I forgot that my Sunday alarm was set for 6.30am and because my phone hadn’t adjusted to Vanuatu time the alarm went off at 5.30am local time! Of course; Carlton and Trevor (my roommates) are determined to remind me of this 5.30am mistake for the rest of the trip. Apparently I’m now on dishes for the rest of the week and Carlton and Trevor like to end every conversations saying; “well, we did have a lack of sleep because Jeremy’s alarm went off at 5.30am!”
Finally at a reasonable hour we surfaced and I tried to upload some photos and after an hour of photos downloading the internet crashed and I lost everything. I am realising the internet in Vanuatu is not quite as good as in NZ (and we complain about the internet speeds in NZ).
Our host’s at ‘the traveller’s budget motel’, Jack and Janelle prepared us an amazing breakfast and I must say they are really quite amusing to be around. The best way to describe Jack is he talks and sounds exactly like the Dad in the Australian movie ‘the Castle’ – everything is “beautiful mate.”
After breakfast we walked to the Presbyterian Church in Port Vila and attended their Sunday morning worship service. Before the service begun there was a couple of men singing familiar worship songs like ‘be still and know that I am God’ and ‘This is my desire’ and as we sat in an unfamiliar place with nerves about the upcoming week it was great to sit and reflect on the presence of God to some familiar songs.
The church service is conducted in English so we were able to follow quite comfortably and the few hymns that were sung in the native Bislama we were able to read and sing along as best as we could. It was a great service and it was such a great way to start a mission trip – to worship with our brothers and sisters in Christ in Vanuatu. We were amazed at how familiar the structure of the service was to church services we experienced back home. However, there were some slight differences, one being that all visitors have to stand up and introduce themselves during the service and then at the end of the service the visitors had to go outside and everyone in the church comes and shakes your hand. It was a truly amazing experience and the entire team enjoyed worshiping in Port Vila.
In the afternoon we headed to the resort known as ‘Hideaway Island’ – home to the underwater post office. However, it wasn’t all fun and games! We began our time at Hideaway Island by doing some training with Jonathon and Katrina as they helped prepare us for our time on Tanner Island.
Katrina introduced us more to understanding Bislama (which will be the language of the children we will be working with in Tanna) and we learnt how to introduce ourselves in Bislama for when we go to the school tomorrow. It was great having the local wisdom of Jonathon and Katrina to help prepare us more for our cross-cultural experience and I think Jonathon and Katrina enjoyed being with us at Hideaway Island as they had never been there before.
After the team had each introduced ourselves to each other in Bislama we had some free time so it was off to the ‘hire shop’ to get some snorkel gear and very quickly heading for the warm water. Words cannot express what we witnessed under the water! Beautiful coral; thousands of beautiful fish; it was just an underwater paradise and I couldn’t help but stare in amazement at this creation of God’s that is hidden under the water.
As we were having a beautiful dinner at Hideaway Island with laughter erupting from the tables I realised that the last couple of days have served their purpose – we have grown together as a team and for an ‘unknown team’ at the beginning of this trip we have become quite close and are ready to now face the upcoming week together! This, along with the training we do each evening is helping us to understand the cultural differences we will face in Tanna so that we will be able to adapt to the culture we will be living in and not offend so that we can really ‘dwell among’ and have the greatest impact for our week.
It is time to get some sleep; we go to Tanna Island first thing tomorrow morning. Internet will be limited in Tanna so I’m not sure when the next report will be. Keep praying because we really head into the unknown tomorrow!