THE FIRST 100 DAYS........
|This is our new neighborhood. This picture was taken next to our home. Vanuatu is everything you would think a South Pacific Island should be. You can drive around the perimeter of this Island in just over two hours.|
There are 30 branches in our mission, seven of them on our Island. This Branch house is Mele, the Branch which we get to attend each week.
Since the Mele meeting house is so small, the Priesthood, YM, YW meet under the trees. It is interesting when it rains.
We live in the big city of Port Vila, a city much like any in the USA in 1950, but on the other Islands of our mission, like Tanna, shown here, it is very primitive. This is our chaple. Up to 300 saints meet here on Sundays. Last Saturday, five people were baptized in this area. The outer Islands have much more baptisms than Port Vila.
This is part of the Primary at Saet Siwi, one of our six Branches on Tanna. We have 101 young missionaries, of which 30 serve in very primitive areas. They have no power, no running water, and eat off the land. On this Island, 8 missionaries are Sisters. All of the missionaries on the outer Islands are my heroes. I would love to trade them places.
At WhiteGrass, this is where the Sisters shower. They catch the water from their rain gutters, and with a bucket and a cup they stand on mud inside this plastic shower stall. Their toilet is so bad, I didn't dare show it, thinking maybe one of their parents might see it also.
It really takes about 100 days for our minds to realize that we are really here, and not in Kansas any longer. Mary's responsiblity to take care of the health issues of the missionaries is very difficult for her. She has risen to the challenge and has been of unmeasurable help to many missionaries. Some missionaries have had TB, Malaria, broken bones, and many have had stomach and muscle problems. She has prepared a first aid kit, to be in each apartment. Together with medications for each missionary to avoid some of the local problems. Mary works very close with a Dr. Anderson, from St. George, Ut. who is serving in New Zealand. In the USA, missionaries are screened very closely for medical problems, but the missionaries from the South Pacfic Islands, come with many problems, and then are thrown in very primitive areas, will all kinds of diseases lurking about. There are alot of mental issues with missionaries trying to live together,when they are from different cultures. A huge challenge Mary has is the difficulty in communicating with people, that only speak French, Bislama and very little english. It is one thing to say hello to someone, it is another to talk technical issues with them.
On a similiar calling, my assignment is to bring each missionary apartment up to minimum standards and take care of the seventeen cars in Vanuatu. Currently, we are building water towers next to each apartment, so that the sisters can take a shower indoors, and have a real time toilet, similiar to those in camp grounds. We are installing solar power in every apartment, with up to four lights and a battery charger for their cell phones. We are now moving some of our trucks from Port Vila to the outer Islands. This will mean that Mary and I will be walking and using the bus system.
In summary, we are so blessed to have been called to this mission. There is an enormous demand for senior couples. We love the other senior couples who also serve here. We currently have six couples, but will get four more by next January. They run the office, pay the bills, get people to the temple, complete paper work, that allows missionaries to get pass ports, work permits, flights, they teach seminary, operate the perpetual education fund, and assist to get local missionaries papers completed. Our mission President Brewer, together with his Assistants and Zone Leaders all do an excellent job of keeping all 116 of us on track. We love it here and look forward to the next chapter in this glorious opportunity. My dad fought here in the South Pacfic, but it is so much nicer for us, being here under peacefull times and being able to share the gospel with wonderful people.