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February 16, 2017
The 2017 Queensland Youth Ambassadors Sarah Crisp, Melissa Scheuch and Ash-Lee Lund, together with Education Officer Sarah Gover and Communications Coordinator Vivienne For returned from their Vanuatu Pilgrimage last Monday 6th February.
The group flew out from Brisbane on Friday 27th January, and arrived in Vanuatu’s capital, Port Vila, on the island of Efate. Despite it being the rainy season, there was plenty of blue sky and sunshine. The stopover gave the visitors a small taste of the islands with the heat, the slowing down of time and the interesting experience of wearing a lizard on one’s head!
|Ash-Lee with lizards in Port Vila. © ABM/Vivienne For 2017.|
They flew out to Luganville, Espiritu Santo, on the afternoon of 28th January and visited Ascension Parish on Sunday morning where they experienced the beautiful singing of the local choir as well as a visiting choir. What a joy and honour to hear the congregation praising the Lord with one voice and such feeling! It proved to be a most memorable occasion for the Youth Ambassadors and was just the first of many meetings where they encountered the warm hospitality of the local people.
|Sunday service at Ascension Parish in Luganville. © ABM/Vivienne For 2017.|
In Luganville, the pilgrims were joined by ACOM Vanuatu staff members Fr James Tama, Assistant Mission Secretary, Joses Togase, Deputy General Secretary, and Rucinta Vora, ACOM Development Coordinator. On Monday 30th January, they all travelled to Sola on the island of Vanua Lava in the Diocese of Banks and Torres (DOBT). It became quite noticeable that the planes were getting smaller the further north they flew, especially for Melissa who has a fear of flying!
|Flying from Luganville to Sola. © ABM/Vivienne For 2017.|
They spent five days within the diocese, visiting Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) projects and Literacy projects in quite remote locations which were only accessible by boat. There were moments spent riding in the back of an ACOM truck on very bumpy roads, with the risk of getting bogged, crossing a river on foot and walking through bush with very steep climbs and descents. The realities of travel in the islands and its hardships were not lost on the visitors, nor were the risks of contracting tropical diseases or being bitten by tiny fire ants.
|Rucinta Vora talking about the VIP toilets funded through the WASH Program.
© ABM/Vivienne For 2017.
There were many highlights during the pilgrimage but a special one was travelling to the island of Mota where Bishop George Augustus Selwyn established the Anglican Church of Melanesia in 1849. They saw the ruins of Bishop’s Selwyn’s house and the tomb of George Sarawia, the first ordained Melanesian priest. There was indeed a feeling of awe at being present in Veverao village, a place of such historical significance, and walking in the footsteps of the bishop.
|Veverao village on Mota Island. © ABM/Vivienne For 2017.|
The Rt Rev Alfred Patteson Worek, Bishop of DOBT, organised a Youth Program on their last night in Sola. It was a very enjoyable event with youth from three parishes participating in the musical performances. It also gave Ash-Lee, Melissa and Sarah the chance to demonstrate their skills in working with youth. They received a pleasant surprise when they realised that everyone knew the words of the Kookaburra song!
The last weekend in Vanuatu was spend in Luganville where the group visited the ACOM office and attended Sunday service at Mango Parish. They enjoyed the singing and hospitality of the congregation, and had a few of the young girls playing with their hair – perhaps a novelty for them?
|L-R: Melissa, Ash-Lee and Sarah experiencing the hospitality of Mango Parish.
© ABM/Vivienne For 2017.
On Monday 6th February the pilgrims flew back to Australia, leaving behind new friends and an experience they will not forget. They were embraced by the communities and learnt about another culture, but also saw mission in action, what God is doing. As a local priest said in his service, “God is good” to which the congregation responded, “All the time.”
Thank you to all who supported the ABM Youth Ambassadors and staff through prayer as they journeyed on their pilgrimage through Vanuatu. We are extremely grateful to the staff of ABM’s Vanuatu Partner, the Anglican Church of Melanesia (ACOM), who did a splendid job of hosting the group and provided opportunities to meet with local communities to see the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and Literacy projects firsthand.
> To find out more about the Vanuatu WASH project and the Literacy project, visit the Vanuatu Project page.