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June 2017

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Silencing our Fears

There are not even words to describe the perfect day we had today.

As we flew down the road yesterday bumping along in the back of the truck we saw beautiful canoes all carved in the custom style lining the road. The sign said blue hole and our driver told us that if we paid 1000vt ($10USD) then we could have a ride up the river. It sounded pretty fun and so today when we passed the canoes again we stopped to take a ride.

A rusty chain hung around the gates and nobody was to be seen. Not to be discouraged our driver said he knew where the owners would be. So we went on a bit of drive checking in and out of different village houses until we finally found someone who knew where the owners were. I guess they were napping in the grass. After explaining that we would like to canoe up the river on one of the boats and paying him the advertised fee we all climbed in. It was simply amazing!

Once we got settled and the chatting and laughing subsided, (with our group that rarely happens) Ben (our guide) paddled us up the river. It was like magic. The birds were singing in the trees and the only sound was the paddle hitting the water. The words running through my subconscious brain spilled into my consciousness.  Peaceful. Tranquil. Magical. Sacred. If nature could pray it was like witnessing the prayer of the earth to Papa God. It really was a extraordinary.

We got further and further into the jungle and now vines were dangling in seemingly mid air with oversized pods and spiders and other creatures living with them. The white sand of the river bottom was visible the entire time and schools of tiny  fish made appearances here and there, dancing around the boat and going on ahead without us.

After probably 20 minutes of paddling, and much sooner that we wanted we turned the corner and there was the blue hole.  A glistening pool of deep turquoise blue in the middle of the jungle.

So out of place amongst all the greens and browns that we had been seeing, the blue hole looked like a secret hiding in the forest.

After playing, rope jumping, feeding fish and exploring the surrounding gardens and paths we persuaded Ben to take us all the way down the river and to the open ocean. It was nearly just as beautiful  as our trip up the ocean and a few times during the trip Dan or Eric or Lindy burst out in song unable to express the reverence for the surroundings in any other way.  Sometimes I wonder what it would do for the soul to be constantly surrounded by so much beauty. It certainly agrees with my soul!

I also considered how lovely we thought the river was and not knowing what was at the end of it, all of us could have happily stayed and played in the shallow pools all day. However, just like God’s plan for us, He knows what is ahead, and He has much greater, and grander plans for us than we could ever imagine.

How could my life be transformed if I would quiet down for while and trust in the Almighty?

#Ifoundparadise!

Well the jury is no longer out if this was the right place to come.

The day was spent in water so turquoise and white sand beaches that were so soft and beautiful that you truly didn’t believe your eyes.  #nofiltersneeded

Massages on the beach, swinging in hammocks, exploring sunken ships, and eating delicious food at stunning restaurants is what we did all day. It was perfect and truly the most relaxing, fun, day I could have imagined. #mustbeparadise

 

Going to Santo!

Well it was a really hard decision but in the end we all decided to leave our kids and take a three day trip to the most coveted neighboring island- Santo!!!

Santo is the largest island in the Vanuatu chain (and the most beautiful too I’m told). Ever since I first heard about it and saw pictures of endless white sand beaches I knew I had to visit while we were here and now was as good a time as any 🙂

Finding proper supervision for our kids at home was stressful (especially with the sudden influx of boys that have started frequenting our beach since we moved in). But we finally settled on leaving the under the care of the house girl (whose older than I am) and my very, very responsible 17.5 year old daughter. At first I thought that I for sure couldn’t go because it’s always so hard as a mother to leave your kids but But THREE days with my husband all to myself was too difficult to resist so I gave them very strict instructions, and left them with two machetes and a dog. Hopefully they won’t be needing to use them but around here you never know.   And now here we are on a spur of the moment last minute trip to Santo!

Well here we are. We arrived after nightfall and have already had a  bit of an adventure. I made a little video:

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We walked back to the hotel after eating dinner for $5 at the market stalls and happily they had sorted out our room problems. So I am now off to bed and will make more videos and pictures tomorrow when I’ve had a chance to explore!

Bye!

Father’s Day

Father’s Day…
​​Everyone was staring at us as the group of men stood in front of the congregation our hands covered in coconut milk and chicken grease dripping from our mouths. If this wasn’t awkward I wasn’t sure what was.

When they celebrate they really go all out here. The whole church was decorated with cut up pieces of fabric strung along the perimeter of the makeshift building.


Flowers were nailed to the wall man style, and a large “happy happy Father’s Day sign” was hung at the front of the chapel.


When we first came in the men were given leis and our pockets were stuffed with flowers.


That was all before church after church the children sang us all a song, and five chocolate cakes that the women baked were divided amongst the group.


When that was done two of the young single adults came in with a hammock full of food. It was made by one of the local members and was called ‘Malakula lap lap’. A combination of potatoes meat, island cabbage, and coconut milk.


It looks great, however, being told to eat it while the entire congregation watched on was slightly uncomfortable. You know how hungry everyone gets after three hours of church and now that the Father’s Day presentation was over it had been four hours already.


Germs certainly were into consideration as all the men dug their hands into the common pot and started eating. The Grease dripping and licking goodness Group made quite a spectacle.


When all of us had had as much as we could possibly eat and some The women and children were now allowed to join in the fun eating all the leftovers and scraps.


This certainly will not be a Father’s Day that I will ever forget!

Ifira Island

We wanted to see the turtles and the local man told us that little tiny island off the coast of Efate was the place to go. After parking your car you were supposed to walk to the dock or wait until someone in a boat offers to drive you. Once they arrive you pay them 1$ for each person in the boat and get dropped off at your choice of spots on the little island.

It worked! We waited on the dock and within a few minutes a boat showed up and offered to drive us. In went the Women, in went the children, and in went the men, then when you thought we couldn’t possibly fit another person, in went the jugs of water, the bundles of coconuts, and the bags of groceries. It was epic, and kinda stressful-I was so glad the boys had their floaty suits on!

Apparently they have no safety regulations for exactly how many people can fit in a boat. And in order to make the most money in each trip they really piled us in!!!

At first I thought maybe the island was so close that it didn’t matter if we sunk or not, but it took a good half an hour at least on the ocean to get there.

The day was bright and sunny, and the water was so crystal clear and turquoise blue that you could see right to the bottom. Isaiah could not resist dragging his hand through the water as the boat moved forward and I couldn’t blame him.


Because the tide was out when the boat driver was dropping people off there were places where he had to pull up the engine, hop into the water and push the boat over the coral growing in the white sand beneath us just to get people close enough to the shore. They still had to carry their bags and bundles through the ocean just to get home.


When we finally got to the white sand beach with clear turquoise water the boat driver asked when we would like him to return and after I told him he sped away.

It was magic! The beach was covered in sand dollars and starfish. The kids spent hours picking them up, finding out they were still alive, letting them go, and discovering all kinds of interesting facts about them in between!

The tide was out and there were so many truly fascinating things to discover on the reefs, in the ocean, and in the tidepools.

​The sea urchins were plentiful today so the barefooted beauties had to be careful not to step on them. The last time someone got stung by a sea urchin it was disastrously painful, so we were very happy that situation was avoided today:)

Locals were like little ants in the distance collecting shells and trapped fish for dinner, filling their buckets and bags as they laughed and chatted.

​​We never actually saw a sea turtle, however, we saw so many other amazing things it didn’t even bother us in at least. The only thing we were missing on this perfect day was my second oldest daughter who had decided to stay home on the adventure.

#shemissedout #ithinkthismustbeheaven

The Proffitt Family hanging out on a log in Paradise

What do you think, could you handle a day in paradise?

#Vanuatu #Ifiraisland #icouldntbehappier

Weddings in Paradise

There were 7 weddings in the village this week, the girls attended two of them.

There is only one day in the month in which you are allowed to get married regardless of what church you belong to, so last Friday was full of celebrations for everyone!!

When Analaea asked one of her friends what he was doing that day, he replied he was on his way to buy his cousins bride.

Apparently every man in the family over a certain age goes to purchase the bride from her family the day before the wedding.  All the Village gossip was about the extraordinary price that their family had brought to purchase the bride.

With the minimum wage being $2 an hour here the bride gift Of $1350 USD was unheard of!! The Vanuatu government passed a law 10 years ago saying that no brideprice over $800 was allowed, but I guess people are still willing to accept higher bride prices when offered.

In addition to the bride price, one week prior to the wedding every member of the grooms family must take off work and move into the grooms village where they spend the week preparing for the upcoming celebrations. In this case they killed five cows and two pigs for their feast amongst many many other things!

Once a bride and groom have been married you throw flour on the couple to show your support of their union.

Marriage here in Vanuatu is pretty much a matter of practicality. I’ve only seen one couple who looks even remotely in love and even they said that one day the bride received a phone call from a distant cousin who she had spoken to only once in her life. “Can I take you to the Mormon temple to get married after you get home from your two years of service?”

The young girl presented the name to her Family, and they discussed the pros and cons of the union. After two days they decided that he would be a suitable match. So she called him back and said yes. When her service mission was finished he picked her up brought her to the temple in Fiji and they got married. They are now living in two separate countries, as he is in Australia trying to save money for the island wedding well she works here in Vanuatu.

When I asked about their island wedding, she said they would probably celebrate that in two or three years. The trouble is in order to have a custom island wedding The family of the groom must pay a high bride price as well as all the costs for the celebrations. This puts a great financial burden on the family purchasing the bride.

If by chance you want to get married but are not able to afford the price of your bride you can give your first born daughter to your brides family. They then get to keep your daughter for the rest of her single life. That’s the case with my brothers house girl and their first born which they haven’t seen since giving away.

It’s so sad to see some of the local customs that are clearly trapping people in financial bondage or sadness. Weddings and funerals are particularly expensive for locals in Vanuatu.

One woman I know well said that after her husband had been requested to share his seed with other woman in his home village she wanted to leave him. She took the pikinins with her and boarded a boat. He found out before the boat left and also boarded. When he found her he beat her until she was unconscious and then threw her overboard. He jumped over himself and swam them both to shore where he announced she could not leave him. She’s been with him ever since.


I will be celebrating my 18th wedding anniversary with Eric soon. Our marriage is by no means without stress but I am grateful that at least he doesn’t drink Kava all night, beat me, share his seed or give our children away.

Thank goodness for the values that we share that make marriage just a little bit easier!!

Ya Gotta Have Faith

They promised me that there were steps under the rushing water.

With the sound of the water pounding on rock all around us, The people in front of me and the people behind me waited and watched.

I didn’t believe them. The water was coming so quickly- tumbling, rushing, pouring over the rocks frothing at the sides. How could there be steps under all that?

Finally I got the courage to go forward. First one step and then another, I slowly felt my way forward putting my feet one in front of the other into the middle of the monstrous Mountain waterfall. Up and up I went, never being able to see each step that I took but hoping there would be a steady place to land each time.

The people behind me followed me and the people in front of me cheered for me.

I was never even intending to go in the first place because I hadn’t been feeling well. But when my sister came by with a load full of local women from our church and begged me to hop in I couldn’t resist the invitation. As unprepared as I was, with no towel, or bathing suit, I was so glad that I had been persuaded.

Image may contain: 6 people, people smiling, people standing, outdoor, nature and waterAlthough the day was drizzly and grey the entire hike up the waterfalls had been pleasant and beautiful. I especially enjoyed the activities with the local women that we have been invited to. It wasn’t until The hiking was mostly done, and we had nearly reached the very top of the nearby Cascade Waterfalls that things started to get rather scary.

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I had successfully made it UP the steps that were hidden behind the rushing water, and after climbing over boulders and around trees I saw the view that made it all worth it.

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There at the top was the beginning of the waterfall, a giant torrent of liquid spilling over the rocks and down the mountain pounding & crashing into pools at the bottom. It was truly beautiful.

After I had spent some time just appreciating the magnificence of the waterfall I turned around and headed back down.

This time I KNEW that there were steps underneath the water. I couldn’t see them, but I knew that they were there because I had just climbed them. Armed with this knowledge I started going back down confidently through the pools of rushing water. At that moment two interesting things happened.

The first thing that happened was that I noticed a rope which I happily grabbed onto and tried to use as means of steadying myself as I climbed down. Almost as quickly as I noticed the rope the time came where it was no longer heading the direction I needed to go. I knew I had to let go. I was trying to get back down the same stairs I had climbed up but this time I felt my feet slipping, being pulled by the great force of the waterfalls current as thousands of gallons of water and thousands of pounds of pressure all headed down, swirling around my feet nearly sweeping them down with them. If I stood still I was fine, but when I started to move I was unsteady.

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I began to feel nervous as I realized that I wouldn’t be able to make it in my own. I glanced around at all the people some going up some going down each person struggling to find their own safe path oblivious to my need.

Finally I noticed a young man in front of me a bit further ahead. He looked strong and remarkably secure in his footing. I had to yell to be heard above all the noise of the water, and truthfully I was embarrassed as reached out my hand and begged him to hold it as I climbed back down the stairs.

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After thanking the man for helping me, I took a moment to reflect. As I sat under the shade of a giant tree, I suddenly became overwhelmed with the beauty of my experience and started to recognize lessons that could be applied to my life. I d like to share them with you 🙂

“There are stairs beneath that waterfall”- The gospel of Jesus Christ is a beautiful gift from God. I know for myself there is joy to be found from following the teachings of Jesus Christ. There are many in life, who are doing what I did with the waterfall. They are looking at the path ahead with doubt and fear, but in order to experience the beautiful view at the top we must take those steps, and when we cannot see the stairs we must exercise faith.

Letting Go- The rope was there the whole time, even though I only noticed on the way down. It was a guide and a help to me, but the time came that I had to let go and go a different direction. Sometimes in our lives there are things we need to let go of in order to more fully follow Christ. It could be fears, unhealthy habits, friendships that pull us down, or possibly even aspects of our culture or upbringing that are not in harmony with God’s plan of happiness for us. When we recognize the right time and the right things to let go of we are making room in our lives for many more things that are good that will bring us even greater joy and success.
Asking for Help- Pride is one of my weaknesses. From the time I was little my parents taught me that I was strong, bright and capable. I hate asking for help, but this time I really needed it. What I found out afterwards was that the man who took my hand was actually a worker at the falls. He had been there hundreds maybe even thousands of times. He knew exactly where the sure footing was, he knew just the right way to bring me and he was happy to help. In much this same way Jesus Christ can be our sure footing. His hands are stretched out ready to take ours at any moment. He knows the way, because He is the way!

I’m sorry this post was so long, thank you so much for sharing in my little adventure today. May God bless you in your journeys as He is in mine  xoxo

Bathroom Woes

I am pretty sure that nothing in Vanuatu is like back home.. I guess I held onto that hope for too long. I was pretty happy that at least in Vanuatu we got toilet paper (in some places at least-my mom actually carries a roll around in her purse because not all the bathrooms supply it) I asked why it was pink at first, but no one really had an explanation. Maybe it’s so people can use it as streamers on the side 😉.

Anyway, uncle Dustin decided to tell my mom about the massive bag of toilet paper she could buy for only 200 vatu (approximately two dollars). It was even normal coloured. I guess I should have known nothing is normal here.

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Now we are wiping ourselves with rolls of toilet paper about an inch wide. Really?! It’s okay though, my mom told us that she solved the problem by putting three on the holder at once and just carefully winding them to match up (and work as one)… let me tell you, it doesn’t work. Well at least we got a money saver there… I really just want normal toilet paper again 😫😂

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The Stabbing!

He went to the hospital tonight…

It’s not that he wanted to but this time he really had to. Since Analaea’s dog attack where we just decided to go without stitching and put her on antibiotics ourselves I had inquired on the condition of the local hospital.

When the pharmacists, locals and health professionals that I spoke to Said, “don’t go to the hospital unless you really have to” and “avoid the hospital at all costs” we decided to just take care of her at home.

Treating yourself seems to be the safer option in many cases here, especially because you can just walk into any pharmacy and buy any drug you want-Yes I’m serious but more on that later!!

Tonight there was really no choice. I took one look and no it was definitely not something We could deal with ourselves. Poor Eric.

He was making fresh coconut milk for our island dinner when the newly sharpened knife slipped and delivered a good sized gash across the palm of his hand and deep into the flesh. He screamed my name as the blood spurted out across the wall but I didn’t hear because I was busy chatting with my sister in law outside. He yelled again for me while he grabbed a cloth and wound it tightly around his hand.

It was no use, I was too far away to hear, and in the end my brother Dustin finally was the one that grabbed the keys to the truck and took him.

Because I got to clean up the pools and splatters of blood at home this report is in Eric’s own words when I asked him how was the hospital really was…

“Well it was smelly, and hot and kind of dirty and well unique.”

He continued…

“The sterile kit was definitely not sterile as I could see the previous stains on it and it was only wrapped in a cloth. There was dried blood on the floor and wall from somebody else.”

So far It sounded pretty much like I had imagined, I was so glad I wasn’t there.

“Yu Kam” said the nurse as he led Eric into the back room. No more English was spoken so it’s a good thing Eric had picked up some Bislama since we’ve been here 🙂

The doctor never actually showed up which meant that the nurse did the stitching himself. He couldn’t find all the supplies he was looking for and disappeared a few times before he was able to get everything right. In the end Eric was pretty sure that the freezing of the wound was much worse than the stitching and the wound itself.

Finally he was stitched and sent home, when he went to pay the $5 hospital fee they charged him $30- probably because he was white. Haha, I love the mathematical discrepancy!

Even at the steep price of $30 for a hospital visit visit there’s no illusions that the medical professionals here are getting rich off of anybody. We were so grateful that there was even a hospital here at all and very happy to only have to go in for something minor. You really learn to appreciate even the simplest things here.

Of course the real challenge is to keep it now from getting infected in this warm, moist, bacteria happy environment, but for now I’m just glad I’ve got my husband home with a hand that still moves. God is good.