Monday, September 28, 2015

Poverty in the midst of paradise

This week has been quite the experience!!  After the long, long, loooonnnngg plane ride from Utah to San Francisco, California, then to Auckland, New Zealand and finally to Port Vila, Vanuatu we met the mission president and his wife (Paul and Gayle Granger from Adelaide, Australia).  They took us to lunch with the APs where we ate french fries and chicken- not what I expected for my first meal in Vanuatu!!  Then we went on a tour of the island and met a few of the people and then ate dinner at the mission home with the 2 other new missionaries, APs and mission president, his wife and daughter. 

Sister Tagini from the Solomon Islands
Then they sent me off to my flat where I met my companion, Sister Tagini.  She is from the Solomon Islands and is the only active member in her family.  She speaks a lot of broken English but it is enough to get by.  We live in a motel that is right off the ocean!  Every morning I open up the window to a view of the ocean and palm trees:) We also have "hot" showers and a fridge- wahoo! The only problem with our hotel are the geckos, they bark all night long and keep me up, but we keep them around because they eat the centipedes and the spiders. That first night I slept very well! 
The next day we went to our area and taught and that's what we do everyday here on the mission 

Here are a few things that I have observed here on the island:
Language-  The people here speak Bislama and only a few words in English.  I have gotten to the point where I can understand what people say, it's just the speaking that is coming slowly.  The language is made up of English, French, Spanish and any other language these people decide to throw in haha!  

Food (Kakai)-  The lap-lap is disgusting.  Period.  End of subject.  I have tried to eat it two times now and every time I do, I have to turn away so that they don't see me gagging.  It doesn't have a taste but it feels like I'm eating rubber and bubble wrap at the same time.  The problem is, everyone eats it here and they all love to feed the missionaries, so I need to learn to like it fast!  For breakfast everyday we eat breakfast crackers and mio (hot chocolate)  and then for dinner we eat rice and cabbage- yummy to my tummy. . .  
The People-  I LOVE the people!  Whenever I have a hard morning or get down, the people make me happy again.  These people literally have nothing when it comes to worldly things.  They live in shacks made of scraps of wood and metal and run around with no shoes on and holy clothes with flies landing on them and yet they are the happiest people I have ever met.  They love me right back because I'm white, so obviously I look just like Sister Tate and they loved her:)  The kids (pikinins) are my favorite.  They love to sit on my lap, hold my hands, play with my soft hair and just look at the "white man"!  
Church-  Church is the same all around the world and it was pretty much the same here except the people sing without a piano and sing super duper slow.  After Sacrament Meeting I made the mistake of telling the Bishop I play the piano. . . so now I'm the ward pianist and will be teaching a weekly piano lessons to anyone who wants to learn on Thursday nights.  I'm sure Mom and Dad are reading this and wanting to say, "I told you so!"  oh boy. . . wish me luck!
Party Time!

My favorite day this week was Saturday because Sister Tigini and I got to go to a birthday celebration for 4 children.  These families had all pitched in to the buy a cake and rent speakers for a little party.  We got to blast "One Direction" as we ate lap-lap, rice and fish and danced.  Ahhhh I just wish you could all see how happy these people are with so little!!  The birthday kids didn't get any presents but were as happy as could be with a piece of cake and friends and family around them.  I hope I can be just like them eventually!  

I know that God is aware of me and helping me every step of my journey here in Vanuatu.  It hasn't been easy at all adjusting, but he gives me little bits of happiness that make it all worth it.  This church is true and it brings LASTING happiness and TRUE joy.  I'm so blessed to get to share it with others. I love you all!

Sista Draper

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