Some of our teammates, Levi and Aaron, recently made a trip to Rockville, an island off the coast of Sunrise where the people speak a different dialect of the Sunrise language. We were so encouraged by their experience, I wanted to share some of their report with you. Aaron writes:
We didn’t have any particular plan for our time in Rockville. We primarily wanted to visit, understand a little more about the island, the people and their needs. We wanted to understand how our capacity and vision might fit with the reality on the island. I think we were particularly wanting to be perceptive to what God might have planned for our time, in particular ‘who’ he might want us to meet.
So, we got off the ‘fast boat’ at 9am, got some bikes and were riding out of the small town where the boats come in. We both stopped on the road about 1km out of town to collect our thoughts and set an action plan. Within seconds of us stopping a man pulled up behind us. His name was Wayne and he promptly told us that he was the new mayor of Candy Rock which is one of the 8 villages in Rockville. He was asking us what we were doing and soon wanting to go with us on our activities. He immediately invited us to come and visit his village and his home.
At first, I was pretty hesitant. Although we didn’t have a plan and wanted to be responsive to God, I wasn’t really expecting that God might want us to go straight to a specific village and listen and hear this guy’s heart for his village. Anyway, thanks to Levi’s willingness, we said to Wayne, “Come on, let’s get some fuel and head to your village.”
It turns out, that Wayne was supposed to be headed to the mainland that day and had just missed the Ferry. Because he has not yet been inducted into his new position, he’d decided to ride around looking to meet people and hear their needs. Wayne is originally from the village of Candy Rock, but as a boy moved to Sunrise and has worked in the city since then. He was elected by the village to be their head, primarily because they wanted something to change. They felt that someone with ‘outside’ ideas and vision might help move their village forward. Wayne definitely has a unique perspective, vision and in many ways seems to be re learning the culture and needs of his village. As we rode around he would often stop and introduce himself, as he has only been back for two weeks. He has moved his family back to his home village and is living with his mother in quite a simple setting.
So, Wayne took us to see some sights around Candy Rock. We then went to the town hall of the village and met the staff there. I was surprised to see the small health department attached to the town hall and the conditions of the antenatal care for the village. We talked a little about some of the needs that he has been hearing from the people. He talked quite a bit about the farmers desire to learn some new ideas and techniques. Talking about health, he shared that there seems to be a lot of trouble with Skin disease and diarrhea. We I asked about some solutions to these needs, he talked a lot about ‘training of trainers’ (his English is good)…which I found very interesting after doing our “training of trainers” course a few weeks ago. He talked repeatedly about how a lot of the solutions for his people are about passing on knowledge to the people. We talked a little about prevention education and he understands that concept. We also talked about water needs and access. It seems like Rockville has a good and developing water source and I was very impressed by the network of piping across the island!
After a short lunch, we decided to go further south to the coast to check out the primary water source for the island which is basically an underground river that pours out of the side of a 160m cliff face into the ocean. I have never seen anything like this. It was spectacular and we were all amazed at the huge amount of water that is pouring out continually considering Rockville is such a desolate place! With trepidation we walked down a steep rusting staircase and ladders on the side of the cliff down to the source. At the bottom of the cliff, at the source, as we swam in our underwear with Wayne. He was telling us that it was a miracle that we met today. He described how God wanted us to meet and how it wasn’t ‘chance’ that we met. I agreed.
We went back to Wayne’s house later and his wife Patricia cooked a simple meal for us. We chatted at length at his house about his village, his vision, our organization and our vision for Peace amongst other things. He was emphasing to us that us meeting is important and we need to get to know each other. We need to meet and talk more, to understand how we can work together. He was also quick to mention that we need to work together over many years to help his community. He said, we can’t see instant transformation here, but over time, over years, one issue at a time we will see some change.
I was impressed at Wayne’s perspective and seemingly genuine desire to ‘serve’ his village. No doubt he will have other motives that will become apparent as we get to know his village. Wayne’s perspective was very compatible to ours which was encouraging to me.
As we talked, I shared a little of our need as a foundation to source some funding for our work. We shared a little of our desire to trial raising goats as an income source. As we were riding around, Levi was constantly commenting on the islands suitability for goat farming. There are many hills that are open and sparse of any farming. Most people are trying to farm cows or pigs, but the topography etc.. of the land seems more conducive to goats. Anyway, both Wayne and Patricia, very quickly invited us to come and trial a project there in Candy Rock. It turns out that Wayne helped raise a herd of 100 goats while on the mainland when he was a boy and quickly shared a lot of his knowledge about goat farming and its suitability for a trial in Rockville. His perspective seemed accurate to us. He was also emphasising the willingness on the part of the farmers to try and learn something new. Anyway, this was very interesting and definitely something for the team to consider.
So, we left Wayne and Patricia’s house about 5 pm and battled pouring rain for one hour back to the north side of the island. The next day we met and chatted with another friend there in Rockville who seems like a very open lady worth following up. We then rode around a different part of the island.
Personally, I agree with Wayne – that God has provided a clear open door to this Candy Rock and we should be intentionally pursuing a ‘relationship’ with them. Even Wayne emphasised the need to get to know one another for a while first and then try some small programs together. I also strongly believe that Rockville seems to have been a stronghold without a long term consistent gospel presence. This is an opportunity that could result in long term presence and change.
Let’s start praying for Candy Rock and see if God really is opening a door for access to this village!