Islanders never advertise their travel plans until they are absolutely sure that the plans are going to happen. Pulling the money together and getting visas to travel is an uncertain business for most islanders and they don’t want the bad luck of telling people ahead of time or the shame of having to tell people that their plans/dreams didn’t work out.
Going over to the French island illegally is never a sure thing. So you almost never hear about it in advance. So many things can go wrong. The boat drivers can decide not to go at the last minute because of weather or because of an increased immigration police presence. People can be captured immediately and sent right back to Clove Island the same day. Then there are all the tragic stories of islanders dying in the attempted crossing, lost at sea by going in overloaded boats, in dangerous conditions, in the dark of night with no lifejackets.
It caught me a little by surprise when our pregnant neighbor (we’ll call her Twama here) called me over and in a whispering voice told me, “I’m traveling tomorrow at dawn. I’m going to the French Island to give birth.” As foreigners we’re often seen as more trustworthy and perhaps less judging, but it was clear that she didn’t want anyone else to overhear our conversation. I was concerned, not only is she over 8 months pregnant, but it was clear that she would be traveling with her 2 year old and her 5 year old as well. I expressed my concerns about it being dangerous, but she assured me that she wasn’t going on a dangerous one (which is usually code for passengers paying a lot of money to be in a boat that isn’t overcrowded and/or that has a back-up motor). I asked if the kids would have life jackets and she said they would, though she may have just been telling me what I wanted to hear. I prayed for her and said goodbye.
|Our English Club|
Later the next day, we heard the telltale yells of Twama’s 2 year old son. There were other people around when I greeted her with surprise, so all she said was “Tomorrow!” Something must have delayed her trip.
The next day all was quiet at their house. It seemed like they had really gone. Then in the afternoon, we overheard their voices once again. Twama called me over and spoke in whispers again (still not willing that anyone else know her plans). They had left at midnight and traveled to the other side of the island and waited at a beach with others for hours. Finally it was time to get in the boat and she was shocked to see 20 people waiting to get into the one boat. Everyone was encouraging her to get in, but she refused. It just wasn’t safe. So she came home instead with her two little ones.
We were proud of Twama for her decision. But who knows when our next island friend will just disappear off to the French Island.
|Egg Hunt-- Island-style|
Our English Club went well with around 20 islanders gathered in our living room, hearing the story behind Easter. Each day at school seems easier with our son. He’s already counting down the days to summer vacation, but most of his anxiety is gone. There has been some progress in Ma Imani’s family’s conflict but no reconciliation yet. Megan has gotten to talk to various members of the family about the letting go of anger, what real forgiveness and reconciliation looks like— we keep praying for the final breakthrough in everyone’s hearts.
Our neighbor Twama was having labor pains yesterday and had us urgently calling family members for her (she was at home alone with her little kids with no phone credit. The doctor thought it was too early and was trying to get the contractions to stop. They left for the doctor’s clinic last night. Pray for a safe delivery for Twama (whether it is happening now or in a couple weeks) and for a healthy baby. We’re in the middle of an island holiday (we’ll probably write about it next week) This coming weekend, Megan and our daughter have the opportunity to go to the big island to support and see our colleagues over there. Pray for safe travels, no motion sickness for our daughter (flying there but boating back), and an encouraging time all around. Pray for our continuing testimony to our island friends and neighbors and for wisdom in what relationships to focus our time. Continue to pray for Ma Imani’s family and for wisdom for Megan as different parties seem to want to use her as a mediator in this complicated family drama. We’ve having a variety of minor health ailments— colds, a short tummy bug, skin infections, pink eye, earraches… Pray for our health.