Vanuatu1In 2009, Paengaroa Bible Chapel was approached by the Human Resources Administrator at a local kiwifruit pack-house about people they were bringing into the country from Vanuatu under the Government's Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme wanting to know if we would be willing to provide a church home for these folk whilst they were in New Zealand. Of course we were delighted to be able to help in this way! Folk were delivered to our church by bus each week and while somewhat shy at  rst gradually warmed in response to the welcome they received and especially meals we were all able to share together. These folk were largely from the Island of Malekula, one of the larger islands that make up Vanuatu.

As it became known that these folk were attending our fellowship, other smaller groups who were working on orchards in the area joined us. These folk were mostly from the Island of Tanna. This helped us to form a special bond as Gordon Forlong's (one of our Bible teaching elders) grandfather had served as a missionary on Tanna more than 100 years ago. Some of these folk were descendants of people he knew and showed great gratitude for the gospel and the changes it had made in the people. More recently, another lady who grew up in our community (Wycli e linguist/translator – Joan Finlay) had been responsible for translating the New Testament into their own language.

In 2010, Gordon was able to visit Vanuatu and encourage these and others too. He also visited the places where his Grandfather lived and worked.

Those coming here have stayed from six weeks to six months with many leaving spouses and children at home. Sadly, some had to return home early due to unforeseen circumstances. They came with a focus to earn and be able to purchase items needed but una ordable in Vanuatu. Since then, we have been able to assist them with various items such as solar panels for church lighting, a computer (enabling them to screen DVD's etc.), roo ng iron for a church building, chainsaws, DVDs, book materials, Bibles and musical instruments.

We have shared numerous meals together and individual families have welcomed them into their homes.

Many of the folk who attended our fellowship have been from evangelical churches while others have been from groups such as Seventh Day Adventists and Latter Day Saints. What an opportunity! At least one man has decided to follow the Saviour while with us. Services, special events and even their work have been  lmed enabling them to take home a record of their time in New Zealand.

The arrival of the kiwifruit vine disease PSA in our district has impacted severely on employment opportunities in the kiwifruit industry. Unemployment in New Zealand generally also means that smaller numbers of RSE workers will be brought into New Zealand this year.

We thank the Lord for these lovely folk enriching our lives and establishing the ties we now have with them. We look forward to continuing to work with them into the future and marvel again at how our God works to draw people together.

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