Sunday 18 July 2010 (Anchored off Ndui Ndui, Ambae 15 22.59 S, 167 43.59 E)

Name correction:  Before starting tonight’s Ships Log, I should mention that the Katherine we spoke of meeting yesterday is in fact called Katrina.  It was a mix up in my understanding of the pronunciation.

As planned yesterday, it was off to church this morning … at least for Mike, Lanie, Matt and me, with Gerhard offering to mind the ship in our absence.  The church in question was the Walaha Apostolic Church, founded in the village by a man from Bendigo (Vic, Australia) back in the 1950s, with the impressive building being constructed in the early 1980s by a New Zealand father and son team.  Apparently Presbyterians themselves, but with a calling to build churches for whichever community needed one.

Gerhard ran us ashore in the dinghy for 8:30am and there was Jessy, (our new best friends from yesterday), and the driver Willy, waiting for us.  The 30 minute ride down the road to Walaha was a rocky, bumpy affair with Willy handling every bump and rut with the precision befitting a man who knew this stretch of road like the back of his hand.  It was an impressive twin-cab Mitsubishi 4wd he was driving and we asked about it’s origins to which Willy explained that it was his brother’s vehicle.  His brother wasn’t driving because he was away overseas as part of a UN Peace Keeping force in Africa.

We arrived at the church around 9:00am and began to meet different people as they arrived.  We also began to build a mental picture of who went where and with whom.  There was Hannah, a retired teacher after 35 years in the classroom, running the Sunday School, and incidently, the mother of Katrina. There was Sam, fiance of Katrina and then Katrina’s father, a wonderfully learned, wise sounding man named Hollingsworth (that’s his first name).  Head master Graham was there to, leading the band on keyboards (in fact there were three keyboards in the band, along with bass guitar and drums) as well as singing.  We met Presley, a strong handsome looking man who spoke of his time picking fruit for six months in New Zealand – Nov 2009 to April 2010, and there were so many others, my memory doesn’t recall their names.  But everyone was so friendly and welcoming, making the effort to shake our hands.

As Katrina explained, there is such a thing as Ni-van time, which probably explained why the 9:30 service finally got underway around 10:15.  And as services go, it was a lively, uplifting affair with the children playing a prominent role and a woman (senior pastor) giving the sermon.  In keeping with what seems to be local tradition, the men still sat on one side of the building and the women on the other, however, this church was so big there was a middle row … and that’s where we sat.  After the service we were able to take a photograph of the church leaders and others out the front of the church, which we later printed out on the yacht.

After the service we were invited to a lovely lunch and then around 2:00pm I did the mud brick making demonstration to a packed house of onlookers.  They caught on very quickly and the women in particular passed the instruction manual around their circle saying to Lanie that they wanted to have one made for them by their men and boys.

By 3:00pm we were headed back to the yacht with Willy our driver, plus Jessy, Katrina and Sam.  A quick radio call to Gerhard had him meet us at the pick up point and all of our new friends came out to Chimere for a cup of tea and a biscuit. It was a wonderful afternoon and, as Matt alternated between playing violin and guitar and Willy, Jessy and Katrina each having a go at the guitar, the sun began to set across a calm sea.

We felt so fortunate to have been accepted into the village as we had and so thrilled to have found Katrina.  We could tell that Katrina was happy too and as we left she simply said “thank you for finding me”.  As a parting gift we gave a dental kit, including an ART Dental manual, dental hand tools, wind-up torch and Fuji9 filling substance.  We were sure Katrina would make good use of it all.

After running our visitors ashore we prepared the ship for an early getaway by lifting the dinghy aboard, lashing everything down and generally tidying up.  Our destination tomorrow is the village of Asenvari on the southern tip of Maewao.  We stopped in there briefly (very briefly … just overnight) last week and promised Chief Nelson and his son that we’d be back.  It’s a magic location, with water laid on (for washing, showering and filling tanks) a waterfall to swim under and a safe anchorage.  No doubt it’s a good place to make mud bricks and Lanie might also put her nursing skills to good use.

Back on Pentecost, the medical team have been working hard running clinics inland and today also enjoyed a day of rest and worship.  We’ve been able to receive emails and phone calls from Graeme Duke so his report on their days activities is included below.

Just before closing tonight’s Ships Log I should mention a language breakthrough from the other day when we were leaving Melsisi.  We were making our way from the beach for the last time in the dinghy and half way back to Chimere a couple of men appeared on the shoreline with a bag beckoning us to return.  Which we did.  One of the men, I noticed, was the chap that I’d been repairing chairs with at the hospital much of the afternoon and, as we got to the shallows, he handed us a bag with some pamplemousse and orchid plant in it as a present.  We thanked him profusely and took the opportunity to ask the name of Marrepea’s son; an impressive, caring chap whose name we’d failed to secure earlier. “what is Marrepea’s son’s name?” I called.  “Marrepea, in hospital” came the reply.  “Yes, Marrepea, her son?  his name?  name belong him, do you know?” I persisted.  All I got was a semi-blank face in return, then, like a bolt of lightening the words came to me in a flash of inspiration as I called out … “Name blong picinnini blong Marrepea?”
“Oh, he Fred, Freddy name blong him!!”  called the chap on the shore (whose own name I wish I could remember).

Afterwards Matt, who was in the front of the dinghy, recalled how the man’s face lit up like a Christmas tree as the understanding of what I was asking became clear.  All were very impressed.

Smooth seas, fair breeze and here’s to our new friends at Walaha.

Rob Latimer

MSM Cub reporter inland @ Lendungsivi, Central Pentecost. Sunday 18th July.

Although Sunday was declared a rest day, the local roosters were not informed. Some were inclined to practice before sunrise, then the whole rooster choir joined in. Like most blokes they were all out of tune, out of time, & out of rhythm! The same cannot be said for the fantastic singing in church where it was harmonious, loud, and emotional.

Nobody quite knew what time worship started. “Maybe 9:30 or maybe 10:00?” “Wait for the first bell”, or “When you hear the singing start walking.” were some of the replies we received.

Unbeknown to us two local congregations (300+) were joining together for a 3hr worship service including communion & a memorial service for a young man, Graham Bule, who had died 1wk ago, at only 37yrs. He was clearly a prominent man who was highly regarded & involved in the community, the church, youth work, leadership, etc. There were many tears and sobs as first a young choir sang and then his favourite hymn was sung by all and many mourned his absence.

I am sure I counted 4 sermons, including one with each bible reading, plus 2 emotional eulogies, each delivered with passion and sincerity. Afterwards we were asked to line up at the exit and to be greeted by all.
By the time we returned for lunch we feared all hopes of an afternoon fishing trip were dashed – time was running out, constant drizzling (Melbourne-like) rain had set in, and there was no transport. Don, Leo, and I set to repairing the broken plumbing & down-pipe from the hospital roof to the water tank.

Just as we were resigned to a long siesta the truck pulled up at 3pm. Robyn was keen, and Leo & I kept her company. Down the muddy track to the coast to find Derek our boatman from Friday. Yes, he would take us out, and off he went to find petrol. Reynold, our truck driver was asked to wait until our return so he decided to join us. We trawled for an hour with no result and then saw a pod of whales frolicking. Instantly our activity became known as whale-watching; forget the fishing.
We returned to shore as the sun set over Ambae, where Chimere is currently anchored, and a rainbow formed over Pentecost Is.

And so we took the truck back up the hills & inland to Ledungsivi. Dinner was taken up with whale stories and Aussie politics (having only just being informed by Dan Duke of Julia’s Aug 21st election date.)

Tomorrow we split into 2 teams for clinics at separate villagers.

GD (Dr Graeme Duke)