An Account of Cyclone Pam Hitting Onesua College, Vanuatu

By Graeme and Maebry Reid, PCANZ Volunteers at Onesua

The cyclone hit us on Friday about 4pm and continued throughout the night.  Onesua was hit head on and has been badly damaged.  Its future is unknown as many  residential houses lost their roofs as did the classrooms. 

A nearby village, called Takara, was totally destroyed, and the people are living in a safe classroom, and the chapel at school. They walk every day down to Takara, and bring back what they can.

It’s devastating for the people in the country regions as most live out of their gardens, as does the school on a daily basis. The gardens are destroyed, and bananas for lap-lap nearly all gone, manioc roots (like taro) disturbed and rotting.

For most of my life, my understanding of rice has been very limited. I always assumed rice was the same, no matter where it was grown. A grain of rice was a grain of rice. I never gave any thought to the idea that there might be varieties of it. Slowly it began to dawn on me that in our supermarkets, I could find long grain and short grain rice, and then there was something called Basmati.

In October 2014 I visited Christian Medical College (CMC) in Ludhiana, North India. This visit proved to be very enriching. Connections to New Zealand medical missionaries who served at Ludhiana ensured me a very hospitable welcome. Director Dr. Abraham Thomas (who told me he was taught by David Troughton of Christchurch) introduced me to the leaders of the Fellowship Team (chaplains), arranged my train ticket and stay at the guest house, and from then on everything was in place.

(A guest blog by the Rev. Kim Hae Sung of the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea, (PROK), CEO of Global Sarang, a nonprofit organization for migrants in Korea).

I Received a Pair of Elephants as a Gift

Every year, I visit Sri Lanka once or twice. And each time, I always make time to meet the President of Sri Lanka. He always receives me with a warm heart. Four years ago, in 2010, the President offered an elephant as a gift to thank us for our support.

Operating within our New Zealand context where the church is relatively small, it is sometimes difficult to understand just how much different things are in other contexts. This is very much the case when we compare the Presbyterian Church scene in New Zealand with our partner churches in South Korea. We have two Presbyterian Church partners in South Korea, the PCK and the PROK. The PCK is the larger of the two but both are very important partnerships.

In August 2014 I spent a few days on Paama Island in Vanuatu, for the Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu’s General  Assembly.  I had never been to Paama and didn't know too much about it. I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of accommodation, and going by past experience at similar events I didn’t have my hopes up.  But when my colleague and I arrived we saw that temporary thatched bungalows had been built in a beautiful setting literally right on the beach.

I saw this story several years ago in the days when we read printed newspapers. I cut it out and kept the clipping because I thought it was such a powerful story. It has been on my mind a lot during the recent shocking war between Hamas and Israel.

In July a team of young adults from the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand visited Tanna Island in Vanuatu, to spend time at Lenakel Presbyterian College, on a programme entitled Going Global. Tanna is one of the southern islands of Vanuatu, in what is known as Tafea province. It has an active volcano, Mt. Yasur, which has made the soil on the island very fertile.

The Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK) is active in social justice issues. One of their ministries in Seoul is called Durebang, which means “My Sister’s Place.” It is situated in Uijongbu, north of Seoul. At Durebang they provide help and support for trafficked migrant workers, most of whom come from the Philippines, and work in the nightclubs that provide entertainment for the soldiers at the American military base, Camp Stanley.

In May 2014, I had the opportunity to visit South Korea with two other members of the PCANZ, where we spent time observing the ministry of the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK). The PROK is a socially active church and has a long history of standing on the side of the poor and oppressed in Korean society. We were hugely impressed with the work of their Migrant Centre in Seoul. This ministry began as a result of the vision of a PROK minister, Rev.