new vent to open up at our volcano.  Up to this point we've never gotten ash-fall here in the north of our island (Ambrym), but do occasionally get acid rain that has affected mangoes and yams, as well as some other crops.  With the new vent, we experienced a few days of ash-fall that in just a few hours covered up our tanks and plants (see photos).
The ash feels like fine sand grit all over your body when you go outside.  Houghton had to sweep our solar panels off a few times a day so our batteries would continue to charge.
We have fortunately been saved from ash lately due to a change in the wind, but we have heard that although lava levels at the new vent have quieted a bit, the ash continues to be a problem.  There are observation stations up at the volcano that measure and predict and put our volcano activity up from it's normal Level 1 to a Level 3 of 5 for about 2 weeks.  However, by God's grace, the level just went back down to 2 as of yesterday.  We've decided that if the level raises to 4, we'll pray seriously about relocating, but as of now, things seem to be stable.  However, please pray for continued calming of the volcano and that the ash-fall would subside, as well as that God would protect the crops for all these subsistence farmers of Ambrym.  We get our updates from http://www.geohazards.gov.vu/index.php/hazards-updated-events/volcano-alert-status.  Thanks for your prayers!

Translation Office and Toolshed

Our builder friends Bill, his son Marcus, and Nico all came from Santo island  a week or so ago and put up 2 new buildings for us:  a translation office, and a toolshed.  We hired a local block-builder to put up 3 blocks high on the toolshed, but the 2 cement slabs were already in existence, so that saved quite a bit of work. 
 Translation Office
 Toolshed (George and Bill)
Office (Marcus)
Toolshed with its 3 blocks high sides

The community wanted a tin roof on the toolshed so they can get a water tank on it at some point since it is right at the place where people come into the village (so they can get a drink when they come through). 
 Making and putting up the trusses.  Nico and Philip.

 Cement sheeting went in for our internal walls (Office).

 Nico and Philip putting in the windows (office).
Bill hanging the shed door.

The (nearly) completed shed.
The (nearly) completed office.   The guys and Houghton worked 4 days to put up the 2 buildings and all that remains now is bamboo siding (the translation office has interior walls already = cement sheets) and a roof for the office. 
I also got a new desk, a hanging kitchen cabinet, and a door hung while the guys were here!
 Our translation house roof will be made of thatch panels.  Here the ladies are sorting and taking the spine out of the leaves (Momon, Meri, Jowed).
 Momon bundling leaves together.
 Jenita, Sophia, and Jesika
 Leya and Sera are making a local broom out of the leaf spines.
 Me and Jesika.  I found that I can only get the spines out successfully 1/2 the time without tearing holes down the middle of the leaves so my way to help is to sort and fasten.  :)
 Nini (with daughter Lilian) is fastening (sewing/sticking) thatch onto bamboo handles to make a roof panel.  These panels are layered on top of each other.  The closer the layering, the longer the roof lasts.
 Some of the guys (George, Bong, Totang, Temarr) working on natangura panels.
Here Totang is fastening the leaves on to the bamboo handle.  When each new column of leaves is on, that column is fastened with a thin piece of bamboo.  Here he is breaking off his thin bamboo pieces so he has a piece to fasten his last column.
About half of what we need for roof panels has been made and the plan is that this week more leaves will be cut and we'll finish up the last 75ish panels.  The community plans for tomorrow to be a work day to weave bamboo together for the 2 buildings so we hope people come and help out and these buildings can get finished up and we can start using them.  A toolshed will be great for organizing what we have as far as tools (that currently end up all over the village as people borrow them).  Having an office to work in will be so helpful!  We are so grateful to God for the provision of materials for these buildings, as well as the volunteers who have poured into them.