AWSOM Team from Hills Church visits Sagatumi Solomon Is
One of the songs we taught the children was “Our God is so big, so strong and so mighty” and we definitely saw His hand at work over our time away. The first answer to prayer happened on our first night there. We were staying at the Wycliff Bible Translation base in Honiara. We had been given a box of about 50 reading glasses to take with us over to the Solomon Islands. As we were trying to lighten our luggage before getting onto the smaller plan on the next day I decided that I would give these glasses to Mark at the Wycliff Base. I asked him if he knew of anyone who could use these glasses and his whole face lit up and he shouted “Praise God!”. He said that their team had a ministry whereby people who needed glasses would come to them and they would help them find suitable glasses but they had totally run out of glasses the week before. As a team they had discussed how to get some more glasses but hadn’t been able to find a solution that would work. So they started to pray about it. This was all unknown to me. I had been given the glasses to take to the Solomon Islands about three weeks beforehand. I didn’t know they were needed. The giver didn’t know they were needed at that time but God knew and He provided.
Several of our team members tend to suffer from travel sickness. During our time away I am happy to say that no-one got sick at all. The seas were incredibly calm (think millpond) and the planes travelled smoothly through the air.
We met Rev Oliver and Salote Poloso in Taro, Choisel and they were an absolute God send as they accompanied our team onto Sagatumi. They helped us break through cultural and language barriers. We were the second group of white people that had been to that village. When we arrived many of the children were scared of us and the others were totally overwhelmed.
Our children’s program went extremely well. I had been told that we would have about ten children and definitely no more than 20. We counted 85 children and these numbers were swelled by between 10 and 15 Mums who attended and all of the pastors in the District. Apparently when word got around about what we were doing all of the children from the surrounding villages also came along to our program. At times the young men in the village would also join us for a game of Extreme Frisbee or volleyball. The ages ranged from about 3 to 22. We basically ended up throwing away most of the planning that we had done and would plan for each day the day before. Thankfully, we had decided that rather than bring a myriad of things with us that we were going to mainly use what they had around them so that the programs could be replicated. If we had had a craft based program we would have been in big trouble because we wouldn’t have had enough supplies. But games can spread and expand to fit many numbers.
Our next challenge was the language barrier. We had expected that the villagers would speak pidgin english but many of them only spoke a local dialect. They could hear and understand simple english but had trouble replying to us. But our Almighty God once again provided. In what I can only describe as miraculous they could understand our sermons, the games, etc. One lady who spoke quiet good english told us that she had wondered how much some of them understood in the church services but she had listened to them all talking afterwards and they proved their understanding by what they were discussing.
We had church services every night that we were in Sagatumi and again the numbers swelled by villagers from around who would sometimes walk up to thirty minutes to get there. There is definately a hunger for the Word of God. The church had a dirt floor and simple planks that people would sit on. They had erected some extra planks outside but these still did not hold enought seating. People stood at each of the windows and around the back of the church. One of the exciting things about this time was the way that God was working in the hearts of the Christians in the area. When we went to the village of Pollo to visit the clinic we were given an official welcome by the pastor of the South Seas Evangelical Church. Both he and the pastor of the United Church had people come to our services and program. They both expressed the desire to work together and if any other programs were happening to invite them to come. This was a real breakthough because until that time each of the churches jealously guarded its flock. They are beginning to see that we all serve the same God and that they can work together.
We were able to visit the clinic in Pollo. I was given the privilege of naming a baby whilst I was there. Please pray for young Debra that she may grow up to be in the women of God that she was named after.
The team of young adults was absolutely amazing. They embraced every challenge that came along with a sense of fun and excitement and trust in God. I have watched them grow hugely in their spiritual walks. One girl preached for the first time, another gave her testimony for the very first time. They each prayed in the community and services, led the children, led our devotions and many other things. It was such a blessing to do this trip with them.
God has challenged me in many unexpected ways over the past week. I expected to have to learn to trust in Him in an entirely new level which I have had to do. But He has also taught me a lot about humility. The Solomon Islanders treat their pastors with a respect that is not known here. As the visiting pastor and leader of the team I had to walk into places first, be served first with my food, eat first, have my first choice of where to sleep etc etc etc. This made me extremely uncomfortable because in reality I know that I am not worthy of the respect that they were showing me. When God looks at me – He sees a child of God the same way as He does when He looks at any other Christians. We spent a lot of time encouraging the people over there about God’s love for them. They saw themselves as second rate to white people but that is not how we saw them and that is not how God sees them.
I have so many stories that have no spiritual importance but were just good fun. Like:-
- the wild pig walking past the toilet (just a tarp separating us)
- digging for a missing shoe (which had floated up underneath my skirt)
- our boat being greeted by the village warriors (thank goodness we were warned)
- bathing in a lava lava in the dam feed pipe with three other women plus several chickens, whilst doing our washing, in front of the whole village whilst having our photos taken.
- music, music and more music (including an electric keyboard which I didn’t expect)
- lovely smiling faces and warm generous hugs