Sunday, April 24, 2016

Tanna Custom Dance (with tourists...)‏

Video I took of a Custom Dance on Tanna
 I've danced too, but with the real custom dance, not the one for tourists. Really the only difference is that everyone wears their normal clothes and there's a lot more people, getting a lot more into it because they are dancing for fun, not for tourists. It's fun. I hear the custom dances on Malekula are different though. I wonder if I'll be able to have a chance to see them.

 A small green snake that looks like a python, and apparently it can 'fly'. The Ni-Vans tell me it hooks it's tail to a branch, then begins to swing, gaining momentum until it lets go and jumps to another tree.  My companion saw it off the side of a path while walking.

A couple of pictures from Malekula

Sunday, April 17, 2016


I've been in Malekula for a week now, and everything is going much better, now that I'm getting used to everything. I like my companion a lot, and the mission work is going well.  The areas that I work in is villages like Tanna, but where I live, there's a full store, where I can get everything I need.  We work in three areas: Pinalum, Norsup, and Lambubu (but we can't go to Lambubu until the district leader's new truck gets sent to Malekula, because the area's so far away).   The church is smaller here, and we don't have as many investigators, but there are more less active and recent converts here. We had church in a large straw hut yesterday (Sunday) and there were 14 people. Including us missionaries and the prospective missionary.  My companion conducted and presided, and the prospective and I blessed and passed the sacrament. It was pretty different, but it wasn't bad.

There isn't much else to add for this week.

Elder Van Wagenen

Sunday, April 10, 2016


Well, Port Vila's mission office wasn't my final stop. Last Wednesday,
 I found out I was being transferred to Malekula, to replace an elder
 who had gotten sick. The adventure isn't over! Malekula is the second
 largest island in Vanuatu, and one of the more primitive ones, also,
 although it isn't as primitive as Tanna. My house has a washing
 machine and fans, now. But I still go to villages to teach. My
 companion is Elder Sate, from here in Vanuatu. He has five months
 left in his mission, and has everything down. I can only really follow
 him around at this point, because of how good he is at proselyting.

 My district leader is Elder Edwards, one of my MTC companions. The
 area that I work in is much bigger than my last area, and we walk a
 LOT, even though I've only been here one full day.
 The church is smaller here than on Tanna, and the missionaries are
 about it when it comes to priesthood, although there are enough to
 lead all the meetings. It sounds like I'll bee in a different branch
 every Sunday, because there are 3 or 4 in my area. I don't have much
 more to add, because its only been one day, but I'm still welcoming

 Elder Van Wagenen

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Ialulu (Yah-lulu)

Well, I have a bit of a story to tell.  The transfer came and went, and I originally stayed in Tanna. Life continued on as usual, until I got a phone call last Tuesday night.  We had another emergency transfer, and I was going to Port Vila to work in the mission office as a housing maintenance elder.  That's where I am now.  Tanna didn't want to say goodbye, and as a thank you gift, one of the strangest things was given to me, a gift I'll never get anything similar to again: the chief of the tribe in the area I worked in, Whitegrass, (tribes are an extended family, and cover 3-4 villages), adopted me into the tribe.  You read that right. I also got a custom name, and a boar's tusk, which is a token of respect and honor, and is usually only given to other chiefs as gifts.  I am now Ialulu Tess (Yah-lulu Tess) of the Rakatne Tribe.  I'll be trying to wrap my mind around that for the rest of my life, even though it doesn't really have a direct effect on me...

The next thing I knew, I was on the plane to Port Vila.  I now live in an area called Blacksands, which many Tanna immigrants to Efate live. And I'm an office elder for housing maintenance, which means it's possible I'll be traveling around Vanuatu, fixing missionary houses on every island, but there's a chance that may not happen, because the mission nurse seems to be taking over a large part of our job. But you never know.

I'm still trying to wrap my head around all of this crazy, and the rest of the last two weeks have been a blur in my memory. Oh, my companion's name is Elder Hillman, from a small town 30 miles away from BYUI.

Elder Van Wagenen.