When Brian and Linda Forrester set sail for Solomon Islands next June they hope to take bundles of donated Bible and school resources for distribution to remote villages.
It will be the Australian couple’s third trip providing medical assistance to isolated Solomon Islands communities aboard their catamaranDrumbeat. Their first trip in 2015 saw them visit Kolambangara delivering medical supplies. In 2016 they visited the North Vella region in the Western Province with a local nurse, and this year they plan to visit North Vella and North New Georgia.
“We have two groups with a total of eight local medical practitioners to support us this year,” said Brian. “We will have a dentist on board this year, dental health being one of the greatest immediate needs in remote areas.”
As they travel around the villages, many of them Adventist, they receive lots of requests for resources. Clothes and books have been generously donated by an ADRA store in Australia and the couple’s hometown community of Airlie Beach, but the need is great.
“We are constantly asked for Sabbath School resources, specifically the ‘old school’ resources: picture rolls, flannelgraph, Bible Story books, anything that doesn’t require electricity,” said Brian.
“Bibles and church hymnals are also greatly appreciated. We are sourcing a publisher of Bibles in Pijin—the language of the Solomon Islands—that will require sponsorship.”
School supplies are in short supply, including text books, exercise books, paper and stationery. Reading glasses are also in demand while the men need good quality hand tools as carving is one of the primary sources of income in many areas.
“Linda is also starting a community program for volunteers to hand make re-useable sanitary napkins, which we will distribute,” said Brian. “We need volunteers who have access to a sewing machine and some basic materials; Linda will provide the instructions.”
The Forresters previously worked with Pacific Yacht Ministries, an independent Seventh-day Adventist ministry providing dental and medical assistance to remote villages in Vanuatu.
In the end, the mission-driven couple is deeply inspired by the warmth of the people they meet, as they develop bonds with them and provide spiritual encouragement. “It takes time and consistency to break through so they are comfortable with us and we can move forward as equals. It will also take time to see the results as our best chance for long-term improvement is through education,” concluded Brian Forrester.