Friday, June 28, 2013

Our Wonderful Students!

        We sincerely wish that we could share all of these wonderful people with you.  We love them so very much.  These dear people will always be in our hearts.
      This is Edmond Saksak.  We call him the Pied Piper.  These young men are Keven, Kingsley and Sam.  He always has a crowd of youth with him.  He is a returned missionary from the Philippines.  He is an Institute teacher.  He is the Sunday School teacher for the youth in the Black Sands Branch.  We were the guest teachers in his class one Sunday and there were eighteen kids.  He is the Young Men's President.  He is on the church translation committee here in Vanuatu and works at that everyday.  Whenever a special meeting is called, he will personally walk all around the Black Sands area and remind everyone - several times.  Edmund is also going to school.  He takes the young men to the clinic when they get hurt. For the past month, he has been teaching us, the Larsen's and the Hinton's, Bislama for about an hour a day.  The standard line around here is;  "Ask Saksak!"   He is absolutely amazing!
      Well, Edmund was just accepted into BYU-H.  He starts in September.  He plans on returning to Vanuatu as a teacher.  I am really sure that he will be a General Authority from Vanuatu someday.  However, for now, it will be very hard to get along without him here.
      This is Annie Vanva and her family.  Annie is one of our students.  She is studying computer software.  She is a great student - very dedicated.  Annie is also the District Primary President and the pianist in Branch #2.   Sister Mortensen, one of the senior missionaries, started teaching piano lessons here about six months ago.   She has taught over sixty kids and adults.  Annie was one of her students on the piano.  Sister Mortensen is  now in the Soloman Islands (and teaching piano lessons), but Annie still practices two hours a day on the piano in the chapel. 
      Annie is very bright.  She is a wonderful mother to her children - and she is the glue in her family.  All of her children are very active - and her husband is improving.  We can call on Annie in a pinch.  She is always willing to be of service!

Friday, June 21, 2013

The North End of Efate Island - Paonangisu

      Paonangisu is the location of the north end branch.  It is a corrugated metal roof on posts.  There are no walls at all - no sides.  This is a bush chapel.  This was a Sunday afternoon.  It was the branch conference meetings.  Notice the men sitting in meetings in circles at the back.

The sisters are finished with their meetings and are waiting for the men.
On Friday, we went back and the cows and the pigs were enjoying church!

        We were scheduled to teach a class of Planning for Success at the branch.  The branch president told us to expect three young people.  However, all we found were cows, pigs, and children!

We stayed for two hours waiting to see, if anyone would show up.  After all it did take us an hour to get there.  We just seemed to gather more children.  We played with them and took their pictures.  They really liked looking at themselves.  The children must improvise their toys.  They are happy children and manage to keep  themselves busy!
     The oldest one is the Young Women's president.  The girls are named Charideen, Maybelene, and Malene,  The boys, the two youngest, are Tunea and Tupo.  We played a game where I tried to guess their names.  As you can imagine, I guessed and guessed without any luck.  The last boy in white clothes joined us just as we took the picture.  I do not know his name.

It is not uncommon for babies to be without diapers except at church.  They are very expensive here.

       When they clear land for farming or for houses, they cut down the trees.  However, they do not remove the tree stumps  They are good for seating.

      It is normal to see the mothers or grandmas or older sisters picking thee lice out of the younger ones hair.  The word for bath or bathing in Bislama is swim.  They always go swim on Saturday - in the creeks.  Some of the creeks even have wooden benches in the water for the bath.  It is not impolite to tell someone they need to go swim.  Or so we are told!

The North End of Efate Island - Emua

      Port Vila is the capital city of Vanuatu.  It is the largest city by far.  Most of the people live in rural villages throughout the islands.  Most of the people live in the bush!  There are only two islands with any asphalt roads - Efate and Santo.  The asphalt is very old. The roads in Port Vila that are paved are full of gigantic potholes.  They fill the pot holes with crushed coral.  It lasts until the next rain storm.   Clyde must always watch the roads very carefully when he is driving.  Most of the roads are dirt roads that are badly graded.  The best road in the country is the Efate Circle Road.  It goes all the way around the island - approximately 125 kilometers.  This circle road was built by the United States!

This is one of the views from the Efati Circle Road!

   This is the view in Emua - the missionaries for the north end live here.
      Last Saturday we needed to find the missionaries from Emua.  We got directions from people along the way.  The people here usually want to be very helpful.  We left the circle road and enter Emua on a dirt road.  Eventually we found the missionaries house.  It was quite a ways in, and we needed more assistance as we went.

This tribal center is on the beach.  All of the land is owned by the chiefs, and they decide how to use it. There is usually a community center of some sort.

This outrigger was on the beach by their house. We do not know, if they use it to get the little islands that are nearby.

      This colorful hut said that it was a restaurant.  It was not open and no one was around.  Considering the way we had to go to get there, we don't imagine they have very much business.  However, there are many completely out of the way places.   

 This friendly fellow was huge and also right on the beach.
      We never did find the missionaries that day.  Two different men walked us part of the way.  They assured us that they knew the missionaries.  We are certain that we had the right place.  Their house was up on the hill above the beach.   

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Schools in the Etas Area -

      Finally, a second to catch up a little.  We have been very busy teaching classes, visiting post secondary schooling options, meeting with various government officials, contacting businesses about employment opportunities, visiting public and private elementary schools, etc. The church is making some huge changes in the operations of the church - especially concerning self reliance.  The old concept of church employment specialists and centers will be gone.  Everything will fall under the principle of self reliance.  This also includes education.  PEF will be an arm of self reliance.  The new specialists and the new centers will be called the Self Reliance Centers!

     This is a wonderful concept.  We can clearly see so many advantages to this plan.  For one thing, it will cover everyone from about age fifteen to whatever.  PEF was restricted to eighteen to thirty year olds.  All of Heavenly Fathers children need to be self reliant.  All need an education.  All need employment that will sustain family units.  This program will assist all people to be self reliant, to be appropriately educated, and to be adequately employed.  This will strengthen individuals and families, and the church and countries around the world!                                   
      This is the Eratap Public Kindergarten and Primary School.  It is six full kilometers up a badly graded dirt road after going five kilometers down the main road and coming off of the Etas mountain.  It is the only school in the entire region that is the Etas Branch of the church.  The area covers about thirty seven square kilometers.  It is the only school available, but it is full.  There is no more room for any other children.  Hundreds of children have no school to attend. 

      This next school is the Erakor School.  It covers from first grade to eighth grade.  It is a much larger school than Eratap.  It has classes that are taught in French and those that are taught in English.  There is no room available in the English part.  This school is thirteen kilometers from the road to Etas.  Of course, once you get to the road to Etas then it is another two or so kilometers up a much worse dirt road.  A few of the Etas children do attend here.  However, transportation is the responsibility of the parents.  No one in Etas village has cars.  So - it is a matter of walking the children down the road, waiting for a bus to come by, paying about $1.75 for the ride to the round about, and waiting for another bus (and fare) to go down into Erakor.  After school the process is reversed, except many of the kids walk all the way home.  

      All the buses in Vanuatu are privately owned minivans.  You never know when they will come by.  You never know who will be driving them.  Most of the mothers will not let the kids go on the bus alone, so they have to pay also.  Even with only one school age child, the cost is prohibitive for almost all families.  The schooling may be free but.....  There are not even close to enough schools, the teachers are very underqualified, the classrooms are crowded (40-50 kids in a class), and there are very few supplies.

The kid were outside when we arrived, so I took pictures of the kids playing.