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”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.