Category

Uncategorized

Category

#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

 

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!!

“One Small Service Project”

“One small service project”

Those are the last words that I heard on Sunday before I left church.

Since coming to Vanuatu we’ve had lots of adventure and fun but not many opportunities for service. “One small service project” certainly sounded easy enough. At least that’s what I told my sisters and sister in laws when I woke them up at 7:00am Friday morning.

we were supposed to be there at 8:00am and I thought we would have plenty of time to find it. We decided at the last minute to invite Judy the house girl to come with us. It’s a good thing we did because without her we never would have found the house hidden deep in the village. As it was we were quite late already when we arrived. There were several very sketchy roads that we weren’t sure we would make it over safely but we did.

The group of 8 Niven women were so surprised to see us. First off we are the only white members of our church on the island besides missionaries and secondly I’m pretty sure they think white people cant work.

They pretty much stood there and most of them stopped working as we came in. They just watched us curiously. The “one small service project” was to weed about 10 feet in front of and on the sides of a house. It looked like the jungle and I wasn’t even certain why we were pulling out all the weeds. But as the minutes passed a lovely tropical garden began to materialize. There really were beautiful tropical plants hidden amongst that jungle.

The way those island women could swing a machete put us white people of shame! We worked together for another hour after we had arrived.

Besides being hot, the work was a little scary for me. I am always afraid that a centipede will bite me, and last I read on the Internet the gardeners and Vanuatu are most likely to get bit by centipedes because they like to hide in the damp dirt that gardeners are working in.

Many of the women had rakes, shovels, and machetes, however us white girls got to pick up their piles and I never knew what was going to be underneath.

I did get attacked by fire ants. They feel like tiny little stings all over your leg, and then red bumps swell up that itch you for sometime. I also uncovered about eight millipedes, however thank goodness None of us ever came across a centipede.

We were all sweating by the time it was done, and quite happy that we had arrived late.

The most beautiful part of the service project was that in this very humble home made of cinderblocks, scrap tin and broken glass windows, somebody cared enough to plant the garden, and what was now an old grandma watched out the window as women from her granddaughters church came together to help her uncover it again. It was a lovely way to spend the morning!

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

Image may contain: plant

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!

First Morning Awake

Because the house we rented is not yet available my kind brother and sister-in-law have opened their home to us for the next two weeks. We’d never share something this small in Canada, but compared to standard of the locals (which are just tin shacks), it’s a mansion.

We spent the night all stacked up 3 and 5 to a small bedroom all sharing the same hot sticky air. Eric and I had a little bedroom all to ourselves which was a bonus, although it had no window and the air was so thick I wondered if I’d ever be able to fall asleep. Eventually quiet and sleep did overtake us all and it felt so good to be rested. I was also happy to only have been attacked by a flying cockroach once during the night, which is a huge bonus because I hate those things!

My internal clock was all jumbled around and I was the first to wake up. It actually ended up being a blessing,  I realized as I quietly slipped out the front screen door and got to sit down to enjoy the sounds and smells of this new world alone.

I’m going to give you a peak into my head…

Fat Drops of rain are softly spattering on the tin roof and you can hear a rooster crowing amongst an orchestra of tropical birds signing loudly above us.


The ocean is just through the yard and across the corral/dirt road, so the ocean waves join in the chorus as a soft steady instrument.
It’s only 6:00am but who wants to stay in bed when the rest of the world is waking up??


Certainly not these kids! Isaiah, Sariah have woken up and are now exploring the giant Nabunga tree figuring out the best way to get up and down, and swinging from it’s sprawling branches.

Micah wakes up next and is busy squealing as he runs away from the neighbourhood dog.

His little feet squish through the wet grass, no shoes of course.


Maxwell and Mireyah wake up next and then Maxwell who has already been living here for 3 weeks and is now an expert on island living. As he explains the best way to crack a cocunut,  Mireyah seems quite satisfied as she digs out her breakfast from the newly picked fruit.


It’s not yet 8:00am and I feel like I’ve lived a full day already!
The older girls were awakened by all the noise of the younger children.
They can’t be kept from that enticing call of the ocean for long and after my brother gathers his arms full of passion fruit for breakfast and cooks us something masterful on the small gas stove everyone plays at the beach.


The water is so warm that nobody wants to leave even though they have been there for hours. I finally coax my little adventurer home to play in the shade of the Guava, Palm, Po Po (another name for Papaya), Pua, & Nabunga trees. Because it’s just our first days here I’m anxious to keep them from getting too much sun all at once.

I’m convinced this must be heaven.