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.