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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.

Holy Healing Mud Baths!

The smell of rotten eggs filled my body and I thought I was going to throw up right there.

The good news was that nobody would have noticed because the thick mud surrounding our bodies was much too dark to see anything through. Plus the throw up would had just joined the dead floating crab and other little things mixed in with our hot mud bath. Happily I managed to keep my lunch inside.

We were all rolling around like pigs in the sulfur filled mud baths at the “holy healing waters” that we found on the side of the road.

 

Since the local medicine man was so helpful 😂
I decided to try another island treatment for ailments.

I had Heard that Vanuatu had some natural Hot Springs and mud baths. I’ve been to Hot Springs before and I definitely felt positive health benefits after soaking in them, so I was excited to discover that this island we were staying on had them as well.

When I went on trip advisor the reviews were kind of sketchy, so I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. I knew I didn’t want to go alone, and was delighted when my husband and sister and a few of our kids agreed to make the journey with me.

After driving for an hour halfway around the island and up and down windy mountain roads we finally spotted the hand painted sign indicating that we had arrived at our destination.

Eagerly we pulled in but nobody seemed to be around except a couple village pikininis (children) playing in the grass.

We finally were able to track down someone who was happy to take our Vatu (money) and show us around.

She told us stories of how she was once very large and when she went in the waters she became skinny, and how her dad was crippled and when he went in the waters he started to walk. The truth seemed to be mixed generously with some things that seemed quite unbelievable, but I was happy to be there anyways and was definitely not expecting a miracle 🙂

“You must sit in this pool for 10 minutes. Then you must cover yourself in mud in that pool. Then we wash you off and you sit in that pool.” She pointed up ahead as she spoke to us in her broken English.

The instructions she gave us were quite clear and we obediently took off our clothes and hopped with our swimsuits into the first pool.

It was hot but felt amazing. The water was bubbling up from a spring deep in the earth and you could taste the salty minerals.It felt like heaven sitting in the homemade cement pools bathing in the hot spring.

My 15 year old who usually hates getting dirty and my sister were the first to leave the clean hot spring and take a dip in the mud bath. At first the mud pool was gross. It was smelly, and well…muddy.

Mary, the daughter of the owner of the place, got right to work covering our faces and backs with the mud as we tried not to laugh and throw up at the same time. The smell was pretty overwhelming.

Nate just kept saying “this is so gross, get me outta here” but his mom made him stay anyways.

We all got really into it and soon we forgot the rotting eggs smell and we were floating blissfully into the oozing, stinky mud.

It felt like we stayed forever but it was only an hour in the mud. When we felt ready we got out and Mary washed us off by dumping buckets of warm salty water over our heads and body. It actually felt AMAZING!

As I watched her humble, seemingly boring job serving  us, I couldn’t help but feel gratitude for this young lady. She spent the whole time we were there watching us, telling us which baths to go in and which were too hot (there were some places that the water reaches 90 Celsius / 104 Fahrenheit ). She helped us when we got mud in our eyes and and washed away the mud from our adventure so we could be clean again.

I also couldn’t help but feel gratitude for One who is greater than us all who chose to humble himself and be the servant of all. I am grateful for His guidance in which paths to take and which places to avoid and most of all his loving sacrifice that washes us clean when we are covered in the dirt and filth of the world.

We truly are blessed to have this special time to draw closer together as a family as well as to draw closer to the Savior and see His hand at work in our lives.

 

 

Chocolate Covered Wisdom

The open market had a strange looking bumpy oblong shaped fruit and when we asked the lady sitting cross legged on the mat on the ground behind the table she said “it’s cacao fruit”.

We bought the four biggest ones for 50 Vatu each (equivalent to .50USD) and put them in our bulging market bag.

When we got home Monday night Eric had prepared a beautiful scripture lesson on the Lords timing. He invited everyone into the kitchen where we learned how cacao plants are planted, harvested and turned into chocolate.Image may contain: food

Without the proper timing and process, the cacao fruit which is a sweet fruit with bitter seeds inside, can never be transformed into the yummy chocolate we see at the grocery store.

The girls all gathered together, took apart the cocoa fruit, cut down banana leaves from the back yard and started the process of fermenting and drying the cocao beans.

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After separating the seed from its fruit you must ferment it for three days and then lay it to dry in the sun for three days. After all that you crush it and cook it and turn it into chocolate adding milk and sugar.

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I started thinking about it. Hmmmm.

I wondered to myself How many times do I judge other people or myself , thinking I ought to, or they ought to already be the finished product?

With faith in Gods purpose, plan and timing We can trust the process of growing and maturing and love people around us just as they are.

That’s my thought for today, enjoy your chocolate-we did!!

Jesus Saves!

Late last night my 15-year-old came into my bedroom to sit down and chat.

There was rarely time for this back at home, however, with no TVs or computers, iPods or radios, Island living somehow makes space for beautiful things to grow.

Vanuatu is a tiny group of islands off the coast of Australia classified as a Third World country.
The cost of fuel, food, rent, internet, electricity, gas and a vehicle are all either the same as or higher here in Vanuatu than at home in Canada.

I looked over at my daughter sprawled across the bed, her island braids falling at her side.

“mom, it’s so weird, the people here have nothing. Their clothes are worn out and ripped, they have to walk hours to get anywhere, grown adults work all day for $1.75 an hour, their family members die all the time, and yet for some reason they are still so happy”Image may contain: one or more people, outdoor and closeup

I Lay in bed pondering her comments. What does make us in North America so unsatisfied with our lives? So full of independence, and fear, and anger and hatred? So quick to bully, to be a victim, to point fingers, so eager to complain, so insistent that ‘fairness and justice’ be served. There is nothing fair about this life here, but I have rarely seen even one person show signs of dissatisfaction due to the inequality of their situation.

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Every day children are separated from their mother and father and are given to relatives to satisfy a debt or a custom ceremony.

Cyclones, tsunami’s, & earthquakes flatten their little tin shacks and destroy the precious food growing in their gardens.

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People die often because of infections, lack of medical care, and preventable diseases.

But the people here are not sad, the opposite is true actually. Friends and strangers alike kiss each other on the cheeks, touch each other as they pass by, and yell out greetings as they bump along the dirt roads in the trucks and buses.

I have not met a single person that does not have a deep faith in God. Their faith is not something to be ashamed of. On Sunday, every store shuts down and every person returns to their family and their separate churches to worship. If a cyclone is approaching the community prays together and on the radio, and at the local market it is announced for people to repent, and remember God.

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Here where the dogs and chickens wander into church and the graffiti on the wall says “Jesus Saves”, Gods masterpieces, and His miracles are all around us and nobody is ashamed to point them out or to praise them.

NiVan Grafitti

In some ways our fancy, fast, first world country is ahead of these simple island people, but in many ways we are so far behind.

The Colour of Happy Birthday

He goes on unknown hikes, climbs tall coconut trees, catches snakes, makes friends wherever he goes, speaks two languages, is literally brilliant, doesn’t care how old you are, isn’t afraid of anything, loves his family and serves God. Joshua is the most friendly, adventuresome young man I have ever met!

We really wanted to do something special for Joshua Leavitts 17th birthday so we decided to have a colour festival with colours I had brought in my suitcase from Canada. That was a bit harder than it sounds because at EVERY. SINGLE. SECURITY. Check our bags were searched and little chemical samples were taken from the colored powder to make sure they weren’t explosive or dangerous. As if travelling with 9 kids, 24 bags, one stroller and one baby carrier wasn’t hard enough right?! The only reason I even put the colors in my carry on bag in the first place was because we were overweight on all our big bags so I thought I’d be clever and just bring them in our carry ons.

I’m so glad we went to all the trouble because honestly, we had so much fun, it was amazing!!

The only person who couldn’t join us for all the fun was the “recovering from a dog attack” girl.

Even the workers and neighbors that we invited joined us and all the locals on the beach watched in total curiosity and colored powder flew out of our hands and onto each other and the white sand beach. Zaby loved it. He was a wild man running around catching people with his powder. 

Today the color of Happy Birthday was bright and magical!

Iririki Island

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Our hands dangled down making trails in the water as the group of us were transported by boat from our island of Efate to a tiny island just off the coastline.

Iririki Island is a tiny island accessible only by boat. It is a tourist destination for people visiting Vanuatu owned by two Australian investors who originally set it up just over 15 years ago. The island is absolutely adorable, and has a range of accomodations from the luxury cabanas on the beach front to little apartments a few hundred yards from the beach. All together it has 132 different sleeping places.

If you aren’t staying on the island but still want to enjoy some of the fun things there for only $15 a person you can get a ride in the boat to the island, and spend the day playing tennis, using the pools, going snorkeling with their equipment, getting free childcare, using the kayaks and getting food.

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I’d seen the island as we drove by through the window of our car, and it’s adorable beach cabanas instantly had me sold. We gathered our family and a few friends nearby and spent the day together. It was actually so beautiful. It’s like we forgot entirely that we were living in a third world country.

The beautiful crystal clear pools, fancy restaurants and darling signs made us all feel like we were being spoiled in some expensive resort on a tropical vacation far away.

Of course there were a few times when the cultural ‘lost in translation’ moments occurred (like when we ordered pizza- but that’s a separate story) and when Dustin went to the bathroom and saw this sign…

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But overall the hours passed by with happy memories of exploring shipwrecks, climbing sunken masts, cramming into golf carts, kayaking, snorkeling and swimming in lovely blue pools.

Besides one scare when the baby took off his life jacket and jumped into the deep end of the pool before we could stop him (he was promptly rescued by my amazing, husband) it was a perfect day.

 

Ordering Pizza

Mmmm, the aroma of the freshly grilled pizza as it got laid in front of us was amazing. I was pretty excited because pizza costs a lot of money here and cheese is super expensive so making your own isn’t really financially sustainable either.

We had splurged a little today because we were out visiting a nearby resort and we had to take a boat to get there. They implemented a strict “no food on the island” rule to get people to spend their money buying from the expensive restaurants. The kids were quite hungry and we really couldn’t avoid feeding them and since pizza at $18 USD a pizza was the cheapest thing on the menu we ordered that.

After we prayed over our food we all dug in and grabbed a slice. This particular one was Mediterranean pizza. The description under the name on the menu said “an assortment of Mediterranean vegetables.” I started to look at the pizza a little closer after taking one bite. Something was off. There were giant carrot sticks, squash cubes and pickles on my pizza. No joke- the ‘Mediterranean Vegetables’ were definitely more unique than expecting 🙂

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I have honestly never tasted anything quite like it. When my sister ordered the same pizza a few minutes later hers had little cubes of peas and carrots all over it. Not sure what Mediterranean vegetable really are but I’m quite sure that I chose the healthiest pizza in the world to eat today 🙂

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.