12.03-Melanesia-1-of-1-19

Our team has had so many adventures on our three-day trip to Santa Isabel Island, where the Diocese of Ysabel is based. Since we had no Internet access there there’s a blog backlog, but you can expect more stories later, including a rundown of our various modes of transportation—by boat, tractor, and nine-seater plane. For now, though, we agreed that the theme of self-reliance was a good place to start our stories.

The people of the Diocese of Ysabel have deep faith and work very hard. The diocese is already packed with Anglicans. Around 96% of the population (32,000 people) is Anglican.

This large group is on the move. Archbishop Hiltz observed that in Ysabel many visions have come to fruition and there are further visions for growth.

The man leading the charge is Bishop Richard Naramana. He jokes about his small stature but he’s respected as a “big fela” who knows how to work hard.

Bishop Naramana devoted five years of his earlier ministry to establishing a rural vocational training school at Garanga. Here students who failed their grade six exams can have another chance at education, learning skills like carpentry, mechanics, and sewing.

12.03-Melanesia-1-of-1-20Building the school was tough work. Bishop Richard and his team had to clear the bush by hand and he joked he was “divorced” from his wife while he lived away. But he was passionate about addressing the problem of unemployment. He wanted to give young people hope and practical skills.

We visited the school, now named Bishop Naramana Vocational Training Centre, on Thursday and were given an intense, loud welcome by several hundred students. They hosted a tree planting ceremony and Bishop Naramana was the one who watered the trees.

The diocese is also working to be financially independent. They run several income generation projects, including a canteen at the diocesan centre, a gas station on nearby Tasia island, and a farm funded by the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund–a project that I’ll cover more later.

Our team debriefed by the ocean yesterday evening and marveled at Ysabel’s hard work towards faithful self-reliance—individual and collective. We’re thinking now about how to share their good ideas at home and around the Anglican Communion. Any ideas?