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On Sunday, November 22rd, the Joy Bible Institute 2015 graduation service was held at Evangel Temple. The church had been severely damaged by Cyclone Pam and was undergoing renovations right up until the night before. The pastor, church members and building contractor worked very hard to complete the inside sanctuary in time for our graduation.
Eight wonderful men and women made up the 2015 graduating class. They are from five different islands in Vanuatu. John Nampas from Santo was the class speaker. Rev. Dave Wood, newly arrived PAOC missionary from Canada and new pastor of the English-speaking International Church which meets at JBI was the graduation speaker.
We had a wonderful service. The church was packed with hundreds of friends and family members. And at the end of the afternoon, while the graduates were still in the receiving line, it began to rain! After months of drought, we have been praying for rain so we all soaked it up!
Please pray for our JBI graduates as they return to their home islands that they will be mightily used and please continue to pray for more rain to end our current drought in Vanuatu.
Rhonda, a dear friend in New Zealand, contacted me shortly after Cyclone Pam and wanted to know what she could send to help. I knew that rice and basic food was being distributed already so I asked for used clothes and bedding. So many people had all their belongings blown away in the cyclone that it seemed like used clothing would be helpful. She took up the challenge and mobilized friends and they collected, sorted, washed and packed lovely clothes for Vanuatu and in the end a whole 20ft container was shipped.
On Thursday, May 21, I got a message asking me to come the next morning and empty the container. I hired a truck and took along Jeremy, Pastor Kiel, and a handful of JBI students. It took us about 6 hours to unpack and take all the boxes to JBI to organize our distribution.
Since then we have delivered clothes to community groups and churches, who in turn have shared them with their members. I have met a lot of new friends and drove down unfamiliar roads while delivering clothes to needy communities. Everywhere people have been so grateful for the unexpected gift of clothes, shoes and bedding.
I honestly never knew, how many boxes of clothes could be packed into a 20ft container. We piled a JBI classroom high with boxes and took truckloads of boxes to nine communities the first day. The room looked just as full afterwards! We have continued to deliver clothes and then asked others to come by and pickup boxes.
Jasmine and Jeremy have been a great help. Jasmine organized the boxes as they arrived to the JBI classroom. Jeremy helped empty the container and reload trucks. The JBI students generously worked during their school break and made deliveries. Thanks also to Floyd for lending his truck for deliveries in town.
And THANK YOU to our New Zealand friends who blessed so many people with lovely clothes, shoes and linens!
For the immediate repair of Joy Bible Institute:
Checks can be sent to: Assemblies of God World Mission, 1445 Boonville Ave. Springfield, MO. 65802.
Please designate any checks mailed to Assemblies of God World Mission for:
J. Gary Ellison, AGWM account #236425 – JBI project #5619
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.
2013 Graduates cutting the cake (left to right):
(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.
(Photo on left) Graduates filling their plates. (Above right) Students singing a farewell song.
(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.
And thank you to the National Bank of Vanuatu (NBV) for the free use of their tent.
On 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.
Students lining up to march in.
Gen. Supt. Rev. Youen Atnelo, (above) welcoming everyone.
JBI Principal J. Gary Ellison (left) and Class Speaker John Iaruel (right).
JBI Faculty: Rev. Philip Naias and Rev. Kiel Maimai (photos above).
Vaily graduating after three years of study (above left).
Pastors praying the grads (left) and Rev. Maurice Nicholson preaching (right).
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
We were so pleased to have Peter and Brenda Jones, from Australia, with us during the first term of classes at JBI. Peter came to teach English, Study Skills, and Church and Its Mission. Brenda took on the task of re-organizing all the library books after the new shelves were installed. She sewed curtains for dorm rooms and sorted through a neglected storage area, discovering both unexpected treasures and junk.
We really appreciate their willingness to come over and help us at JBI. God Bless!
In 2009, when we printed the Gospel of John in Bislama, we immediately began seeking permission to print a new edition of the New Testament in Bislama. Neither one had been available for many years, though Bislama is the language of choice for the majority of rural people in Vanuatu. This project has been a series of unforeseen obstacles and unexpected delays. There have been days when I have wondered if I would ever see these Scriptures in my hand!
You can imagine my excitement when this photo arrived today showing the container finally being packed in Asia with the new edition of the New Testament in Bislama! 5000 copies are for us! The container was shipped on February 21 and is on its way. Thank you LFTL partners because you provided the funds for these New Testaments to be printed! Can hardly wait for them to arrive…will keep you posted!
It is always such an encouragement when someone writes and says they are coming to Vanuatu for a holiday and would like to help out on campus for a day! Last week the Gregson family from Australia did just that. They came and joyfully did some very dirty cleanup jobs and maintenance at JBI for us. We enjoyed meeting them and cannot thank them enough for their help when they could have been sightseeing or swimming at the beach! Blessings!
In November each year, Women’s Ministries ladies from the 23 AG churches on this island (Efate) meet for an end-of-the-year closing service.
Last night we all gathered at the Port Vila harbor to catch small taxi speedboats out to Ifira Island. Ifira is one of two islands sitting in the Port Vila bay. Over 1000 people live on the island and many of them commute by boat to Port Vila to work.
With 15 to 18 people snuggly fit in, the boats ferried us safely across the beautiful bay to the sandy shores of Ifira Island. The photo (above left) shows the passengers sitting at the front of the boat I was in. Total of 18 people
I was very happy to have Robyn, a visiting friend from Australia, with me. Robyn and her husband lived at JBI for three years and helped us so much. We were so sad to see them leave in 2010 for ministry back in Australia. They have been visiting with us this past week for graduation and it has been so good to be together again.
The first WM meeting that we attended together in 2008 was also at Ifira Island with Roz and Kay. So we took a souvenir photo last night (sadly Kay is no longer in Vanuatu either).
Gift exchange is a happy part of the WM closing service. Ladies line up in rows facing each other and exchange flower leis and gifts. Then someone passes around behind spraying cologne and sprinkling baby powder on heads and necks.
Widows are always honored too. They do not bring gifts to exchange but are given gifts and powdered.
By 10 p.m. the visiting ladies were heading back to the beach where several speedboat taxis were waiting to take us back to the main island.
We will not meet again until 2013!
Sunday, November 4th, was a very special day for the JBI family as we celebrated the graduation of seven students.
2012 Graduates (left to right): Jack Jessie from Solomon Islands, Hosea Katipa from Tanna, Micknie Natu from Maewo, Maturine Kaltakel from Efate, Abel Rete from Santo, Gino Bule from Santo and Freddie Bani from Santo. The five students wearing red sashes were awarded diplomas and the two others received certificates.
JBI Graduation was held at Evangel Temple in the afternoon as the campus chapel is too small for such an event. Hundreds of people, friends and family, gathered for the service. AOG Vanuatu General Superintendent Rev. Youen Atnelo is the senior pastor at Evangel Temple and a long time supporter and former teacher of the school.
We were so blessed to have Pastor Russell and Robyn Harbour from Australia with us. The Harbours spent 3 years as AOG Australia missionaries in Vanuatu assisting with Royal Rangers and then teaching at JBI. We have missed them since they left in 2010 and enjoyed having them visit. The students were so excited to have “mom & dad” back on campus! Pastor Russell was our graduation speaker.
Another overseas guest was Rev. Kenneth Mamali, from Honiara, Solomon Islands, who came to witness Jack Jessie’s graduation. We have been privileged to have a small part in training students from the Solomon Islands in recent years. Jack was also surprised to have his sponsor, Norm, from Australia arrive in time for graduation weekend.
Hosea Katipa, (photo above left) was the class speaker. He served as Student Body President this year. Hosea is married with five children and is from SW Tanna.
What a special moment for Gary (Rev. J. Gary Ellison, JBI Principal), to present the graduates with their diplomas and certificates. We thank the Lord for a wonderful school year and the commitment of these young men and women. Pray for them as they return to their home islands for ministry.
It was a lovely moonlit evening as friends and family of the JBI graduates gathered for an outside banquet on campus. First and second year students are responsible for organizing the whole evening, from decorating to cooking the meal. All I can say is, they really did a wonderful job and it was a fun and delightful evening!
We had lots of laughs, a few tears, much gift giving and baby powder sprinkling…no Vanuatu party is complete without the special guests being generously sprinkled with baby powder which of course, glows nicely in the dark!
Here are some photo highlights:
Students Nicole and Vaily greeting and giving flower leis to the graduates as they arrive. Grads Hosea and Freddie already sprinkled with baby powder for the occasion!
2012 Graduates: Micknie Natu, Hosea Katipa, Maturine Kaltakel, Freddie Bani, Abel Rete, Jask Jessie, Gino Bule, cutting the graduation cakes.
Photo above: Friends and family enjoying the evening’s food and program.
Left photo above: 2nd year student, Jonah Ravo; Mrs. Faith Maimai, faculty spouse; and Michel Moli, first year student serving food. Right photo above: Mrs. Serah Naias, faculty spouse.
Left to right above: Kiel Maimai, JBI Dean of Students; Philip Naias, JBI faculty and Russell Harbour, former JBI faculty member. Decked out with gifts of shirts, material, baskets, mats and leis. Photo above right: Graduate Gino Bule presenting gifts of thanks to Roger and Cindy Sutter for their generous support to him while at JBI.
Left to right: Rev. Kenneth Mamali from Solomon Islands; former JBI faculty, Pastor Russell and Robyn Harbour from Australia; Hosea and his sponsor, Pastor Willie David Saul, (the rooster is alive).
Three of our graduates are from the village of Sara, on the northern island of Espiritu Santo. Abel, Freddie and Gino posing with family.
And a wonderful time was had by all!