In August of 2017 I began a seven-month missionary assignment in the Solomon Islands. At the time I had very little idea of what exactly it was that I would be doing. I wrote a blog about that ambiguity before I left.
I completed my assignment in late February and returned to the US. As I begin reporting back to churches and individual supporters, I have found that it is far easier to share what I did in retrospect than it was to speculate about what it was I would be doing. There is probably a lesson or two to be learned there, but I am happy now to share some of what I was involved in.
1. I lived among the people of Malaita, especially at Trinity School for Theology and Ministry. I was an active member of the Airahu community. I was involved in the religious, social, and physical life of that community. I sweated in the gardens around the community, I hauled water for bathing, cooking, and drinking, and I ate local food. I attended daily prayer services in the Anglican tradition as well as faculty meetings and social events. I traveled by foot or by the same public transportation as other community members, and I ate the same local foods as they did, which I purchased at the same local markets.
2. I tasted many new local foods (coconut crab, reef fish, cassava pudding, “milked” vegetables or bananas) and enjoyed some familiar favorites (fresh pineapple, bananas, taro, yellow fin tuna, roasted pig, local chicken). I drank fresh coconut water and was refreshed by rainwater, crystal clear rivers, and the occasional swim in the ocean.
3. I taught Christian doctrine concerning the nature of humanity, and human’s relationship to God and to creation. I also preached in local churches. In return, I was taught many things about local language and culture. I learned about many local customs and traditions from friends and acquaintances whom I met. I attended a “Kostom” wedding and heard traditional local music. I learned a few phrases in various local languages and became conversational in Melanesian Pijin.
4. I listened to stories and shared some of my own. Sharing stories—humorous, tragic, or interesting—is the favorite form of entertainment on Malaita. After a meal, betelnut was passed around, and stories were shared late into the night. Sometimes in the afternoon, over a cup of hot tea, more stories were shared.
5. I shared life with my Melanesian host family as well as my missionary colleagues. I shared in the daily chores with these two families—cooking, cleaning, even changing a few diapers. I also prayed and worshiped with them in their local Christian expressions. Our lives, I believe, were a mutual encouragement to one another.
Nearly three months ago I returned to the US to transition into the next stage of my career. I will elaborate on “what’s next” in my next blog entry. I look back at my time in the Solomon Islands with gratitude. I am thankful for the opportunities I had to learn and to teach. I am thankful for the loving hospitality that was lavishly offered to me. I am thankful for God’s protection and provision and for the many ways God seems to have confirmed my gifts and calling to serve the Church as a missionary.
I am also thankful for your prayers. Thanks for sending me to the Solomon Islands! Please continue to pray for Jonathan and Tess Hicks as they return to the USA for furlough this year!
Below are a few more pictures of my life and work in the Solomon Islands:
Thanks for sharing this Dean! It was such a pleasure to live life together at Airahu and we are blessed by the fruit of your work. May God bless you in the next season with Kyria.