Back in 2007, having done extensive research, largely through discussions with interested parties in each state, the following report was presented to the GAA Assembly. From this came the Women's Ministries in the Presbyterian Church of Australia commitee which has run two national conferences in Sydney, "Flourish", so far and hopes to run more. You will find it a helpful overview of the Presbyterian position on Women's Ministries.
Vanuatu, Port Vila bustling, bright colours, happy people, cars, buses, taxis, noise and humidity!
My husband, Ian and I arrived in Port Vila on a three week holiday, to spend time with Ray and Glenda, my husband’s brother and his wife. They are missionaries with S.I.L./Wycliffe Bible Translators. Ray is the Property Manager and Glenda is the Business Manager. She looks after all the needs, visas and finances for the SIL missionaries stationed in Vanuatu.
We settled into our unit as we tried to blend into Ray and Glenda’s very busy schedules. Ray and Ian together, Glenda and I in another direction, each of us experiencing different situations. We met Vanuatu people, some in their own homes; life is so different for them, even those living in Port Vila. The Vanuatu people are happy and satisfied with what they have. Many of them don’t actually have much at all, in way of homes or wealth. We saw life in Vanuatu outside of a resort! Eighty percent of the population goes to Church every Sunday, this shows in their attitudes, behaviour and in the way they dress. A cross lights up automatically above the city every night as a reminder of who they serve!
We also had the pleasure of visiting friends on Lelepa Island, where there is no running water; they have to carry containers of water from the main land by boat, during the dry season. Our friend, Pastor Kalsav Brown looks after the Church there; it seats two hundred people and is close to full every Sunday, then he paddles across to the main Island, in his tiny outrigger canoe, to preach in the second church in his Parish. We spent lots of time many years ago with Kalsav , Tourmara and their daughter Jessica, while they lived and he studied at Presbyterian Theological College in Melbourne when we were there as well. It’s a big thing with the Vanuatu people to repay a kindness, so they were pleased to be able to look after us very well the day we spent with them.
Life was busy, Ray and Ian delivered the eight hundred Bible Study books the four of us had stapled together to be put on a boat and sent to an Island for Missionaries, along with the many items Glenda had sourced for them as well. The study could’ve been an interesting read, if we could understood the language it was written in! It was great to be able to help in this way.
Also while we were there I was ask to stick some magazine pictures onto A5 pages, with a ruled line underneath, then staple them together to form books. This seemed a fairly easy task, so I made five of them for a start. A couple of nights later, we had visitors for the evening meal, one a Translator from New Zealand, the other a Vanuatu Pastor from the small Island of Maskelynes . He very excitedly pulled from his bag one of the books I had made! He showed me the words written under each of the pictures, telling me these words were part of his Island’s language! As yet there are no Translators or any translation done for their language group! All of a sudden I felt humbled by this Pastor, as what I saw as an easy task was something much bigger! He told us he would take them to the seven different kindergarten classes on his island to teach them to read! So when the Bible is available in their language the children will know how to read it and use it. I made forty three books. While Pastor Amon was in Port Vila helping with other translation work, his wife at home on their tiny island, gave birth to a daughter, now he was a father of three! Such is the desire for the Word of God in their own language. Wow! How amazing is our God?
I read about the early Presbyterian Missionaries and even saw graves with headstones that told tragic stories of so many years ago. It is because of these amazing people that Vanuatu is what it is today. We need to be praying that God will raise up more men and women to serve as Translators right now. The remoteness of some of the Islands make it hard for many to stay. So I have also gained a new respect for our Missionaries, even if some of them are family! No, Ray and Glenda really are terrific and I’m not sure how they keep the pace up?
I have come away from Vanuatu impressed with the people, in their desire to serve, and the way they love the Lord our Saviour. We feel blessed to have spent time with them. On returning home, I realize what luxury we live in compared to them and how much we take for granted in our country.
Maybe one day this will be easy!