We had the opportunity to travel to Tanna with Mariella to meet with the District and Branch Presidents and other leaders of the Tanna district to give them some training in some of the education programs we are using. Also VaLynne administered the English test to students wanting to go to LDS Church College Vaiola. This is a high school in Samoa.
This is Mariella patiently waiting for the training to start. She actually has to do most of the work because we still haven't mastered the Bislama language. Even when she isn't actually doing the training, she has to translate for us so we can be understood. Most people here speak and understand English well enough to converse, but for them to fully understand a lot of new concepts, we find it is best that it is presented in Bislama.
The place we stayed is called the Whitegrass Resort. Although there wasn't a real beach for VaLynne to swim in, it is very beautiful with a lot of things to do. We didn't really have time to do anything there but eat and sleep, but still it was very nice.
We did make sure we found the time to go to the volcano. Mount Yasur is known as the worlds most accessible active volcano and is one of Vanuatus most famous attractions. It is a must see.
You can drive almost to the top. From here it is about a 10 minute walk.
Might as well stop and mail a card or two on the way up.
Mariella wasn't sure she wanted to try the final climb, but we were all excited when she did.
It really is awe inspiring. Every few minutes it makes a lot of noise and throws a lot of hot rocks and smoke in the air.
We had to have a group shot before we came down
After returning from Tanna, we needed to spend a lot of time with Mariella learning to do the things we have relied on her to take care of. With her taking care of many of the programs we are responsible for, it has given us the time we have needed to learn and grow into the calling we have been given. With the added areas of humanitarian work and Mission nurse duties it would have been impossible to keep up with everything without Mariella. We keep hoping for more Senior Missionary Couples to be called and for more members to be called and trained to help, but until that happens we will just trust in the Lord to help us prioritize and make sure we keep up with the areas which will do the most good.
We were invited to attend District Conference in Santo and give a short presentation on Self Reliance and the programs that are in place. Luganville is the largest city on the island. It has a population of about 12,000 and is a clean and beautiful city. We were impressed with the four lane straight street running the length of the city without even one pothole. Port Vila has narrow, curvy roads and a lot of traffic. We have learned that it is possible to have three cars pass each other on a two lane street and not think a thing of it. I think Port Vila could pass as the pothole capital of the world so it was a nice break to see good roads for a weekend.
When we took a cruise to Antarctica, we enjoyed coming in to our room each evening and finding some sort of critter on the bed. We never knew what it would be but we knew it would be interesting. We were delighted to find a swan on our bed when we opened the door to our room in Santo
Elder and Sister Abbot who are the Audit missionaries for the mission were kind enough to take the time to show us around for a few hours before we were to fly home on Monday. We found a small hydro-electric plant and some beautiful scenery at the outlet.
We found these children taking groceries home for dinner and they were more than happy to have us take their picture
This is the chapel in one of the Branches. We are in the habit of calling these "bush chapels" but now we are told they will now be called BUB or Basic Unit Building. It makes sense, but it just doesn't sound the same.
One of our PEF students moved to Santo for a while to be with and help family. We were happy to find him well. We were even more excited to find that his wife served her mission in the Rapid City, South Dakota mission and her first assignment was in Casper, Wyoming! She too was excited when we told her that we were from Wyoming.
This is right next to another of our BUBs. I took this picture because it was so peaceful and beautiful there
These two fine young men have been out hunting for something to bring home for dinner. It's called a Flying Fox but actually it's just a big bat.
These two fine young men have been out hunting for something to bring home for dinner. They call it a flying fox but actually it's just a big bat
VaLynne still can't get used to seeing little children walking around with knives. Better yet, they know how to use them. The youngest we have seen with bush knives was under the age of two. It is amazing when you think about the fact that at home if we saw a child that young with a knife we would have a heart attack and be yelling NO as we take the knife away and put it up where he can't get it. Also it is not unusual seeing a very young girl (under age 5) cutting vegetables with those knives and putting them in the pot over an open pit fire as the mother is busy feeding the baby.