On 25 November 2017, 18 very excited students, 1 alumna and 4 staff departed Brisbane airport for a 12-day mission trip to Vanuatu.  The team would be staying at Youth With A Mission’s (YWAM) V2Life base, 20 minutes out of Port Villa. Amongst many other community projects V2Life’s main ministry focus in Vanuatu is building concrete water tanks in local communities, providing clean and safe drinking water.  The team would be building a water tank, as well as working on base projects and a children’s program.

The stifling heat and the humidity greeted the team on their arrival and before long they experienced the first of many drives around Vanuatu in the back of an open truck – the adventure had begun.   The accommodation was basic, but sufficient and each team member found a bed and headed to the evenings activities consisting of introductions and camp orientation. 

The next day, Sunday, the team attended an international church followed by further orientation where they learned some Bislama (the main language spoken in Vanuatu), and more about the culture and traditions of the people.   This was followed by a delicious meal, which included traditional food cooked in banana leaves, under hot coals.

The team was then divided into three smaller teams and spent the next six days working in rotation on the water tank and base projects.   

The water tank was being constructed in a village a short drive from the YWAM base.  This project had the team digging foundations, laying rio, mixing cement, sifting sand and applying concrete.  This project would take 6 full days of work to complete and each team had the opportunity to work there.  Although these were long and hot days of physical labour, working in the village presented a great opportunity for each of the students to make new friends and to invite them to the Youth night that would be held at the end of the week at the YWAM base.

The team worked on various base projects, which included cutting long grass with machetes to make roofing for the new duck enclosure; cleaning the kindergarten and preparing a children’s program, which they presented to village children; general base cleaning and lots and lots of shovelling of rocks and sand for the tank project.

Each of these projects had the teams physically working very hard and their dedication and perseverance to getting each job done was phenomenal. 

In between project work the team had the opportunity to visit a boarding house where children from outer islands stay so they have the chance to attend school. The College team played games and learnt dances, also giving out toiletry packs, stationery and special gifts to the children. Some also had the chance to visit the local hospital, where their eyes were opened to the basic facilities and medical aid available in Vanuatu.

At the end of the week the team joined in with local youth for a combined youth evening of dance, song, games and fellowship.  The team had the opportunity to give a devotion as well as share a testimony.  They also combined with the students from the boarding house for a dance and later led a song.  The following morning the team was privileged to join in the church service at the village where they had built the water tank. The people welcomed them with honour and admiration. Several students and staff spoke about their time in Vanuatu. They were invited to stay for a special lunch made in their honour before many hugs and goodbyes.

After six days of very hard project work, the team’s final two days were spent being tourists, swimming, snorkelling, hiking to waterfalls and buying some souvenirs to take home.  During these days, the team also reflected individually and as a group on the things they had accomplished, what they loved and how they had changed. The staff were so proud of this group of young people who represented themselves, their families and Redlands College with compassion, respect and an incredibly positive attitude, even in the midst of challenging circumstances.