Tuesday, December 22, 2015

"The first shall be last, and the last shall be first..." or a Tour of Efate Island

**This is the blog post that would not load.  Now that we're home, it was easy.
Monday, November 30, 2015

Going to bed so early makes me an early riser.  I was up at 5 AM, dressed, and went to reception, which was closed, to get the Internet.  After a long while the owner’s wife came downstairs to greet us.  She was so accommodating that in the end she had me sit at the reception desk, got me a plug adaptor, and unplugged something or other so that I could keep my computer from dying till I got all my e-mail taken care of.  The gal from the day before said how fast the Internet was—the only explanation to that would be that things and people move so slowly around here that it appears to be fast to them.  It is not.  If I have plenty of time I eventually will be able to send an e-mail, some pictures and load my blog.  I was up so early this morning that I had time to do this.  

A complimentary continental breakfast is served at 7:30 AM.  By 7:45 we inquired as to where it was—well, we have to order it, even though it comes with the room.  If you want a hot breakfast, you have to pay for this.  You just have to learn the rules, you see…

In talking to the owner’s wife, who is from Auckland, she said that her husband was a leader in Rotary for the Pacific Area.  They are building cyclone shelters that people can be safe in during an impending storm, or at other times use them to make their wares or other such uses.  According to Leben’s though, they have not joined the other large group of NGO’s working on the cyclone recovery and drought to coordinate their efforts.

At 8:30 Elder Leben picked us up and we went to their place to discuss our strategy while we are here.  Even though they have asked us (the office) to work on the structures, Leben’s have it well in hand and so we will be concentrating most of our efforts in developing water projects to assist them with their drought.  

I was so tired still from waking so early, that afterwards we came back and I took a nap and Jim went swimming in the ocean and in the pool.  The ocean was like a ‘bathtub’ he said.
Leben’s met us for a late lunch here and afterwards we traveled the entire distance on the road that goes around the island.  We saw many trees that had been downed and some with new leaves that had grown back after having been stripped by the cyclone, but most of the destruction was quickly cleaned up by everyone.  We got going a bit late so we got home at dark, about 7:00.  But we saw some beautiful beaches and learned a lot about the island.  We also learned that it was a big holiday here so we could not do business with others today.  This holiday has something to do with ‘unity’.  Just as in Kenya, they try to unite the tribes by teaching English and Swahili.  Here, they teach the one local language just like they teach Swahili in Kenya—here they teach their pigeon English; Sister Leben took some lessons and she is quite good at it and Elder Leben also is not so bad.  They simply spell everything just like it sounds in English.  Jim says that since he is a terrible speller, he could get used to a language like this…

E/S Leben at our hotel for lunch.  He is a former pediatrician and she a housewife, from Hannover in a rural area of about 100,000.  They are both very capable people and have done a great work here.  They are tireless workers.

While walking along one beach we couldn’t help ourselves once again and picked up more seashells.  There are so very many and so beautiful!  When we discussed building bases for rain catchment they say that they just go to the beach, pick up all the coral that washes up for free, and use that under their tanks.  It compacts, it is free except for the transport, and it drains.  You just make a frame for it to keep it in one spot.  This is as simple as it gets.  Besides rain catchment there could be a possibility of drilled wells and spring capture.  There is a range of mountains that we drove up to and at a look-out spot saw the islands unattached from this one—it was quite a view.  One man has a well that has been servicing his whole community for over 30 years.  If they want rain catchment during a drought, it would seem that if it didn’t rain, there would be no rain to catch, so we’ll try to find other sources if it is possible.  

We stopped by a couple of structures that the church had donated to people that had lost their homes in the cyclone.  The people are pretty self-reliant.  Above is one of the makeshift repairs that they had done in the emergency (the people, not us).  Below is one of the donated structures—we give the materials and teach them how to build it.  This one was built incorrectly, but in the end it was just fine and sturdy.  After this, they are to prepare their own bases, add windows and a door, and put some material around it to enclose the structure.  This works very well in this culture.  They are happy, do not want for anything, eat off the land, and do not desire for a ‘better life.’  There is a lesson here…

This structure, shown in 2 pictures below, is the larger of the two designs.  It depends on how many people are expected to be living in one home.  This one was already being enclosed.  The father said that it will be plastered.  They built this one correctly and we could see that they were going to be strong.  They were working on it as we visited.

Till tomorrow.
Love, Jim & Karen, Mom & Dad, E/S Greding

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