JBI Dean of Students, Pastor Kiel Maimai and his wife Faith, dedicated their firstborn child this afternoon in the JBI Chapel. Little Harry Joshua Iakota Maimai was born 6 weeks ago. Pastor Philip Naias dedicated our newest JBI campus baby and Maurice Nicholson preached on Biblical Parenting. After the lovely service, family and friends went to the Maimai’s home for a delicious meal prepared by the ladies of Global Mission Church.
This morning we were invited to speak at Macedonia Church in Paonangisu village on the north side of Efate island. We live on the south side of the island so it was only about an hour away. When we got to church we found out that the fiancé of a young woman in the church had died the day before. This couple had planned to get married a few weeks ago but he became very ill on his home island and never recovered. In light of these circumstances, Gary decided to speak on I Thess. 4:13-18 concerning “our hope”. After service, we had a lovely lunch of fresh fish which the pastor had caught the night before and the children enjoyed running and playing with new friends.
Here are some photos of our Sunday:
Pastor Sope Timothee and the Macedonia Church.
Shaking hands at the end of morning service. Preparing the lunch table.
Jasmine playing “elastic” with the girls and feeding rice to a chick.
Jeremy and friend racing by…while Gary and Pastor have a cup of coffee.
On the way home we were amazed to see an huge private yacht moored out in this quiet bay of North Efate. Quite a contrast.
On June 28, we welcomed 22 friends from Indiana and Pennsylvania, who flew to Vanuatu to put up the walls of the new JBI classroom building and do various renovation projects around campus. The team was the first construction team we have ever had visit us from our home district in 29 years of missions. So it was quite an exciting event for us! The group was from New Life Church (Kokomo, IN), Life Church (Fishers, IN) and one pastor from Pennsylvania. Even after 24 hours of travel, the team was eager to see the school and the building site so after a quick lunch we walked up to the campus from their motel.
Next morning, the guys started laying cement blocks. Bob McCauley, an electrician, began to fix the faulty electrical wiring as the school had been experiencing many power outages! The ladies got busy with plans to transform a dingy chapel storage room into a prayer room, renovate a new office for Gary, and numerous other renovation projects. What a boost to have so many helping hands on campus for 10 days! The two photos above show the building foundation BEFORE and AFTER the team had put up the walls!
Four different pastors were with the team, Randy Blankenship, Pete Campbell, Nathan Peternel and Dan Peternel. They preached in JBI chapel services, at local youth meetings and Sunday services. Many lives were touched.
The young people in the group came prepared to do a children’s outreach complete with black light puppet show, tricks, and songs. Black light has never been used for any church event here to our knowledge, so the glowing fluorescent signs and puppets were a real hit!! The kids of Blacksand settlement gathered at the church on a Saturday night and were totally enthralled by the puppet program. The puppet program clearly explained the Salvation colors and at the end every child got a bag of treats, a balloon animal and a Salvation bead bracelet.
It was a wonderful two weeks and we hated to see them leave!
Saturday morning, the school was blessed by the visit of women from many different churches around the island of Efate. They came bearing gifts of food, yams, sweet potatoes, cabbages and various fruits from their gardens. The WM ladies met in the school cafeteria and had a time of worship with the Bible school students. Marie Paule, pastor’s wife from the village of Pango shared a very timely word. The various WM groups also blessed us with a cash offering for the school cafeteria. The JBI school cafeteria has no budget and functions solely on donations. A time of fellowship followed with the JBI students serving the ladies tea and baked goods. Thank you to all the churches and WM groups who so generously donated food and money to feed the Bible school students! You have blessed us so much!
I am not sure where the last month has gone but I know it has been a very busy one for us! Classes started at JBI on February 8 and we were so excited to see returning students and freshmen arriving on campus from so many different islands. Several were delayed because Cyclone Yasi and Vania had interrupted inter-island flights and passenger ship schedules but by the end of the first week everyone had found an alternative way to get to Port Vila. The highlight of the second week was Spiritual Emphasis with Rev. Joe Pyott, from Washington State, followed by yet another cyclone called Atu.
Then came the all-island combined service to celebrate the newly constructed church at Fresh Wind, a JBI back to school party, a four day missionary field retreat and the visit of several special chapel speakers! We were so pleased to have our missionary colleagues, the Webbs and missionary associates, the Jaegers and Thomas’ all in town for our missionary retreat. They all live on the island of Santo in the northern part of the country and we rarely get together. As I write, we are under another tropical storm warning which has delayed their flights back to Santo. Please pray this storm does not become a cyclone. This has been a particularly turbulent cyclone season and we have so many islands already experiencing hardship and severe food shortages because of storm damage!
Things are going well at JBI. Gary is busy in his new role as principal and he continues to teach and preach. I teach four days a week at JBI and oversee the homeschooling of our children. Our work schedule is substantial. The new students are settling in and adjusting well to campus life. We have two great national pastors teaching with us, Pastor Philip Naias and Pastor Kiel Maimai, who is also serving as campus pastor. We do have some challenges so thank you for continuing to pray for us and the school.
FYI – If you have been consulting our Joy Bible website/blog you will see that it is not updated. We have a technical problem and have been locked out of it for quite some time. We are hoping to get this resolved soon or else we will set up a new site.
In a few days we will be leaving North America and heading back home to Vanuatu. So many of you have been praying for our visas to be issued and our funds to be sufficient in order for us to leave. The final paperwork came through yesterday. Thank you so much for standing with us! We have enjoyed seeing so many of you personally over the past year and speaking in your churches and small groups. Thank you for your hospitality and generosity to our family! Keep in touch!
I am sorry that I have not written much this past year. We have been in the United States visiting friends and supporting churches. It has been a very busy 13 months with 20,000 miles of car travel, home school, medical check-ups and many other things that itineration requires. We hope to be leaving for Vanuatu around the end of September, which is only about 6 weeks away. In order to leave on time, we need to have our Vanuatu work permits/visas in hand and a remaining $500 a month in support. Thank you to those of you who have sent offerings and increased your pledges of support. Even a $5 or $10 increase will help us reach this final goal. Thank you for praying for us as we pack and finalize our departure.
While we have been in the US, senior students have graduated from Joy Bible Institute and new students have come to study. 2010 has been a year of spiritual refreshing on campus and we thank the Lord for His transforming work in many lives. We are anxious to be back at JBI and to resume training young men and women for ministry in Vanuatu, but not only for Vanuatu as JBI now has 3 students from the Solomon Islands.
The Solomon Islands is an island country just to the north of Vanuatu. Not only do these two countries share a common culture but also their Pijin English language is very similar to the Bislama language of Vanuatu. So we are casting our nets farther afield as the Lord opens the doors.
Life in Vanuatu has been eventful in many ways this year. I have previously mentioned the Gaua volcanic eruption which prompted the evacuation of the population and the delay of a church-planting effort. That was followed by a volcanic eruption on the heavily populated island of Tanna which destroyed essential crops and caused respiratory problems among the population.
The year has also been marked by many strong earthquakes with a 7.1 quake in May and a 7.5 quake hitting the capital city of Port Vila on Aug. 10th. The innumerable aftershocks continue to unsettle the population with 19 of them registering between 4.3 and 5.9! This latest earthquake was stronger than the deadly Haiti one but lasted only 31 seconds. We are grateful that it did not create the same devastation and are happy to report that there was little damage on the JBI campus. Only a few cracks in the school office walls and some garden retaining walls collapsed. The faculty and students are fine but a little stressed as the earth continues shake.
It has been our privilege to visit with so many of you and share about the work in Vanuatu but now we are anxious to be on our way. Thank you for your faithful partnership which enables us to go!