March 5, Thursday
Today was a national holiday. All Chiefs Day or something like that so all the businesses were closed. We took half a day and traveled around the island. We wanted to go find the Paonangisu chapel because we are going there on Sunday afternoon to visit with the Branch President and some of the members who want to take the Education for Better Work course that we are going to teach. It’s a 12-week course they have to take before they can apply for a PEF loan.
along the way, we found some beautiful beaches
Always one of VaLynne's favorite things
and some lush vegetation
We then went to see the WWII museum. Vanuatu was a major staging area for the
allied forces and the island of Efate where we live had a Marine air base and lots of other support units. In fact, just east of Port Vila was a huge bomber airstrip. Vanuatu (or The New Hebrides as it was known at that time) was the last defense to keep the Japanese from reaching Australia and New Zealand. This is where the battle of the Coral Sea was fought. Most of everything is now overgrown, but there are still some leftovers, such as the remains of a plane that crashed on the beach and a bunch of other odds and ends.
This is the road into the museum. Absolutely beautiful (and no potholes)
Notice the flags of the countries that were here.
and here it is
Believe it or not, although it doesn't look like much, we found it to be quite interesting and the setting is just about as calm and peaceful as anywhere we have ever been. The owner greeted us, then went and sat under a tree in the shade and left us to ourselves. As we were leaving, we noticed his wife and two or three children lying and playing in the shade of another huge tree. What a great way to spend the day
We drove up and down the road a few times, made many wrong turns, and finally called the Elders who work in the area. They guided us by phone until we found the Chapel we were looking for. It sits up a road that's hard to find, around a bend that's hard to see, and it's worth it. Small, open, humble, and just being there we had a special feeling of peace and comfort. We can't wait until Sunday when we will have a chance to come and worship with these wonderful people. The more we know them, the more we love them. It's no wonder they have been recognized as "the happiest people on earth". We walked up the trail about 75 yards and found the house of the Branch President. He wasn't there, but we heard talking a little further on and found him, machete in hand, clearing an area to build a new house. We had some materials to deliver to him, so he walked back with us to the chapel
President Eric and I in front of the chapel. We'll get a better picture of it later
One more fun thing. It was a hot day, and as we were driving along the highway, we noticed one lane had a bunch of cones out. We naturally slowed down, moved into the other lane and as we drove by, we found that it was just a bunch of guys that wanted to have their lunch in the shade. The trees and grass grow right next to the road, so it's the best place to be. They happily waved as we drove by and nobody, including us, thought anything of it. This was the only time with cones, but a number of times we would see a group of people lying in the road. As we approached, they would move out of the way, smile and wave as we drove by, and go back to business as usual. Everybody waves as you go by,.....and we wave back.