Saturday, 22 December 2007

nativity creativity

We have had more fun with pipe cleaners as we continued making our nativity scene.


Here are our shepherds.  We tried to make them a bit more 'earthy' and so used brown and cream coloured beads.  (So much for the coloured pipe cleaners!)



And here is Joseph and Mary.


We also made some wise men.  We discussed how we don't really know how many there were but we know about the gifts and so we usually have three wise men because there were three gifts.  "No, there were four, Mum.  Gold, myrrh, frank - and - cents."  So we had four wise men to carry four gifts.  



We also have had fun telling the story with our pipe-cleaner puppets.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Choir of Angels

We have been inspired by some decorations a friend made with her children and today made our own. Find out about the simple decoration here and see my friend's variation here. We made angels and then hung them from a couple of bamboo skewers to make a simple mobile, or a 'choir of angels' as part of the nativity scene that we intend to make. We hung them under a light and they sparkled beautifully.


Sophie, like my friend's daughter, also insisted on making 'Mary' and Bethany insisted on making a baby John the Baptist!

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Orientation Day

Sophie begins school next year and today we went to an "Orientation Day" for her school. We have enrolled her in the Sydney Distance Education Primary School. Today we visited their offices, located on the premises of Stanmore Primary School. We met her teacher and another family with a child beginning kindergarten next year. We toured the "school" and were really impressed with their resources. We are now a lot more confident about supervising her schooling next year. She will receive a package of work every fortnight and will return work every week. She will have about three hours of work each day, and we will have the flexibility to do those hours when it suits us. Sounds great!

We were not 'teary eyed' and the prospect of her first days at school because we'll be doing them with her. She is really ready for school and very excited about it.

We're still not exactly sure of the details. Here are some questions we need to work through. I will do most of the 'teaching' but Glen would like to be involved too, so how will we share this role? What about Matthew? (Bethany will have Talua Kindy for three hours each morning). Would it be good for Sophie to still go to Talua Kindy for part of the day? Should we include other children if they turn up? How? Despite all these questions, and others of which we haven't yet thought, we are looking forward to it.

Sophie's teacher took a photo of the two of them, and I hope to have a copy to post soon. Watch this space!

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

First Impressions

Returning to Australia is always an interesting experience.

The airport is always confronting. Before even passing through customs or collecting bags, I seem to enter a shopping centre. Flashy, glitzy, luxury items. Not only is this overwhelming, it is really confusing. I am not sure where to go. I am not even sure where I am any longer... did I take a wrong turn, what happened to the airport?? The difference between village life in Vanuatu is extraordinary. Welcome to Sydney.

Well, it is freezing! I've been wearing a turtle-neck jumper all day, and my fluffy slippers! We had to teach Sophie how to use a doona (and you didn't even know there was anything to know). Welcome to Summer.

The internet is amazing! It is so fast. Pages load instantly, in full. Where has all the white space gone? Welcome to Surfing!

Busted!

Yesterday morning was our last morning in Vanuatu (we are in Australia for Christmas). By breakfast time we hadn't heard anything from Sophie and were wondering where she had disappeared to. We thought perhaps she had gone outside to play, or perhaps she was with my cousin, Jessica, who was staying with us. Then Jessica appeared, alone, and we asked where Sophie was. She said, "She's in the kitchen. It looks like she feel asleep while having a midnight snack." And so it did.


She was lying on the kitchen floor fast asleep wearing only her undies (too hot for pyjamas). The was a paw-paw with a neat slice cut out of it and a sharp knife lying on the floor next to her. The paw-paw had been in a basket hanging from the ceiling and in order to reach it she had climbed up the drawers onto the bench, walked around the benches to the reach the basket, taken out the paw-paw and climbed down. She had thoughtfully scraped the paw-paw seeds onto a small plate, but left the skin lying on the floor. And this all by the light of a small lantern she had remembered to bring with her as she couldn't just turn on a light (no electricity). She had also poured herself a drink from the water container (also on the floor next to her) filled with rain-water (we cannot drink the tap water).


She hadn't eaten anything all day Saturday, complaining of sickness, and then had vomited earlier in the night. This of course meant that she was starving hungry and so she took matters into her own hands.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Operation Christmas Child

Many of our friends have been involved in filling shoe-boxes for Operation Christmas Child. I thought it might be interesting to hear from 'the other side'. We had a team from Samaritan's Purse come to stay at Talua to distribute boxes to children in villages around where we live in South Santo.

The overwhelming response was one of joy. The children were delighted to receive the gifts and parents were grateful. One story I heard was of a mother, who picking up a washer that had come from her child's box, said, "Thank you, thank you, thank you. If you had not come, this washer is all she would get for Christmas, but now she has a lovely gift. Thank-you."

The team that came on behalf of Samaritans purse were from Mueller College in Brisbane. I don't know all the details, but I think that everywhere they went they also gave a presentation about the gift of Jesus at Christmas. I'm really glad about this, because I think that otherwise instead of spreading the Joy of Christmas we may just be spreading greed and materialism, and setting expectations that cannot be met in the future.

One of the girls at Talua received a box for a girl aged 10-14 (she was 12) and inside there was a pair of size 10 thongs, which actually fit a 3 year old, my three year old as it happens, as the girl gave them to Bethany. So this gave me something to think about. Was it right for my child, who is not really who people are thinking about when they fill a box, to benefit like this? After all, she will receive many gifts at Christmas. But I think that it was really kind of this girl to give them to Bethany and it was great that she was in a position not just to receive but also to give. Bethany loves the thongs and has been wearing them ever since.

After this, as the team was leaving, they left boxes for the children at Talua who hadn't received them when they had been distributed at their school. Sophie and Bethany were included. This left us with another dilemma. Should we let them have the boxes? It was one thing being given something by another child, it was another to receive a whole box. It didn't mean another child had missed out, but they are definitely not who you thought about when you packed your box. And they definitely won't miss out at Christmas.

We decided to give them each a box. We explained what Operation Christmas Child was all about and told them that they were to look after their boxes and then give them to a child who came to Talua next year, who would not have received a box (there are many islands on Vanuatu and the team did not go to all of them!). There were a number of different responses to this decision (at least three, which is interesting for only two children!), including some tears, and it gave us a chance to talk about greed and generosity at a time when these concepts were not abstract but being felt very keenly.

Now it remains to keep learning these lessons myself!

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Christmas Meme

I've been tagged (by Nicole) to do this "Christmas Meme". Being new
the the blogosphere, I'm not entirely sure what this means. So I've
answered all the questions but I've no idea what 'meme' means. Do you?

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping Paper. I'm hoping that the girls and I will make some this year. I once saw someone making great christmas paper from waxed kitchen paper . They took one sheet and sprinkled it with all kinds of decorations, then put a second sheet on top and ironed (low heat) them together. We're going to try that.

2. Real tree or artificial? We usually spend a lot of time at my parents over Christmas. We always have a real tree there.

3. When do you put up your tree? The day after school breaks up for the holidays. My parents are both teachers; it is the first thing they do in the holidays.

4. When do you take the tree down? We follow the tradition of leaving it up for the twelve days of Christmas, which according to my Dad, begins on Christmas day. So we take it down on about the 5th of 6th of January.

5. Do you like eggnog? I don't even know what eggnog is. It sounds like bobbing for apples!

6. Favourite gift received as a child? There are three that stand out; a rag doll my Mum made for me, a bicycle and a trampoline.

7. Do you have a Nativity scene? We made one last year and hope to do so again this year.

8. Hardest person to buy for? My brother in law.

9. Easiest person to buy for? My Dad.

10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Every now and again our relations would 'forget' how old we were and we'd get presents really appropriate for people a few years younger. I remember one particular dress which I thought very unsuitable. However, I did wear it as a nightie for years, so as far as 'worst' gifts go, it wasn't too bad.

11. Mail or email Christmas cards? Christmas cards???

12. Favorite Christmas movie? Movies???

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? When we get back to Australia. This year on the 16th.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? I don't remember. I wouldn't put it past me.

15. Favorite things to eat at Christmas? Things we can't get in Vanuatu. Stone fruit. Cheeses. Lamb.

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? Coloured.

17. Favorite Christmas song? Joy to the World

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Stay with Family.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? No.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? It varies from year to year. Last year Sophie made an angel with her Grandma and we used that.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Always Christmas day, but not always in the morning.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? The lights.

23. What is the "corniest" family tradition you do, or miss doing? Playing charades on Christmas Eve.

24. Ugliest Christmas Decoration ever invented? Fake snow on the roofs of houses in hot, dry, dusty Australia.

25. Which looks the best, theme trees or homey trees? Green ones.

26. What does Christmas mean to you? I think Nicole summed it up well, "God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself".

Sunday, 25 November 2007

art lessons again

It's been a while since I posted anything about the art lessons we
began back in August. As I said before, the lessons in the book we
were using took quite a big leap conceptually and we decided not to go
on for a while (as recommended in the book). So we have been going
along thinking of our own projects week by week trying to put into
practise what we have learnt.

One of the things Sophie has been learning is that there is no 'white
space' for air. In her first drawing of a bird, she left a great swath
of white space on the page for air, the great expanse between the sky
and the ground. Since then, I have not been able to convince her that
while there is air between the ground and the sky, we don't see it and
it definitely isn't white. Until Friday. Then she drew this drawing
during 'rest time' (when I sleep and they play quietly). It was
inspired by one of Matthew's toys, a small hand-sewn fabric teddy-
bear with buttons for eyes.

Bethany has been learning that she can, in fact, draw and this has given her lot of joy. Here is a recent drawing of hers. It is of mothers with their babies. It has a certain Charlie Brown-like quality, don't you think?

Friday, 23 November 2007

Baking

Everyone loves cakes. I am constantly asked to make cakes for this,
that and the other special occasion. So much so, that Sophie, in all
of her five years is becoming a great little assistant baker. It is
also a 'spectator sport' being counted as one of the great mysteries of
the western world.

family photo

Here is a recent family photo, wearing our new island clothes!

Surprise!

I was surprised today to find an article I had written in a missionary
publication. I was surprised because I had entirely forgotten writing
it (well, I was eight months pregnant at the time). So I thought, if
it was helpful enough to be 'published' I might as well share it with
all of you. It went like this...


Community and Materialism.

Our work is a Partnership between the Presbyterian
Church in Australia [PCA] and in Vanuatu [PCV]. In our
time so far we have been able to see how both partners
are able to contribute to this partnership. The PCA has
sent us to teach and equip young men and women to
serve the Lord faithfully in their churches, as pastors or lay
workers. At the same time we have learned much from
our friends in the PCV. These things have challenged us
greatly about how we live while in Vanuatu and how we
might live differently upon our return to Australia. We
haven't yet arrived at answers, but would like to share two
of these lessons with you.

1. Community.
We have found life in Vanuatu to be much more communal
than it is in Australia. People do not do things alone.
You live together, work together, play together, rest together.
This has helped us to consider what the gospel
teaches us about community. Christ has not just reconciled
us to God, but to each other (Eph 2: 14-22). We
have been made into one body (1 Cor 12:12-13) and we
are to love one another (1 John 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11, 12).
Christians in Vanuatu find this aspect of their Christian
lives easy because life is like that, yet we find it so difficult
because it runs against our prevailing culture, which is
focused on the individual.

Here are some of the questions we have been thinking
about...
• How can we love our brothers and sisters in Christ
when we don't see them?
• How can we spend more time with people? What
stops us? How could this change? How could our
home be more hospitable?
• How could we help someone in our church today?
• Is there something we do alone that we could do
with others?
• What is so 'sacred' about the family unit? Is this
Christian? Do we protect this to the detriment of
our Christian family?
• Do I know the names of the elderly or lonely people
in my church?
• Does 'the diary' enslave or serve us?

2. Materialism.
Living in Vanuatu has challenged two aspects of our materialistic
thinking. Firstly, we have found the abundance
of our wealth and the sheer volume of our possessions to
be obvious, embarrassing and ugly. This has forced us to
think what God's word teaches us about riches. Jesus
encourages us not to worry about what we need (Matt 6:25-34),
and to store up treasure in heaven (Matt 6:19-21).
People in Vanuatu have so little, and yet we cannot argue
that we in Australia are better off than they.
Secondly we have been challenged about our attitude
to the spiritual world. Coming from a culture dominated
by fear of evil spirits, Christians in Vanuatu have a
real and living awareness of the spiritual world. Culturally,
we tend to be freed from this fear, but for the wrong reasons.
Instead we struggle to believe in them at all.

Here are some more of the questions that we have
been thinking about...
• Is our hope, security and trust in God, or in our
house, job or income? How does this look different
in practice?
• Are we generous with what we have left over, or
are we generous so that we (and our children) must
do without?
• Do we really believe in a serious spiritual aspect to
our world?
• Are we not afraid of evil spirits because we know
that we have the victory in Christ or because they
just have no part of our world?
• Do our children have too much? Are we teaching
them to be greedy and selfish?

These two lessons about Community and Materialism
have really shown us how much the way we think has
been shaped by our culture rather than by God's Word.

[the article finished there but I would now like to add...]

We are working hard to let the word of God transform
not only our hearts but our minds, so that we will know
God's good, pleasing and perfect will.

Sunday, 4 November 2007

three smiley faces

The other day we made some lolly-pop biscuits (thanks for the idea, Nicole!). They were a hit and a treat (don't be fooled by the unhappy face).




Saturday, 3 November 2007

Sunday School Picnic

Here is a "photo essay" of our Sunday School Picnic held down at the River nearby today.


Thursday, 1 November 2007

Did we do right?

We had a major culture clash last Saturday (27th October).

It was the day of the Kindy Sale. We were all to donate items for a
sale to raise funds for the Kindergarten at Talua. There would be
someone with a wheelbarrow come around at around 7:30 in the
morning to collect the items. The girls and I worked out what we
would give to the sale and put them all on the lounge chair and
thought no more of it.

At about 9:00, after having wondered one, what all the singing was
about and two, why they hadn't come to collect the items yet, and three
what on earth that person was doing with the loudspeaker, I noticed a
parade of people coming toward the house. There were guitars playing,
people singing, and lots of people in joyful procession. And people
pushing wheelbarrows. Someone on a loudspeaker announced which
house they would next pass by to collect items for the Kindy Sale.

Shock! Horror! I'm not giving all our things in front of all those
people, I thought. What if it wasn't enough? What if they thought I
should give more? After all, we have more to give? Perhaps I should
find some more things?

The procession eventually arrived at the house next door. There was
lots more singing. There were all the Kindy children (minus our girls)
holding signs asking for us to give generously... for the education of
children in south santo... education is our future. Then the donations
were put into the wheelbarrow. There was a speech of thanks and
flowers were presented to the householder.

We stayed inside. We didn't go out to join the happy throng, we didn't
even let the girls go outside to join the other children.

Then they came to our house. Glen went out to meet them. They sang a
song. Glen said, we'll bring out stuff down later, or you could send
someone to come and get it later. They nodded and sang some more
songs, and waited. Glen said again that we'd bring the stuff down
later, or someone could and collect it later. They presented him with
some flowers and there was a short speech of thanks.

There were lots of very confused faces. We had obviously not 'played
the game'.

Did we do what was right?

Perhaps with a little more quick thinking we could have avoided a
public incident. It would've been better, I think, once we realised
what was happening, to go and say quietly to the leader, 'don't all
come to our house, just send one person to our house'. Then our
actions, though still not understood, may have been less public.

It was definitely a clash of cultures. We don't give that way in
Australia. But here, giving is not voluntary but compulsory.
Sometimes even the amount is specified. There have been three
fund-raising events so far this year for which we received letters,
demanding rather than requesting our support, down to the exact items
we were to contribute.

However, I think it was more than just a clash of cultures.

Jesus says,

"Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men, to be seen
by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the
hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honoured by
men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.
But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what
your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then
your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."
Matthew 6:1-4

Secrecy is important in Christian giving. Christian giving is secret
giving. I think there are two reasons for this.

First, as Jesus says above, when it is secret, it is done before God,
not before men. We will be acting to please our Father in heaven,
rather than acting to please men and receive reward from them. Usually
the reward comes with praise, or we people thinking well of us (and we
all like to be well thought of). Unfortunately this is, to our humans
hearts, a much more powerful motivator than knowing that our Father in
heaven sees and is pleased.

The second reason is related. It that when our giving is done before
men, it is very often done under compulsion. We give because we have
to. There may be a law, or a demand, or it may be the shame of not
giving (or not giving enough) that drives us. It is possible, I guess,
to humbly and cheerfully give under compulsion (like we could humble
and cheerfully pay our taxes) but it is usually reluctantly and
bitterly. Paul says,

"Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not
reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." 2 Cor
9:7

Our giving should be motivated by love and wanting to please our
Father, not by what others will think and not by compulsion.

On Saturday, upon noticing the procession coming to collect our items,
it was these other motivations that sprang into my mind. I was feeling
compelled to give more. I was worrying about what they might think,
and how well they would think if I gave more.

And so we decided we wouldn't make our donations in this public manner.

I am worried about what they think and I want to speak them, to
explain my actions. But is that another way of doing an act of
righteousness before men, making sure they know about my
righteous motivation? (and is this blog doing the same?) I could
wait until they ask, but I doubt that they will. Will anything change
if I don't say anything? What would you have done?

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

welkam long haos!

The girls brought some friends home for lunch today:

It's just as well meals are simple here and rice goes a long way!

help is at hand

The girls have reached an age where their help actually means we get
something done *more* quickly!

Last week we made pizza. We did it in less time than I would've
managed alone!

On Saturday they hung the washing... by themselves!

Actually it poured rain not long after this photo was taken and the washing had to be hung under shelther, where the lines are too high... so I ended up doing it anyway.

Still... it was exciting to see... long may it continue!!!

Monday, 22 October 2007

In the name of Trade

Reflecting again on this quote from John Paton's autobiography...

"Such is the infernal depth to which we can sink, when the
misery and ruin of many are thought to be more than atoned
for by the wealth and prosperity of a few who trade in their
doom!" (p112).

We still do this, don't we... trade in the doom of others. How?

Saturday, 20 October 2007

slugs and snails and puppy dogs tails

Is that what little boys are made of? I can't quite remember. With my
scientifically robust sample size all of 3, I conclude that little boys
are different from little girls. At least, Matthew is different from
both his sisters (who were different from each other).

For instance, he loves just racing around. Sophie was just as agile
and mobile by this age, but her activity was purposeful. She was
always busy doing something. But Matthew just loves racing around.
He'll crawl around in circles, laughing. He races around just for the
pure joy of it.

And he is fascinated by things that roll. Balls and Cars! Although
our girls had both these to play with if they wanted to, they were just
not interested. We have watched Matthew over the last week or so be
surprised that a ball kept rolling away from him, to be engaged in deep
thought as he worked out how to co-ordinate the movements to
deliberately make it roll away, to be able to hit and chase a ball
around the room. He'll do the same with cars, a plastic bottle and
even a ceramic mug (which as it only rolls about 270 degrees at a time
is rather a challenge).

So, I think we've got some puppy dog's tails in this one.

Friday, 19 October 2007

Reconciliation and History

In my last post about 'white savages' I mentioned the confession made
by Southern Island students of the murder of the early missionaries
(white and islander) to Vanuatu (then the New Hebrides).

Why did they make this confession? They are referring to events that
occurred a hundred and fifty years ago. They are not responsible,
surely, for 'the sins of their Fathers'.

The answer is that it is very real to them. They know that it is not
something they personally did, but they still feel responsible for the
way in which their Fathers behaved.

It is not just this issue about which they feel this way. It is any
dispute in which someone or a group of people were wronged and that
has not been settled and for which there has not been reconciliation. It
doesn't matter how long ago it occurred. Reconciliation is not just
desired but it is necessary for continued good relations.

I tend to think in terms of 'me' and 'the future'. If it wasn't me
that did it, then I am not responsible for it. It has nothing to do
with me. If it happened a long time ago, perhaps a few hundred or a
thousand years ago, well that is ancient history and reconciliation not
only isn't possible, it just doesn't even make sense.

In this post I am raising the issue rather than answering it, which I
will attempt another time. I raise it for two reasons.

Firstly because the business of reconciliation ought to be Christian
business, even if it was not we that were wronged or we that did wrong.
In Paul's letter to Philemon, he urges Philemon to be reconciled to his
runaway slave, Onesimus. Paul, though not the wronged nor the
perpetrator of wrong is willing himself to bear any cost that the
reconciliation may involve. Paul's behaviour is modeled on that of
Christ himself who thought that the reconciliation of man and God was
so important that he was willing to bear the ultimate cost, his own
death. Surely we, as christians, ought to be following the example of
Paul as he follows the example of Christ?

Secondly, because I think it is pertinent today, locally and globally,
and to ignore it would be poor diplomacy. While we ourselves may not
think in terms of needing reconciliation for past events that I myself
did not perpetrate, we must come to terms with the fact that others do.
Definitely the people of Vanuatu think this way. So do the indigenous
people of Australia and I suspect, so do Muslims. I, to my detriment,
have not been a great student of history and don't know a great deal
about the crusades. I have been told that to a Muslim it is as if the
crusades happened just yesterday. If this is the case, and it is true
that our Fathers committed wrong, then what should we do about it?
Closer to home, what should we do to be reconciled with the people
whose Fathers we killed and whose land we took for our own?

But I forget.... it isn't our responsibility.

white savages

Glen is reading the autobiography of John Paton, one of the first
missionaries to Vanuatu, then the New Hebrides. We thought it would
be good for us to find out a little bit more about the tradition in which
we stand! He has been reading sections out to me and it is quite an
amazing story. So far he has read as far as the end of John Paton's
first four years in the New Hebrides, spent on the southern island of
Tanna.

One of the interesting things we have found is that he hardly ever
refers to 'civilising' the natives. He wants them to know and love
God. He does comment that if they come to know and love God then
they will become civilised. It is a consequence, but not a goal. He also
seems to equate the idea of civilised behaviour with the sort of
behaviour that treats others with love and dignity. For this reason he
is just as able to see the behaviour of white 'civilised' people as
'savage'. He is particularly condemning of the behaviour of the
traders. With good reason.

Here is an extract:
"One [fellow-countryman] for instance, a Captain Winchester, living
with a native woman at the head of the bay as a Trader, a dissipated
wretch, though a well-educated man, was angry forsooth at this state
of
peace! Apparently there was not the usual demand for barter for the
fowls, pigs, etc., in which he traded. He developed at once a
wonderful interest in their affairs, presented all the Chiefs around
with powder, caps, and balls, and lent among them a number of
flash-muskets. He urged them not to be afraid of war, as he would
supply any amount of ammunition. I remonstrated, but he flatly told
me
that peace did not suit his purposes! Incited and encouraged thus,
these poor Heathen people were goaded into a most unjust war on
neighbouring tribes. The Trader immediately demanded a high price
for
the weapons he had lent; the price of powder, caps, and balls rose
exorbitantly with every fresh demand; his yards were crowded with
poultry and pigs, which he readily disposed of to passing vessels; and
he might have amassed great sums of money but for his vile
dissipations. Captain Winchester, now glorying in the war, charged a
large hog for a wine-glass full of powder, o three or four balls, or
ten gun-caps; he was boastful of his "good luck" in getting rid of all
his old muskets and filling his yards with pigs and fowls. Such is the
infernal depth to which we can sink, when the misery and ruin of
many
are thought to be more than atoned for by the wealth and
prosperity of
a few who trade in their doom!" (p111-112)

and another...
"About this time I had a never-to-be-forgotten illustration of the
infernal spirit that possessed some of the Traders towards these poor
Natives. One morning, three or four vessels entered our Harbour and
cast anchor in Port Resolution. The Captains called on me; and one of
them, with manifest delight, exclaimed, "We know how to bring down
your pround Tannese now! We'll humble them before you!"
I answered, "Surely you don't mean to attack and destroy these poor
people?"
He replied, not abashed, but rejoicing, "We have sent the Measles to
humble them. That kills them by the score! Four young men have been
landed at different ports, ill with the measles and these will soon
think their ranks."
Shocked above measure, I protested solemnly and denounced their
conduct a
nd spirit; but my remonstrances only called forth the shame-
less dec
laration, "Our watchword is, -Sweep these creatures away and
let
white man occupy the soil.

Their malice was further illustrated thus: they induced Kapuku, a
young
Chief, to go off to one of their vessels, promising him a present.
He
was the friend and chief supporter of Mr. Mathieson [another
missionary] and of his work. Having got him on board, they confined
him in the hold amongst Natives lying ill with measles. They gave him
no food for about four-and-twenty hours; and then, without the
promised
present, they put him ashore far from his own home. Though
weak and
excited, he scrambled back to his Tribe in great exhaustion
and terror.
He informed the Missionary that they had put him down
amongst sick
people, red and hot with fever, and that he feared their
sickness was
upon him. I am ashamed to say that these Sandal-wood
and other
Traders were our won degraded countrymen; and that they
deliberately
gloried in thus destroying the poor Heathen. A more fiendish
spirit
could scarcely be imagined; but most of them were horrible
drunkards,
and their traffic of every kind amongst these Islands was,
generally
speaking, steeped in human blood." (p150)

Last year at Talua we had a 'night of confession'; a service in which
people confessed their sin. The students from the southern islands,
and particularly those from Tanna, made a public confession and
apology for the way their ancestors treated the early missionaries. Many
western missionaries and many more islander missionaries were killed.
John Paton had to flee for his life from Tanna. It is something they
do not pretend did not happen, even though it causes them (still) much
shame.

It makes me wonder about what we should do about our ancestors, the
traders, who behaved in such a savage way in the New Hebrides.

And what about in Australia?

I would recommend you read this book. It is a racy and exciting story.
John Paton reflects theologically on all that happens to him and it is
very encouraging. It will challenge your understanding of
pre-missionary indigenous culture.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

the three of us

Here are we,
the terrible three
Sophie, Matthew and Bethany.

But who are you
and what do you do?
Please send us a picture or photo of you!

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

mp3 players: blessing or curse?

I've been thinking a little about mp3 players recently because there
has been a sudden influx of aliens... people walking around with wires
coming out of their ears. There has been an absolute explosion of
these little electronic devices, really in less than a year.

One of the things we really like about Vanuatu is community. Friends
and neighbours are far more likely to sit around and chat together of
an afternoon rather than beavering away on individual pursuits. Or
they will wash together or garden together. But, it is difficult to
listen to a mp3 player together! At the very best, only two can enjoy
the latest music or the inspiring message downloaded from the internet.
So it would seem that these mp3 players are not enhancing community.

At the same time, they have definitely been a blessing. Glen has
downloaded hundred and hundreds of good biblical preaching from the
internet to which the students now have access. Personally, I have
found that listening to a good sermon makes rocking a crying baby back
to sleep two or three times a night definitely bearable, even
encouraging! Bring on the sleepless nights!

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

bubbles are fun

Granny arrived on Sunday for a week's visit. It is really good to see her again and to have my mother around. The children are also very excited to have her here with us. Much to everyone's amusement the girls ran all the way across the airport waiting room calling out "Granny! Granny!". She brought with her some bubbles from cousin Harry with which we all had great fun yesterday afternoon. Thank-you Harry.

Here are some photos. The quality isn't great, but the unbridled joy is uplifting.

Monday, 1 October 2007

What a mess!

Don't ask about the flour... I can't even remember.

Friday, 28 September 2007

Eve! Eve!

I have just been reading an article, Confessions of a Recovering Feminist, and it has encouraged me to share a song that was written in the course of a subject I taught in "The Women's Program" at Talua last term (Women and the Promise of God; an Old Testament Overview). This song reflects on how each one of us is just like Eve, and each one of us relies on her (that is, Eve's) offspring, the Lord Jesus, for redemption. It is a song written for women to sing to women.

Eve! Eve!
Bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh.
You were perfect together and lovingly made.
And you walked and you talked with Yhwh your God,
In the garden of beauty, the Tree of Life there.

Eve! Eve! What have you done?
You're out of the garden and death has begun.
Yet I know the answer to "what did you do?"

For I am your daughter, and I'd have done it too.

Then came the snake and he caused you to doubt.
You no longer trusted God's good word to you.
You saw and you touched and you took and you ate.
For you wanted to be like him, to be god yourself.

chorus

And then came the Lord and he called out your name.
But you and your husband were hiding in shame.
Then He spoke and he judged, how we've suffered since then.
Pain, anguish, death, disease; all deserved for our sin.

chorus

Now do not despair, God is sovereign in all,
He promised salvation, life eternal with him.
One of your children has crushed the snake's head,
He can no longer harm us, Christ's victory is won.

Daughters of Eve, you must trust in the Lord
He has paid for your sin, he has died in your place
Daughters of Eve, put your trust in the Lord,
He's ruling in glory, and will come back soon.

What a cutie!

I went into our room the other night and was surprised to find Matthew
standing in his cot. Isn't he cute?

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Why Jesus really turned the tables...

This was a conversation during a family bible study on John 2:13-25

Glen: Where did Jesus go when he entered into Jerusalem?

Sophie and Bethany: to the temple.

Glen: What did he see there, Bethany?

Bethany: People.

Glen: And what were the people doing?

Bethany: Changing money.

Glen: And what else were they doing?

Bethany: Um... making playdough?

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Learning to Draw 5

After the lesson on still life, the lessons take a big leap
conceptually and we have decided to wait a while before we try these
ones. So now it is a challenge to find projects that are interesting
and keep working on what we have learnt.

We tried the level 2 project in the second lesson and drew some
tropical birds. Here is Sophie's parrot.

When I first showed Sophie what we would draw she said, "No, Mummy, that's too hard." She flat out refused to try. So I drew one as she watched me. She coloured in that one. Then I drew some more for Bethany to colour. After all this, Sophie was ready to try, and I think she did very well.

Baked Beans and a Dirty Loo?

I've been trying to think through what it might have meant for Martha
also to have "chosen what is best".

When Jesus comes to her home, Martha is busy preparing his meal.
She is busy. The King of Kings has come to her home, he really
deserves the red carpet treatment. It is no wonder when she is a
little miffed that Mary is not helping her. She is really letting her
down and being slack. Doesn't she care about making sure every-
thing is just right for Jesus?

Martha appeals to Jesus to tell Mary to come and help her. But
Mary is sitting and listening to Jesus. Jesus commends her. Mary
has chosen what is best.

Now I imagine Martha felt put out by this answer as she really was
working hard for him, to give him their best.

What would it have meant for Martha, like Mary, to have chosen
what was best? What would it have meant for Martha to have not
been busy in the kitchen, but also sitting at his feet listening to him?

This was brought home to me recently when we had some guest
lecturers at Talua. They had come to give the annual lectures. As is
custom here at Talua, a roster is made for hosting the guests in our
homes. Large meals are prepared, always including meat. While meat
is usually scarce in meals (even our own now) a special trip is made to
the sea or to town in order to acquire meat to serve a guest. We were
planning to host these guests and I wanted to go to town that morning
to buy meat. A trip to town is quite a saga, especially now as the bus
isn't running. One has to go and wait on the road for a transport,
hoping that one will come by soon, and that it will have room for you.
Fortunately as I usually have Matthew with me I get to sit in the cabin
instead of on the back. But, going into town would have meant missing
the lectures. In order to get meat for the meal, I would NOT have
listened to what they had to say. The irony of this hit me while waiting
for the truck (which in God's sovereignty was taking a long time to
come) and I went and listened to the lectures. We had lunch without meat.

Is this what it would have meant for Martha? Would she have had to
serve Jesus less that was expected? Would she have had to have been
content with dinner being late? What if the room wasn't spotless? What
if it was just baked beans for dinner or the loo was dirty?

I guess what all this means for us is that sometimes other things won't
get done if we are going to listen to Jesus. Sometimes the house won't
be tidy or the children's hair won't be done, or it will be baked beans
for dinner and the loo is still dirty. And what if our reputation
suffers??

We will have chosen what is best.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Earthquake!

At the beginning of August we experienced an earthquake. Although it
wasn't big as far as earthquakes go, it was much more frightening than
the usual tremors. Overall there was very little damage, the Anglican
Church in Luganville suffered the most. It didn't come down in the
quake but the walls buckled enough to render it unstable so that then
it had to be demolished by hand. This was probably more distressing
for the parishioners than if they had found a pile of rubble. Here are
some photos.

Glen spoke with the minister (pictured above) who is a recent graduate from Talua, who held back tears as he spoke of the disappointment the congregation is feeling. Please pray for him as he encourages his people and seeks to give them comfort and hope through the word of God.

One of the shelves in our library at Talua fell down.

Apparently many churches were full in the days and weeks after the quake as people were reminded of their own frailty and the power of God. May they not forget!

A Pot Holder

This Pot Holder Craft was a kit that Grandma sent for Sophie's
birthday. It was just the right level for her and she did it all by
herself.

The first stage involved hooking loops of what looked like coloured
pantyhose across a plastic frame, and then the second step involved
weaving more loops through these. Sophie is quite familiar with
weaving as many things are woven here in Vanuatu. You can see
in the photo the small woven square that was made in this way. The
second stage was to join all the loops at the end together. She used a
crotchet hook to do this, as you can see in the picture.

Here is the finished product. It took less than an hour to make and works very well. I use it every night in the kitchen.

How many three year olds does it take to climb a tree?

Confused about Time?

See if you can work this out...

Bethany said,
"Daddy, if you don't put pyjama pants on me when I go to bed then I'll
talk to you yesterday" (talk as in scold)

and then she added,

"When I grow up and you grow down, if you're still Daddy, I'll give you
a smack".

Perhaps Alice in Wonderland hasn't helped.

Monday, 17 September 2007

A Time of Fighting

Yesterday was Talua Sunday. This is the day where all Talua students and staff divide into small groups and visit churches all over Santo. We help out by running the service for the day. Our family with a student went to Narango, a village of about two hundred people on top of the big hill a little inland from Talua. The service went well and afterwards we shared lunch in the Nakamal (sort of like a village Town Hall) with the Elders and the Chief. While we were eating, I had an interesting conversation with one of the Elders who was in fact, elder.

We began by talking about his family of five boys and two girls, all of whom are married with children of their own. I asked if the girls were still in the village. When girls marry in Vanuatu, they leave their families and join to their husband's family. This practise is very strong and means that if their husband is from another island, their daughter will leave them upon marriage, and often they will never see her again. Both this man's daughters were now living on other islands as they had married men from other islands. And his sons also had married women from other islands who were now living in this village, Narango. I wondered if it had always been like this, people marrying people from other islands. His answer was interesting.

No, he said. The Time of Kaston (Custom, or Traditional Ways) was different. That was the time of Fighting. We didn't marry people from other villages, we fought them. We didn't travel to other islands because we were afraid of what would happen to us when we did. But he said, the Gospel changed that. The Gospel brought peace.

I thought perhaps he was saying this just because I was visiting from the Bible College.

He went on. My family is not from here. I'm from the East (the East Coast of Santo). But they killed my Grandfather and my Father had to flee for his life. He fled here, the gospel came here first. It was safe here.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ brought peace. I often hear this, particularly from older christians in Vanuatu. It is a challenge to the 'anti-missionary' and 'anti-civilisation' doctrines I absorbed growing up in Australia, to the extent that I still struggle to call myself a missionary. There is no doubt that life has changed irreversibly for the indigenous people of Vanuatu upon contact with Western Civilisation. The word of God came, and so did the word of Rum (as Jack London speaks of Trade in one of his short stories in the collection, Tales of the South Pacific). Undoubtedly, some of these changes have not been for the best. But in the minds of many who really know what Kastom Times were like, the Gospel brought peace, and it was good.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Learning to Draw 4

We attempted still life in this drawing lesson. We had a kettle
and a "vase" of tropical flowers. In this lesson we both struggled to
follow the instructions in the bo ok and instead worked from sight alone.
It was interesting the effect of the different aspect on our drawings
(I have included mine for comparison). Sophie was down at eye level
with the kettle while I was higher. At one point I said "not like that" (I
have to work at holding my tongue) "you see it's like this" only
to get down to her eye level and realise it actually was exactly as
she'd drawn it. Sophie practiced artistic license and decided she didn't
like our flowers and drew her own.

This is Sophie's:

This is mine:

Learning to Draw 3

The next lesson was a drawing of a lion inspired from an embroidered
picture of a lion (reproduced as a print in the book). After
discussing and sketching various options for background, Sophie decided
to draw her lion on the back of a truck.

Bethany decided that she would like to have a go at drawing the bird. She is only three and could barely draw a circle when we began the lessons mid-August.

Learning to Draw 2

In this lesson we practised recognising and reproducing the five
elements of contour shape (dots, circles, straight lines, curved lines
and angles). Sophie drew some of the characters from the Maisy books;
Maisy, Cyril and Charlie.