(This is part of an ongoing series chronicling memories of my life growing up as a missionary kid in Vanuatu. For links to previous posts you can go here)
When we first arrived at Talua we lived at the bottom of the college in a small student flat. Our house was still in the process of being built; it was to be one half of a staff duplex and was up the top of the college, between the single boy’s dorms and the house the Scott’s lived in. It would also be about three times as large as the flat we were currently living in.
The college builder, Iarauel (Ya-ra-well – he’s now the builder at Navota Farm) and his workers were building it, and Dad and students would pitch in on afternoons. First a concrete slab was laid. Then the walls went up. Thatch and bamboo structures (which houses in villages are made out of and look like the kindergarten) fall over easily during cyclones but don’t do too much damage if they fall on top of you (of course anything blowing around at 100kmh is not safe, but it’s all relative). But if you make a concrete structure it needs to be able to withstand both earthquakes and cyclones. So Iarauel put steel rods up from the concrete floor and the big bricks slid over the rods. This way, even if the bicks came loose they wouldn't fall.
All the bricks were made on site. The concrete was mixed in an old rumbly petrol run cement mixer and poured into wooden moulds. These had to be constantly watered so that the outside didn’t set too quickly in the hot weather. Slowly the walls went up, then the beams went across the walls to hold up the roof.
An interesting side notes is that one of the planks from early missionary ships which brought the gospel to Vanuatu was almost used in our house. But Dad realised what it was and convinced Iarauel that it was an important part of history and it was put away. You can see it now proudly displayed in the new Talua Library.
Finally our new house was finished. There was lino on the floor, and all the concrete walls had been painted. There were louver windows and fly screen to keep out malaria carrying mosquitos. Dad even went around with filler and made our new house gecko proof.
But you can not use anything new at Talua until it has been dedicated to God. So we had a big dedication of our house before the year ended. And a dedication means decorating – there were flowers and leaves everywhere (and I do mean everywhere - around the door, along the kitchen counter, in the toilet). There was a service, some prayers, singing and a small feast. Then everyone had a good look inside and outside our house, checking it out.
Then we were free to move in.