Green Hill Teouma School Rebuild – First Phase

I was so impressed when I visited the primary school at Teouma Green Hill on the 22nd of April 2015. It had only been a few weeks since Cyclone Pam had devastated the southern half of the country. The upper Teouma farming community had been destroyed by the category 5 cyclone. The Green Hill School, started by Pastor Charley Job, had lost every building, most of their furniture, and books to the violent winds. But the headmaster had rallied his teachers and the community and by April 22nd they were back in class. This was truly a remarkable sight as teachers propped their blackboards on the ground and students huddled together on the grass to do their lessons. A hodgepodge of donated plastic tarps provided a roof over each class. It was an amazing effort to move on after an unprecedented disaster and I knew that others would want to assist and encourage such resilience.

Green Hill 22 April Teacher Gr Hill

The first commitment to finance a new class building for these children came from the Australian Christian Churches International Relief (ACCIR) and I am forever grateful to them for their partnership and trust. A building plan for a simple 3 classroom building was drawn up and paperwork signed.

Once the funds were in hand, the process of purchasing the materials and getting them up the 4WD bush road began. The delivery process took much longer than expected. Most local businesses did not want to send their delivery trucks off road. A big thank you to MCI for being the only coral and sand distributor willing to deliver all the way to the school site. Wilco Hardware and Bluescope Roofing also graciously delivered. But for the remaining tons of materials, cement, wood, rebar, and eventually water, local pick-up truck drivers had to be hired to make the deliveries.

A couple of months after Cyclone Pam, Vanuatu was hit by an ElNino drought and all rain ceased. Most people in Vanuatu are not connected to a water supply but rather depend on catching rainwater. The prolonged drought greatly improved the delivery conditions of the road to Teouma which most of the time is a slippery, rutted four wheel drive mud road. On the hand, the drought has prevented the market gardening community of Teouma from regaining its normal cash income and caused great hardship. Crops were replanted promptly post-cyclone but the harvest has been meager.

On November 23, 2015, reconstruction officially started on the Green Hill Primary school. The community had fundraised to purchase tools, buy fuel for the generator to run the cement mixer, and host temporary construction workers.

Cement slab Gr Hill Construction at Gr Hill

Everyone had been stocking water in tanks and containers to use in the pouring of the cement floor. The water on hand ran out half way through pouring the cement slab. Again the community rallied by filling water containers at a nearby lake and bringing it to the worksite. The workmen continued to mix cement as the people brought water. The cement slab was finished this past week. The rest of the building is a wood construction so there will be less need of water.

If you would like to assist the rebuilding of the Green Hill Primary School, we are currently needing funds to buy school desks and chairs. A second classroom building will also be started in early 2016 and about $40,000 US is needed.

Internet Problems

For months we have had ongoing problems with our internet service. We changed internet providers and then went back to our original provider. There is an overall technology problem in the city and it is beyond our control at this point. We hope that the system will improve in 2016. In the meantime, our email capabilities have been reduced to sometimes one brief connection per day. Internet browsing has become a rare event and loading a photo to our blog or even FB basically impossible. There is so much that has been happening and we are so anxious to share it with you. We apologize for the lack of update on our website.

Internet Problems

For months we have had ongoing problems with our internet service. We changed internet providers and then went back to our original provider. There is an overall technology problem in the city and it is beyond our control at this point. We hope that the system will improve in 2016. In the meantime, our email capabilities have been reduced to sometimes one brief connection per day. Internet browsing has become a rare event and loading a photo to our blog or even FB basically impossible. There is so much that has been happening and we are so anxious to share it with you.

2015 JBI Graduation

IMG_4704On Sunday, November 22rd, the Joy Bible Institute 2015 graduation service was held at Evangel Temple. The church had been severely damaged by Cyclone Pam and was undergoing renovations right up until the night before. The pastor, church members and building contractor worked very hard to complete the inside sanctuary in time for our graduation.

2015 JBI Grads 

Eight wonderful men and women made up the 2015 graduating class. They are from five different islands in Vanuatu. John Nampas from Santo was the class speaker. Rev. Dave Wood, newly arrived PAOC missionary from Canada and new pastor of the English-speaking International Church which meets at JBI was the graduation speaker.

2015 Grads Student Speaker John Nampas

JBI choir  Commissioning of Grads

We had a wonderful service. The church was packed with hundreds of friends and family members. And at the end of the afternoon, while the graduates were still in the receiving line, it began to rain! After months of drought, we have been praying for rain so we all soaked it up!

Missionary Dave Wood Church of Christ Rev. L. Tari

Receiving line Lina, Deborah, Lori

Please pray for our JBI graduates as they return to their home islands that they will be mightily used and please continue to pray for more rain to end our current drought in Vanuatu.

Teouma Visit

A few miles out of town, you turn off the main road and head up a track made only for 4wheel drive vehicles to get to Green Hill, Upper Teouma. The road is deeply rutted, flooded, muddy, and a challenge to the best of drivers! The trip takes about 45 minutes if you do not get bogged down along the way.

IMG_0434Until Cyclone Pam, I confess I had never been there, I was always told that our car could not make it. (It most definitely would not!) I knew there were several Assemblies of God churches in the upper hills of Teouma and would see the pastors and their wives at various gatherings in town.

In April, the newly formed National AG Disaster Committee, hired a Landcruiser and driver and headed out for a damage assessment trip to Teouma. We had already done assessments of easier to reach churches and communities.

A month after the cyclone, the long grasses had grown but the trees were still mostly stripped of leaves, branches broken, and many completely uprooted. Teouma is a market gardening community, nestled high in the hills. The cyclone whipped over these high plateaus ferociously, ripping crops out of the ground and blowing away every building in some settlements. It was a sobering drive.

Our first stop was to Pastor Charley Job in Green Hill. Every building in their area blew away except his small cement block house. Their house had safely sheltered all the nearest neighbors during the storm. After the cyclone, they stepped out of their house to find their primary school gone, the church building gone, and the nearby church’s widows house also gone. The winds were so violent that almost nothing of the school was found within walking distance. They recovered only enough to rebuild a shed to store relief and donated school supplies in.

Pastor and Mrs. Charley Job Green Hill Primary School

Green Hill Primary School had just reopened for classes the morning of our visit. Not all the children were back in school but the principal and teachers were doing their best under teach. Salvaged wood and donated plastic tarps were the new classrooms. Children sat mostly on the grass, as very few desks and chairs survived the cyclone. Normally 120 children attended this school.

Teacher at the blackboard Temporary classrooms

I can tell you that I promised them that day to write letters and find someone to help them rebuild. Many damaged schools in town had not even begun to reopen when this school, which had lost everything, was back in session.

Pastor and Mrs. John YalsiFrom Green Hill we came back down to visit Pastor and Mrs. John Yalsi of Red Ground, Teouma. Their farming settlement is perched high on a cliff overlooking the Teouma River Valley. It is a beautiful spot but was completely devastated by the cyclone. Everything was destroyed including their church. Even the cement walls crumbled. The church members climbed down the high cliff to recuperate metal roofing sheets and things for their houses. In the photo above, the pastor and his wife are standing in front of the ruins of their church. When we stopped to see them, they were busy in their gardens replanting crops to take to market in Port Vila. Until they had crops to sell, they would have no income.

After a short visit, some words of encouragement and gifts of rice and meat, we continued on down the hill towards another Teouma church pastored by Pastor John Yalu.

IMG_0438 IMG_0449

Pastor Yalu and his congregation, had used fallen coconut trees, bamboo, and blue plastic tarps to make the nicest temporary church I had seen. He was concerned that day because his wife had been away during the cyclone and was coming home to a house without a roof (photo on the right). We gathered with some of the church members and heard how God had protected them. Again after leaving some food, we continued on our way to visit other pastor and other destroyed church buildings.

The Assemblies of God had 30 church buildings completely destroyed and another 20 severely damaged by Cyclone Pam. Many pastors and their members lost their homes and their incomes. Thank you for praying and giving to help us rebuild churches in Vanuatu destroyed by this cyclone. If you haven’t yet given, we need your help. Please send all gifts to our AGWM account and label them for cyclone rebuilding.

JBI Boy’s Bathroom & Laundry Repair

JBI Boy's bathroom damageRoof repairs

Cyclone Pam took the roof off this building which houses the boy’s bathrooms, their laundry, and the school workshop. Colton and Karmen worked really hard to get the roof back on to give everyone some privacy. The plumbing and electrical wiring still needs to be fully repaired but we have come along way in a few months.

 Finishing roof repairsKarmen

Thank you to everyone who gave to help us get this building repaired!

Girl’s Dorm Update

Some of you have been following our rebuilding on fb and I apologize to those who look for news here because I have not been updating this site. I promise to do better! The hours have been insufficient to get everything done.

The JBI girl’s dorm is now repaired and the girls are enjoying their new home again! The whole roof was replaced, with new timber structure and metal roofing. Then we went inside and had to replace all the ceilings, electrical wiring, ceiling fans, and light fixtures. New low energy and LED lighting was chosen and this will make a big difference in the school utility bill. We found that wall studs inside standing walls and window frames had actually been snapped by the force of the winds and so most had to be replaced. Damaged and water-logged inside plasterboard walls were removed too. Everything was repainted. New curtains were sewn by a married student’s wife. We are waiting for the new kitchen cupboards to be delivered and then it will be finished. It already looks wonderful!Cyclone damaged girl's dorm Calo & Jeffery in repaired room

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Above left is the BEFORE photo of girl’s kitchen and living area destroyed by the cyclone. That rusty metal roofing in the room doesn’t not even belong to this house.

Photo above right is the AFTER showing the same corner. Just missing the kitchen cupboards.

Bryan and Michael Tarps for the girl's dorm Don on the tall ladder

The JBI students were fabulous. They got up on broken roofs and nailed wood and waxed tarps in place (photos above). A big thank you to Steve & Helen Blake of Liberty for the Nations, for giving us rolls of waxed tarpaulins. The tarpaulins were donated by WCT of Australia and were so strong. Many campus roofs were covered in this WCT material for many months until funds came through to repair.

Calo and Colton Progress

Thank you to Colton Cravatt, MAPS Construction volunteer from the USA, He spent three months with us helping to repair several campus buildings. On May 30, I (Lori) fell and fractured my knee and Colton stepped up and kept things going. Thank you also to Calo and Jeffery, local workers who worked on the girl’s dorm giving it all the finishing touches needed. Also to John Betuel, an electrician who came on weekends and installed new wiring and fixtures.

Finally, thank you to Australia Christian Churches ACCIR, friends in Belgium and supporters in the United States, because of your financial gifts were able to repair the JBI girl’s dorm! THANK YOU!