Thursday, October 30, 2014
We blogged last month requesting prayers for Steven in Santo. Our family just returned from a follow-up trip to visit the Christians meeting in Shark Bay, Santo, and I am happy to share that Steven is doing quite well.
A few days after taking a very discouraging stance, Steven's uncle (and namesake) actually approached him with an apology for the way he had acted. It would seem that Steven handled the whole situation splendidly, and ended up being a great witness of the Spirit working in his life.
Steven finished his contract cutting timber, and used the majority of his earnings to purchase a chain saw and a fishing net. He has been using the saw to cut his own timber to build a house, and also to cut an outrigger canoe. He plans to use it and the fishing net to help feed his family and also sell fish at a nearby open market.
Steven seems to be progressing well in his faith, and his parents say that they've been amazed at the transformation they've witnessed as he follows Jesus. Please do keep him in your prayers, as he will certainly continue to face trials and temptations in his young walk of faith. And THANKS SO MUCH to those of you who paused to pray for him over the past month!!
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
We have shared before about some of the awkwardness of marriage in Vanuatu. Nonetheless, our family was honored to be a part of Sam and Leimawa's marriage celebration last month. The government granted me permission to perform ceremonies and sign marriage certificates several years ago, and so I had the privilege of officiating the ceremony. Shawnda tried her hand at (her first-ever) wedding cake, and Alexis enjoyed dressing up to be a flower girl. Being a part of these types of cultural events is something very special to our family.
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
We've submitted our paperwork in relation to Grayson's adoption and received our case number, and are now awaiting a court date assignment. We are hoping that that the Vanuatu-side of the process will be complete by year end, but things really begin to slow down around Christmas and don't start picking up again until mid-February. We appreciate your prayers for a smooth process! God is in control :)
Monday, October 27, 2014
Having previously completed our 11-point outline series of studies on the Story of the Bible, we’ve moved into our new teaching section with the youth group in Etas Village: The Gospel Story. Atison and I have broken “the Christ Event” into 9 teaching sections:
Jesus … was born, is Messiah, performed miracles, taught, prayed, chose apostles, died, rose again, ascended/sent the Spirit.
We try to regularly do a review game of the prior week’s lesson, and decided to introduce a “Bingo” type game to review the key concepts and verses from the Birth Narrative. The youth loved it! And better yet, we weren’t even there that week, as I was in Santo, and Atison lead the meeting solo … Bingo! The future is bright :)
Monday, October 6, 2014
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Following my recent 5 day trip to visit Christians in the Shark Bay area of Espiritu Santo, Toara and I walked from one end of town to the other as we waited for my airport check in time. I was amazed at the flood of emotions that I felt as we walked through Luganville, the only city in Vanuatu besides the capital…
- With the exception of a new bank, a new hardware store and a new hotel, the town has practically stayed the same since my initial visit back in 2003. Surreal, especially in light of the fact that Port Vila has changed so significantly!
- I distinctly remember the overwhelming sense of culture shock and uneasiness I felt way back then, on what was my first ever foreign mission trip.
- I smiled as I walked past the Natangora Cafe and remembered how much I enjoyed their steak and chips during that trip, probably because the owner was an American and it provided me a much-needed taste of home.
- I remembered fondly my then-mentor and best friend, Wayne Burger, who introduced us to Vanuatu, mission work, and so much more.
- I walked by the Unity Park Motel where we stayed for a week or so on a subsequent short-term visit in 2004, where I studied with and baptized my first person ever, Jesse. He’s still going strong (I spent most of my time with him this trip as well - he still has a heart of gold).
- I remembered seeing the Archbishop of Canterbury at the Unity Park Stage back in 2004, and thinking how much the pomp and circumstance of his visit just didn’t fit into the Vanuatu culture.
- I realized (finally) that our great friend, brother and teammate really is gone from Vanuatu. Mike Olson did a lot of work during his few years in Santo, and it was unnerving to be there without him, especially as we walked by his old apartment.
Monday, September 29, 2014
Like Jesus, our prayer is that God’s name be hallowed, His kingdom come, His will be done … on earth as in heaven. As His workers, we see it as one of our primary functions to allow Him to work through us to accomplish these things here. Vanuatu is a picturesque place and we prefer to share the happy stories, but behind the sand, surf and palm trees, Satan is at work. For instance…
We recently heard of an American who lives in Malekula who innocently went in to a local store to purchase a memory card for his smart phone. Much to his surprise, there were pornographic images preloaded on the card … and what’s worse, they weren’t images downloaded from the internet of girls a thousand miles away, but local girls who had (seemingly) willingly posed for the pics. The influx of cell phones and the widespread availability of internet and camera phones is wreaking havoc throughout the country. We were literally numbed by this report.
We’ve recently been approached (by Christians!) inquiring as to whether it is acceptable for a woman to prostitute herself out to earn money for school fees, if she has the approval of her husband. We tried to answer the inquiries with patience and grace, but we were flabbergasted by the idea. As we began to inquire further, we learned that local, dis-organized prostitution of this sort is a reality, and is growing rapidly in popularity as locals have more dispensable income.
Something that has been particularly dear to our hearts since our early days in Vanuatu is what we term “post-birth abortion.” It seems there’s a new story every month of a baby’s body being found, having been “disposed of” by un-desiring parents (in the ocean, dumpsters, latrines, etc.). No doubt there several more who’s story never even gets told. This is what initially prompted us to communicate our willingness to adopt.
Last but certainly not least is domestic (particularly spousal) abuse. In some ways this is the worst example, because it is so openly accepted and practiced historically and culturally. We pray that this vicious cycle will be broken.
Imagine a world where we all "treat people the same way you want them to treat you." Blessed are the peacemakers … may it be us!