No electricity and no wi-fi but lots of coconuts and bananas!

Over this past term break, ten senior students and two teachers from Christchurch Adventist School (CAS) had the privilege of setting out on an ADRA Connections trip to serve the community of Butmas Village in rural Vanuatu. Our mission was to get as close as possible to constructing twenty toilets – enough for each household in the village to have access to their own toilet. Over the space of about four days, the CAS team were largely responsible for making the concrete slabs and risers while the locals dug deep pits and showed us how to weave bamboo privacy screens.

During our time in the village we were challenged to experience life without the comforts we take so easily for granted: there was no electricity, wi-fi or warm showers. The project work, in heat, humidity and at times in pouring rain, was difficult and tiring and it was a constant struggle to get anything to stay dry! But the challenges that we experienced were more than matched by the blessings we received. We were so warmly welcomed by the people of Butmas Village and ADRA Vanuatu took fantastic care of us. We enjoyed fresh tropical delights like pomelo, coconuts and bananas, and excellent cooked meals were prepared lovingly at least twice a day by Grandma and Aunty Norah. Graham Uza and the team made sure that on non-working days there was time to see the incredible natural beauty that Vanuatu has to offer. And who can forget the sound of congregational singing in the Pacific? A huge thank you to the Side River Seventh-day Adventist church in Luganville for a wonderful Sabbath of music and fellowship.

While we were not able to fully construct all twenty toilets during our short stay, our visit and the funds we contributed helped to set the process in motion. For the CAS team, the ADRA Vanuatu team and the people of Butmas Village it was a time of celebration as we worked together and learned more about each other. From my perspective as a teacher, maybe the most important aspect of the trip was that the CAS students were able to experience being the hands and feet of Jesus, putting their faith into hard-working action and really feeling a sense of gratitude for the blessings of their daily existence. Every student had to make sacrifices to be able to go on the trip, but each has learnt so much about him- or herself, the diversity of experience in this world and our mission as followers of Christ. Here is what some of the students said sharing their experience at chapel:

“I enjoyed the trip so much that it has made me want to go to other countries and help as a career.” Lachy, Year 13.
“My highlight of this ADRA Connections trip was definitely cutting bamboo with a machete and playing volleyball with the younger people of the community.” Rudo, Year 12.
“No words can really describe how life-changing our service trip was to the humble country of Vanuatu. All of us arrived in Vanuatu ready to impact the lives of the people for the better. Yet, all of us came back to New Zealand, fully knowing that the people impacted our lives for the better.” Jessica, Year 13.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank our families, the CAS community, ADRA New Zealand and our local churches for their support in making this trip happen. Lasting memories and a lasting, positive impact have been made on all of us who were involved. Finally, we would urge you to support and pray for the continuing work of ADRA Vanuatu as they share the love of Jesus by providing for the physical and spiritual needs of their communities.

“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” Hebrews 13:16

-Dr Nicolette Paul, Teacher, Christchurch Adventist School 

Inside the toilet

CAS and Butmas Village

Building the moulds

At work reinforcements