Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: FAMILY VACATION (07/30/15)
TITLE: God had a plan
By Robyn Harbour
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We had not been out of Australia before but our son had requested this trip to celebrate the end of his secondary education before he commenced his apprenticeship.
We arrived in Vanuatu a couple of months later. We were welcomed by a string band, the men dressed in colorful island shirts, who serenaded us with island songs while we waited to pass through immigration. There were two lines, one for residents and one for tourists. I looked at the westerners in the resident line and wondered why they were living in Vanuatu.
When we left Australia at the end of June it was minus three and our lawn was covered in frost. We arrived at Bauerfield Airport on the main island of Efate, to a very humid and hot 29 degrees. Culture shock was just commencing.
We were met by Moses who held up a picture of a palm tree with the words Paradise Cove painted across the palm leaves; a five star resort that was to be our home for the next seven days.
Moses loaded our cases into the back of his small bus and commenced the 15 km drive to the resort. Driving through the village of Pango we passed many native houses, mostly made of corrugated iron and cement blocks. Small brown children lined the road or peered through cyclone mesh fences.
I’m not sure what we expected as we knew very little about Vanuatu and it had not been our first choice. By now we were in full culture shock; naively I had not considered that the locals would be brown. We were fascinated with what we were seeing, so different to what we knew then of the South Pacific. Everything was so green compared to the grey/green of the Australian bush.
The week passed quickly. We swam in the warm water at Paradise Cove on the edge of Mele Bay. We hired a canoe and paddled out to the reef to watch the colorful fish dart in and out of the bright coral. I bagged up some shells from the beach to take home as a souvenir and was alarmed when I heard them rattling during the night. In my ignorance I had bagged many small hermit crabs.
We trekked up the side of Mele Cascades and went on an around the island tour in a taxi. The taxi driver gave a running commentary and we quickly learned something of the history of the country. We took hundreds of photos.
Our son dived down to the world’s only underwater post office at Hideaway Island to post a plastic postcard to our home address. In the brochures there is a scuba diver in the post office and the dive looked inviting. In reality the post office under the sea was dirty, rusted and no one was attending. The postcard eventually arrived four weeks later.
He went horse riding with his dad along the black sand beach and through the coconut plantations, a special time for father and son.
We attended the morning service at a local church in Pango Village. The women wore colorful island dresses of similar design. We learned that these were called ‘mother hubbard’ dresses. The beautiful singing was in English though I doubt most of the people understood what they were singing as the village was French speaking. The church service was in Bislama, the local ni-Vanuatu pidgin. We understood little and had trouble conversing with the people as they knew little English.
Our week was quickly up and we left the resort at 5am as we needed to be at the airport two hours before our flight back to Australia.
As Moses drove through the early morning light, my husband and I sat deep in thought. Something had happened to us on this holiday and God had begun planting in our heart the call to missionary life.
January 2008, we again landed at Bauerfield Airport, this time we were in the resident line, embarking on a new journey as full time missionaries to Vanuatu and working under the direction of the national ni-Vanuatu church.
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