Congratulations to the JBI Class of 2013!
Pictured are David Garae from Ambae and John Iaruel from Tanna!
It is hard to believe that we are just a month from graduation. It has been a wonderful year of working together with a great group of students, overseas friends who came to assist, Pastor Philip who was able to go to Africa to start an M.A. degree, the construction of long-awaited married dorms, those of you who financially supported needy students and the list goes on…
The next few weeks will be very busy as we finish our courses, plan end-of-the-year events, farewell our graduates and award diplomas on November 24. Please pray for our seven graduates as they look toward their future ministry and thank you for your continued support.
We have had the pleasure of receiving Drs. Weldyn and Barb Houger, of the Asia Pacific Education Office (APEO) at JBI this week. The faculty met with them to discuss education issues, course descriptions, syllabi and curriculum. They also spoke in our Tuesday and Thursday chapel services. From warm Vanuatu they head to cold Mongolia to teach, though we look forward to them coming again!
The weather has been great and we have made much progress on the mission house. I thought I should post some pictures to give you a look. The foundation was very time-consuming and labor intensive and the rainy weather did not help. The weather cleared and on the 5th of August the ready mix cement trucks were able to get up the hill and we poured the floor slab. Since then we have doing the block work and the electrical conduits. It is really starting to look like a house and the kids have already claimed their bedrooms! We have about 4 more months of hard work before we can move in.
The carport (below) is really coming along. There is no other garage on campus so we will not only have a place for our car but also for the old campus pick-up truck. The room in the back will be of dual purpose as a workshop and a storage for the literature we produce & distribute. The corrugated metal roofing has been ordered and should be installed this next week.
Pastor Philip Naias returned to Vanuatu after 3 months of study at the West Africa Advanced School of Theology in Lome, Togo. It is an incredibly long series of flights but he arrived back safely. We were all glad to see him get off the plane, most of all his wife Serah. He arrived home on July 27th and his suitcase has still not shown up. It has been found in South Korea and we are still trying to get the airlines to send it back to him.
He thoroughly enjoyed his M.A. courses and his experiences in Africa and will return again next year. We are glad to have him back teaching at JBI. If you would like to help us finance Philip’s next M.A. courses in 2014, please contact us. We will need about $4500 for his plane fares and tuition.
Across Vanuatu this past week, AG church members traveled to provincial conferences organized on five different islands across the country. The central province where we live is called Shefa and our conference was here on the island of Efate. Pastor Raymond Clay of the PEF – AG church was the host pastor. His wife, Josiane, was the chairlady of the organizing committee and what a wonderful job she did. The conference was well-organized and there were many very memorable moments. Pastor Raymond and Josiane are childhood friends of mine.
The Sunday afternoon opening ceremony started with many of the delegates, including myself and the kids, marching down the street to the conference venue. Here in Vanuatu, all important events and holidays start with a march.
The opening ceremonies included the raising of three flags; the national flag of Vanuatu, the provincial and the Christian flag. The Royal Rangers marched smartly in to perform this important task. For their part, the Missionette girls performed a colorful choreography set to music. Then the pastors and their wives were welcomed by hanging lengths of cloth around their necks and some were given woven mats. A huge cake was cut and refreshments were served to the crowd sitting around the property on chairs and mats. No opening ceremony is complete without welcome speeches and a cake!
The opening ceremony was followed by an evening service, with Pastor K. Nikara from Mele preaching and special music by the Shefa youth choir.
The next four days of conference were packed with devotional times, lectures, and business meetings for the various provincial departments like women’s, men’s and youth. Each evening a public open air service was held from 6-9 p.m.
We were blessed to have Pastors Russell & Robyn Harbour, from Australia with us teaching second term at JBI. The Harbours served in Vanuatu for three years before returning to ministry in Australia in 2010. It was great to have them back on the team again for 3 months. The students thoroughly enjoyed the classes they taught. They traveled on the weekends speaking in many different churches and taught seminars.
The Assemblies of God Executive Committee are on campus for their bi-annual meeting this week. So we had a dedication prayer and ribbon cutting for the new married dorm followed by a nice dinner in the school cafeteria. The new building was complete except for the exterior paint. We are so grateful to all those who contributed to the completion of this project. It would never have been completed without the very generous donations from many missionary friends, including retired and short term. Thank you to everyone!
I just received a newsletter from a missionary friend in Africa today and she said that “the work was unrelenting at times.” That word unrelenting really hit me because it describes how our lives have been for a couple of years now. According to the dictionary, unrelenting means inflexible, not diminishing in intensity.
Unrelenting as JBI students sitting in class at 7 a.m. expecting a teacher to show up for the first morning class and all the following class periods of the day.
Unrelenting as my mobile phone beeps messages early each morning telling me that the construction crew needs cement, sand or something else. I buy all the building supplies so I must head to the hardware store at a moment’s notice if the work is to progress.
Unrelenting as phone calls come from JBI grads on outer islands asking for tracts and Bibles to be sent to them for outreaches. This means finding out when ships are traveling (no set schedules here) and then being at the wharf to hand over the boxes before the ship sails. Often it means standing on the wharf only to find the ship decided to sail early or not at all.
Unrelenting means wearing far too many hats and some which fit uncomfortably like JBI bookkeeping and office management. This year Gary has had to take over the school finances and office work along with being the school principal and a full-time teacher. He will do this until a qualified, trustworthy office person is found.
Unrelenting as the unfinished manuscript for the national Sunday School lesson book sitting on my desk, the publishing deadline has already past. Sunday school teachers around the country have been waiting for this book to be translated into the Bislama language. I can find no one to do it and can’t find the hours and weeks to finish it myself.
Unrelenting as twice-weekly chapel services and weekend speaking in churches. Requests to come and speak on specific topics or to address specific problems keep coming in but time does not always permit.
Unrelenting as homeschooling our two children. Math, English, and Science workbooks pile up and need regular correcting by mom and dad.
Unrelenting as emails fill the inbox asking for reports, special letters and favors. Sometimes it is a request to find a taxi driver by the name of Tom who drove a tourist around last month…sometimes just a note to say a church can no longer support us.
As Paul says, “…besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches” (2 Cor.11:28).
The work is unrelenting because the need is great and the laborers are few. Pray for new missionaries to join us at Joy Bible Institute!
Pastor Philip Naias, senior JBI faculty, is currently at the West Africa Advanced School of Theology in Togo, West Africa. This is the beginning of his Masters of Arts degree program which will continue over the next three years.
West Africa is a long way from Vanuatu, approximately 18,000 km or 11,000 miles. But Pastor Philip has made many friends and is enjoying his studies. While he is away, we are very grateful to friends who have come to JBI to teach in his place. Please pray for Pastor Philip as he studies and his family back home in Vanuatu.
BTW – J. Gary & Lori Ellison taught for 6 years at the West Africa Advanced School of Theology in Togo.
On April 12, we broke ground for the missionary house on the JBI campus. This was a very exciting event as we are building a house which we will actually live in. Living in community on campus has always been our desire.
As soon as I had the building permit in hand, the guys started to clear the site. We are building at the top of the hill on a site which was excavated years ago for a mission house but never built. A big thank you to Graeme, an engineer, who answered my SOS over his lunch hour and gave me some expert advice and reassurance on the site elevations. Due to the varying elevations the site needed further excavation work. Then the guys spent 2 weeks with a jackhammer breaking through the solid coral stone to make foundation trenches. That was not a pleasant job and everyone was glad to get it done!
Finally, on Friday, May 30, the ready mix cement trucks started coming up the hill and dumping cement into the trenches. The first cement truck got up the hill without a hitch but then it started to pour rain and we spent most of the next 7 hours trying to get the next four cement trucks up and down the hill! The last cement truck had to be unloaded by the wheelbarrow full, with the guys racing up the hill with wheelbarrows and dumping the wet cement into the trenches. It was a grueling day and there are still scars on the school flower beds and lawns as a reminder as to how dangerous a sliding cement truck, with bald tires on wet grass can be!
We are now building the foundation walls and getting ready to pour the floor. Hoping for a week of sunshine so we can get a lot done!
We are not fundraising for the house as we currently have funding from AGWM and ActioNow for the main construction. We may need help with finances for the utility hookups and some inside finishing work. We are very thankful to be moving ahead with this project and look forward to moving into the house around the end of the year.
This past Sunday we were invited to Fres Win Assembly of God church, pastored by Rev. Joshua Malakai. The church is located in a heavily populated suburb of Port Vila called Fres Win (Fresh Wind). It is a growing residential part of the city, with people coming from many islands to the capital city looking for work.
The church is meeting in a temporary structure beside a large half-finished concrete building. Gary preached and after service Lori was asked to encourage the church about their building program. The church members are wanting to finish the building so they can reach more people in their community. They have raised money for materials and worked very hard over the last couple of years and now need some assistance to finish the job. A few tons of cement to finish pouring posts and beams, timber for trusses, and then a metal roof are needed.
After service there was a lovely church potluck and special cakes to celebrate Mother’s Day. Everyone had a lovely time of fellowship.
Jasmine had fun walking around with someone’s tame parrot on her shoulder and made many new friends.
Let us know if you would like to help the Fres Win church.
We were so pleased to have Peter and Brenda Jones, from Australia, with us during the first term of classes at JBI. Peter came to teach English, Study Skills, and Church and Its Mission. Brenda took on the task of re-organizing all the library books after the new shelves were installed. She sewed curtains for dorm rooms and sorted through a neglected storage area, discovering both unexpected treasures and junk.
We really appreciate their willingness to come over and help us at JBI. God Bless!