Thursday, August 28, 2014

Missionary visitors from Auckland

      The Vanuatu, Port Vila Mission is in the Pacific Area of the church.  Our area presidency is in Auckland.  The area offices are in Auckland.  Then there are regional offices or service centers.  Vanuatu is under the Fiji Service Center.  We end up having lots of visitors from around the pacific.  It is interesting to look around church on Sundays.  Tourism is definitely big around here.
       This sister from New Zealand visited here with two of our members.  They all served together in the Brisbane, Australia mission years ago.  Sister Tokalolo is the shortest one.  The other sister is Sister Namali.  I strongly suggested that the couple stay for at least 18 months.  We can really use more senior couples in the mission field!!!!

      Auckland sent two couples here for an inspection visit.  Elder and Sister Brown are the medical couple.  They came to actually see the medical facilities here in Vanuatu.  They were assisted by Elder and Sister Duke, our mission nurse.  Yes, they now better understand about our lack of resources here.  Japan did build a new hospital here in Port Vila.  However, it has not opened yet.  It is like they are afraid to ruin it, break it.  No one here can use the equipment that has been installed.  Two people were sent to Japan to learn how to upkeep the equipment.
      One night we took our quests to the VIT Hospitality School restaurant.  Some of our students served the dinner.  Some of our students prepared the dinner.  It was a fun evening - and good food!

       The second couple that were with us that evening were Elder and Sister Fogel.  They are the area public affairs missionaries.  They are trying to spread the good word.  They are responsible for press releases and working with government officials.  Here in Vanuatu they are trying to get the church accepted on to the Ecumenical Council of Churches.  This would establish authenticity for the church.  (Going around the table - the Duke's, the Fogel's and the Brown's.)

District Conference with Elder Halik from the Area Presidency

 We had a wonderful Port Vila District Conference with Elder Halik.  He is the first  Counselor in the Area Presidency.  This was the first conference that was just Efate Island.  Tanna is now a separate district.  Elder Halik has a wonderful spirit about him.  He met with the district leaders and then of course the general sessions.  For the Saturday meetings, Sister Duke  and I were responsible for providing lunch for the district leaders and Elder Halik.  They only had a 45 minute window to eat.  We prepared chicken salad sandwiches on fresh bakery buns, a plate of veggies (tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, shredded carrots, etc.), and a fruit salad for a sweet touch.

      These pictures are from the front of the chapel, looking towards the choir (the conductor is
standing), from the back of the cultural hall, and those sitting on the stage area at the very back.  There were also large tents set up outside for the overflow!  The last picture is a better view of     
    the choir.

  The messages at the conference were powerful,  Our District Presidency are dedicated men and great speakers.  There were also messages from some of the recently returned missionaries.  Of course, the members  were very anxious to hear from Elder Halik.  He is Samoan.  His parents sent him to the USA for secondary schooling.  They felt that he had a good mind and attitude.  It was in high school that he was introduced to the gospel.  He was very involved as a student.  He was the Senior Class secretary.  He joined the church and went to BYU in Provo after serving his mission back in Samoa.  At  BYU he met and married his sweetheart - and then told her they were moving to Samoa permanently! 
      Sister Halik is very educated and has done much to improve education in Samoa.  Elder Halik is a very smart business man.  They have been very successful.  They have been very instrumental in the growth of the church in Samoa for many years.
       Here in our conference, Elder Halik was inspirational for all of us.  One extremely important message was heard loud and clear by all of us in attendance.  Elder Halik promised a stake in Port Vila very soon.  It would be incredible, if this happens before we leave!
       This is Elder Halik, President Brewer, District President Basil, and Sister Brewer.  The members had made  them leis.  This was at the end of the conference when the members were singing to Elder Halik.  They were so glad for his messages of love and faith and hope.
       This is the district presidency  -  Pres. Nicolas, Pres. Kalpoi, and Pres. Basil.  Elder  Halik and the Brewers all had a wonderful feeling.


Primary Activity Day in Port Vila


      The 24th of July is surely Pioneer Day in Utah.  However, here in Vanuatu it is Children's Day.  This is a national holiday.  Schools, banks, businesses are closed.  It is a  day for the children.  In Port Vila Branch 2, it was a Primary activity day.

      They played soccer and volleyball.  They did face painting.  The teachers painted the kids faces,
and they let the kids paint them.  They had relay games.  Notice the kids balancing an onion on a tablespoon.  They really had fun with this.

       They also had sack races and 'bobbed' for wrapped candy.  Of course they ended the day with food for the children.  All seemed to be having a great time - even if they were just watching.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Some of the sad things we encounter.

      I want this blog to be informative and educational.  I try to have pictures of all that we do or experience.  However, there are some sad things.  There are things that I will not ever have pictures of.  Most of these concerns are health related  -  medical or dental. 
      We have already discussed some of the dental issues.  The people rarely brush their teeth.  They are badly in need of professional cleanings.  If a tooth hurts long enough, they go to the hospital and have it pulled.  Many of the people are missing multiple teeth.  It is very sad when they are children and young people.  There are young missionaries that need to have as many as ten teeth pulled before they go on their missions,  These we have personally witnessed.  There is no preventative dentistry and very little corrective dentistry.  There are some well trained dentists and even some orthodontists here.  However, the native people that can access these professionals are very few. 
      For medical needs, everyone goes to the hospital.  It is much like the poor at home that use the emergency room as their primary care.  The hospital is not much more than a very poorly run and poorly equipped medical center.  Nothing is sterile or even clean.  People line up and may be  there all day long waiting.  There is no one in all of Vanuatu that can culture anything.  There are only a few labs that do blood work. Maternity care is practically nonexistent.  Even newborns go to an impersonal medical center. They are weighed and registered.  That is about all.
     A few examples that we have been involved in:
Fredline  -  she was working at one of the very nice resorts here.  She had to deliver an order of strawberries and champagne to a guest room after dark.  There was a ditch in the grass that she did not see.  She fell and twisted her knee badly.  The resort got her to the hospital.  There she waited all night.  When the doctor saw her, he told her to stay off of her leg and wrapped it with what looked like used gauze.  That's right - it probably wasn't even new.  Then he sent her home.  Home was a long ways away.  Thank goodness she was able to call someone to come and get her.  We found out about this two days later.  We went to see her.  We immediately went to the French pharmacy in town to see about elastic bandages or a knee brace.  We bought them and took them to Fredline and showed her how to use them.  We reinforced the idea that she must stay off of her leg.  This is all easier said than done.  Remember they do not have indoor plumbing - only outhouses.  Several days later she returned to the hospital.  They were glad she had the knee brace, but they did not have any to provide for patients that need them.  Oh, we also got Fredline an icepack to help with the swelling.  Of course, this was only temporary help.
Leku  -  Leku was expecting her fifth child.  She never did go to a doctor. Again, there are some good doctors here but only for the affluent or the expats (those from elsewhere).  Leku is a Fijian married to a Ni-Van.  She is a fairly large woman and was very large when pregnant.  The day the baby was due she was at work and didn't feel very well.  A co-worker took her to the hospital.  The doctor could not hear a heart beat from the baby.  Leku delivered a stillborn baby that day.  Apparently, she had not felt the baby moving for about a week.  And - the baby was very large - over 10 pounds.  I would guess there was some gestational diabetes involved.  Anyway, they buried the baby the next day after a short service at home. This is all too common and probably did not need to happen.
      By the way, the doctors at the hospital are almost all Chinese.  They are sent here on a yearly rotation by the Chinese government.
      Now, about some of the really sad things we see. Many of the children have lazy eyes.  It is so unnecessary for these children to have this focusing problem their entire lives.  This would be caught by any pediatrician and taken care of at home.  There are also many people missing limbs.  Because of a diet high in white rice, there is a great deal of diabetes.  The diabetes goes untreated for the most part.  Just like with the dental, no preventative measures, just amputations.
      I know that this is so much more negative than usual.  I am sorry for that.  We do love these good people and wish that life was better for them!!!!!