Thursday, March 5, 2015

Getting ready to go back home

The time is getting short before we will have to say goodbye and head back home to the US.  We only have about three weeks and feel there is a lot left to get done.

This is Diana Sam, the Relief Society President of the Erakor Branch.  She has a little shop from which she sells gifts to the tourists.  She also weaves these bags to sell, so we asked her to make 18 bags for us, one for each of grand daughters.  Every bag was different.

The mission president and his wife have a farewell dinner for senior couples going home.  The Duke's and us are the only ones left in Port Vila.  They really need more senior couples.

Branch One had a farewell party for us.  They gave us gifts of wood carvings, scarfs, necklace's, and other momento's.

The branch sang to us, "God be with you til we meet again".

The branch president and his family from branch 2, had us over for a farewell dinner.

The Malmeteso family from Erakor Branch had us over for a celebration dinner and adopted us into their family.  One of the Ni-Van favorite dishes is laplap, which they are fixing here.

Mansen is the head of that family and presided over the celebration.

We went up the Paonangisu Branch to say farewell.  This is President Eric and his family.

Branch 2 also had a farewell party for us.  They gave Elder Larsen an Island shirt and Sister Larsen an Island dress, along with other gifts and necklace's.  President Tiasinmal and his wife Mary are with us.  We have grown to love them very much.

President Gila of the Blacksands Branch had us come over to the branch youth conference to speak to the youth about the importance of education in their lives.  This is President Gila and his family.

These are the youth of Blacksands Branch at youth conference.

The Erakor Branch had us bear our testimonies in their branch the last fast Sunday before we left.

The youth from Branch PV1 had us speak to them the Sunday before we left.

Other members came over to our office to give us gifts of appreciation for what we did for them.

Dima and her husband John gave us pillow cases which she had embroydered on them for us.

This is Duncan, Lyndsey Akers, our landlords at the Blue Lagoon Bungalows, our home for 22 months.

My shoes and sandals that needed a little duct tape and glue many times to make it through our mission.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Santo District

      We had not been to Santo before.  Santo is the largest of the islands that comprise Vanuatu.  It is closer to the equator.  We anticipated really hot weather. However, it rained every single day.  We joked that the sun never shines in Santo.  It did shine the day we flew out.
      The Santo District includes Santo, Ambae, Guau, Banks, etc.  The main city is Luganville.  We found the members to be just as kind and loving in Santo as Port Vila.  We were traveling with Dean and Arama from Auckland.  Again we were checking out schools for our members.  We also visited all of the branches on Santo, except one.
      This is the branch president in Pallon Branch.  He is a subsistance farmer. This young man built this house for a member.  He finished the house and was to leave in three days for the MTC in England.  He is called to serve in the London Mission.
     This the president in his home where he also teaches seminary every morning.  The young people  can attend seminary but there is no school beyond year six in the entire area.

       Here the president is showing us his kitchen.  The kitchen is never in the house.  usually the members cook on an open fire.  Here the president was excitedto show us his kitchen house.  It is an actual room.  He has food storage there, too.  Some of the storage is in the form of canned goods.  They call them tins here.  Some of the storage was root crops and fruit.

       His young man was headed home to his house.  He had gone to get meat.  The cow was just butchered.  They have to use everything immediately,  because they do not have any refridgeration. There is no electricity in Pallon at all.
       This is Elder and Sister Kerns.  They are from Oregon state and are serving in Santo.  Notice the wonderful table that  they are sitting on.  It was built by the same missionary that built the house.
       This is a burial in the yard of the house.  It is not uncommon to bury family on the property.  Well, these are the men.  In towns there may be a cemetary.
      This is the new pulpit in the Pallon Chapel.  Yes, they have a real building.  A member built the pulpit.  The wood was beautiful.
         One of the schools that we visited was the Vanuatu Agricultural College.  Here you see the eggs that are for sale. They raise chickens, pigs, ducks (for the Chinese resaturants), and some cows. They also teach forestry and farming.  They have a demonstration farm and ssedlings for sale.  

      Here are Dean and Arama and the two instructors that showed us around.
       His is the young man that heads upthe Edwards Computer Foundation in Luganville.  He is from the Philippines originally.
       One thing that we did in Luganville was to hold an education fireside.  After the fireside, we met Caroline.  She is one of our great Vanuatu students that has been selected to attend Vaiola College in Samoa.  We will have twenty three young people there in 2015.
       This is Arama and Dean with President Mahit.  He is the Santo District President.  In our meeting with him after the fireside, he had a hard time containing himself.  He was very emotional as he said "Tank yu tomas" (thank you very much.)

Monday, November 17, 2014

Santo Island - WWII

      During World War II, Santo Island was home to a huge military base.  There were 500,000 men and women stationed there.  There were three air strips, two hospitals, ports for all kinds of military ships, etc.  Today there is evidence of the war everywhere.  There are hundreds of cement pads left.  Most of the buildings wee destroyed, but there are many quonset huts left. Some are buried with earth.  Some have been somewhat maintained for use even now.

      There are some of the native people that have collected items from the war days and created their own little museums.  This little museum - one small building - has old guns, helmets,ammunition, coke bottles, etc.  The man was trying to tell us about the things.  However, in some cases they did not know what they had.  There were some old bombs there, the bombs  the planes would drop.  They thought that they were parts of the old buildings.  They were very definitely partsof the bombs!

      We had a tour guide that was a member of the church.  He took us to a very isolated spot.  It was not that far from one of the old air strips.  There was the remains of an old B-17 bomber.  There was not much left.  This crash site was not even discovered until 1993.  The crew finally went home.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Youth Conferences and Young Single Adult Conferences

     We have been asked to participate as speakers or workshop directors for several of the branches here.  This has been for Youth Conferences or YSA Conferences.  We are glad that we have gotten to know so very many of the young people.  These students have added to my number of extended children.  I figure that I have hundreds and hundreds by now!

      YSA Conference in Blacksands Branch.  This is a large group of very active  young adults.  They had several days of the conference.  They had a talent show, a testimony meeting, workshops, and of course food.  It was all decorated very nicely.  This branch has a very nice building and a large grassy area for games and functions.