Archive for May, 2015
The trade ship arrives

The supply and trade ship arrived, causing lots of activity. It comes on a monthly basis, most of the time.

Ontong Java is an Atoll, meaning the ground is nearly 100% sand and coral. As a result, very limited food or crop type vegetation grows here. The sea provides the majority of sustenance with a few things such as taro, coconuts, and bananas coming from small gardens. Most other foods staples including rice, flour and other fruits and veggies come on the ship.

Thus being the case, the economy has an increasing need for the use of cash. The main export from the area is a variety of sea cucumbers; three kinds actually, which are primarily sold to the Chinese. A sea cucumber is like a large caterpillar which moves slowly along the sandy sea floor, only they have no legs. The kinds here range from 6 to 10 inches at 1 to 2 inch diameter. No one in Ontong Java will eat them.

There is a bit of a crisis looming as the buyers are drastically under paying the community for the value per kilo. After failed negotiations the Solomon Islands government has decided to ban the export due to the imbalance of trade. Thus the crisis as the local community does not know how they will raise cash for goods.

As you can see in the photo, the last shipments to market are being brought to the ship by the shore boats, called canoes, and loaded. Also going on the ship are polished shells and empty petroleum drums, along with local people heading to Honiara for business trips to accompany their goods for trade. Others are heading to the city to reunite with extended family living there for work and education purposes.

A look around the village and you can see plenty of solar panels with batteries powering lights, music players and other small electronic devices. There is an analog cell tower bringing in telephone service, however no fast 3G. A fair number of people have cell phones. Of all the goods, it appears fast food companies are making the best profit as soda, beer, chips and other non-nutritional type prepackaged foods are very popular. This results in wrappings and cans being scattered across the ground everywhere because there is no rubbish removal system.

The distance to Honiara from here is 254 nm, 16 hours or so for the trade ship; 48 hours or so for us. As we wrap up our visit here today and look at weather routing to the capital, our hope is to arrive Thursday or Friday.

Yesterday, Sunday, was fully of rain and wind. Today the cloud cover is waning and the sun returning. Wind forecasts show to be light for Tuesday and building in Wednesday from the SE, moving to the east by early Thursday. Looks like a good time to depart Ontong Java and head to Honiara. Time will tell.

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Village Visit Ontong Java

After taking care of the important task of spending time with the Chief, receiving permission to stay for some time, the next day a friendly young man came to see us. T’max, as it turns out, has an older brother who is the first person to ever represent the people here in Ontong Java in the Solomon Islands Parliament.

The nation’s government gave a directive several years back that the population here needed to elect a representative for their interests and needs. The election was arranged and completed last year. The man elected was previously able to acquire a government grant to provide the region with powered canoes…more or less long boats with outboards to get around and fish inside the large lagoon (35 x 35 miles). The Ontong Java community began receiving the boats in 2012. One was pictured in yesterday’s blog.

While in the various villages, T’max helped track down the old friends of Matthew from the time he grew up here. Armed with pictures, we made the new acquaintances and shared stories. Much has changed over the recent years. The statement “NO CULTURE IS STATIC” is ever so true. Ontong Java and its people are no exception to this hard fact. With the world moving faster and faster there are always the ripple effects, some good and others not so good.

The whole region was affected by WWII. We saw relics around, including some ship hawse pipes, various hardware, and a float or pontoon from a Japanese plane. Our walk through brought us to the home of the oldest women in the region. It turns out she was a young teenager during the war and remembers when the invading army came through. The villagers hid the American Expeditionary Marines on the other side of the Atoll and told the Japanese they were never seen, so they left. No one knows her exact age but she still has a good memory.

Today is Sunday. This morning we planned to attend the local church service, however a big downpour came and our liaison did not show up in his canoe to take us. So we held our worship time here on board and prayed blessings to the people here. This afternoon it will be back to the village to finish our visits before weighing anchor and heading south to the capital, Honiara. There we will meet with local Wycliffe personnel and make arrangements to provide support services to them while we are in the area.

Please join us in continued prayer for the people and children of Ontong Java. They need more education services, a health clinic and family unity as well as for the airstrip to be completed and opened for service. There are an estimated 3000 men, women and children in the community.

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First Order of Business

First Order of Business

Our arrival was met by these locals in the photo. After some ship to ship calling out back and forth, it was clarified they would be happy to take us to see Chief Peter. We tossed them 4 cold sodas and they lead the way to the safe anchorage area outside the main village.

Once settled and on the hook, literally, our new friends came back having the Captain and Admiral board their inshore boat (called a canoe). Off we went to the other side of the bay, over reefs and shoals to see the Chief. Good thing we did not try to find the him ourselves.

The purpose was to officially check in with the head man of the community of around 3,000 people. Second was to bring him photos and gifts from Matthew whose parents worked with Peter and his staff to translate the New Testament into their wantok.

This is the second largest Atoll (Ontong Java) in the world and northernmost community of the Solomon Islands Nation. Ontong covers about 35 x 35 miles square. It’s very beautiful and very remote.

Over the next few days we will seek out Matthew’s childhood friends, who are all adults now, and visit others who come alongside to trade local goods for things we have brought for that purpose.

May God bless this time and our activity to glorify Him who sent us. Amen!

Pics & map located at www.sailblogs.com/member/swdreams88

 
Land Ho!

The early morning darkness was extended by one more giant wash down as dawn loomed. Shortly after the wall of rain cleared, our destination was spotted. It’s always good to make land fall in daylight.

The trip required nine and one half days with this session of dodge squall coming to a close: 6 solid hits and a dozen more close calls. Only one had lightning which is really good news.

What’s better news is the fact that we are all well and no one had any injuries requiring more than a Band-Aid. All in all, the trip went better than expected with plenty more white puffy clouds and sunshine than predicted. Winds were generally following and seas light at 4-6 feet maximum. The only thing lacking was of course some sleep.

Thanks for all you prayers and covering us with protection. After dropping anchor we are off to see Chief Peter, who participated in the complete translation of the New Testament in early 2003.

Disturb us, Lord, when we are too pleased with ourselves; when our dreams have come true because we dreamed too little; when we arrived safely because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess we have lost our thirst for the waters of life; having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity and in our efforts to build a new earth, we have allowed our vision of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly; to venture on wilder seas where storms will show Your mastery; where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars.

We ask you to push back the horizons of our hopes; and to push back the future in strength, courage, hope, and love.

All this we ask in the name of our Captain, who is Christ Jesus.

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Cutting the line…

Some things don’t work out no matter how hard you try. Such was the case yesterday when a very energetic striped marlin snatched the lure and took off the other direction with enthusiasm. The sound of the line feeding out gave the indication it was something big and confirmation was received when he gustily danced out of the water numerous times. Photographer Niki was on deck to capture the moment.

Snapping to attention, the crew assimilated the tools needed to land a large fish – gaff, ice pick, billie club, (don’t ask), a towel, gloves, and a bucket of water. The captain began to maneuver the boat to a better vantage point for landing the catch dropping the main sail in the process. Colton situated himself with the pole and began to reel in ever so slowly; the fish had his sights set on the deep blue ocean after attempts to throw the hook failed; no doubt about it. Having never landed a fish this large before, tension was building as Gina and Niki discussed the possible size and weight of the fish, trying to judge after the fish danced across the camera lense. Survey says- approximately 5 feet long, 120 pounds. Oh yes, keeping in mind, this fish has a big pointy sword for a nose. Yes, this was in the back of all our minds. You can find lots of fisherman mishaps on YOUTUBE if you want to see how these fish flail as they fight when asked to give up their watery home.

45 minutes of maneuvering and reeling and anticipating came to end when the fish, swam deep under the boat toward our running gear. Once it was clear the line was wrapped on the prop or rudder, the tough decision was made to cut the line. Some of us sighed with relief while others heaved sighs of disappointment. Such is life…

Doing our best in all circumstances – this is what God wants from us. Many times, it does not work out as we think it should. But, no matter what, He will never cut our ‘line.’ Following Him is not always easy. Not always fun. Sometimes we sin. We can be assured that we can NOT out sin the love of our Father. Not matter what we do, He is ready to forgive us when we repent, love us and help us grow.

Joshua 1:5 As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.

We are approaching our rest stop, the atoll of Ontong Java, with only 120 miles to go. At our current pace of motor sailing at around 5 knots per hour, we will arrive in the early morning tomorrow (29 May for us). We currently have sunny skies and fairly flat seas, if you don’t count the occasional side rollers that are spaced at about 5 minutes apart. We are looking forward to a safe, calm anchorage soon!

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