Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Our trip to Malaita

Friday 14 October 2011 Sister Mitchell and I boarded the Empress as first class passengers and left Honiara at 8AM for Malaita to visit the Branch there.  Pres. Misitana of the Honiara Branch had made all of the arrangements and guided us for the 3 day trip.

Two and a half hours later we arrived at the dock in Auki, Malaita.  Our driver, James was waiting there to pick us up in his well worn Toyota 4x4 pickup.  Not withstanding the bald tires on the front, rough idle, no shocks and probably a half million miles on rough roads we made it 39 kilometers to the Branch and back every day.

Our driver James, Pres. Misitana, Elder and Sister Mitchell

We paid $1000 SBD (Solomon Bank Dollars about US$1 to $7SBD) each day plus the fuel.  The "gas stations" were interesting.  Just four liter jugs of kerosene, diesel, or gasoline lined up on a board.  It was full service as the attendant took the jug and a funnel and poured it in the tank while another attendant held a huge umbrella, if it was raining, so no water would get in the fuel tank.  The gasoline was not cheap at $14.60SBD per liter or about US$8 per gallon.

Brother Rimou, Father Michael, Pres. Misitana, & Simon in front of the Clinic we will renovate with the  humanitarian fund

One of the purposes of our trip was to assess what needed to be done to renovate the Medical Clinic in Fouabu.  Father Michael, the Anglican Priest, has responsibility for the Clinic which is in terrible disrepair.  There are no funds to fix anything not even money to purchase fuel for the generator so when we come we will need to provide all of the building materials and even the fuel so we will have power for the tools.  We will clean and paint the entire building inside and out, replace the 4 hollow core doors with solid doors and new locks.  Replace the broken louvers in the windows, add benches outside, provide 4 tables and a desk and chairs, build shelves for the supplies to get them off of the floor, replace all of the screens and heavy wire mesh over the windows, replace the facia boards and much of the exterior masonite and batten boards  and repaint the roof.  A total renovation.  Father Michael is very excited to think that we can do this and can hardly believe we will complete the project by early December.

Saturday we were blessed to be in attendance of the baptism of 5 young women in the ocean.  Elder Maesi baptised them and Elder Vi conducted the baptism.

After the baptisms the sisters and young men performed native dances for us.  Sister Mitchell joined in with Sister Margaret Rimou the senior Sister missionary.

Michael, a young member of the Branch climbed a coconut tree to pick fresh coconuts for us.

Fourty six attended Sacrament Meeting on Sunday in the small chapel the missionaries built for the Branch.

Sister Mitchell teaching the youth a lesson on prayer during Sunday Shool in the shade of a small tree.

Sister and Elder Mitchell, Brother and Sister Rimou, Elder Maesi, Deven, Pres. Misitana
front row:  Lisa Rimou, Elder Vi, Nathan Bata

Elder and Sister Mitchell with Auki harbor in the background prior to leaving for Honiara Sunday afternoon.

View from the mountain above Auki with reefs and small islands in the sea.

The only boat available for our return trip to Honiara on Sunday evening was an old fishing boat that had been converted into a passenger boat.  We arrived at the boat at 7:30PM for a scheduled 8PM departure, but the boat didnn't leave the dock until about 9 oclock.  Pres. Misitana spoke with the captain early in the evening and made arrangements for Sister Mitchell and I to travel in the wheel house.   We sat about 4 feet behind the wheel of the ship and watched the crew manuver the ship all night long.  This was the "slow boat to China" making a slow 12 knots all night long on the trip back to Honiara.  We spent most of the night siting in the best seats on the boat, a counter with no cushion but right behind the captain.  The other passengers spent the night strewn around the boat amongst the cargo, dogs, chickens etc, wherever they could find a place to lie down and sleep the night away.  Some slept on the top of the boat where there was no railing.  I was affraid that they would roll over and fall off of the boat in their sleep, but I guess they are used to traveling like that.  They seemed very comfortable.  We were grateful for our special accomadations.  At 4 AM we arrived at the dock in Honiara and were excited to see Elder Gisa and Elder Tamihana waiting for us at the dock.  A very long night but safe and happy to be back home.


Jen said...

Wow! I didn't know all these details... how amazing. That's great you can renovate the clinic for those people. It seems like they really love you.
Great job posting pictures!

Doug said...

Wow! It looks like you're in for a couple of years of 'adventures'! It's good you made it there safe and I'm sure the people there will be so blessed by your service.