Saturday, December 19, 2015

Last Days in Paradise

Friday & Saturday, December 18-19, 2015

The company holding our rain gutter and other materials for the catchment here, have twice claimed to have tried to deliver the order but couldn’t find the right place [truly, there are no addresses].  Eventually Matthias just gave up on that, and went to the supplier to pick the previously paid-for order up and deliver it himself.  When he got there they couldn’t find his order for a very long time, left a few things off the order when they did find it, but eventually it was found and loaded onto his truck, and Matthias delivered these supplies to the jobsite.  Because of these types of problems here on these islands, we wonder how on earth they will build a few hundred shelters or repairs or rain catchments here, let alone on Tanna, where the situation is even worse.  This is so commonplace that Jim remarked how he’d end up with a coronary and how calm Elder Leben is compared to him, and that he can handle it so much better.  It would be daunting enough without all these everyday problems.  We marvel at how long it took to get all the supplies here on Efate, and how still, they are waiting for the roofing materials and the poly tank on Tanna.  And these were for just one catchment on each island!

A picturesque village on Tanna where the rain catchment will be built. 

A hut with a solar panel, for a little bit of light.

Yesterday after a short time Jim came home from working at the catchment site with Elder Leben.  They decided that they needed a break.  It is very hot, the hottest time of year.  It was about 90 degrees today, and with the humidity one just melts.  Their faces were beet red.  I looked at Jim’s shirt and asked him if he had taken a bucket of water over his head, thinking what a good idea that was so as to cool off.  No he hadn’t.  You know how in the movies that they put fake sweat on someone with a wet ring around their chests and armpits to show that they have exercised?  Well, Jim’s did not look like that, just solidly wet on the whole top 3/4 of his shirt.  Every time I think I’m done washing clothes, I have to do it all over again. 

Elder Leben’s suitcase: he went back to check on his lost luggage; he had previously filled out a form for that purpose.  Since they never called him, he went back to find out what had happened; they had lost the form also, and had no record of it!  He said he consoled himself by going to the French pastry shop.  He was coming over here to swim to cool off and then realized that his trunks were in his suitcase!  (Just go have another donut…)  We suggested he find some shorts and swim with us anyway so he did.  The pool water had warmed up so much that it was just like swimming in a bathtub; we began swimming at dusk and swam till after dark and then ate our dinner here.  It was truly heavenly.  [The next day there still was no sign of his luggage, and even though Leben’s claim that no one steals much around here, it is becoming rather suspect that someone took off with his stuff; he lost the cords to two of his devices, which won’t do a thief any good at all, his shaving kit (after 3 days he needs a shave), and some underwear—none of these things would be much use to anyone else.  Perhaps they can use his shaver, and his ugly, red suitcase.]

They dye their local, natural materials and weave them into baskets, purses, bowls, mats, etc. 

One girl wanted her picture taken so was ‘sawing’, but this girl stayed with it and sawed and sawed—she worked right along with the men on the job.  (Tanna).

Yesterday Jim showed up with wounds on his body from a tripping on the jobsite on Tanna, so he cut a sock up to go over the one on his hand so that he could keep it clean while working—there was also a large popped blister between his toes.  He looks like a sweating, wounded warrior. I tripped one day while walking for exercise (klutzes). Elder Leben’s face (he is rather fair and used to be a redhead) looks quite pink all the time now, making him look like he just might expire at any minute!

In the meantime I write reports, try to catch up on my blog (success at last!), take naps, swim, read, exercise, and hand wash our clothes.  Since I use a bar of soap to scrub them, I have whitish nails.  Life is tough for me here (ha, ha), and I had 3 days of this!  Life couldn’t be better for me.

Saturday: Elder Leben’s family returned last night but they still had to finish the work here.  Matthias picked Jim up at 6:15 AM this morning to drop him off at the jobsite in hopes today, our last day here, they’d be able to complete the work.  And, miracle of miracles, they actually have all the materials that they need!  But this morning, in this terrible ‘drought’ we’re experiencing, it was raining, and raining hard and steadily.  Jim was not gone for long.  We ate breakfast and at 9:30 he went back to work.  And finally, yes, after our 3 weeks here, they had enough men to help and materials and they finished their work!  Whew!  It shouldn’t be this hard, but here it is!

Today the staff, are off, with just a skeleton crew to take care of breakfast for those staying here at the resort.  Today is the celebration given to them by the owners, Richard and Ursula.  They usually go to the beach, but the staff decided that they wanted to celebrate here, and so we will got to be part of the celebration.  They relaxed, visited, swam in the pool, laughed, giggled and danced.  The men just sat and talked, but the women really had a great time.   Last night it was the last day of work for many so we could hear partying from all around us with shouting, laughing, singing, dancing, and fireworks, which has resumed again tonight.  But we had a lovely time with the staff—such sweet women work here. 

Finishing touches; I think Elder Leben has worn those clothes for 3 days.  His wife is home now, so maybe they can be washed!

 Usually I am quite ready to go home from a trip, but this one has been unique.  Our surroundings are so beautiful, and we appreciate it every day.  I don’t even think I would forget to think of the beauty if I lived here a long time, how very lovely everything is and how much I appreciate God’s creations.  I feel the same way when I am in Mammoth, or when we travel and I see beautiful scenery, even the same scenery, I still marvel at our Creator’s work. 

They had a lot of help today, the day that they finally finished!  Such a small structure, really, but so much trouble getting the materials to build it!

We fly to Auckland tomorrow and will be there just one night, then home on Monday morning the 21st.  I have grown rather fond of this place.

That’s all folks.  Love, Jim & Karen, Mom & Dad, E/S Greding

Just part of our sweet staff, some of the ladies, enjoying their day off and Christmas Party.  The men let the women swim because they have no suits, they just swim in their clothes.  They were having such a great time and we have enjoyed them so much.  They had a Santa exchange and enjoyed music and a fine dinner tonight, which we are invited to.


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