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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Week 3 complete.......

I, Jason, haven't blogged in a while and Alisha is not feeling well. So.... I will take the "blogging rope" from her and talk about the last week. And what an eventful week it has been. We have had our daily Bislama lessons and walked town a lot to practice what we are learning. We went to the market (that's the best place i've found for using Bislama) and tried it out. We also, saw our 2nd "bush" man. Yes, he was only wearing a "maw maw" or pee-pee cover as we call it :) I was afraid that Eli would say something, but, he refrained.....WHEW!! I also spent a couple days at the Widups trying to get the office finished that they are building for the area missionaries. We sanded and mudded, painted, hung the ceiling and windows and polyurethaned the wood trim. This is going to be a space with a couple desks, internet access, a printer, a copier and most importantly a Keurig coffee maker and A/C :) :) They want this to be a place of rest for the missionaries. A place where they can come and "get away" for a little while. They can access the web, have a cup of joe and relax in the A/C. This is a much needed space as Alisha and I are learning just how strenuous it is to be a missionary in this country. It is very demanding and trying on a person/family. On Friday I went to my first youth event. It was put on by the local Christian Futbol team called the Malampa Revivors and a young Ni-van pastor that we have become good friends with named, John Thomas. Alisha and the kids stayed back home as the event didn't start until after 7 pm. It was called "Coffee night". It started off with some worship and singing (all the songs were by Hillsong and in english, so that was good lol). Then John Thomas gave a great message in Bislama (which I think I understood about 75% of). After the message there was a time of prayer by one of the futbol players. We then enjoyed some local treats and coffee and watched the movie "Forever Strong". All the pastors, futbol players and students (those that were brave enough to come to talk to the "white man" lol) made me feel very welcome. I am glad that I got to go and look forward to attending the next one. Today after church we went to one of the infamous "Blue Holes" here on Santo Island. This is the only island in the whole country that has them. They are fresh water springs and they are BEAUTIFUL!!
Marcus, Tony and myself rode the dirt bikes and the quad down. It was about a 30 minute ride and very fun! The water at these things are amazing!! So blue and clear that you can see the bottom, which this one is about 40' deep, with no problems. There is a rope swing that is hanging from a Nabanga tree that some of us swam too and jumped off of. There were some local kids there swimming when we got there. So it was nice to be able to interact with them too. And I know enough Bislama now, that I'm pretty sure they were talking about how big I am lol!! But that's ok, there aren't many people here that are as tall or wide as me :)
Overall, week 3 was a success! We are really trying hard to learn the culture and the language. We don't want to just be seen as tourists (they don't really care for them here). We want Ni-Vanuatu people to see that we are here to care for them and show them the love of Jesus!! Thank you for all the prayers, notes, and text messages. They are for sure appreciated!! We miss all of you very much and can't wait to see you all soon and share with you what God is doing. In the mean time.....stay tuned on here and keep up with us on our journey. Much love, Jason p.s. The coffee here is OUT OF THIS WORLD GOOD!!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Exploring and Adjusting

On Saturday, August 11, 2012 we walked through all of the shops on the main street of Luganville, except for maybe four. We were simply trying to get a feel for what each place had, and their prices, pretty much just taking our time exploring the place. Up until then, the kids had all said that walking everywhere was one of their favorite things about being here…now they don’t think that so much ;) But they all were very well-behaved, didn’t complain, and I think enjoyed the day looking around and trying to get an idea of some things that they might want to purchase with their chore money. The girls both want to get island dresses or skirts, and a handmade purse, and Eli found a green island shirt that he wants. Their chores consist of daily helping me with laundry (not that I need help, but they like to try), taking turns getting the rainwater, helping with sweeping (multiple time per day…it’s REALLY sandy/dirty/dusty here), and just generally helping us out with things from time to time. Yesterday (August 12, 2012) we enjoyed church at the Widup’s again, marking the beginning of our third week here. It was initially difficult for me to imagine having church in someone’s living room with only 7-8 families attending, but it’s quickly become a time that I look forward to. Everyone has welcomed us right in, and I have felt the presence of the Holy Spirit every week. We watch pre-recorded sermons and worship is typically songs that I’m not familiar with, but it’s proving to me that (Matthew 18:20) “Where two or more are gathered in my name, there I will be also.” I love seeing Scripture lived out! I took my first walk today (Monday, August 13, 2012) without Jason, but I still had to have the kids with me. Trust me, that’s a big thing! I haven’t been anywhere without him, or Christina, since we arrived. It’s not easy to get used to constantly having to have an adult chaperone at all times. It was nice to walk with the kids up to drop off the girls at a friend’s house, and then walk back with Eli (I still have to have at least one kid with me when I go anywhere). He thought it was funny that I called him my bodyguard ;) That’s not really the case, but he enjoyed thinking it was. Speaking of it being funny that Eli’s my bodyguard…
the kid has suddenly decided to have a growth spurt! He’s constantly hungry! That has never, in the history of Eli, happened before…go figure. Thinking and praying for all of you getting ready to head back to school (tomorrow for you, but it’s already Monday afternoon for us). Please know that you’re never far from our hearts and minds.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Aore Aelan (otherwise known as Aore Island)

On Sunday, August 5, 2012, we took a boat ride across Luganville Bay to Aore Island.
Our kids had never been on a boat, and I had forgone the Drammamine because I only bought the kind that makes you sleepy for the looooong plane ride…turns out no one really needed it, anyway, but I digress. Luckily, they ended up not needing it for the boat ride, either! They were all 3 enthralled the entire time, with Eli especially, taking everything in.
It ended up being about a 10-15 minute trip to the island, and as we got closer to the island, the water was sooooo clear!
The kids were having a blast spotting coral and anemone (terms I’m pretty sure they only know due to watching Finding Nemo), and were off to change into their swimsuits as soon as we were on land. The beach was beautiful!
Paighton, Mikayla, and Emily took off in a kayak to have some fun girl time,
while Lainey, Eli, and Maxwell started looking for sea life close to the water’s edge.
Eli was the first to find a big starfish.
And Lainey found a couple of little crabs…I didn’t believe her at first…I thought they were just snails in their shells…but then out popped the little pinchers! Paighton took our camera out on the kayak and took some really neat pictures of some of the things they found…
and some really great pics of each other ; )
After some water fun, we had lunch at a restaurant on the island, then headed back to Luganville. Paighton stayed at the Widups with Mikayla and Emily, and the rest of us headed back to our apartment to try to finish unpacking, again, and get organized a bit. The trip to the island was something my kids had been begging for since the day we got here! They wanted to get in the ocean and see cool things, so for those of you who know what begging kids sound like day after day after day, I was happy to get that out of the way! And it was a nice way to relax a little after the crazy, cockroachy day we’d had the day before!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

New New Apartment

The stores throughout Luganville are known by various names…seems to be mostly abbreviations of the names of the people who own them. There is a store called, “New Look”, and then another newer one called “New New Look”, hence the title of this blog : ) Our new new apartment is still a 2 bedroom, but the kids’ bedroom is now large enough for all 3 of them, their clothes, and beds.
The living room area is bigger than in the first apartment, also.
Still have our bedroom
and a bathroom with toilet/sink/shower.
And the infamous cockroachy kitchen...
The main difference that I first noticed was that there’s no running hot water in the kitchen…which is no problem because I can get any needed hot water from the shower, or heat up water in the kettle on the stove. The next difference I noticed, and quickly, was that there seemed to be a lot more bugs…cockroaches, to be exact, of which I had never previously seen! I had started to wash up some dishes when the first one popped out of the cabinet below me…which made me jump…a lot : ) But we stomped it and I proceeded with more dishes…when a couple more started scurrying about…which made me run from the kitchen : ) That’s when Jason opened the cabinet and we saw the degree of insects…ewwwwyyyyyyy!!! But, we also knew coming into this that when you’re here, you just have to learn to deal with pests, so deal we did! Jason would spray bug killer into the cabinet for 30 seconds and close the door. After a few minutes, he would open the doors and sweep out any bugs that were in there and shoot them like a hockey pucks to the rest of us where we were waiting to keep them from getting into the rest of the apartment, and we’d stomp them. I’d guess that took us about 3 hours of doing that repeatedly to get to the point where there were no more bugs when he opened the cabinet doors. And there has only been maybe 3 dead cockroaches show up since the day we moved (Saturday, August 4, 2012), so I think we’ve taken care of the huge infestation…but I’m sure we haven’t seen the last cockroach of the trip!

Friday, August 3, 2012

First week photos :)

This is a picture of Paighton, Lainey, Eli, Maxwell, Malachi and Christina at the Vanuatu Independence Day celebration at the park. The lady sitting beside/behind Paighton is Eneth, our Bislama teacher. She is ah-mazing!
This is a photo of our view of Luganville Bay from the balcony of our apartment. Beautiful...if I do say so myself!
This is our kitchen area. The fridge is tiny. The red bucket on top of the fridge is what we use to carry our rainwater (used for drinking and cooking...can't drink the tap water). The contraption on the wall is the gas water heater. The orange cooler to the right in this picture is where we keep our rainwater.
This is the view of the rest of the "big room"/dining/living/Paighton's bedroom. Excuse the mess, we're still figuring out where we can put stuff :) And the chair tower in the middle of the room is a drying rack! The ceiling fan puts out some serious breeze. The towels draped over the backs of the chairs are also drying.
This is the last picture for took an hour for all of these to upload! This is Paighton, Lainey, and Eli on Eli's bed in the room that Lainey and Eli are sharing. They're going over the Bislama flashcards that I made, learning how to speak a new language, and loving it! Also, the clothes hanging on the windows are, you guessed it, drying! :) Thanks for checking up on us, and I'll try to continue to post some more pictures. Please continue to remember us in your prayers! Much love <3

First Family Photo in Vanuatu

This is all 5 of us, still on our way to Santo Island. At this point, we had driven 4 hours to Chicago, flown 4 hours from Chicago to Los Angeles with a 4 hour layover in LA, flown 10 hours from Los Angeles to Fiji with a 6 hour layover in Fiji, flown an hour (I think...I'm forgetting now) from Fiji to Port Vila, Vanuatu with a 6 hour layover...and this was taken during that layover while we were getting a personal tour of Port Vila from David and Song.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Moving Day.....

Moving Day!
We finally got completely moved into the apartment on Tuesday, July 31, 2012.  It took a couple of days to get moved in because we arrived late Saturday night, everything is closed on Sunday, and Monday was Independence Day, so once again, everything was closed.  We couldn’t very well move into a place without hitting the grocery and the store to pick up some necessary living items (plates, cups, bowls, dish rack, etc), so we were staying in Bill and Christina Widup’s guest bedroom until we could get out on our own.  Tuesday consisted of our first grocery shopping trip, and wow, was that an eye opener!  Things are soooo much more expensive here than in the U.S.  The best example (for our family) is that cereal is about $6-$7/box…and that’s for a little box…not one of those big family sized ones!  But I live for a grocery/bargain challenge, so…challenge accepted!

Our apartment is above a gas station/convenience store/tire repair shop/bus stop/taxi stop.  It’s a pretty hopping place around here during the day!  We have a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean and a couple of neighboring islands.  I have yet to see the sunrise or sunset as it’s usually quite cloudy at those times of the day, but we’ve only been here for a few days.  Our living/dining/kitchen/Paighton’s bedroom is all one room, about 20x20.  We have a little fridge/freezer, sink, stove in the kitchen area, a nice dining table, a tv on which we can get one channel, I think it’s French?, and Paighton’s bed.  The bathroom has a shower, sink and toilet.  And then there are two smaller bedrooms. The washer room is a short walk away, and there’s a line outside our apartment to dry our clothes.  It’s not what we’re used to, but it’s more than we were expecting! 

Our kids are loving it here!  They honestly haven’t had a bad word to say about it.  They’re being helpful with chores and jumped right into our first language lesson today, and have held us to studying with them multiple times throughout the remainder of the day.  It’s been fun watching them enjoy the more relaxed pace of Vanuatu compared to the fast pace of the U.S., spending most of their time outside playing.  Their favorite thing so far is that you walk everywhere…not at all what I thought they would enjoy, but they are!  They are also loving getting to ride in the back of Bill’s truck from time to time, as they’ve never been permitted to do that at home. 

One of the trickiest things, I think, for our family, is adapting to how quiet the people here are.  Americans as a whole are pretty loud, and I think the 3 loudest ones are in our family…Jason, Paighton, and Lainey.  Loudness equals anger to the people of Vanuatu, so we’ve been working on our loudness level, trying to make a game out of who can speak the quietest.  Along with our language lessons at home, we’re going to be trying out our Bislama skills in public, and we don’t want the people here thinking we’re mad at them just because we’re too loud, so we’re even working on being quiet in the apartment.  Sometimes it’s successful.  Other times, not so much.  It’s a process, right?! 

More to come soon!!!

Hospital Visit

Hospital Visit
My (Alisha) first visit to an out-of-country hospital went a little worse than I had expected…to say the least.  I’ve been in and out of hospitals in the U.S. on various occasions, for myself, my kids, and visiting friends and family.  I thought I was prepared for pretty much anything.  I’ve watched my teeny tiny babies get poked and prodded while they lay inside a plastic bed for two months.  I thought that was rough.  I was incredibly wrong. 

Christina and I walked up to the hospital in Luganville, VU on Monday, July 30, 2012…Vanuatu’s Independence Day.  It wasn’t a far walk from their house, but entirely uphill, which is weird when you’re used to everything being completely flat, but we’re adjusting J.  The hospital is a group of long buildings connected by covered sidewalks.  Different than the completely enclosed buildings that I’m used to, but it makes sense here since it’s never cold, and the covered walkways are shelter from the rain (it’s rained at least once every day since we arrived).  She showed me the emergency entrance, and we walked past the surgery building, arriving at the pediatric wing.  The first room we walked into housed kids (and their families) who were mostly recovering from broken bones.  One little boy had a cast on his arm, while another appeared to have one ankle tethered to his bed…it was later explained to me that he had broken both bones in his lower leg and the “tether” was traction to aid in his healing.  There was a tiny baby asleep on another bed with maybe an older sibling beside her, and then a couple of older girls sitting on another  bed next to the one with the baby, I’m assuming the caretakers of the baby.  All of the beds were pushed against the outside edge of the room, making a bed perimeter.  We walked through that room as Christina greeted each family and patient on each bed, as I just listened, trying to decipher as much as I could.  I do okay picking up on what’s going on in a conversation if I just listen, but I have no idea how to speak Bislama yet.

We passed through that room into a long hallway and were greeted by a nurse with whom Christina is familiar.  They stood and chatted for a while about the little girl who we were intending to visit.  She’s been suffering with headaches and fever for weeks, has been on numerous antibiotics, and no one has any clue as to what is causing her issues.  After Christina had been caught up on the most recent information about Priscilla, we walked into her room.  On a tiny cot of a bed lay a miserable little girl, not much bigger than my Eli, moaning in pain.  The only medication she can receive for pain relief isn’t even as strong as Tylenol, and it didn’t seem to be helping her too much.  As Priscilla’s grandmother and Christina talked about her condition, I stood and watched this poor little girl shivering and moaning in pain, imagining if she were one of my babies.  And my stomach began to flip.  How helpless her grandmother, nurses, and doctors must’ve been feeling.  Priscilla peeked her face out from under her covers to say hello and thank you for coming, and then went back under her covers…moaning in pain.  I didn’t think I was going to be able to remain standing much longer, so I told Christina I was going out to the hall to get some fresh air.  She followed me out soon after, and we went to the nurse’s station (more like an office), where the nurse (the only one there for the entire pediatric wing) proceeded to tell us about a 2 year old little baby who was presently in surgery.  He had been playing in the yard while his momma worked in the garden.  She had stuck her bush knife (picture a machete) into the ground, and while the baby was playing, he had tripped, fallen on the knife, and cut open his belly.  The momma had to walk 8 hours into town to get to the hospital.  And this wasn’t some little slice.  From my understanding, when they arrived, his insides were falling out.  Again, I felt like I was about to lose my legs.  Or my lunch.  This poor woman had to walk overnight, in the dark, 8 hours, to get help for her baby.  And then, because it was Vanuatu’s Independence Day, there wasn’t a doctor at the hospital, so then she had to wait for a doctor to show up in order to do surgery on her baby.  I just had to walk outside after that.  I found a bench and sat down and thanked God for allowing my children wonderful access to great doctors and hospital facilities.  And I tried to just breathe.  It’s difficult to put into words everything that I was feeling…for the baby, Priscilla, the families, the nurses and doctors…I’m still processing that part, I think.

Eventually the light-headed/fainty feeling passed, and I walked back to where Christina was visiting with another family before we left the hospital and walked back down the hill to their house.  It was a good, eye-opening experience for me.  And while it was difficult to handle, I hope to be able to go back to the hospital.  I want to follow up on the baby who was in surgery.   And from what I hear, Priscilla has been doing better the past couple of days, so it would be great to see her up and around and healthy.  God’s miracles are even more evident/obvious in a place where modern medicine can’t be credited for the healing.  I can’t wait to see what else He has for us!