Settling In: Ministry in the Solomon Islands

Settling In: Ministry in the Solomon Islands

Greetings from Trinity School for Theology and Ministry at Airahu Training Center!  I have been in the Solomon Islands about four weeks now—though so much has happened that it feels as if I have been here much longer! This is a beautiful land, with beautiful people, and I hope in my newsletters and blog posts that I will be able to convey just a glimpse of these beauties.

I have begun to settle in at Airahu, an Anglican center that hosts a monastic order, a rural training center, and a theological school.  This institution is quite unlike anything I have experienced in the United States.  Each component—the Melanesian Brotherhood, Trinity School for Theology and Ministry, and the Rural Training Center—function independently of one another. Yet, they share the land together, regularly come together for times of religious activity, social events, and occasionally meals.  There is no sense of competition among the groups, and each seems to be working toward the same goal—to tangibly apply the teachings of Jesus to life in the Solomon Islands.

Continue reading below to learn a little more about each of the three programs at Airahu

Rural Training Center

Education is a real social challenge in the Solomon Islands.  Most of the Islands have no secondary schools, so teenagers travel to the capital city of Honiara for high-school education.   There are increasingly limited and highly competitive opportunities for students the further they go in their education.  Nor does education does necessarily lead to employment—many good jobs are given to “friends and family.”

The Rural Training Center provides vocational training to students throughout the island of Malaita.  There are several different tracks available—agriculture, carpentry, homemaking, etc.

The students and staff at the Rural Training Center are eager to learn different styles of agriculture.  In the image below I am explaining a permaculture design to a few of them.  The Banana Circle (pictured below) will be a feature in a future newsletter or blog.

Melanesian Brotherhood

The Melanesian Brotherhood is a religious order that was started by Anglican Melanesians in the 1920s.  Brothers take a vow to chastity, submission, and evangelism.  They are a missionary order, regularly traveling two-by-two across the countryside providing pastoral care.  They are an asset and an aid to the parish priests who serve throughout the villages.  At Airahu, several brothers live and help teach at the Rural Training Center.  Some are students at the school for Theology.  The Brothers also host morning and Evening prayers daily, and a Eucharist service on Sundays.

In the image below, one of the Elder Brothers expresses his gratitude for those who prepared lunch for us.

Trinity School for Ministry and Theology

Not to be confused with Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry in Ambridge, PA (where I just graduated from!), TSTM offers a diploma program in Theology and Ministry also located at Airahu Training Center.  Students attend for three years before graduating.  After graduation, most students are ordained to the diaconate before becoming parish priests.  Students at TSTM come from all over the Solomon Islands.  Many are from Malaita, but some students come from as far away as the Western Province, Guadalcanal and San Isabel.  In this picture, I am teaching some of the TSTM students at the Chapel of Melanesia at Airahu.  Jon and were the speakers at a campus retreat a few weeks ago, facilitating discussions about the Lord’s Prayer.

Classes for Angelita: Learning Sign Language

Classes for Angelita: Learning Sign Language

Jack Melvin, SAMS Missionary in Honduras serves and cares for the people in his community. Recently he shared about a young girl and her opportunity to receive education.

After six months of searching, we have finally found a sign-language teacher for Angelita, who is 15 years old. Angelita is deaf and lives in the mountains, south of Tegucigalpa.  Recently I asked for prayers about her doctor visit. At that time, we thought that with a hearing-aid she might be able to hear again. Unfortunately, the tests showed that she cannot hear the sound frequencies used in speech.  Both the doctor and a missionary, who works with the deaf, advised us to have her learn sign-language. That way, she can communicate with others, become part of a community, and get an education or learn a trade.

Angelita’s brother joins along with some other neighbor friends. Lessons have become a community event!

Adding to our difficulties, the major two-lane highway to the Pacific Ocean, which is the only way to reach her community, has been under construction for this entire year.  One lane is entirely shut down, leaving only the other lane for north-south traffic. Accordingly, one has to wait an hour each way, before one can pass.   A trip, which one-way normally takes one hour, now can take as long as three hours.   The problem for Angelita is that all the resources, such as schools, the Association of Deaf Persons, teachers, are in Tegucigalpa. We could not allow  a teenage girl to travel that far alone under such conditions.

In spite of that, we finally found Doña Gaudelupe Villatoro, who lives close by. Although she has another job, she was willing to visit Angelita each Saturday and teach her sign language. She also teaches cosmetology, jewelry and sewing, all valuable skills to earn a living.  Angelita would have a bleak life without any help.  While the other kids are in school, she stays home to care for the toddlers and babies.  As such, she would not have much of a future. But with an education and some assistance, everything opens up for her.

Right now, Angelita is studying with her cousin Johana, 12 years old, who lives in the same house. That way, she can practice and talk to someone else outside the classroom.  They are already best of friends.

Please continue to pray for her and the whole family.

Learn more about Jack Melvin and his ministry in Honduras. 

Breaking the cycle.

Breaking the cycle.

Blog entry

Problem: Poverty and crime in Honduras.

Mission: Empower the next generation through mentorship, discipleship, and education, to reach their maximum potential and lift themselves out of poverty.

Solution:
1. Encourage Spiritual growth by instilling Christian values and morals through spiritual retreats and outreach activities within the community.
2. Impart life skills and multicultural sensitivity, through bilingual education.

Next steps:
1. Build a team of prayer and financial partners
2. Return to the Honduran team for 2017-2018 year.

End of year honor roll activity. 

 

Engaged in medical mission outreach. 

 

How Gospel Goats is Impacting Gulu, Uganda

How Gospel Goats is Impacting Gulu, Uganda


Mary McDonald
is a SAMS Associate Missionary and a veterinarian. Recently, SAMS caught up with Mary after her recent mission to Uganda.

SAMS: Tell us about Gospel Goats and the need you saw in Uganda.

Mary: In Uganda, there are families who have been affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Men grew up as boy soldiers and women were abducted to be wives of officers. The majority have received little education about health and nutrition and many are living with HIV. I had a call to equip and empower this marginalized group in Uganda. Gospel Goats is a revolving goat loan program that does that. We teach health, nutrition, and care for the goats which helps these marginalized families on the path to financial and food security. They are able to breed the goats and sell the offspring. With each training, we teach the Gospel and love of Christ. The first goat that is born to those who went through the training is donated back to the program. They learn that they are blessed to be a blessing.

How has Gospel Goats and an education program impacted the region?

When we surveyed the area to start Gospel Goats, there was a school across from an Islamic institute. This school hardly had pencils to work with. I went to the Bishop of N. Uganda and asked about starting a Compassion International sponsorship program at this school. So we prayed that children would be sponsored, and in the first year, we had 200 students sponsored by our church in Virginia. When I returned this year, there were 115 more students sponsored. I discovered that people were taking their children out of the Islamic institute and bringing them to the school. The pastor and volunteers said that Compassion International paired with Gospel Goats has helped stop the spread of radical Islam in the area.

How have you seen God at work through the people in Uganda?

With each Gospel Goat training, we do a clear sharing of the Gospel story. At the end, we ask if anyone would like to receive Christ. At the last training, 15 people prayed to accept Christ. 150 people between the two projects have received Christ, including 5 Muslims. One individual told me that they have felt like the poorest in the community, but because of the gift of a goat they feel like God cares about them and that God is a living and tangible God who cares for both their physical and spiritual needs.

How can people who want to help get involved?

There are already many refugees in Uganda streaming in from the civil war in South Sudan. Now this region is facing an extreme drought and famine. In Uganda, families are losing their crops and livestock. This week, I received a letter from Bishop Johnson writing:

A humanitarian crisis is at our doors. We are trying to share the little we can but both the refugees and the host communities are facing starvation due to prolonged drought and the leading to a shortage of food. As a diocese, we are appealing to whoever can help us to support the refugees to do so now. Thank you for making the appeal on our behalf.

Please pray for the people in Uganda and all of Africa. Please give so others may live. Go to donate go to the SAMS-USA World Relief Fund and designate the country of Uganda in the comment box
or by check to P.O. Box 399 Ambridge, PA 15003.

Things are Falling into Place: Grant Recipient Thanks You

Things are Falling into Place: Grant Recipient Thanks You

SAMS provides educational grants for children who are a part of the SAMS community. A number of individuals have been impacted by the Undergraduate Educational Grant Fund, including Alyssa Fountain, a missionary kid who served with her parents in Uganda. In the following letter Alyssa expresses her thanks to those who have donated to this fund:

Dear SAMS Education Grant donors,

I’m writing to say a massive thank you. It feels like only fitting that I should update all of you on where I am given that you all had to read my applications for 3 years talking about my life plans and goals and everything!

You have watched me run through different career ideas with every new application. Last year, I finally decided on pursuing Social Work. It seemed to fit so well for me given my interests in counseling, working with kids, and making the world a better place. The pieces all fell into place in my decision to go this route during several nights of lying awake and staring at the ceiling until three in the morning. I applied, was admitted to, and accepted a place at the University of Denver to pursue a Masters in Social Work.

This past year (2016) I took a short leave of absence from school to do some personal healing and soul searching, but now I am about to resume classes on top of a full time job with clearer career goals in mind. I plan to work as a consultant to international schools and potentially mission boards on protection of expatriate kids, based on my own experiences. Things are falling into place quite nicely.

Thank you for the prayer, the support, and of course the finances! The grant that you all gave me helped me to pay for so many things, from living expenses, books for school, to fixing my car! I worked many hours and depended on this grant to help make life just a little easier.

So, to wrap this letter up with my favorite Ugandan blessing (from one of the Epistles, though I can’t remember which): “May the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God, and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all, now and forever.”

Sincerely,

Alyssa Fountain

 

If you have a passion for the importance of education, prayerfully consider giving to the Undergraduate Education Grant Fund, and make a difference in an individual’s life.

I cannot express how grateful I am for this grant. I have been able to not stress constantly about paying for my tuition; I have been able to focus on school, cultural adjustment, and health.

Alyssa Fountain

Grant recipient and SAMS Missionary Kid