Well, I'm still in Port Vila, living with the office missionaries, so I get another office pday (Saturday). The mission president has decided to just keep me here until after zone conference, which is Wednesday and Thursday next week.
This week has been a little slow. I've learned what life is like for an office elder. Transfers are coming up, so things are a little crazy here, especially since we're expecting 30 new missionaries, and housing still needs to be taken care of, but it sounds like everything will work out well. President Granger has given me the job of collecting pictures of recent converts and creating a slideshow that will run continuously in the office.
The office just got a piano! This has really been great for me, because Tanna doesn't have any pianos, and when I've been here in Port Vila, I could only play piano when whoever is hosting me took me to the stake center. Now I can practise whenever it's not being used and when I don't have any work to do (which is surprisingly often, for not having an assigned role as an office elder).
The mission is very geared towards proselytizing. The people are very receptive to the Gospel, and just meeting investigators lets me feel the Spirit that I'm sure they are feeling. The language is... coming. I am learning it really fast, for a language. I feel like it is more of a coded English than a language, but I'm still struggling to follow topics in conversation. It sounds like people understand me when I speak, though.
I don't really know what is different about a Vanuatu Christmas. The decorations have come up during the time I've been in Port Vila, and all of them have been the generic Santa Claus and Christmas tree decorations. I think it's funny that all the decorations are covered in snow, while here in the southern hemisphere it's technically summer.
Technology is about the same as in the US, just not as common. Even back in Tanna's villages I met people with smart phones, just not everyone. One thing that has really interested me, is that some of the people in those villages have never left their homes. They are able to make everything they need, and can find food in the nearby jungle. Every village I've seen has at least one person that has been to town, and sometimes Port Vila, but some have never left their home village.
The missionaries get one phone per companionship, but they are all the Nokia pre-flip phones. That is about all the technology missionaries have, other than cameras and flash drives.
My companion is from Tahiti, and he has been a member his whole life. I don't really know him very well personally because we have trouble communicating. He doesn't know English very well, and I barely know Bislama. His native languages are Tahitan and French, neither of which I can speak.
I feel like time is moving really fast, as if two or three days pass here in the time one would back home. It still feels like I arrived in the mission field last week. I don't know how long it feels like for you, but time is definitely moving faster than it should. Maybe it's because I'm on a mission. Maybe it's because the lifestyle here is so laid back, almost lazy. Maybe it's both, I don't know. As far as normal everyday life, so far, there hasn't really been any 'normal' yet, between exchanges, coming to Port Vila, and my involvement with the results of the car accident. Once life settles into a 'normal', I'll focus on the 'normal' in Vanuatu.
I hear Vanuatu know how to celebrate, but I havn't seen that for myself yet. For Christmas the Mission President wants all the missionaries in the Efate Zone (my zone) to be at the mission home for a party, so I don't think I'll see how they celebrate Christmas.
Well, that's about it for now, I'll hopefully have more for next pday, whenever that may be! Please feel free to keep asking me questions so I know what to write home!
Elder Van Wagenen
Here's pictures of my chapel in Tanna, as well as a few others!