local scaffoldingI thought it was time to update the progress on the missionary house being built on the JBI campus. Lori has been overseeing this project all year from the building permits, the site excavation, to the day to day purchasing and construction progress. It has been a physically demanding project for her as it follows two other construction projects (JBI classroom and married dorm) she coordinated.

We had several weeks of rainy weather  in November which really delayed the roofing stage. The metal roof is now on and the roof structure is well-strapped due to frequent hurricanes.

JBI missionary residence

roof structure

Avia plastering

This month we set the water pipes and electrical conduit before the inside walls could be plastered. The plastering has taken a couple of weeks but only doorways and window frames remain to be finished after the Christmas break. The guys have really worked hard.

The list of things to finish still seems very long at this point.

In all this progress, we found out that our landlord wants us to move out before the end of January. The new house will not be ready by then. Staying longer in our rental is not an option as the landlord plans to live in the house himself. So it looks like we will be moving to the school apartment and camping out for a while. As soon as we can get the house livable, we need to move in!

Secondly, all the financing for the house so far, has come from a mission housing loan and a donation from ActioNow but it is becoming apparent that we do not have enough funds to complete it. We need windows, utility hookup, septic tank, light fixtures, closets, kitchen cabinets and worker’s wages.

This house is very important to us in so many ways. We have served at JBI since 2007 but have been unable to live on campus. Living elsewhere requires a lot of commuting and distances us from the JBI community. Secondly, rental houses are very expensive here and as our monthly support decreases the need for cheaper housing has increased.

Would you be able to help us with a special offering to complete this house? The project number is 5677. Thank you so much for your help!

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In order to connect the new JBI house with city power and water, we have to dig a 721 feet (220 meters) trench all the way down to the main road. Then lay that length of electrical cable and water pipes down the hill. When everything is finished the utility company will install the new utility meter. Several people have put their shoulders to the shovel and worked long hours on it. There are a couple of places where we will have to rent a jackhammer to break up the hard coral rock but the work is coming along nicely.

We did not plan for the expense of this new trench, the 220m electric cable nor the 220m of water pipes in our building budget. A donation has been made from friends in Michigan but it looks like we will still need about $2300 to finish. Any help is appreciated!

Project 5677

The JBI banquet is always held the Friday night before graduation. It is a time when the JBI students and faculty along with family and friends gather to celebrate together the end of the school year. First and second year students plan the menu, decorate the venue and cook the meal as their gift to the graduates. The graduates graciously thank their teachers and sponsors with lovely gifts. There is laughter and tears as we begin to say our good-byes to men and women who have been with us for three years.

cake

2013 Graduates cutting the cake (left to right):

David Garae

Job Frezer

John Iaruel

Vaily Stephens

Jonah Ravo

David Willie

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(Photo above on left) The welcoming committee gave salusalu (flower leis) to the graduates, school faculty and board members. That was accompanied by a good dousing of baby powder on the head and neck…

(Photo on right) Servers: Deborah, Mrs. Faith Maimai and Nicole.

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(Photo on left) Graduates filling their plates. (Above right) Students singing a farewell song.

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(Above left) Pastor Kiel and Faith draped in new clothes, material, baskets and hat! All gifts of appreciation from the graduates. Every teacher and family were gifted like that. (Photo below left) Pastor Philip and Serah being dressed with new clothes and baskets.

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And thank you to the National Bank of Vanuatu (NBV) for the free use of their tent.

PB243282On Sunday afternoon, November 24, 2013, we gathered at Evangel Temple to celebrate the graduation of six wonderful people. The church filled with family and friends until many were sitting outside on the lawn by the open windows. Everyone got excited when the graduates and students marched down the aisle and the special service began.

Rev. Maurice Nicholson, visiting lecturer was the main speaker. Student Body President John Iaruel spoke on behalf of the graduating class.

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Students lining up to march in.

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Gen. Supt. Rev. Youen Atnelo, (above) welcoming everyone.

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JBI Principal J. Gary Ellison (left) and Class Speaker John Iaruel (right).

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JBI Faculty: Rev. Philip Naias and Rev. Kiel Maimai (photos above).

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Vaily graduating after three years of study (above left).

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Pastors praying the grads (left) and Rev. Maurice Nicholson preaching (right).

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Pastor Willie David Saul, who has been a great supporter of JBI through the years by sending and supporting many students, closed the service with prayer.

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Congratulations to the JBI Class of 2013!

Pictured are David Garae from Ambae and John Iaruel from Tanna!

I just realized that I had not posted our 2013 JBI faculty and student photo here on the blog. The photo was taken during second term when Pastors Russell and Robyn Harbour and Pastor Fred Mendar were with us to teach.

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PA112786It is hard to believe that we are just a month from graduation. It has been a wonderful year of working together with a great group of students, overseas friends who came to assist, Pastor Philip who was able to go to Africa to start an M.A. degree, the construction of long-awaited married dorms, those of you who financially supported needy students and the list goes on…

The next few weeks will be very busy as we finish our courses, plan end-of-the-year events, farewell our graduates and award diplomas on November 24. Please pray for our seven graduates as they look toward their future ministry and thank you for your continued support.

We have had the pleasure of receiving Drs. Weldyn and Barb Houger, of the Asia Pacific Education Office (APEO) at JBI this week. The faculty met with them to discuss education issues, course descriptions, syllabi and curriculum. They also spoke in our Tuesday and Thursday chapel services. From warm Vanuatu they head to cold Mongolia to teach, though we look forward to them coming again!

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The weather has been great and we have made much progress on the mission house. I thought I should post some pictures to give you a look. The foundation was very time-consuming and labor intensive and the rainy weather did not help. The weather cleared and on the 5th of August the ready mix cement trucks were able to get up the hill and we poured the floor slab. Since then we have doing the block work and the electrical conduits. It is really starting to look like a house and the kids have already claimed their bedrooms! We have about 4 more months of hard work before we can move in.

pouring slabslab finished

walls going upside view

The carport (below) is really coming along. There is no other garage on campus so we will not only have a place for our car but also for the old campus pick-up truck. The room in the back will be of dual purpose as a workshop and a storage for the literature we produce & distribute. The corrugated metal roofing has been ordered and should be installed this next week.

front corner of house and carportcarport

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Pastor Philip Naias returned to Vanuatu after 3 months of study at the West Africa Advanced School of Theology in Lome, Togo. It is an incredibly long series of flights but he arrived back safely. We were all glad to see him get off the plane, most of all his wife Serah. He arrived home on July 27th and his suitcase has still not shown up. It has been found in South Korea and we are still trying to get the airlines to send it back to him.

He thoroughly enjoyed his M.A. courses and his experiences in Africa and will return again next year. We are glad to have him back teaching at JBI. If you would like to help us finance Philip’s next M.A. courses in 2014, please contact us. We will need about $4500 for his plane fares and tuition.

Across Vanuatu this past week, AG church members traveled to provincial conferences organized on five different islands across the country. The central province where we live is called Shefa and our conference was here on the island of Efate. Pastor Raymond Clay of the PEF – AG church was the host pastor. His wife, Josiane, was the chairlady of the organizing committee and what a wonderful job she did. The conference was well-organized and there were many very memorable moments. Pastor Raymond and Josiane are childhood friends of mine.

The Sunday afternoon opening ceremony started with many of the delegates, including myself and the kids, marching down the street to the conference venue. Here in Vanuatu, all important events and holidays start with a march.

March thru Fres WotaMarching into conf venue

Royal Rangers flag raisingChoreography by Missionettes

The opening ceremonies included the raising of three flags; the national flag of Vanuatu, the provincial and the Christian flag. The Royal Rangers marched smartly in to perform this important task. For their part, the Missionette girls performed a colorful choreography set to music. Then the pastors and their wives were welcomed by hanging lengths of cloth around their necks and some were given woven mats. A huge cake was cut and refreshments were served to the crowd sitting around the property on chairs and mats. No opening ceremony is complete without welcome speeches and a cake!

Conference Cake cuttingConf chairlady speech

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some Shefa pastors & wivesShefa youth choir

The opening ceremony was followed by an evening service, with Pastor K. Nikara from Mele preaching and special music by the Shefa youth choir.

The next four days of conference were packed with devotional times, lectures, and business meetings for the various provincial departments like women’s, men’s and youth. Each evening a public open air service was held from 6-9 p.m.

We were blessed to have Pastors Russell & Robyn Harbour, from Australia with us teaching second term at JBI. The Harbours served in Vanuatu for three years before returning to ministry in Australia in 2010. It was great to have them back on the team again for 3 months. The students thoroughly enjoyed the classes they taught. They traveled on the weekends speaking in many different churches and taught seminars.

Pastors Russell and Robyn HarbourSexual Purity seminar

Robyn in classPurity seminar

The Assemblies of God Executive Committee are on campus for their bi-annual meeting this week. So we had a dedication prayer and ribbon cutting for the new married dorm followed by a nice dinner in the school cafeteria. The new building was complete except for the exterior paint. We are so grateful to all those who contributed to the completion of this project. It would never have been completed without the very generous donations from many missionary friends, including retired and short term. Thank you to everyone!

P7181133Cutting the ribbon

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I just received a newsletter from a missionary friend in Africa today and she said that “the work was unrelenting at times.” That word unrelenting really hit me because it describes how our lives have been for a couple of years now. According to the dictionary, unrelenting means inflexible, not diminishing in intensity.

Unrelenting as JBI students sitting in class at 7 a.m. expecting a teacher to show up for the first morning class and all the following class periods of the day.

Unrelenting as my mobile phone beeps messages early each morning telling me that the construction crew needs cement, sand or something else. I buy all the building supplies so I must head to the hardware store at a moment’s notice if the work is to progress.

Unrelenting as phone calls come from JBI grads on outer islands asking for tracts and Bibles to be sent to them for outreaches. This means finding out when ships are traveling (no set schedules here) and then being at the wharf to hand over the boxes before the ship sails. Often it means standing on the wharf only to find the ship decided to sail early or not at all.

Unrelenting means wearing far too many hats and some which fit uncomfortably like JBI bookkeeping and office management. This year Gary has had to take over the school finances and office work along with being the school principal and a full-time teacher. He will do this until a qualified, trustworthy office person is found.

Unrelenting as the unfinished manuscript for the national Sunday School lesson book sitting on my desk, the publishing deadline has already past. Sunday school teachers around the country have been waiting for this book to be translated into the Bislama language. I can find no one to do it and can’t find the hours and weeks to finish it myself.

Unrelenting as twice-weekly chapel services and weekend speaking in churches. Requests to come and speak on specific topics or to address specific problems keep coming in but time does not always permit.

Unrelenting as homeschooling our two children. Math, English, and Science workbooks pile up and need regular correcting by mom and dad.

Unrelenting as emails fill the inbox asking for reports, special letters and favors. Sometimes it is a request to find a taxi driver by the name of Tom who drove a tourist around last month…sometimes just a note to say a church can no longer support us.

As Paul says, “…besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches” (2 Cor.11:28).

The work is unrelenting because the need is great and the laborers are few. Pray for new missionaries to join us at Joy Bible Institute!

Pastor Philip Naias, senior JBI faculty, is currently at the West Africa Advanced School of Theology in Togo, West Africa. This is the beginning of his Masters of Arts degree program which will continue over the next three years.

P. Naias, 2nd row in middleP.Naias in class

P. Naias on rightfootball

West Africa is a long way from Vanuatu, approximately 18,000 km or 11,000 miles.  But Pastor Philip has made many friends and is enjoying his studies. While he is away, we are very grateful to friends who have come to JBI to teach in his place. Please pray for Pastor Philip as he studies and his family back home in Vanuatu.

BTW – J. Gary & Lori Ellison taught for 6 years at the West Africa Advanced School of Theology in Togo.

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