Got home from Fiji yesterday. No sleep on the flight, which was quite full. Did get to be in the upper deck, which is much quieter. Slept well last night. To a graveside service today for the husband of my wife’s youngest sister. Great to see family, even though the occasion is sad. Will fly up to northern CA on Sunday for the memorial service.
The outreach in Fiji was one of the best yet. Thanks so much for your prayers.
I forgot to mention in my last post that we were unable to complete the delivery of the two wheelchairs to individuals on the island of Waya LeiLei because the wheelchair mission had not included the 8 seats in the shipment that we had transported to the landing for us to take over to the island. We thought everything was there because there was a very large carton that easily could have contained the chairs. That’s what the person who picked them up in Suva thought as well. I’ve already contacted the necessary individuals and they will send the missing seats down to Lautoka this week. The pastor we were working with will transport them to the island, assemble them and get them delivered. A bit of a disappointment in that we will not be present, but only a slight delay for those who have been waiting years for these wheelchairs.
The couple that was with our team, Mike and Amy, were not scheduled to leave Fiji until tonight. They came a day later than everyone else due to a prior commitment and decided to stay an extra day to have some time alone on the beach. I gave them the second local phone I bought so the team could maintain contact when we were in separate villages during the outreach. Mike called this morning before I left Nadi town for Suva to say that Amy got food poisoning and was sick during the night. I delayed my trip up to Suva and arranged transport for them to the hotel where Paramount Chief Osea and I were staying until after the rest of the team flew out last night. Ratu Osea and I were able to begin our debrief in Nadi as easily as doing it here in Suva. We had a lot to discuss regarding this outreach and plans for next December. By the time Mike and Amy arrived, Amy was already feeling much better. They should be on the homebound plane in just a few more hours.
I’ve already arranged for some meetings tomorrow with partners here in Suva. It will be a very busy day, but it will be good to meet with friends again. These are individuals who have worked with us in Fiji from the very beginning in 2003.
It is Monday, July 1 in Fiji. Early yesterday morning we left Nakorokula Village, the village that hosted our outreach, took a very crowded van to Lautoka and boarded a 21′ boat to the Yasawa Island of Waya Leilei to deliver 8 wheelchairs.
We were greeted in traditional Fijian fashion and welcomed to the village. Then we were feasted to one of the best meals I have ever eaten anywhere. Some of the team snorkeled while I went over to another location to buy drinking water and some snacks. Then we had evening church. Some of the most sublime, beautiful singing this side of heaven. Then I delivered a message. After I finished, the Fijian pastor preached another full message. Services are often longer overseas. Then another meal.
Early this morning we left the island to return to the mainland. It is about a 31 mile trip. About 45 minutes out, we stopped at an ocean lagoon to swim with the sharks during shark feeding. Folks come from all over the world to witness this beautiful coral marvel and pet the sharks. Truly a memorable experience.
Got to Nadi around noon, in time to swim in the hotel pool and get rid of a lot of gritty salt and sand. Then, oh bliss, the first hot shower since the beginning of the outreach. We met with a local artisan I’ve known for some years. She is the premiere crafts person in the nation. Jim Whitney talked with her about a line of cultural products she might produce with some of her top artisans. With Jim’s contacts this could become a great source of income for a number of women. We’ll have to see how this works out.
After those discussion, I took the team over to the airport for pizza and their flight out. They will be on the maiden voyage of the new Fiji Airways Airbus. They’re very excited about that.
Tomorrow I head to Suva to debrief this outreach and to make plans for the next trip. There are several people I need to meet, if briefly. Face-to-face contacts are so very important in this culture–much more so than in the States.
Everyone involved in this outreach agrees it has been one of the best ever in so many ways.
Thanks for your prayers!