Archive for the ‘Vanuatu’ Category

Off Day – Sophie and her many funny faces

 

We have Fridays off every week and during our off days, we try to spend more time with Sophie. I find that being on a mission trip really demands a lot of our time and sometimes time with Sophie is sacrificed. We need to be so aware and considerate of her feelings.

 

Today we had a great time with her. We spent the morning roaming the town looking for yummy things to eat. We had a chicken drumstick, walked the open market (we LOVE the open market!), stopped by the park and then ended up at Nambawan (no prizes for guessing what that means in English!) cafe where we had pizza and ice cream. Sophie got a ice cream treat coz she went thru the night without wetting her diaper for 3 nights. I figured $$ saved from diapers can go into treats! Woo hoo!

 

This is a photo to show how cheeky she can be, not quite that dainty little girl anymore. I was smiling like an idiot in all the pictures thinking that she was too but she was making funny faces! Take a look at the series of photos, finally got her to smile and it ended up looking so funny!

Village Dirt

 

Oh my, I couldn’t believe how murky the water turned after soaking our clothes! Trust me, it’s not the shadow that makes it look so dark, it was seriously murky.

Sophie & her fav thing at the moment

 

Sophie is really into dress up so when I saw this at the markets last week, I knew I had to get it for her.

 

This is her doing her hula dance!

 

I think if she could, she would want to wear this everyday!

Outreach Week 4

 

Prisons

 

The guys spend Mondays at the prisons with the inmates. Jim spoke a powerful message on Salvation last week. Tomorrow James is going to be speaking. Do keep him in prayer.

 

Preschool at Banyan Tree

 

The kids seem to be afraid of foreigners so we had a chat with the preschool teacher and decided to bring a smaller team. So Gin, Em and I went with our kids to the preschool instead of the entire team. We had a great time playing with paints at the preschool.The kids really enjoyed it. They’ve never used fingerpaints before so it was really a treat for them. We painted their feet, combined all their pieces and made a cross with them. In the middle, we wrote the words "We belong to Jesus".

 

Men’s Nite and Women’s Grp

 

Sadly last week, we didn’t have anyone turn up for the women’s grp and only a few men turned up for the showing of the movie, Fireproof. We figured that it was probably because there were 3 weddings on Friday so everyone in the village was busy. In Vanuatu, weddings are a week long event! Everyone gathers at the bride/bridegroom-to-be’s home and they’ll stay for a whole week and party. Plus the cruise ship came in on Wednesday, same day as our women’s grp so the women were all selling stuff at the market. So, we went to the market instead! Yep, learning to be flexible. :)

 

Blacksands

 

Blacksands is a poorer part of Efate (the island that we’re on. Vanuatu is made up of a few islands.) Most people who live in Blacksands are not from Efate. It’s where all the people from the other islands of Vanuatu live, like a slum area. We spend Thursday mornings with the kids at different churches in Blacksands. Last week we did a Pass the Parcel game with a gift whenever someone gets it and it was hilarious to see how each time a kid starts to open the parcel, the whole village (exaggeration here) jumps in to see what he got! Btw, the gifts were just pencils, sweets or stickers, nothing spectacular. It’s so nice to see kids being thankful for the little.

 

Kids Club

We organise a little kids club on Thursday afternoons for the neighbourhood kids. God’s put on our hearts to teach them to move in the power of the Spirit so this week Em taught on Hearing God’s Voice.

 

In the midst of all these, we need to remember our first call is to relationship with the Father. It is so easy to forget it when we get busy. Over the weekend, the Lord’s called us back to prayer. So this coming week, we’re going to realign and press in to pray. Pls con’t to pray for us because we need it lots.

All about Sophie

 

Sophie is growing up so fast. I thought since I have a bit of time I should write about what she’s been up to.

 

Sophie is 3 years old. What an amazing age to be. She’s old enough to do quite a few things by herself, really expressive and yet still needs us so much.

 

When she turned 3, we transited her to sleep on a bed instead of the travelling cot. We travel quite a bit so we found that buying a travelling cot a year ago really helped in the transitions from place to place and in places where they do not provide cots, we’re not stuck. However, our little one is really tall and she looked so squashed in the cot so we decided to move her to sleep on a bed. She took to it pretty well after a few sessions of prior prep talk.

 

SO, she’s been sleeping on a mattress while we are here, next to our bed. We brought her bedsheets, pillow case, blanket and teddy to help with the transition. She was sleeping well the first few weeks but last week, she started waking in the night and climbing into our bed! In the beginning, it was kinda nice. See, Sophie’s always slept in her own room since she was home from the hospital! I was starting to enjoy cuddling with her in our bed. But then she started to do that every night… sigh… I haven’t had a solution to that coz I’m secretly enjoying that very much. Also coz it is really noisy in the morning at about 5am onwards so when she sleeps with us, she sleeps till 6.30 instead of waking at unearthly hours like 5am! 6.30 is still unearthly to me but I can live with that, at least for these 7 weeks. We’ll figure how to break this habit when we go back to Matamata… :) sleep is more important at this point. Hiak hiak…

 

Sophie is extremely attached to James recently. When he has to go to do stuff and leave the base, she cries! Even when I’m next to her! It’s kinda strange but I’m really glad that she’s so close to her Daddy. I know that many kids do not have the priviledge of having Daddy close almost the whole day. Sophie is extremely blessed in that aspect and she REALLY loves her Daddy. :)

 

Being here has really stretched Sophie in her ability to share. It’s really hard for a 3 year old to share most times and she’s had to learn it constantly living in community. I think it’s a good thing but that means that most days you’ll hear one child crying at different times of the day. Quite often it’s Sophie if it comes to sharing. She is the only one who is the only child so I guess she needs to practice sharing here.

 

She still sings and talks a lot. As she develops, she seems to be even more wary of strangers and would not really say hi to them. However with the adults on the team, she’s starting to make conversations with them and tell them stuff or ask them for things which is really cute to watch.

 

She’s really enjoying the beach and the environment here. Mealtimes are ok, need to make her eat coz she gets so distracted by her friends and everything else.

 

Learning wise, this environment suits her very much because she is quite a tactile learner. She has the freedom to just be and it’s so precious. But the kiasu mother in me has attempted to squeeze in learning alphabets and numbers somewhat and I think she loves it! My mum in law sent alphabet sticker books so that keeps Sophie occupied in the mornings while we are asleep. Hiak. Gotta be real creative with this lil one. For example, she can’t pray sitting still so we exercise in bed, kick our feet in the air and pray aloud and shout out the memory verses that we taught in the village preschool.

 

Yep that’s it for now!

Outreach Week 3

Left: Baking in the fire oven

Right: Seedlings that grew – Spring onions, pumpkin, capsicum, eggplant

 

In addition to the ministry that we are doing, our heart was also to serve the people and the YWAM base here and be available to do whatever is needed.

 

Last week we the girls and the kids helped to plant 4 different types of seeds – capsicum, spring onion, pumpkin and eggplant. The kids had a great time digging and sprinkling in the seeds. Sophie was so thrilled to see the spring onion and pumpkin sprout out so quickly just after a few days. After we helped plant the seeds in plastic containers, we also helped to plough and made the ground ready for planting. This is the FIRST TIME in my life I’ve ever done anything like that! It was pretty cool.

 

The men went over to the base director’s house to help to do the piping for the new washing machine they have. You must remember that washing machines are a rare commodity in these parts. There isn’t one on the base so we wash our clothes by hand. Makes us really appreciate the things that we take for granted back in Matamata e.g $2 per washing load. It costs almost S$10-15 per 5kg load in town. Sigh… wonder how our grandparents did it… ? look after 10 kids, wash clothes, cook, bake, garden etc. Faint.

 

This week we also experienced open fire cooking because the gas stove ran out of gas. Wooah smokey. We didn’t last more than 15 mins. Weak lah. My eyes started smarting after like 5 mins!

 

We also attempted to bake in the fire oven. Oh, that was really interesting. There was no way of gauging the temperature and no open window to see what was happening in the oven! Try that! But our experienced mother of 6 and super cook, Sue, was brilliant. She managed to whip up cream puffs and even a cake! It was such a treat. As part of our programs, we try to provide a little snack. We’ve been making popcorn and cookies. It’s really much cheaper to bake than buy cookies off the shelves. Things are really expensive here e.g. a box of tissues costs US$2.20.

Outreach Week 2


Playing "Let’s Go" with the neighbourhood kids

 

The cool thing about being a family team is that the villagers can easily identify with us.

 

We have a wonderful mix of team members. We have an older couple on the team – Jim and Sue with their youngest child, 11 year old Simon. That gives us inroads to pastors, elders and generally the older folks. In a culture where elders are highly respected, having Jim and Sue with us has been a great advantage. The rest of the couples are the same age as us and we have 5 preschoolers between us – that is a sure way to win the hearts of the villagers!

 

Some of the women that we spoke with last Sunday at church turned up for the Women’s Group. We had a cooking session where Sue taught the women how to make “No-Bake Oat Cookies”. Gin led the women’s group and got everyone to share a little. We hope to share God stories and conduct some food and culture exchange during this time. Our desire is to share what God thinks of women and how He values us as women. It’s amazing how God is using the way He has gifted us to reach the people. For example with Gin and Sue who enjoy cooking and baking, this is such a great platform for us to reach the women! Our great men did their part by entertaining the children with a Veggie Tales video while the women enjoyed their cooking time.

 

During our Wednesday village walkabout and prayer time, we had the opportunity to play with the kids. They taught us a local game called “Let’s go!” – super complicated. We had to play it several times before we go it! Watching them play reminded me of my childhood days playing with my cousins. The children really open the door for conversations with the adults as well. Some of the kids we played with that day turned up on Thursday on the base. We originally planned for a Youth Club but looks like we might end up doing a Kids Club instead. One man that we spoke with turned up for the Men’s Devotional Group on Wednesday night.

 

The Ni-Vans (the locals) are extremely relational people. Everything happens thru relationship. That means that we really need to spend a lot of time talking to people and hanging out with them. It’s not like back home where you advertise for a seminar and loads of people turn up. No one will turn up if they have no idea who you are over here. It’s a change of mindsets but I think we’re getting the hang of things.

 

God’s been doing some amazing things in our group. Little Elijah Freestone lost his little precious bunny (again!) for about two days and was distraught. He didn’t sleep well at all. He’s had that little bunny since he was born! Anyways we prayed and his older brother Toby prayed a wonderful prayer and the next day the bunny appeared out of nowhere! God listens when little kids pray! The kids are learning to pray.

 

It’s not been an easy week but it was a good start. Praise the Lord!

 

P/s: Em and the two boys are down with stomach problems today. Pls do keep them in prayer. The rest of us are well. Also, we’ve uploaded more photos on Flickr and Facebook so do check that out.

Outreach Week 1

 

The team has been slowly easing in – new food, new culture, new climate, new people, new everything! We’ve had a few battles e.g. sickness, grumpy kids and sometimes adults but overall I think the team has done very well despite of it all.

 

We had our first ministry time on Thursday night where the team shared their testimonies at the base community meeting. Gin did so well even after a whole day of stress with the kids. She rose up well to the occasion and it was such a powerful testimony.

 

We have also been visiting the preschool under the banyan tree. Rachel who runs it just gave birth two months ago and she is still teaching everyday. She has 7 kids of her own plus she operates a free preschool for 20 neighbourhood kids who cannot afford to go to the local preschool. We’ll be helping her out from this week onwards.

 

This time, we have base duties. We do breakfast cleanup every morning and the base has rostered us for dinner duties twice a week. So far James cooked on Wed and Stuart cooked on Sat.

 

Jim, the oldest member of our team has been having divine appointments every day! God has just been bringing people to talk to him. Somehow having white hair helps! ? We are really thankful to have him on the team.

 

We also made some friends at church this morning and invited them to the outreach that we’re having.

 

We have a full six weeks ahead. We are helping to spearhead YWAM’s community outreach with a women’s group, youth group to teach life skills, youth mini-DTS, men’s group, and the men are going to visit the prisons and do some building work on the base.

 

Please continue to keep us in prayer.

 

P/S: Update on team health – Stu and Sue are well now. Evan and Eli were down with fever but they have recovered. Simon is still recovering from flu symptoms. Rest are well, praise the Lord.

Day 4 In Vanuatu

It’s so good to be back again in Vanuatu. We love it here. Sophie is behaving like she never left! She commands the stray dogs to go away, kick them and tells her friends to do the same.

 

It’s so nice to see everyone again and it really helps that we are familiar with the base and the surroundings. When we walk around the villages, it’s nice that people remember us!

 

Thank you all for praying. Sophie is full well now. The fever was just for a day. However, one other kid is down with fever today and two of our team members have got stomach problems. Pls con’t to keep us in prayer!

Mt Yasur

 

After the outreach, we went with the Grobs to see Mt Yasur, one of the world’s most accessible active volcano, in Tanna. Vanuatu is made up of a few islands and Tanna is one of the islands in the south. It takes about 40 mins to fly to Tanna.

 

I mean, how often does one get to be so close to an active volcano right? We had to go and the experience turned out pretty amazing.

 

It was a 1 and a half hour drive from the hotel to the volcano on bumpy road. Tanna is hardly developed, mostly jungle and no tar roads at all. It was crazy! The guide was driving real fast because we needed to get there before the sunset! Sophie fell asleep halfway and when she woke up, she THREW UP VOLCANO STYLE on mama me!!!!!! Great. That was a good introduction to volcanoes. Thank God I brought along a sweater so I had to change out of my vomit soaked tank top into the sweater in the middle of nowhere. I had to make do with the pants tho. Eeks.

 

When we got to the foot of the volcano, it was getting dark, just the right time. It also stopped drizzling, which was good. We climbed up to the mouth of the volcano and spent about 45 mins watching the volcano. It was constantly erupting. We managed to get some good shots and videos too. Very cool! A bit scary at times, esp for Sophie. Check out the videos (Part 1 2 3 4) James put up.

 

 

Sadly, it started to rain again and we had to come down and head back to the hotel.

 

The hotel was a nice change – outdoor warm shower, nice bed, lovely food and overlooking the beach. I’m glad we took the short break to Tanna. Minus the puking, I really enjoyed everything else.

 

 

P/s Btw, the puking happened again on our flight back, small plane, but this time our lil one was super smart she had the puke bag ready and threw up in it. Phew.

Bye Bye Vanuatu Hello Auckland

 

We left Vanuatu on Sunday and we’re back in Auckland, NZ. We’ll be here for a few days and then we’re coming home to Singapore!

 

We are so enjoying the warm shower, lovely hotel room, Jap food, shopping and Borders. We even watched Star Trek at the cinema with Sophie today! She fell asleep after a while… hiak! Oooo I love God, being on missions and Vanuatu but………… i’m really a city girl at heart. I bought a pair of Riders skinny jeans. Hee, nice.

Erakor Island

 

More starfish!!! This is a big one with spikes! Sophie took a bit of coaxing to pose with this one, not because it looks scary………. but coz it was so heavy! Hiaks!

 

Erakor island is real pretty. We even rented a canoe for an hour and brought Sophie with us. She listened well and tried not to fidget for a whole hour! Hee… it was hard coz she wanted to touch the water, catch the fish and seaweed but I got a bit scared each time she moved that we’ll fall out!