The people of Malekula are amazing, caring, hospitable, hilarious, and fun loving. There are endless positive attributes I would apply to them. On the outside, to me at least, they seem angry or mad about something, but as soon as you strike up a conversation or even say hello, out comes the biggest, most sincere smiles I’ve ever seen.
This week the community started to feel a bit different. I can’t put my finger on whether it was the spiritual atmosphere, feeling completely at home, or just the crisp morning air with faint island music coming from nearby after having a great nights sleep.
Extremely busy week! So many things to do with so little time.
We had another opportunity to teach in the school, so we jumped right on it. The children treat us like teachers inside of class but as soon as we step outside, it’s like we’re their new best buddies, trying to get us to join them in their Volleyball and Soccer games during breaks (which, by the way, they kick our butts at). Many of us are greeted by the screaming of our names from half way across the village and frantic waves from our kids. Something about that is just extremely heart warming.
We also continued on the community work. The girls mostly focused on the unusually difficult custom painting of the new classroom that is about to be finished, while the guys mixed concrete and shoveled dirt for hours on end to begin the foundation of the new community kitchen that is being constructed.
Adam and I had the opportunity to go work with some of the copra harvesters for an afternoon. Driving through the 42 blocks of the plantation collecting bags as we pass them. The majority of the men of Lambumbu, along with a few of the neighboring villages, make their money by harvesting cocoa and/or copra and the plantation buys the bags of collected fruit by the kilogram.
One of our more memorable events was “Freedom Night” where we preformed the freedom skit. For those who aren’t familiar, it’s about Jesus never leaving us in the midst of worldly temptation and sin that we so predictably fall into, and he’s always right behind us when we decide to turn back to him. God was definitely there. I could just feel it when we were preforming in front of nearly the whole village. Afterwards, Taryn gave a small message explaining the skit and we asked if anyone would like prayer, to accept Christ, or just to talk, to come see us. At first it was a little disappointing since people were quite reluctant to come to us, but after a few minutes we had probably 30-40 people come to us asking us to pray with them. Many stating that they have fallen away from God and want to get back on track. Simply amazing.
The following night we spent preparing for an everyday American meal. Spaghetti with meat sauce. More so Italian I guess but nevertheless, something new for them to try. None of them had ever had it before so it was nice to bring something new for them to try, since they eat the same foods every week. We presented our honored guests with Lays (flower necklaces) to thank them for their hospitality and for serving us so much. We also washed their feet as Jesus did and received a very good response. They had never experienced that and told us that we were the first missionaries to do something as Jesus did and they were touched.
Our last day in Lambumbu we went to a neighboring village to speak at their church, and had another service back in our village followed by the community throwing a sort of farewell celebration. SO MUCH FOOD! Most of the mamas spent nearly all day preparing for the feast. The community presented us with Lays and many gifts and speeches thanking us for our time there. It blows my mind that we came there to serve and it almost seems like we were the ones being served for our entire stay. There were many tears shed that night as the speeches went on and actually leaving started to hit us. Many of us went to have some family time for one last time, so bittersweet.
On our day of departure, we had a nice relaxing morning and left at about 11. As expected, our final goodbyes were heart-breaking and the truck we were leaving on took us on one last victory lap around the village. About 10 of our family brothers and sisters tagged along and waited at the airport until we flew off (which was nothing more than 4 concrete walls without a roof). We had some spare time so we spent it having a blast with our Nivan family at the closest beach soaking up the sun one last time. The picture of us all having fun at the beach will be engrained in my head forever.
As an overall experience, I can undoubtedly say this is the most amazing experience I’ve had in my entire life. The ways God spoke to me has never been more clear, and my faith never been made so much stronger as it was in Lambumbu. We are 8 amazingly blessed individuals to be able to take part in such a unique opportunity so far away from home.
-TJ Baxter – DTS Student, April, 2015