Malaita Village Life Part One: Water

Malaita Village Life Part One: Water

Growing up in the United States it was easy for me to take for granted clean, fresh water from the tap.  My family has a spring on our property, but even beyond that, freshwater in the US is typically as close as the nearest sink and faucet.  The average American household is equipped with a water pump to automatically fill up the toilet, the hot water tank, the washing machine, even our refrigerators!

Water in the Solomon Islands is a different story altogether, especially in the village.  The picture featured above shows part of the quaint village Lololo along with the primary water source that runs through it, the Lololo River.  In the village, the river is a fundamental component of daily life.  It is used for drinking and cooking water, and washing clothes and dishes.  It is also used for personal hygiene and even for entertainment–the children love to swim!  The river—downstream from drinking, washing, and recreation areas—carries human waste away to the mangroves where it is filtered before it reaches the ocean.   In short, a day does not go by in which the river is not used for the flourishing of village life.

The Chapel of the Martyrs of Melanesia

The Chapel of the Martyrs of Melanesia

Overlooking the Airahu Campus is the Chapel of the Martyrs of Melanesia.  Here, morning and evening prayer is held seven days a week, and Holy Eucharist is celebrated on Thursdays and Sundays.  It is a beautiful blend of Melanesian and British cultures, just like many features of the Anglican Church of Melanesia.  Here Jonathan and Judah Hicks, and I are seen walking to morning Eucharist.

Man-Made Islands

Man-Made Islands

One of the most interesting cultural/geographical features I have seen in the Solomon Islands are the man-made reef islands that can be seen in and around various lagoons.  Many of the original builders/settlers of these islands were displaced from the bush-lands many generations ago.  Slowly, canoe load by canoe load, these settlers brought pieces of dead coral and piled them upon one another, until their islands were built.  This picture is taken at mid-tide–the water level will rise a bit higher than seen here.  Historically, these sea people would catch fish and create shell-money (still an active currency) to be traded with bush-people for sweet potato, cassava, taro, etc.

Pulpit Supply

A couple weeks ago I was asked to fill in as a homilist at Sunday Eucharist.  I was given about 48 hours notice, which is considered “advanced” notice in this culture.  It was an opportunity I was grateful for.  The chapel is called “The Chapel of the Melanesian Martyrs.”  In an upcoming post I will share a bit more about the martyrs to whom the chapel is dedicated.

Worship in the Anglican Church of Melanesia tends to be Anglo-Catholic in style, and features incense, vestments, and familiar hymns and creeds.  There are, however, many distinctive Melanesian features (you can probably see my bare feet!) that I continue to discover.

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.

Arriving to the Solomon Islands

Arriving to the Solomon Islands

SAMS Missionary Bridger Dean Baldwin shares the latest from his recent arrival to the Solomon Islands.

I’ve been in the Solomon Islands (locally: the Sols) for about a week now, it is good to be here.  Thanks for all your prayers!  I am beginning to settle in with Jonathan and Tess Hicks, and their five wonderful children.

Last Friday I was welcomed by staff, faculty and students to Trinity School for Theology and Ministry.  The welcome ceremony was quite humbling, wow, some time I will have to write about it!

Jon, Tess and I have had some great conversations together.  I am thankful for your prayers that we quickly bond as a team.  It seems like once in a while I will be able to head into town to send out  and check emails, etc.  In the mean time, to inform your prayers please remember me in the following areas:

  • That Jon, Tess and I continue to form a relationship of trust, mutual encouragement and good communication
  • For opportunities for me to learn Pidgin and engage int he students at Airahu
  • That I will wisely get into a healthy routine.

Thanks for all of your prayers, we are off to a great start here.  I hope to be sending another update in another week or two.  It turns out I can get online fairly regularly in Auki, a short bus ride from Airahu.  The connection is not the greatest, but it will suffice.  Hoping to take care of bills and essentials in my short time.  Thanks!