Vanuatu is incredible!! Really, I can't believe there is a place on earth like this. The people are so happy and nice. They wave to everyone in the street and many like to shake the missionaries' hands. Most of the past week, I've been in the mission office, but we go out often, learning the city and simply being seen by the people. There are always missionaries in the office, sort of on standby, because occasionally people will come by and ask for a lesson. I stay in the zone leaders' house, not the mission home. I've only been there once, and it reminds me of the French man's home in 'South Pacific'.
Yesterday, I went on a split with Elder 'Iloa and Elder Jeffries. They are great missionaries. Their area is the Pango village just outside of Port Vila, so I got my first taste of what its like outside the city. I can't even begin to describe the countryside. anytime I looked at it, I just wanted to scream and let out the emotions that it's sheer beauty was building inside me. There are trees three, maybe four times bigger than I have ever seen in my life, and so much green, I thought the color would burn. We met an investigator, an old lady who talks fast, and is about as sweet as anyone I have ever met. She wants to be baptized, but we need to help her husband agree first. Her testimony is powerful, and as she gave it I could feel the Spirit even though I had no idea what she said, but I heard her say Joseph Smith, Papa God, Jisus Kraes, and made a face to face gesture. One of the people we went to talk to could only be reached by walking through a certain patch of beach, that was so thin it was the size of a path, with light blue ocean on one side and thick, dark green jungle on the other. The sand was white and I thought it was covered in rocks until I realized none of them were rocks, but white chunks of coral, worn and smoothed by the water. I had dinner with these elders, too. It was a dinner appointment at a member's home. We had laplap and fish head. Laplap is made from a giant fruit that is sliced into the general size and shape of a slice of bread, then baked.
On the trip to Vanuatu, I met a lot of people. One of them was interested in the church, and he and I spoke about almost everything from the trip to San Francisco. I met a new convert, a member visiting former couple missionaries, and a member who wanted to buy us dinner.
I leave for Tanna on Sunday now, tomorrow, and my p-days will start to become more regular. I've been hearing many different things about Tanna, but here are some that I'm certain about: Tanna is one of the poorest islands in Vanuatu, and was hit the hardest by Cyclone Pam, the cyclone that went through back in March. Those combined with the huge drought here means that Tanna is having a lot of trouble. There is almost no food growing there, water is scarce, and buildings are still in ruins. Missionaries are giving huge amounts of service there, and there are only three sets of missionaries, two sets of elders, and one set of sisters. It has an active volcano that is a huge tourist attraction, but the volcano causes massive earthquakes somewhat regularly. Because of the lifestyle of the people there, the earthquakes don't really have any effect other than feeling them, so that should be interesting.
That's about all for now. I still can't get pictures. I may have to just send the sd card home when its filled up and hope it makes it, but I'll keep trying to find a way to send them.
Elder Van Wagenen