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May 2017

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Where the River Meets the Sea

It was by far the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen in my life. The wide river ran under the bridge and into the ocean. The white sand from the ocean had covered the river bottom with soft white sand as well and in the shallow part of the ocean a giant blue hole of fresh water bubbled up. It was really amazing!

We went to blue jewel today, or at least that what my brother named it. I’m not sure what the locals call it.

Little grass huts lined the beach front and provided shade and a picnic table for hot and hungry visitors. They looked like a picture from a postcard.

The teenagers hopped out of the truck where the river was and made friends with the group of local boys that were there.

The little ones ran into the ocean meets river and splashed and squealed in the frothy salty water.

Nobody has a problem with making friends and Isaiah and the little brown eyed brown skinned boy find an old ball and start chasing it over the soft white sand.

Micah isn’t afraid of anything and dips his chubby fingers and little toes into the cool water and then the warm sand. His smile is irresistible!

It’s just breathtaking. I can keep an eye on all the children from my spot on the sand and after collecting a cup full of beach treasures sit down with my sisters to laugh and chat.

Some of the children complain that they’re hungry, and a local friend as well that we brought with us wastes no time in climbing up a coconut and tree cutting down coconuts to share with everyone.

After many hours of playing, We ask the guy who represents the village that owns the beach if it’s okay to take home some sand and he smiles and nods telling us to bring a bigger bucket next time.

I am certain today that this MUST be the heart of paradise!

A Tropical Mothers Day

I woke up to a freshly picked bouquet of Island flowers gathered from my own back yard and given to me by two of my sweet children.

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, plant, tree, flower, outdoor and closeupEric brought me breakfast in bed with the tropical milkshake and an omelet. The tropical milkshake tasted a bit odd but I tried to be polite as I drank it. After Eric tried one taste he realized that what he had thought was powdered sugar was actually tapioca starch, and after a good laugh he didn’t make me finish the rest of my drink!

Image may contain: foodThe omelet was delicious however.

It was Sunday today and we were all excited to go to church because Lindy and Dustin were going to be speaking which meant the talks would be in English.

When we got to church we were so surprised to see the way that Mother’s Day was celebrated.

First each mother was given a flower lei.

Image may contain: 5 people, people smiling, people sittingHundreds of hand cut streamers hung down from the ceiling and were blowing in the breeze.Image may contain: one or more people

Signs that said happy Mother’s Day which looked like they were written and decorated by some creative man we’re posted all over with scriptures underneath.No automatic alt text available.

I’m not used to our chapel being decorated in such a festive manner, but the children were delighted with the Decor and it was obvious that the Islanders love their mothers.

After church was over the men brought out a very large cake that said happy Mother’s Day on it. They said they had a special program for just the mothers. As we sat in the hot chapel we had the privilege of having an entire additional Sunday meeting consisting of an opening and closing prayer, an opening and closing hymn, two musical numbers, and four or five talks (all in Bislama of course!)

Image may contain: 3 peopleThe primary came in and sang the most precious song to us, as did the youth.

 

Afterwards there was an announcement that there would be special food for the mothers.

We went outside and we were first served chocolate cake, then we were served lollipops, then we were served chocolate icing on white soda crackers. It was all quite darling.Image may contain: 5 people, people smiling, people standing

There were ten matching plates and a pile of mismatch dishes were being quickly washed in preparation for the meal, there were also six glass cups. After they were washed a meal was served on them and given to the mothers first. As soon as the meal was eaten one or two of the men would come up, whisk the plate away, wash it under the outside tap and bring it back for someone else to enjoy a meal. Image may contain: 4 people, people standing, child and food

It was kind of strange having everyone stare at you while you ate because they had nothing else to do while they waited for their own plate. After a little while some of the other women who lived nearby saw what was happening and went to their houses & brought their dishes to add to the collection so more people could eat at once. It was very sweet, and although so different than how I normally experience Mother’s Day but was absolutely perfect and something I will NEVER forget!Image may contain: 2 people, people sitting and baby

Our Midnight Adventure Roasting a Pig

The night was late and we had just crawled into bed when I heard a man yelling- well screaming really, outside.

I was afraid to look out the window and see who was being murdered, but when I finally mustered up the courage all that came into view was a fire burning in my neighbors yard- nothing unusual.

Image may contain: fire and nightI guess Eric and I must have been feeling adverterous because just in case we both grabbed a machetes and ventured outside to see what all the commotion was about.

Happily we discovered that there were no drunk crazy men running around, it was just my brother. He is sometimes crazy but rarely drunk 😉 He and some locals were now just standing around the fire laughing.

Image may contain: 1 person, indoor and foodWhen I inquired after the loud yells he told me a wandering dog had taken hold of the pig he was preparing to roast and he had to scream loudly -very loudly, to chase it away.

I had forgotten that Dustin was doing a pig roast to celebrate his son’s baptism the next day. He had two Nevans there helping him prepare the whole thing.

No automatic alt text available.Even though my bed was calling the process was too fascinating not to stay and watch. So I took A whole bunch of pictures so I can share them with you guys.

Image may contain: foodThe men had started the fire at 4:00 o’clock in the afternoon. They were then back around 10:00pm to prepare the pig and put it in the pit for toasting overnight. After brining and cutting, chopping and stuffing, digging and covering, They finally got finished at nearly 1:00 am. We were all so tired that when they told us that they would need to comeback at 4:00am to check on it we insisted that it would be fine if they waited until morning.Image may contain: fire and food

Sure enough they were back first thing in the morning. After digging up the pit, removing the tarp and hot stones they uncovered the pig which was roasted to perfection!

Image may contain: one or more peopleEzra cut it up for everyone as the mouth watering aroma spread throughout the neighbourhood.

Image may contain: one or more people, food and outdoorThere certainly were no disappointed taste buds after that meal, and there was so much food left over that Dustin had to send everyone home with some. Everyone was impressed that he’d be willing to share such a fantastic beast, and were all so grateful for his gift.  It was like the pig that just kept giving 🙂Image may contain: 1 person, sitting, food and indoor

Laundry Day in the Tropics

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The house girls makes it look so easy. When I was living at my brothers house his house girl Matilda did all the laundry, but now that we’ve moved into our own house (right next door) I get to do it 🙂 No problem, this mom of 7 has done laundry aplenty- well at least I thought I had. I realized today that laundry day in the tropics is quite different than laundry day at home. Are you interested in finding out how we do it?No automatic alt text available.

I’ll give you little tutorial…

1. Remove the cockroach protection cloth from the washing machine.

2. Open the lid and fill it with clothes and soap.Image may contain: one or more people

3. Hook up the outdoor cable to electricity.

4. Hook up water to the machine.

5. Press start and wait for the water to fill up the laundry machine.

6. Wait 15 minutes while it agitates and then turn it to the next stage- drain.

7. Wait 15 minutes and then turn it to its next stage- spin.

8. Wait 15 minutes and turn it to rinse.

9. Wait 15 minutes and turn it to drain and final spin.

10. Remove clothes from washing machine and hang on outdoor laundry line.

11. Leave until Dry. This can take several days as tropical rain storms come quickly and with a vengeance. (My load from 5 days ago is still on the line).

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people sitting, child, pool and outdoorThere you have it. 11 easy steps and a few hours of sunshine and one load of your laundry is clean! I’m sure there is some sort of lesson I could learn from doing laundry the hard/long way but I haven’t figured out what it could be yet. Maybe next laundry day something will come to me!

Waiting for a Cyclone

Last night the Shefa Province of Vanuatu where we are officially got put on Red Alert (alerts are as follows: blue, yellow, red).

Regardless of what ‘alert’ level we have been on, everyone has been on ‘high’ alert for days as we’ve waited for Cyclone Donna. She’s now a category 5 and quite destructive. Category 5 is the highest category a cyclone can become with winds up to 260kmh, heavy rainfall, coastal flooding and massive waves. The islands are well aware of the possibilities of the kinds of destruction a category 5 storm can do; the memories of Cyclone pam two years ago are still very fresh.

Damage from Cyclone Pam

Normally after receiving a cyclone warning you have 12-24 hours to prepare. We received our first warning over a week ago and the cyclone still has not arrived.

Cyclone Donna has gone towards us and away from us on so many occasions that it’s getting tiring to discuss whether she will come or not at all.

It’s no fun living in a dark, damp house with all windows and door boarded up so securely, and yet it’s still to early to take everything down.

This morning the cyclone moved down to a position that is right beside us but not on top of is. It’s looking doubtful that we will be hit with anything other than ‘destructive, gale force winds, and heavy flooding’, and the bright cool weather outside has me doubting that we will be hit with even that.

Already parts of our little island have lost power and been evacuated due to extreme flooding.

Dustin bought all of his workers wood and tin to reinforce their houses before cyclone Donna comes. The schools, stores, and markets all remain closed today.

Apparently Cyclone Donna World set a record for being the worst cyclone in recorded historical history in the southern hemisphere in the month of May!

At least 90% of the island believes that the reason we are getting a cyclone is because they’re dressing immodestly and drinking Kava. (Kava Is a traditional drink much like alcohol). Apparently before and after a cyclone hit there is a huge influx of people to join churches, or start attending churches.

When I was last in the market there was a preacher telling everyone to get down on their knees and pray and repent of their sins so that the cyclone would leave us unharmed.

The house girl, Matilda said the locals do not think the cyclone will hit us because they have told God that already they have suffered so much and lost so much this year with other natural disasters that He will turn the cyclone around and send it to a different place.

Members of our family are already being deployed today to leave this island and go to some of the outer Northern Islands where the cyclone has already hit. They are working with the Red Cross to deliver aid food, and water to the people on those islands. We are going to put our names on the list today as volunteers so that if our help is needed we can go as well.

Well here’s to waiting…not sure if it will come or not but it currently sits level with us and is calculated to land in New Caledonia.

 

A Super Soggy Sunday

Rain water was still drizzling down when it was time to leave for church but there was still no other way to get there than the back of the truck. So the kids crammed in, 9 in front and 7 in the back, water splashing on their dresses and wind blowing their hair. We arrived island style 😉
Church wasn’t inside because they were doing construction on the regular chapel. So an outdoor structure had been turned into our Sunday worship hall. It was actually bigger than the regular chapel and quite a bit cooler so I enjoyed it. The ground was made of corral and there was tarps all around and one at the front to keep out the rain. To make the tarp look prettier there was a lace tablecloth strung over top. It didn’t really do the trick but you could tell the intention was nice.
It was still quite a hot day even with the rain, but it was made perfect because of the people I got to share it with.
Honestly, who can resist the beautiful smiles of his precious girls? And their adorable baby brothers? Can you see how hot everybody looks? The funny thing is that while I am busy fanning myself the locals have socks on their babies and fur hats on their kids. No joke- it’s the cold season here!
They didn’t have anyone to play the piano again this week, and so Analaea was asked to do it. She’s quite a good piano player, however feels self-conscious because half the keys don’t work and it makes the song sound bad when she plays it. I was so happy that she willingly accepted their invitation. They have a little electric keyboard and usually a girl named Sarah plays for church, but apparently she’s stopped going to church and for the last month there hasn’t been anyone else to play.
The Sunday gathering was lovely, even though we still don’t understand anything they are saying its amazing to me how feelings can just come across through the language barrier. I really enjoyed being there today.
As soon as we got home the boys found a tarp that had collected water through the night and decided to take baths in their Sunday clothes… those stinkers.

Preparing for Cyclone Donna

Well we went shopping to stock up on food and water in preparation for the cyclone. This is what we got. Sound yummy?
92 bananas 10 pamplemouse 20 tangerines 4 bags of homegrown freshly picked peanuts 21 passion fruit 15 giant avocados 12 french baguettes 10 papayas 2 bunches fresh basil 1 bunch fresh mint 1 freshly grown ginger root 1 pomegrantic 6 bags dried banana and manioc chips 12 nouse 30 sweet potatoes
Of course we bought it all from the market, fresh, island grown organic produce. YUM! We could have bought a frozen McCains pizza for $22USD, a box of Cocoa Puffs for $15.00USD or a container of yogurt for $14.00USD, but I couldn’t afford those things 🙂
We did splurge and buy a battery operated radio, two water storage containers and a bunch of flashlights, oh I almost forgot and a bouquet of fresh flowers. I got the flowers because if I’m stuck inside for two days I wanted it to be pretty:)
I’ll let you know how long this lasts.
By the way, I just found out the the locals have a special name for the house we live in, Cyclone Kaikai. This directly relates to rest of this post because the name translates to cyclone food…yikes!

Gideon’s Landing – My newest found treasure

I have a million things everyday that I could post about. Lucky for you guys my internet is so slow that I only can post about a few.

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Today I’m going to tell you about an amazing beach that we found after driving up and down a scary jungle road. It was beautiful white sand and corral with sea glass spread all over it, more seaglass then I’ve ever seen in my whole life. Too much Seaglass to even pick up!!

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We were having such a wonderful time in the warm shallow water until the local man came up and said the reason there was nobody was there was because the cyclone was coming our way.

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The last I had heard it wasn’t going to hit us so that’s why we went out adventuring. We evacuated quickly And came home!