Losa lava, Gaua Island
It is now only 4-days into Team 3 activities and already we have renewed many old memories and friendships and made several more. Here is a selection.
Take Patricia and Linda and John on Merelava. We first visited this small isolated extinct volcano in 2009 and again in 2010. Patricia was then the island’s only Nurse. The only nurse, and only midwife, child care nurse, physiotherapist, doctor, social worker, pharmacist, etc. Patricia is a lovely friendly and capable woman who lives on the other side of the island in the village called Big Sea. Why Big Sea? Maybe because it looks west across the Pacific away from the rest of Vanuatu with nothing between it and the USA! Patricia has since retired, one year ago and has since handed over the medical care of the island to George, a capable and intelligent young fellow. We were not sure she would make the 8km journey to the clinic?
When Patricia and Graeme first saw each other there was a moment’s hesitation before recognition and Patricia (like so many excited NiVans do) let out a mighty ”Oooooh!”then burst into laughter. A handshake was not enough – she hugged and embarrassed Graeme! They had only met for one day but it was like old friendships renewed and stories were shared about family and events. Patricia brought her husband and one of her six grandchildren along for the day. We reminisced about the contrasting beauty and isolation of her home island, her ‘retirement’, and now peaceful lifestyle.
There was the event of Linda (see ships log 2009) who required emergency evacuation to have a caesarean section because this is impossible on Merelava and a normal birth may have killed both mother and baby. Linda is a shy and giggly mum and very grateful for the assistance provided back then. This story had a sad ending because the baby died soon after birth from an unknown illness.
Infant mortality is commonplace in communities that lack obstetric and paediatric care that we take for granted. Anika and David were a sad example (see Ships Log 2010 on the island of Pentecost). They were new parents with a beautiful little girl called Rowena who had a congenital heart problem. She had been seen by a passing doctor months before who did not know the problem, or had no means to assist. When we met her she was in a bad way – she was in heart failure. The young parents were devastated to hear this news. They were shattered but grateful we were willing to try. Within a couple of months passports, visas, medical care, transport and accommodation had been arranged in Brisbane for corrective heart surgery and Anika and Rowena were booked to fly to Port Vila and on to Australia. Shortly after take-off from here home island Rowena died in her mothers arms. There tears everywhere. So many had been hoping and praying. Why would God let such an event occur? Would we ever see the parents, David or Anika, again? (Probably not until we returned to their home island of Pentecost down south.) And if so, what do you say? Would it bring back to their minds a nightmare they would rather forget? Anyway the last place we expected to see them was up north on the small island of Gaua.
David and Matt had been off on an errand to book an airfare for Fiona, who needed a specialist check-up – but that’s another story, and informed us via the walkie-talkie that they had a group of school children in tow all wanting eye checks by their teachers who turned out to be none other than Anika and David from Pentecost. This time it was we who were over-whelmed with surprise and excitement. Once again there were hugs (including man hugs for David!) and almost tears of joy. As Graeme was gripped in the bear hug he whispered to them “I was sad and sorry to hear about Rowena.” Why were they so happy?
David and Anika told us some of their story. They knew that many people had been praying for them and trying to help them as much as possible. This still overwhelms them despite the sadness of their loss. They were grateful not angry. Thankful not sad. Why? Because God had given them only 12months ago another beautiful (and healthy) girl called Muana. David went on to explain: Muana means ‘God First’ in their language/dialect. They had been overwhelmed by the care and compassion shown to them by God’s people in their home village, in Port Vila, and Melbourne and Sale (Victoria) they wanted to put ‘God First’. They said they had been blessed.
Now Muana is the cutest little girl you can imagine. Short soft curls of black hair, soft cubby arms and legs, big dark eyes, and a friendly and placid manner with 50 or so ‘brothers’and ‘sisters’in the primary school her parents work at.
Smooth baby bottoms, renewed friendships, and who could have better parents than Muana.