Thursday, July 22, 2010

En route to Australia

I'm in Vila-town for about 18 hours before heading to Australia to meet Jeannette. I'm looking forward to seeing her, catching up on the news from home, taking hot showers, and having more than one choice at the restaurants. Life's simple pleasures. I'm coming to believe that the real mark of modernity is having choices.

Anyway, here are some new photos from the last few months in Vanuatu.

From left to right is Ed who lives in Lolowai, Sheridan and then Justin, a married couple who live on Maewo, the next island over. Sheridan and Justin had come to Ambae before our last conference and we all went to Ed and Beth's house for Cincinnati Chili.

Take a close look at the table settings. We were scrounging for enough dishes for the five of us so Ed and Sheridan ended up with coffee mugs full of chili and Beth is using a little tin bowl that held about a 1/2 cup. Ed and Beth are currently living in what is known as the "doctor's house" because it's where the temporary, visiting doctors stay when they come to serve at the hospital. It's quite a grand house by Vanuatu standards but we were still hard pressed to serve 5 people with the dishes in the cupboards.

My biggest project the last 2 months has been organizing reading groups with the class 1 teacher at Ambaebulu. We spent 1 week just teaching the kids some classroom management stuff, the activities they would be doing at each station, and a bit of self-management. It was quite an adventure for me since my only experience with kids under 12 was a very painful afternoon substituting in second grade.

The reading groups ran a second week before I left the teacher to run them solo. Since then, it has been busy at school and we haven't been able to set a certain day for an observation but I'm confident the teacher will use the groups. Though I don't feel like I gave him the best example, he seemed to see the potential of working with the kids in small groups.

I took the pictures of the kids one day when I accidentally ended up substituting while the teacher went to a "short" meeting. I ran out of activities after about 40 minutes and the kids ran wild for the next 20. The pictures were a temporary reprieve.

Above are Clemson and Lloyd. The girls here are Ester and Chelma.

I don't know why this picture downloaded on its side, but the point of the picture is still clear. Rats can do a lot of damage in a very small period of time. Fortunately, they didn't get to the peanut butter but they made enough holes for the ants to have easy access.

Recent home improvement projects have included cleaning out my rain water tank after a rat crawled in and drowned. I needed a chair to get on top of the tank and then had to lower the chair inside the tank so I could get in to scoop out all of the water. Not a hard job but something interesting to put on my resume. These pictures show the other project. The papaya tree was growing too close to the house, (I think it was one way the rats were getting into the water tank and up into the roof) so I decided to cut it down.

I was a little concerned that I wouldn't be able to do it--it was a pretty good sized tree--but papaya wood is soft and the tree came down in short order. I am also proud to say that my aim proved true most of the time and I didn't have to hack too many times to get the job done. It saved me from some embarassment too because there was quite an audience that afternoon. There were soccer games going on on the field behind my house and all of the players and spectators were either passing by or camped out on the grass nearby.

This is another sister of mine here in Vanuatu. She recently made a trip to Ambae to visit so I met her and her two children. Her name is Jenny. She's the oldest in my family but still younger than me.

And the other family photo is of my brother Bradford and his friend Jemima. Jemima came from Maewo to live with Brady in March. Brady "blocked" Jemima, meaning he brought some gifts to her family and declared her officially off-limits to other men, in September last year. In our terms, you would say they are engaged. The wedding won't take place for a while, maybe for years, while both families work to stock pile the gifts they need for the exchange.

This last group of pictures is from the Culture and Custom Show at Ambaebulu Primary School. My assigned post was in the food stall selling rice and soup so I didn't get to see much of the show but I sneaked out for one of the school performances.
The costumes are traditional style but with a mix of materials--traditional and modern.

That's it for now. I should have a chance to post some pictures of Brisbane when I get back from Australia since I'm planning to stay in Vila for a few days before going back to Ambae.
Miss you all. Four months and counting!