Dad Killingbeck and Gary on the site of our future married quarters!

Several of our married students leave their wives behind on distant islands for as long as nine months each year while they are in Bible school. The married quarters that we finished last year have enabled us to house three married couples. The studios have been a tremendous blessing, but we do not have enough room to accommodate all our married students. Last year we had 8 couples on a waiting list for 3 apartments available on campus. We can only expand our married housing by moving it off campus.

We have been looking for several years for a piece of land within a quick walk of JBI to build inexpensive married student studios on…we have found it!

Will you please help us?

US$25,000 will purchase this flat 1/3 acre lot which is a mile from the JBI campus. Click the link below to give to this project. Thank you!

Project 5619 – Land

On Monday, May 19, the small eight passenger Islander plane took off from Bauerfield airport on Efate, carrying myself and Robyn Harbour. Our destination was Epi Island about 30 minutes away. We headed north at just under 2000 feet altitude over the central islands of Vanuatu. The day was sunny but evidence of prior bad weather was still apparent in the choppy waves below and the windy conditions. We were happy our flight was cleared for takeoff as the airports on the two islands nearest to Epi were closed due to flooded grass airstrips from the recent heavy rainstorms.

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An Islander is a noisy little plane so conversation was not easy but words were not needed as we watched small emerald green islands, mostly steep volcanic cones, rising out of the blue ocean under us. Before long the plane was banking to land on a very short grass runway in the old coconut plantation of Valesdir, Epi. Looking out the small window we saw one pickup truck and a smiling Pastor Graham waiting for us.

Robyn and I had not planned to go to Epi together. But 10 days earlier when I emailed her about my trip, she phoned me immediately asking if I would like her to accompany me. Robyn and her husband taught at JBI for three years but have been living back home in Australia for several years now. Robyn is a teacher and passionate about kids and Vanuatu. I was very excited for her to accompany me and share the three-day Sunday school teachers training workshop. Robyn had just flown in the day before from Melbourne, Australia.

Bongovio children

Within a couple of minutes of landing we were loaded in the pickup and driving through the plantation. The road was a rutted track which frequently went through dense vegetation. Under the tangled vines along the side of the road we could see bananas, cocoa pods, and many other edible crops. The abundance of food was amazing as the villages were small and sporadic. Often our driver would stop and shift the vehicle into 4 wheel drive before we plunged through a river, down a steep ravine or through muddy wetlands. The airstrip and this road can be closed after heavy rains and we were grateful that the rain had stopped and road was passable. Otherwise, we would not have been able to travel on this side of the island.

At every village, the truck would slow down in case someone needed a ride. Most of the passengers were coming to the Sunday School teachers workshop. Fresh produce came with each person as a contribution to the workshop meals. An hour and a half later, we started descending a narrow road which on one side hugged a stone cliff and on the other plunged straight down to the sea. We slowly drove down the slippery mud track and into the coastal village of Bongovio. This large village was where we would stay for the next five days.

Robyn & Lori

Our hosts, Pastor Sam and his wife, eagerly awaited our arrival. Some Sunday school teachers were already there and others would be arriving in the morning before the 8:30 a.m. session. It is winter in Vanuatu right now and temperatures have dropped considerably. The Milky Way is an amazing sight when gazing at it from an island with no electricity. We were very happy that night to be wrapped up in wool blankets in below 70F/20C temperatures!

At breakfast the next morning, many new faces appeared carrying bags and food. Participants had mostly walked in, some taking three hours to trek over slippery trails from seven kilometers away! Others had come by truck from the north side of the island. You know people are eager when they have walked since dawn to be there on time. I only saw three different vehicles the whole time we were on Epi.

I awoke Tuesday morning with a migraine headache and it only got worse over the next two days. I could barely read my notes but taught all my sessions. I was so grateful that Robyn was with me and we had planned to share the teaching load as I was unwell. I do not get migraines often, so I did not even think to bring medication. Many people prayed for me and though I felt rotten, Robyn said she would not have guessed it during my teaching sessions. I even preached at the church on Wednesday night. So thankful for His strength when I am weak.

Morning lecturesTeachers

At the first night service, they asked for anyone who wanted to share something about what they learned to come forward. Three people eagerly shared. The next night they limited it to three people but seven spoke, wept, and shared their past teaching failures, and renewed commitment to reaching the children in their villages. It was an empowering moment.

We had the most delicious meals thanks to a group of young men who came to cook while everyone else participated in the workshop. The first day a little black pig was brought to the kitchen and he was very tasty. Then some men went diving and speared several large turquoise parrot fish, which later appeared on our plates fried to perfection.

Workshop participants

We had just a wonderful time. The twenty-seven teachers who went through the three-day training came from seven of the eight Assemblies of God churches on the island. They represented 173 children. We laughed, cried, sang funny songs and explored ways to find visual aids outside in the garden.

The last day we gave two morning lectures, had a question and answer session, followed by closing speeches, presentations and lunch. Robyn also squeezed in an additional practice session on clever paper-cutting visuals.

Robyn session

After lunch, the participants packed and started the long trek home. One group would walk north and then some of them would take canoes to the nearby island of Lamen. The other group walked south.

Robyn and I had time to debrief and evaluate the overall workshop with the organizing pastors. We enjoyed sitting on the beach looking at the distant island of Malekula to the west and the twin active volcanoes on the island of Ambrym to the north. Robyn also discovered the right spot to stand on the beach for mobile phone service.

That night as the sun set and the cool air descended, we were happy to go sit by the open cooking fires in the kitchen and chat with the ladies. The workshop was over so the young men had vacated the kitchen and we were now free to visit with the remaining ladies.

Bongovio BayBongovio Bay

Friday, our departure day, happened to also be the bi-monthly market day. Our truck taxi driver was booked to carry produce and vendors north to Rovo Bay market but would come back to take us south to the airport in the late morning. Our check-in time was 2 p.m. for the 4:30 p.m. flight to Port Vila. The truck arrived as we were about to sit down for an early lunch so the food was quickly packed up. Our hosts climbed in the back, and away we all bounced to the airport.

Taxi to airport

Once at the airport, we were weighed and our bags weighed for check-in, Pastor Sam’s wife, opened her bundle and served up a hot meal. The taxi driver joined us for lunch but he was anxious to get back on the road as his market group would need a ride home, and it would be a couple of hours before he would reach them. So we said our goodbyes and our hosts got back in the truck for the long ride home.

Sitting in the airport chatting with other passengers, we learned that the grass airstrip was only half-mowed as the lawn mower was broken. A spare part was expected from Port Vila the following week to repair it. In the meantime, a healthy group of cows was grazing and mooing contentedly on the airstrip. Every once in a while someone would glance out and check if they were still there. Once the flight was expected, several people ran out and made sure all the cows had been chased back through the broken barbwire fence and the airfield was secure for a landing. Our plane left a half hour early as all seven passengers were waiting. We boarded the same plane that had brought us five days earlier and enjoyed the views on the way home as much as before though we flew at about 5000 feet altitude this time.

Valesdir airport, Epi Island

Our conversation centered on planning our next teacher’s training together. I am certainly looking forward to it!

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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