I haven’t written for a long time and I am ashamed. Not a lot has changed in that time and yet we have been extremely busy. VaLynne is very involved in the Pathway program and we are very excited for the students that are able to participate. They are halfway through their second term now and most of them are doing quite well. This term they are taking math and some are finding it a little more difficult, but they are working hard and I’m confident that we will have between twenty five and thirty students who will complete the full three terms and will qualify to take their education to the next level
This is the group that finished the first term in April. They range in age from 18 to 53 years old.
A lot of them don’t have access to Internet in their homes so the Stake has provided Internet in the activity hall at the Chapel. VaLynne has located herself in the hall with them to be available to help them and to prepare and print of whatever materials they will need for each lesson. It is very time consuming but she loves it. We are hoping to have all of this preparation work completed for all three terms before we leave. We will be finishing our time here before the end of the third term and want to make sure everything is prepared for the couple that will be replacing us.
Other that the first and last gatherings of each term, the students lead the discussions. This was our last gathering of the term so VaLynne was able to be the teacher
In March we took a short leave and went to Mesa, Arizona to attend our youngest son’s wedding in the Mesa Temple. We were able to meet our new daughter and had a wonderful time. As great as it was to spend some time with our family for that occasion we couldn’t wait to get back. There is still much to do here and we felt the need to get back to work. On the way home we had a six-hour layover in Fiji. John and Kula Bennion were spending some time there so they picked us up at the airport and we spent that time being shown around. We had a great time and were able to see a lot of interesting places. They had planned on taking some vacation time to check on their house after Cyclone Winston. They ended up spending most of their time checking on Church properties, as John is the Facilities Manager for this area.
There was a Hindu temple we were able to visit. Two week later they had a big flood there and all this was under about three feet of water
And VaLynne was able to get her feet wet on a Fiji beach
Along with the Self Reliance and Education work we have to do, we are also helping with the humanitarian rebuild project. During the past year we have been trying to identify and help some of those with the most need of safe housing after Cyclone Pam. There is no way we can help everyone so we went to the Bishops and Branch Presidents to help us identify the villages in their areas with the most damage. I was asked to help with Paonangisu Branch and Etas Ward. We were able to include three villages in Paonangisu Branch and two in Etas ward. I also met with the village Chiefs to help. We wanted to make sure we included members and non-members alike because everyone is in need of help. Once a home was selected we would have a family member stand in front holding a number for future reference.
I ended up with about 200 houses that I will help with. We will provide materials for the families to build a good, solid frame and roof. They will then be responsible to supply their own walls, doors and windows. Most of them will be able to use the damaged materials from their old homes for this and we want them to do as much for themselves as possible.
In February we selected about 35 volunteers and sent them to a training school so they could learn the new standard of building. They will then be the supervisors to make sure everyone builds according to code. Part of their training was to actually build a few houses.
If the houses are built properly they should be able to withstand up to a category 5 cyclone. At least that is our hope. After seeing what Cyclone Pam did we want to do everything we can to not have that sort of destruction the next time.
We are now delivering the materials and I’m spending a lot of time doing what I can to make sure the right stuff goes to the right place and is used in the right way. It isn’t easy but it is rewarding to see the work finally moving forward. I did learn a fun and quick way to mix concrete. They put the mix of sand, coral, cement and water on a big plastic.
Then they roll it around a few times
and dump it in the hole.
It only took a few minutes and was completely mixed. I looked quicker and easier than mixing it in a wheelbarrow.
One day they had a vehicle inspection and I didn’t have all the necessary documents in my truck. They impounded my truck and gave me a ticket. After we got everything all straightened out I asked where they had taken my truck. It turns out that the impound lot here in Port Vila is in the cemetery.
I started this post in June and never got around to finishing it. Now it is almost October and it's still
here. I guess I'll post it as is and try to get an update out sooner this time.