Tag: Visits

Jane Brooke

Learning From Each Other

Visiting four religious communities, four schools and St Barnabas Cathedral in Honiara, talking with clergy, Mothers’ Union and the brothers and sisters occupied nearly all of my time in the Solomon Islands very well! George enjoyed engaging with clergy undertaking their Bachelor of Theology degrees at Tabalia where the Melanesian Brothers offered us wonderful hospitality. Out of all my experiences, I thought you might like to hear about the visit to the cathedral.

St Barnabas CathedralOn June 16th we attended the cathedral in Honiara: it was a celebration of Trinity Sunday, St Barnabas and their 50th anniversary of the cathedral.

We arrived at 7.30am for the main service of the morning at 8.00am. There were 200 people attending the earlier 7.00am Eucharist and we waited until they left. They all left very quickly because there are many openings alongside the cathedral for them to use as an exit. The cathedral was decorated with vibrant flowers and the service was led by a choir of 70 with no organ. The Eucharist, celebrated by the Senior Bishop, was conducted with dignity and reverence and the Bishop of Ysabel preached on the theme of ‘love one another’. There were about 1000 people present with many young families: the overflow was catered for with extra chairs outside at the back of the cathedral. The Melanesian Brothers sang and danced traditional tribal dances bringing up the gospel in a small canoe which had, ‘Christ in culture’ written on the side. The Bishop read the gospel from the Bible which was open in the canoe.

The Dean of St Barnabas cuts the celebration cakeThe offertory of bread and wine was also carried up in a canoe accompanied by a vigorous and colourful dance by the Sunday School (selected from its 200 members). I thought you might be interested to know that the congregation bring their own hymn books to the service.

After the service there were speeches and then everyone went to the covered area next door for lunch. 800 were served lunch with a system of efficiency only to be admired. Meanwhile groups from the cathedral sang or danced on the stage enthusiastically and with joy. The groups included Sunday School (who sang the Lord’s Prayer), Mothers’ Union, Men’s Fellowship Group (who were mostly female!), the choir, the Melanesian Brothers and more. The Dean cut a cake for the 50 years of the cathedral – even though the cathedral intends to celebrate the 50 years properly in 2020. It was a wonderful day and I can’t see how they can improve on the celebrations next year. We finished at 3.00pm.

Thank you to you all for your prayers while we were there.

Canon Jane Brooke

Vanishing Worlds - Walande Island

Climate Change Threatens Pacific Islands

The small fragile islands of the Pacific are in the front line when it comes to climate change issues. Over the past year, MMUK has been actively working to promote research from this country which we hope will be of real benefit to the people of Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

Last June, Adam Bobette, a research student from Selwyn College, Cambridge, was in Solomon Islands setting up a research project, working alongside church people in the villages, to collect data on the impacts of climate change, including sea levels and coastal erosion. MMUK contributed to his funding and his work was warmly welcomed by the Church of Melanesia. The methodology is very simple and it is hoped that with accurate record keeping over many years, an accurate picture will emerge which will provide conclusive evidence of what is happening to the islands of the western Pacific as a result of climate change. Adam will re-visit the Solomons later this year to check on the progress of this project.

Katie Drew has also been working with members of Southampton University’s engineering, geography and oceanography departments who are involved in climate change research in the western Pacific under the direction of Professors Robert Nicholls, David Sear and Dr Ivan Haigh. One of their research students, Marie Schlenker, will be travelling to the Solomons later this year, to pursue research into the changing pattern of coastal margins, going back over thirty years. She will also be visiting schools to talk about climate change research. David Sear has been collecting core samples from the bottom of lakes, which provide the history of weather patterns and volcanic activity over the last 2000 years. Robert Nicholls and Ivan Haigh has been examining rates of sea level rise over the 20th and early part of the 21st century, and changes in the frequency and magnitude of coastal flooding.

The research so far shows oscillations in climate over many years and a much more complex pattern of change than was previously thought. The El Niňo effect causes rising and falling of water temperature in the Pacific Ocean. When the temperature rises, cyclone activity increases in frequency and intensity. While sea levels are undoubtedly rising, most of the damage is caused by storm surge events.

All agree that sea levels and cyclones will become critical over the next few years. Our researchers are also keen to study what can be done to mitigate the effects of climate change. Mangrove swamps and coral reefs are a vital part of the islands’ defences and must be preserved. Unrestricted logging activity unfortunately damages these defences.

So far this year, there has been severe flooding on Guadalcanal, causing devastating damage to food gardens and Cyclone Oma has caused severe damage to the outer eastern islands. MMUK has recently contributed over £1,000 to the church’s disaster fund.

The artificial islands of Malaita and the atolls of the Reef Islands and Ontong Java are most threatened. Walande Village, which once had a population of over 1,000, has been abandoned.

 

The maximum height of most atolls is six feet above sea level and when there is a storm surge the whole island can be swamped. The underground aquifers which are the only source of drinking water, are compromised and become brackish. This has happened to Ontong Java which has a unique Polynesian culture going back over 1,000 years. The inhabitants are being evacuated and face a very uncertain future.

We are fortunate in this country where the effects of climate change will not be seriously felt for many years. But in the Pacific the effects of global warming are already destroying cultures and communities. MMUK will continue to do all it can to help the people of Melanesia with disaster relief funding, supporting vital research and raising awareness of these issues.

Canon John PinderMMUK Trustee

ACoM Bishops Rt Revd James Tama and Rt Revd Rickson Maomaoru

Melanesian Bishops Visit The UK

New BishopsIn February, the Rt Revd James Tama, Bishop of Vanuatu and New Caledonia, and the Rt Revd Rickson Maomaoru, Assistant Bishop of Malaita visited the UK. First they attended the ‘New Bishops’ course in Canterbury with visits to Lambeth Palace and the Anglican Communion Office.

The Bishops went on to visit Wycombe Abbey, one of MMUK’s oldest supporters, which is also linked with St Patrick’s College in Vanuatu. The Bishops were interviewed by pupils and were able to give an update on St Patricks College, which was evacuated from the island of Ambae last year.

Bishops Rickson Maomaoru, Robert Atwell, Bishop of Exeter, and James Tama
Bishops Rickson Maomaoru, Robert Atwell, Bishop of Exeter, and James Tama

In Exeter Diocese, the Bishops met Rt Revd Bishop Robert Atwell, Bishop of Exeter and the Dean of Exeter Cathedral, the Very Reverend Jonathan Greener. Walking in Patteson’s footsteps, the Bishops also visited the home of Bishop John Coleridge Patteson (first Bishop of Melanesia), his family’s church, the church where he was curate, and memorials to Patteson’s ministry and martyrdom.

The Bishops then went to the Diocese of Chester, which is officially linked to the Province of Melanesia. They met representatives of local schools which have partnerships with schools in the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. They visited the retreat house at Foxhill, where they saw the new cross which has been made and presented by the Melanesian Brothers, and the Sisters of Jesus Way, who are now linked with the Sisters of Melanesia. They spent a day looking at mission projects across the diocese, ending with a dinner hosted by Bishop Peter at Bishop’s House, attended by many friends and supporters.

Both Bishops enjoyed a ‘quiet day’ on the Saturday, with Bishop James meeting up with family and Bishop Rickson spending the day with Reverend Jacky Wise, who had worked alongside him at Selwyn College, as part of the Chaplaincy Team. The two visited Liverpool Cathedral and Jacky was delighted to be able to return in some small way something of the generous hospitality that she had received in the Solomon Islands. The Bishops also took part in the Sunday morning Eucharist at Chester Cathedral, where Bishop James preached and Bishop Rickson gave the blessing.

Reflecting on his visit, Bishop Rickson said: “We learnt much about our historical links and connections. It was indeed a worthwhile visit in terms of the creative response towards climate change and holistic mission in our Anglican Network and how to address these issues globally with sustainable means for the future.

“God continue to sustain MMUK with his wisdom as it becomes a medium for transformation in our Anglican world today. God bless you all,” said Bishop Rickson.

Human Rights Training - The Team

Human Rights Training Continues

Due to fly out this week, Rachel Crossley, Christine Calderwood and Clem Noble report on the latest stage of Human Rights training in the Solomon Islands.

“We are all born free and equal. We have our own thoughts and ideas. We should all be treated the same way”
Article 1 United Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)

In November 2016, we travelled to Honiara as part of the project ‘Article 1: Free and Equal’ to deliver Human Rights Education training to teachers from ACoM Solomon Island secondary schools. ‘Article 1’ is a project to introduce human rights to the Solomon Islands, to increase understanding of human rights and how this integrates with existing Christian beliefs and values. Thereby helping to support efforts being made by Solomon Island Citizens to create peaceful and stable communities, and particularly to help reduce gender inequality and violence against women. We firmly believe that all learning and change starts with Education.

“Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause”
Isaiah 1:17

The workshops were attended by eleven teachers from six schools across the Solomon Islands. All of the teachers engaged enthusiastically with the workshops and successfully completed them, becoming ‘Human Rights Champions’ with a commitment to pass on their learning to colleagues and their wider communities.

Whilst there we were generously welcomed by both the Community of the Sisters of the Church and the Melanesian Brotherhood. Meetings also took place with a number of stakeholders (including the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development, the Ministry for Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs, the Solomon Islands Police Force, and the President of the Mothers Union). The project was positively received by all, and all agreed that national implementation of some form of human rights education would be beneficial and a positive contribution towards ongoing efforts to promote gender equality.

Since returning the team were pleased to receive very positive feedback and encouragement to apply for further funding by the British High Commissioner’s (BHC) Office, to continue and expand the Human Rights Education programme.

Having secured further funding we are due to return in March of this year. The second stage project aims to extend the training to primary school teachers as well as providing further training for secondary human rights champions. The project was also picked up by the British High Commission in Papua New Guinea and we are delighted that we have teachers from PNG joining us for this stage. We have a total of 29 confirmed attendees and will also be holding at their request a one-day workshop for the four Anglican religious orders and the Mothers’ Union.

We are very grateful and thankful for the support of MMUK, ACoM and the British High Commissions in the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea, without whom this project would not be possible.

Human Rights Training - Bishops
Christine Calderwood – Project Leader with Bishops James and Rickson, during their UK visit earlier this month

Prayer

Dear Lord
We ask your blessing on Christine, Clem and Rachel as they travel to the Solomon Islands.
May their work be filled with your wisdom.
May those who they work with be inspired by your Holy Spirit
and may they all work for the furtherance of your Kingdom.
May all be encouraged to obey your commandment of love
and may there be respect for all in every part of society.
We ask your blessings and encouragement in Jesus name.
Amen.

Christine and her team will be taking out with them letters and art projects from UK schools linked with schools in the Solomon Islands, as part of the ongoing school partnerships which MMUK facilitates. UK pupils are looking forward to seeing what Christine brings back from the pupils at the partnered schools.

Christine Calderwood

Women On The Frontline Training

Women On The Frontline For Reconciliation And Restoration – Retreat And Training Report

The theme of the retreat & training was “Women on the Frontline for Reconciliation and Restoration”.

The aim was to empower women leaders in ACoM, especially Bishops’ and Clergy wives and women lay leaders to be equipped to become peacemakers, and to have courage to make steps to be at the frontline to become ambassadors of peace.

Mrs Caroline Welby the wife of the Archbishop of Canterbury and three staff from the Lambeth Palace, Mrs Sarah Snyder, Mrs Jane Namurye and Mrs Keren Lewis convened the retreat and training.

When Archbishop Justin Welby became the Archbishop of Canterbury, Mrs Welby had a vision to visit all Bishops’ wives within the Anglican Communion to encourage them in their role as they share the same calling and challenges.

The Anglican Church of Melanesia was the third province the team had visited to conduct the retreat and training.

The retreat was conducted for Bishops’ wives for two and half days and the second part of the programme was the training which included clergy wives and women leaders in ACoM. A total of twenty-eight women attended the training.

In his opening address, the Most Reverend George Takeli, Archbishop of the Province of Melanesia said this is the era of renewal and restoration in our society, and women must be in the frontline to lead. He views the training of women as a priority and is taking steps to make it happen. This includes:

  • Increasing the enrolment of girls in ACoM Schools
  • Increasing the number of women in the 2020 General Synod and Executive Council
  • Awarding of scholarships for women in theological training

The Importance of Retreat and Training:

The programme was unique, in that all participants were able to freely share and talk about their experiences and challenges. The method used at both the retreat and training was unique and of a high level with each session based on scripture, in which participants either used imaginary creative art or role-played characters from the chosen texts. These activities allowed participants to make connections to real life situations.

Participants who felt touched by what was being delivered and shared, were given opportunities to pray and share individually with Mrs Welby and her team. An opportunity was also given for anyone to have time with Sr. Veronica, the Sister Provincial and the only ordained woman in Melanesia. Seeing women queuing at the Sisters’ chapel to have their turn, speaks a lot on the Ordination of Women. Women share freely with women. Peace of Christ in our hearts was experienced by most of the women that attended this programme.

The programme was very effective like no other, because of the simplicity of Mrs Welby and her team and the process in the delivery method. Above all, the encouragement given in prayer life for the journeys we make in life.

What Next?

“How are we going to make steps forward in the implementation of what we have acquired?”, was the question at the last day.

Participants were divided into three groups to discuss what will happen next after this training. They resolved to take steps to be ambassadors of peace in their families, communities and country:

  • Bishops’ wives to meet once every year
  • Awareness to be carried out in each diocese
  • Diocese of Central Melanesia to be a pilot diocese to carry out training
  • Revise the position of Women’s Desk at the ACoM Headquarters by a six-member committee
  • A follow up visit by Mrs Welby and Team in the future

Acknowledgements:

  • First of all, we thank God for his grace given to women to be at the Frontline for Reconciliation and Restoration
  • We give thanks to God for calling Archbishop Justin Welby and Mrs Welby to shepherd the Anglican Communion
  • The love and passion that has brought Mrs Welby and her team to share with us and the humility and simplicity to be able to adjust to the life style so different from theirs. Also, for their commitment to prayer and encouragement to pray as a tool really stood out
  • For Archbishop George and Mrs June Takeli making this possible through their invitation to Mrs Welby to visit Melanesia
  • For the General Secretary and ACoM Administration for the support rendered
  • The Committee through the Provincial Mothers’ Union Office, who facilitated the visit in consultation with Archbishop George and Mrs Takeli
  • Sr. Veronica for celebrating for us daily and the love and care the sisters at Tete-Nikoli-Vuti (TNK), we couldn’t have chosen a better place. Just the right place for the Retreat and Training

News story and pictures from ACoM Communications

Flora Hamilton

Flora In The Solomons

Flora HamiltonMelanesia News Winter 2018Flora Hamilton of Project Trust spoke to us at the Melanesian Mission UK AGM and Festival Day in 2018 at Cambridge University. If you enjoyed Flora’s tales or missed this year’s event, you can catch-up with her news in her personal blog; Flora In The Solomons. You’ll also find Flora in our Melanesia News Winter 2018 magazine.

The Melanesian Mission UK are working with Project Trust as part of a volunteering programme involving UK gap year students. At present there are six placements in the region – we’ll hear more about their work later this year.

Thank iu tumas6 months ago, I dragged myself through Honiara international airport, to the plane that would take me home. A sea of crying faces lay behind me, and in front of me airport security guards, who I doubt could have looked more scared had they found a bomb in our bags. Jet and I were in an absolute state: weighed down by generously gifted presents, which we were ready to defend to the death from security; crying inconsolably after having just said goodbye to our Solomon family; and crying all the more as we laughed at our ridiculous situation. But while we undoubtedly looked like a mess from the outside, what we were feeling on the inside would have made my dump of a teenage bedroom look like a model showroom. We were painfully aware that we were about to do one of the most difficult things we have ever done: to leave the Solomon Islands. [Flora Hamilton]

Flora shared her Project Trust volunteering experiences with us in her own short film;

Steve Martin with Fr Richard Nokia

Boiled Eggs, Custard Creams and Coconut Juice

I am the assistant curate of Tavistock, where we are fortunate to have a faithful group of Melanesian Brotherhood Companions. In 2001 the late Fr George Elo and Bishop Leonard Dawea (then both Brothers) came to Tavistock to work and live in the parish under the guidance of the then Vicar, Fr John Rawlings. Since then we have maintained strong links and, earlier in 2017, Bishop Leonard came to visit Tavistock to see old friends. I was invited to become a Companion and was soon gently ‘encouraged’ by Katie Drew (let the reader understand, and be warned—her enthusiasm is infectious) to visit the Solomon Islands to see and experience the Church there for myself.

I spent my three-week trip on Guadacanal, first at Honiara, before travelling to the Brotherhood’s Headquarters at Tabalia, working my way westwards to the Franciscan community at Hautabu, visiting the Community of the Sisters of Melanesia at Verana’aso on the way. I also paid a call to see the Project Trust students working at St Nicholas’s School and Selwyn College. It was good to see the students so well received and integrated into the communities they serve.

I ended my trip back in Honiara, from there I visited Norman Palmer School and the Community of the Sisters of the Church at Tetere Ni Kolivati (TNK). I led a study day for priests in Honiara, gave lectures at Bishop Patteson Theological College and at the various communities I visited, and was honoured to be invited to preach and celebrate services for my various hosts.

Steve Martin with The Melanesian Brothers
Steve Martin with The Melanesian Brothers

The trip was full of rich and wonderful experiences. I was fortunate to be present at Tabalia for the Ss Simon and Jude festivities. The Chapel and surrounds were richly decorated with beautiful orchids and fragrant frangipani blossom. I arrived on Saturday afternoon, the before the big day, and attended Choral Evensong. The singing was superb: the Psalms and Canticles are sung in blazing four, six and sometimes eight-part harmony. The music is based on Anglican chant, so it is easy to join in – familiar, but different, and certainly very exhilarating to be a part of.

At the Eucharist the following morning Bishop Sam Sahu presided at the installation ceremony where thirty-six novices became brothers, and three brothers (Brothers Thomas Suia, Mark Tafodi and John Alley) renewed their vows. The community said goodbye to seven Brothers: Nathanial Tagoa, Albert Iroga, Culbert Moana, Mostyn Tugu, Winston Heke, Lazarus Vavaha and Francis Mauru, the second-oldest member of the Solomon Island Brothers. Brother Francis entered the novitiate in 1984, became a brother in 1986, and served in Australia and Fiji as well as in the Solomons. It was clear that many novices and brothers will miss his wise support and guidance. Like many leaving brothers, he became a Companion later in the week, before he prepared to return to Makira.

The Chaplain, Fr Richard Nokia, kindly invited me to celebrate and preach at several Eucharists during my stay, and to officiate at Choral Evensong on my final Sunday, which was a huge honour. Fr Nokia has a great rapport with the novices and brothers, which is not surprising as his motto is: ‘give them everything!’. Mrs Veronica Nokia is also a much-loved member of the community and gives an incredible amount of time and energy to running a successful literacy course for the novices. During my stay, I was privileged to attend the Literacy Awards Ceremony, which was organised by Veronica and the Mothers’ Union, represented by their president, Pamela Abana and her colleagues Emily Pengalo and Adriana Estrada who are based at St Agnes Rest House in Honiara (an excellent hostel where I stayed towards the end of my trip).

The celebrations around Ss Simon and Jude’s Day lasted a week – lots of feasts, dancing and general socialising. It was wonderful to see thousands of supporters and Companions, many of whom stayed for the week, helping to prepare meals and tidy the site as they waited for boats to take them back to their islands.

My flying visit to the Sisters of Melanesia was a treat. After speaking to the novices and sisters, I was invited to sit down to a lavish tea, complete with boiled eggs, custard creams and coconut juice straight from the husk – an unusual teatime combination, but it worked for me!

I then travelled to see Noah and Ultan at Selwyn College. Like their colleagues Juliette and Flora at St Nicholas’ in Honiara, Noah and Ultan had settled in extremely well and had been welcomed wholeheartedly into the communities. It was wonderful to see all four of the Project Trust students at the various services and celebrations, in Honiara, at TNK and Tabalia – they had clearly become part of the Anglican family. There is also a bit of cultural exchange going on, as they had begun teaching the Solomon Islanders Scottish Country Dancing…

During my second week, I stayed with the excellent Brother Jonas and the community of Friars at their beautiful hillside home at Hautabu. Any nerves I felt about giving my theology talks here were soon forgotten as our friendly discussions continued in our outdoor classroom under the shade of palm and mango trees, looking out over the Pacific Ocean.

Steve Martin with Revd Sr Veronica
Steve Martin with Revd Sr Veronica

Once I got back to Honiara, I travelled out to see the inspirational Sister Veronica and the Community of the Sisters of the Church at TNK. Their work building up the kindergarten and women’s refuge is truly inspiring, and it was a huge privilege to attend Sister Kristy’s life profession there just before I flew back to Britain.

My trip was a hugely encouraging experience. The hospitality I received from everyone I met was truly incredible; all the clergy and religious communities work as part of a big family and work hard to support each other. All were present for Sister Kristy’s profession, so I could say goodbye to almost all the people I had met over the past weeks. I owe so many people a debt of thanks for making my time in Melanesia so fruitful and enjoyable, but I must thank Fr Nigel Kelaepa especially for his organisation, kindness and hospitality.

Steve Martin

Project Trust Volunteers - Flora and Yet

An Introduction to Project Trust

Project Trust Volunteers - Flora and Yet
Project Trust Volunteers – Flora and Yet

Project Trust LogoProject Trust has since 1967 been the leading gap year provider here in the UK representing 50 years of volunteering and 7800 volunteers overseas.

Project Trust has been based on the Isle of Coll in the Scottish Hebrides almost since its inception. Some might argue that our wonderful shell sand beaches rival those of the Solomons. Maybe, but our sea and air temperatures most certainly do not, languishing at around 12C and 15C respectively around our mid-summer. Here we have our offices and residential centre which is used for Selection and Training.

Project Trust Volunteer - Ultan
Project Trust Volunteer – Ultan

Selection is a key part of the process and all aspiring volunteers must attend a four day assessment course before any decision is made as to suitability and if so, which placement overseas they would be most suited. Training is the next stage in the process and this takes place in July prior to the volunteer departure in August. This is a four day course where we focus on skills and preparedness for 12 months overseas.

It is important that volunteers bring added value to any of our projects worldwide, currently 22 countries worldwide. Areas which have been identified by both St Nicholas and Selwyn College include spoken English, IT and mathematics. In addition extracurricular activities such as drama, sport, music to name but a few are areas where volunteers can make valuable contributions. Through daily interaction with the students it is hoped that the overall standard of spoken English will improve, certainly this is our experience elsewhere in the world where English is a focus of their activities.

Oceania is a new region for Project Trust. The first approach with regard to sending volunteers was made early in 2016 by the then British High Commissioner in Honiara, Chris Trott. Chris is himself one of our Alumni having been a volunteer in Egypt in 1984/85. He was very enthusiastic about the possibilities for volunteering and introduced us to the Anglican Church through the Melanesian Mission in London.

To the future we look to placing volunteers in schools on some of the other islands in the Solomon group and Vanuatu has also been discussed. We look forward to a developing and sustained relationship.

John Fraser – Project Trust

Novice Sister Mildred and Cathy

A Melanesian Pilgrimage

As a Companion and Associate, I’ve long wanted to spend time and experience Solomons life with the Brothers and Sisters of Melanesia. This summer I experienced both joyful pilgrimage and a great adventure of faith that continues to enrich my faith and Curacy.

My first night in the Solomons was spent at Chester Rest House which helped me to get my bearings in Honiara and appreciate how much the Brothers’ guest house is valued by all who stay there.

It was so good to be met by Sr Veronica the next day, who drove us to TNK for an overnight stay. The Sisters and Novices of the Church of Melanesia were very kind and sensitive to my jetlag! The beauty and peace of TNK is complemented so well by the worship, hospitality and ministry to the local community and wider church. It was delightful to meet Tina and David Arnold who kindly facilitated my trip back to Honiara, stopping at the Christian Care Centre en route to see their hugely important work.

The Sunday service at St Barnabas Cathedral became an unforgettable experience of worship – as swifts flew around the Chancel and a pair of Mynah birds showed off their nesting skills.

The following day I was met by Flory and her husband Charly who are such good advocates for the Sisters of Melanesia. We set off for Verana’aso where I experienced the most incredible welcome and hospitality from the Sisters and Novices during the following five days. Being invited to teach the Novices was a great privilege and joy as we shared experiences, worshipped together and got to know each other more. Visiting neighbouring Franciscans at beautiful La Verna was a precious time, hearing stories and seeing the lasting legacy of Br Giles.

After a moving farewell at Verana’aso, I set off for Tabalia, blessed with the joyful company of Franciscan Br Clifton – also a great truck driver, skillfully negotiating huge pot holes.

At Tabalia I continued to experience the precious worship and partnership in the Gospel that I’ve always found through the Melanesian Brothers ministry. It was wonderful to see Head Brother Nelson leading Evensong in his home setting. The beautiful peace of Tabalia, being near the graves of the Seven Martyred Brothers, the worship and hospitality of the Brothers and Novices was humbling and profoundly moving.

Returning to Honiara, I stayed at St Agnes Guest House, a lovely place, run by the Mothers Union. MU President Pam and team are doing such great work with the Anglican Church. We visited two satellite church communities and also spent time with the MU at All Saints Church in Honiara. The MU are incredibly inspiring, speaking out for justice through practically helping families to flourish through educational and life skills programmes.

I’ve learnt so much from the witness of all those I met, experiencing how much goodness and flourishing the religious orders and local churches bring to their surrounding communities. Melanesia is very beautiful and life incredibly fragile. The people value and do so much with so little, in comparison to what we have in Western Europe. It was a real lesson in life to value every drop of water and realise how many people throughout the world really do live without running water or electricity.

This Melanesian pilgrimage has shown me the true Agape love of God, which I’ve always experienced through times spent with Melanesian visitors to the UK. Agape love as joyfully knowing ourselves part of the global Christian community, drawn together through the depth of God’s love. I thank God for our Brothers and Sisters.

Revd Cathy Scoffield – Curate at St John the Baptist Churches, Bishops Tawton & Newport, Barnstaple, Diocese of Exeter.

Noah with Ultan

I’m back in Scotland! How did that happen!?

Noah with a student from Selwyn College
Noah with a student from Selwyn College

It’s August, I’m home now and so nice to be back amongst my friends and my family! However, it is an incredibly strange feeling to be thrown back into a totally different environment and way of life and it’s a difficult one to try an explain what it was like. As it got closer, I’d built up the idea of coming home so much and I was so excited but when it finally arrived, it wasn’t the same picture I’d painted in my head, it wasn’t that it was not as good as I thought it would be, it was just not quite what I thought it would be like. The first week was all a bit of a blur and I think it was all a bit much to appreciate everything that I had missed so much and take it in fully. I remember sitting in front of my TV in my living room, with my 24 hour constant electricity, hot running water, and my big comfy bed and I just didn’t really know what to do with myself, I felt a wee bit lost. The things I’d been craving while I was away were suddenly not really what I wanted.

I went away to Spain for a week with my family and that was really nice just to spend some time thinking about it all and reconnecting with my Mum, Dad, Brother and Sister. That week was really helpful for just getting back used to normal life here without being overwhelmed by too many people and things at home.

Now I’m back at home and it’s so much better than it was during the first few days of my return. I’m able to take everything in a lot more and really enjoy all the things that I’d missed out on all year, like hot showers! Being back around all my friends has been one of the best things, catching up on a year’s worth of events isn’t a short conversation and trying to tell them how my year was isn’t exactly easy, as sometimes I just don’t know where to start, it’s hard to condense a year into one story. But I’m loving every minute of being with them.

Thinking about all the experiences I had throughout my year in Solomon Islands, all the things I saw, all the things I learnt and all the friends and family I made, is quite a hard concept to grasp, there’s just so much. Spending a year there was like nothing I’ve ever done before. You can’t compare it to a holiday or a long term expedition, it’s just not on the same level. I’m so glad that I chose to go over seas with Project Trust, it opened so many doors for me, started a lot of new amazing things, and helped me decide on things I didn’t really have a solution for beforehand. I sometimes wonder how different things would be now if I hadn’t volunteered with them. Now I’m home, fundamentally I don’t think I’ve changed that much as a person but I’ve just got a different view on some things and I’m a lot better at appreciating the small things in life.

However, as good as being back at home is, I miss the wee group of islands on the other side of the world that I call home, I miss being hot and sweaty 24 hours a day, I miss the beautiful ocean (that is so much warmer than the North Sea), I miss everything and everyone constantly being late and no one really caring or stressing about it, I miss riding around in the back of a truck, I miss people laughing all the time no matter the situation and most of all, I miss my Solomon Island Mums, Dads, Brothers and Sisters, my Friends and family I left over there. I guess the grass is always greener… But hey, I’ll be back one day for sure.

Noah, Project Trust