A group of Australian volunteers went on a fly’n’build trip to Vanuatu, aiming to rebuild two of the Adventist churches destroyed by Cyclone Pam last year. During their trip, they were able to double their expectations and finish building four churches. Maryanne Jakovac, coordinator of Adventist Volunteers for the South Pacific Division, was one of the team. Here is her account of the experience.
God has blessed—not just this first church—but the 53 that will be rebuilt.
The volunteers were accommodated in tents on the building site. Three women from Queensland did all the cooking for the team. Sanitarium generously provided breakfast for the volunteers and the local ladies gave us home-grown vegies.
Local villagers and church members helped us build the churches. They were amazed at how quickly the new buildings could be erected.
These new churches are steel structures that are Category 5 cyclone proof. Under the supervision of builder and team leader Peter Koolik, the constructions are pre-fabricated in Queensland and shipped to Vanuatu. Working together, volunteers and locals were able to complete four churches during their time in Vanuatu—Pang Pang, Epau, Moso Island and Prima.
Inside one of the new church structures, which have been designed to withstand a Category 5 cyclone.
At one site we had 40 local men of all ages who worked all day alongside the volunteers. They came to learn how to build the churches, so that in turn, they could assist other sites.
Pang Pang church officially opened on October 17, 2015, and although Sabbath morning started with drizzle, this did not deter anyone from attending.
The joy and smiles on the congregation’s faces was the volunteers’ most rewarding gift. However we were also presented with dresses and shirts made by the local ladies as a gift of appreciation for the new church.
“We have nothing to give you to say thank you,” they said. “But we made these with our own hands so that you can remember us.”
One member said to me, “I can’t believe this is here. God has blessed—not just this first church—but the 53 that will be rebuilt. We give praise and thanks to Him who has made this possible thorough the generosity of Seventh-day Adventist believers around the world.”
The locals on Efate Island are still suffering the effects of Cyclone Pam. Coconut trees, banana and paw paw plants were severely damaged and are not yet producing crops. The few remaining mango trees are fruiting but the fruit is small and some of the plants have no flowers. Fortunately there is an abundance of vegetables and they seem to be growing well.
Moso church, and the hands that built it.
Thank you for your prayers, donations and support, and especially to those who have donated specifically for the shipment of the containers.
We still need monetary assistance to support the shipping of containers and the manufacturing of the steel structures as well as for the cement bags and the cyclone-proof casing for the windows that is needed to protect the glass. The locals are preparing the sites for the volunteer teams arriving this year.
We pray that we can work together and continue to assist our brothers and sisters in relief efforts that may be needed in the future.
If you would like to make a donation, please contact Kingsley Wood at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.