It started with, Kaylene Trembath (from GB NSW) and myself arriving at 11.30pm on Wednesday 25th January and we were met by our hosts, Jill, National Secretary and Shirley, the National Commissioner of Vanuatu. The next day the adventure commenced.
The training started with about 18 – 20 ladies for the next three days. And what three days it was. There was laughter, tears, blessings and very eager ladies who wanted to learn so much. They came from islands to the south of the main island, Efate, and islands to the north. What dedication these ladies had, some didn’t know anything of Brigade so we were starting from scratch. One of the ladies thought that Girls’ Brigade was all Marching and Flag Raising, she was in for big shock.
Some ladies stayed at the Church Hall and others travelled in each day. They learnt the History of Brigade, how to run a company, Officers training, programming, different craft ideas and how to include them in the badgework, games, different ways of doing devotions, Brigade Knowledge, the different awards and lots of other Brigade things, and of course drill.
On the Saturday afternoon, we had a special presentation of Certificates of Participation, which they all received, and the younger girls (3 girls aged 13) also received some special things. There were lots of hugs and big smile on their faces. All the ladies were excited to go home to their Churches to start Brigade.
On Sunday, we attended a Church Parade service, in which we were asked to take part, at the conclusion of the service we stood at the door to shake everyone’s hands and even received hugs from some of the ladies. The singing before the service was so magical, they have a wonderful youth group who sang in perfect English. Even when the words were in Vanuatuan it was still magical.
Jill and her husband, Adous, took us for a drive to showed us their lovely island, white sands, coral beaches and blue seas. We learnt a lot about Vanuatu. We also visited some of the ladies in their homes, the ones who live on the main island of Efate.
Monday, we had a day out to unwind and prepare for the next day of visiting the Presbyterian Christian Education Department and also more Churches and ladies.
The stories of some of these women is truly amazing. One lady, Helen, came along because she wanted to start GB in her Church. She had not been involved in Brigade and was so passionate to learn. We visited her on the Tuesday and she told us that God has been so good to her, she is a very simple lady and her granddaughter was so inspired by her grandmother that she went out and arranged to purchase a lap top for her, so she could move with the time, and she was going to teach her how to use it. I asked Helen how she was doing to get the girls to come to Brigade, and her answer was “on the way to the Church I would just gather them as I pass through the villages on route”. I was so touched by Helen I just wanted to hug her. This is just one of the stories that we have to tell.
Three ladies left for their homes on the Monday morning, by boat, these islands were north of Efate. Jill received a message on the Tuesday morning, to say that they had arrived ok. It took them nearly 20 hours to get home to their island. What amazing dedication these women have.
Our visit to the Children’s Education department, was another wonderful experience. We met with Johnny Albert, the overseer of the Department, and he was so supportive of Brigades. They would also like to get BB up and running as well, and I sure that this will happen. Jill, Kaylene and myself came away from the meeting feeling overwhelmed with the outcome.
The whole time that we were in Port Villa we felt God with us, it was such an awesome feeling of peace and we were very blessing to have been able to share our knowledge of Girls’ Brigade and these ladies.
A big thanks to Jill and Shirley for the hospitality that we received during our time with them.
Kaylene and I returned to Sydney on the Wednesday evening full of wonderful memories of these lovely ladies and our training in Vanuatu.
NSW Training Coordinator