Vanuatu Library Project Mission 2018
On the first day of July, thirteen of us set out with much excitement and anticipation on Samford Valley Community Church’s inaugural mission trip to the island of Santo in Vanuatu. We spent close to nine months planning and preparing – fundraising, collecting library books, preparing gift boxes for children, packing a shipping container, setting out risk managements, and even practicing safe snorkelling.
Brisbane airport was where we met our first challenge. We were told our aircraft was still under repair and would not be ready until that evening. Off we when to a motel in the city of Brisbane. The next announcement was our flight was to be postponed to the following morning due to a volcano eruption on the nearby island of Ambae.
We finally got to the village school and met up with the local village leaders. After a formal welcome ceremony by the students and teachers of Natawa School, we commenced a huge task of fitting-out and setting up the library. In the meantime, four of the teachers in our team set off to help lead a two-day teachers’ conference in the local town of Luganville. 400 teachers were expected, however the word got out and close to 700 local Ni Van teachers turned up hungry for any kind of profession development.
We eventually completed not only the Natawa library, but another smaller library in the nearby village of Bene. The village leaders, the teachers and parents, and of course the children were so excited about their new library and all the additional resources that were donated. The greatest excitement was giving giftboxes to the children who waited so patiently. The gift boxes were donated by Samford State School and various Samford church members and local residents. The presentations of the libraries were of course major ceremonies with lots of speeches, formalities, singing and of course delicious food.
In reflection, our whole team agreed that it was a privilege and a pleasure to help these schools by partnering them to build and resource their own must needed library. The appreciation the Ni Van people returned to us was truly overwhelming and the experience will never be forgotten. Once again, we realised that Australia is a ‘lucky’ country. We are lucky and blessed to have the opportunity to share our abundance with others who have so little. Indeed, the saying is true,’ it is better to give than to receive’.
Lead Pastor of Samford Valley Community Church