Return to Vanuatu - November 2007

On 14 November 2007, 7 members of JUC flew to Port Vila, originally to attend the celebrations of the opening of the new church on Lelepa island. However, 2 weeks before departure date the plans changed! The church was not finished and the opening had been postponed until next year. The group decided to go anyway.

It was very hot (25c to 30c) but not too muggy. One day we toured around the main Island- Efate- visiting the Ebule Training Centre and also Onesua High School. It was fascinating visiting these establishments that we been hearing about for many years.

On the Sunday we left Port Vila in a van driven by Pastor Kalsakau arriving at Lelepa landing 30 minutes later. A boat arrived from the island and under a beautiful sunny blue sky soon arrived on Lelepa Island. Once we landed and walked into the village we were greeted by our friends that we had last seen 2 years ago.

We then attended morning worship where Michael Player and John Craig both spoke about our delight in returning to the Island at this time. After a powerful service and very strong sermon from Pastor Kalsakau we were treated to a sumptuous lunch. During the service Julia Player and Hannah McKinlay took all the young people out to run a programme involving painting and playing games. Shrieks of laughter from this source could be heard during the service.

During the lunch Michael presented the Chairman of the school committee with about 60 children’s books that Hannah had been given by the Auckland Library.

Later, Michael, Andrew Donovan and I met with the Building Committee to discuss progress on the church and to see if we could continue to help with funding to finish the building.

We did agree to purchase sufficient paint for the interior and exterior of the building. We also said we would give consideration to look at funding approximately 50 pews at about $140 each. The discussion then centred on the purchase of a generator to enable the church to be used in the evenings. This would cost about $7000. We agreed to consider funding this also.

We noticed that the louvre frames for the windows had not been purchased even though the glass for them was on site.

After visiting some villagers in their homes we were taken back to the van by boat and were soon back at Sutherland House in Port Vila. It had been a hot and dusty day but very exhilarating. The next 2 days were spent swimming and snorkelling on Hideaway Island before returning to Wellington on 21 November.

It was a very good visit. Other members who travelled were Debbie Player and Kathy Stirrat.