July 25, 2008

Growing Up Island

So, I think I will be naming the new segment 'Growing up Island' - which is good because it's what I was thinking all along. If people have issues with the grammar they'll just have to deal :)

I was hoping to get the first installment up tonight, but Dad is checking some of my details so I'm waiting until he emails it back to me. Until then here is a bit of an intro to Vanuatu and Talua which you might find helpful.

Vanuatu is a pacific nation made up of over 80 islands in the shape of a Y. Vanuatu is situated 1750 km east of northern Australia, 500 km north-east of New Caledonia, west of Fiji, and south of the Solomon Islands. Ni-Vanuatu people are Melaneisan, and Vanuatu has been independent from European rule for 28 years (it was known as the New Hebridies before independence).

The official language is Bislama, pidgin which is made up of a mix of English, French and the local languages. Most villages also have their own language which is often a person’s first language. 113 indigenous languages are still actively spoken in Vanuatu. Vanuatu has the highest density of languages per capita, in the world with an average of only 2000 speakers per language. Schooling is in English or French so if a person goes to school they can speak 3 languages.

Christianity was brought to Vanuatu by English missionaries in the 1800’s. The main religion is now officially Christianity with about a third of those being Presbyterian (!) – though ancient customs such as spells, curses and black magic still have a hold over this land. There are a few cults on some Islands originating from WW II, as well as different sects and a small number of villages are ‘traditional’.

Despite Christianity being so wide spread and just about every village having a church there is a lot of nominalism and a great need for well trained Christian leaders – which is where Talua comes in.
(You can get a general overview of other aspects of Vanuatu here and here, or check out Vanuatu’s government site here)

Talua Ministry Trainging Centre
Talua is the Presbyterian training collage of Vanuatu. It trains up Ni-Vanuatu men and women to be ministers, church workers and evangelists through out Vanuatu. For more in depth information you can have a look at the Connors site.

Talua is situated on Santo, the largest of the islands of Vanuatu, and about an hours drive from the second town in Vanuatu; Luganville. We went to Vanuatu so that Dad could teach at Talua.
Talua is a residential collage, so it becomes a sort of village/community of it’s own. There are a number of staff – both Ni-Vanuatu and Expat. The students come from all of the Islands of Vanuatu and there are quarters for married students with children, single men and single women. Everything in our lives happened in Talua - church, socialising, working, playing.

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