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.


     At the Independence Day celebration the people set up booths or stalls to sell items.  Usually it is food of some sort.  These little areas are all over town - on school fields or open areas.  This year there was a very interesting booth.  There are activity or game booths for the young people.

More from the Fresh Market

     We wish that we could have you really experience the marketplace.  The color and the aroma and the energy is incredible.  The women come with their wares and stay in the market until it is all sold.  They sleep there - so 24/7.  Flowers are also a part of the market.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Vanuatu National Museum

      Every single day we drive by the national museum.  We have never stopped to see it.  It was always something to do sometime.  Well, last week we made the time to go to the museum.  It was amazing.  It is not very large.  It is one building that was built to look like an old building  -  a chief's house or something.  You can choose to walk through by yourselves or have a guided tour.  We chose a guided tour.  Our guide was a very interesting man.  He played for us on native instruments, and he sang for us.  And  -  he did beautiful sand paintings.  The sand paintings were the early way of communicating.  They would draw a picture to let others know when they would we returning home, etc.  Pictures were the written language.

      The instruments are made from bamboo.  The large one looks like a marimba.  It is played with the hands  -  no mallots.  The bamboo tubes are attached to the sticks that act as the mallots.  So - the player just twangs the sticks and they make a mellow sound.

      The pipe has holes they cover with their fingers.  The holes are only on the very end of the long bamboo pipe.
      The sand paintings are made with one continuous flow.  They never raise their finger off of the sand until they are finished.  Each picture tells a story!

      The totems are also village drums.   They are hollow and they people would send out a message to be repeated by the drums/totems of the next village and so worth.

      There were many items from early life  on the islands.  There were relics from WWII.  There were all kinds of animal traps that were made from reeds.  The was some pottery.  There were pictures of old customs and some of the implements used to preform the rituals involved.  One such ritual was the way to announce a woman's engagement.  The woman was held down.  The men would circle about her to make lots of noise.  They did not want anyone to hear the woman screaming in pain.  The ritual was to knock out two of her incisor teeth  -  one on each side.  With her teeth missing, it was clear that she was a woman spoken for.  With her teeth missing, no one could go back on their word in regards to the marriage taking place.  Can you imagine!
      Most of these things were  small and in glass cases.  It was not possible to get pictures.
      I tried to take some pictures of the ceremonial headdresses and the masks. 

     There some of the old outrigger canoes.  Notice how narrow they are.  They are hollowed out trees.  There is no way that anyone could sit or kneel in the canoe.  Life was never easy for these people in the islands.