Hey Guys, I had so many positive responses from my blog post about our trip up the river that I decided to make a movie 🙂 Enjoy!
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?
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.
I’m not a bug a girl, but they’ve never worried me too much either. Since coming to Vanuatu the house we are staying in has a lot, and I mean ALOT of 🐜 bugs. Giant spiders the size of my iPhone…
Cockroaches and of course the dreaded bug- THE CENTIPEDE…
…its bite is so venomous that even the locals are afraid. With 106 legs it can move fast and it’s thin body makes hiding a breeze. The locals say it’s possible for small children and babies to die from the bite but adults cannot. It just hurts terribly as I’ve been told.
I admit I’ve been paranoid about the centipede since first coming here. The fact that we have found seven inside our house hasn’t helped.
Every night before bed I lift up all the sheets and pillows and make sure there aren’t any centipedes in the bed. I also check the babies bed religiously before laying him down to sleep each night. The other girls- well they can fend for themselves…
I decided before I went to bed tonight to just ask God if He could just reassure me that I wouldn’t get bit by a centipede while I was here. That way I could stop worrying about it. Tonight when I was peacefully sleeping with all the members of the whole house who were also peacefully sleeping. I turned over and felt what felt like two needles being pressed without relief deep into my skin. I startled awake, opened my eyes up wide and threw back the thin sheet we sleep with, just in time to see that dreaded bug slither across the bed covers between the sheets. After successfully biting me it was afraid I’m sure because it quickly disappeared under the mattress.
Centipedes don’t die easily or gracefully, if you cut them up the various pieces go on living and grow back bodies. Once killed they can still sting you. You have to cut them and then burn them, or cut and smash and bury them.
Now it’s midnight and I have been sitting here holding a scalding hot cloth on my arm as the sharp red pain sporting fang marks ( I have no idea if they even have fangs ) spreads slowly down the back of my arm.
I’m a wimp- this centipede was only half the full grown size but It hurts- and I now HATE bugs, and I will probably never fall asleep again without imaging centipedes attacking me. And the sound of the ocean outside and the palm trees and warm tropical air are not quite as persuasive as they were yesterday.
And by the way/ we found out that centipede and gave it death by spray, smashing and flushing. I think it did the trick. I really, REALLY hope nobody else gets bit by one of those slithery, creepy crawlers again.
As for my prayer last night- I figure that God heard me and then said to himself, “I’ll just let her get bit by the centipede tonight so it’s all over with and then she will see that she is strong and there is no need to worry.” God is pretty smart- and I think the ways He answers our prayers sometimes are funny, but He does answer them and thats nice!