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Soft spoken, humble, hardworking, short, almost 60 years old but still building houses. His name is Isaac. I met him at Penama Adventist College. He does not say more than he has to. He doesn’t have an ego to uphold, except that he should be good at his job as a builder/carpenter. We are sitting on a bench beside the church bell, just outside the church building – under a mango tree that has been there since the ’40s.

We sat beside the church house as he reminisced back to the ’50s. A rare opportunity to travel back in time – into an unwritten spot in history. He spoke of events further back, into the second world war. Quietly reliving the days when as a youth, he’d marvel at the American and Japanese planes flying overhead on their way to either Santo or Efate – their flight paths mapped by nefarious details unbeknownst to him.

Then he spoke, oh my, of the days when he was a student at the Redcliff Mission School – now Penama Adventist College. He spoke with a smile that showed appreciation for my attention. For indeed, I was captivated by his tales of how as a young ‘un he’d be running up the hills that I had hitherto and thence walked upon – with dramatic huff n puff. Yea, ’twas the ’50s – years before my parents were born.

His vivid descriptions of the arrival of missionaries from Aore. Isaac, in his quiet & humble tone spoke of the crew of the mission ships – pointing out the spots on the sides of the hills where the crews’ houses had been, no longer visible of course. Dear Isaac then pointed to the spots where the old classrooms had been, reliving days buried in time, yet, still fresh in his memories.

The memories of how the PWD bulldozers had helped them in building a road. The road brought in cattle at night to ‘mow’ the lawn and leave early in the morning to the sounds of the waking humans. Ah, ’twas a great tale to listen to.

Then looking up the hill he pointed out the remains of the old principals’ house – which is now a bare concrete structure with nothing else to show for it’s former existence. He then proceeded to relate how the church house had been left intact – surviving the natural disasters that had come Redcliff’s way. The church’s grounds had always been kept clean by unseen, heavenly workers. That same church is still standing and serving as the sanctuary in which the believers go to worship their God.

It was a great privilege indeed to sit and listen to Isaac retelling the stories of years I will never see.

Oh but never mind the privilege, I was truly blessed!