I stepped way outside my comfort zone today and served as videographer for Fly Harbour Primary School on the other end of the beautiful Fly Harbour (which got its name from the American planes that used the harbour for a landing strip).
The school board chairman wanted to record the everyday lives of the students in the Central Province's only boarding school for grades K-6.
God gave us a beautiful, overcast day to help the pictures turn out well. First I attended the opening assembly. There is nothing like a room resounding with kids singing wholeheartedly in their heart language.
Then I walked from class to class, beginning with the kindergarten and moving to the older children.
To help the pictures and videos to go more smoothly, the headmaster had set up areas outside of the classrooms for me to film.
The students really enjoyed reenacting bathing, because it meant that the kids got to splash around in the ocean and play. Then they walked up to the well and dumped buckets of water over themselves to rinse off. I couldn't help but think about how a bar of soap would help prevent so many of the sores that I see on these precious kids.
These kids wash their own clothes and cook for themselves. Often an older sister or cousin will help look after a younger student.
The students have time to play soccer in the midst of their studies and their daily work.
No "house mother" lives in the dorms, so the teachers not only function as teachers, but also as surrogate mothers and fathers.
Even the smallest ones have a job.
The school also has a garden that helps provide extra food for the students whenever the food the parents send at the beginning of the week runs out.
I observed kids chopping and bundling firewood, climbing coconut trees to gather coconuts, and recreating a scene with sick students. When the boys finished depicting the sick room in their dormitory, they whooped and hollered and jumped off the porch!
This group of dedicated teachers works hard to provide their 210 students with the best education and care possible, and I'm thankful especially for the headmaster, Piru, who is from our village.
The school sent me back with a bag of cassava as a thank you gift. On the way home, we saw a small group of girls catching fish.
And then we began to see canoes with people heading to their gardens to work in the cooler part of the afternoon when the sun began to go down.
Most of the canoes had several people in them, but I saw our friend Hiva paddling by himself and waved to him. God keeps giving me opportunities to stretch, and today was a good nudge outside my normal boundaries.