Fiji August 12, 2014

More Eye ExamLast year when we were in the Wai District we ministered in the Fijian schools. We promised to come back this year and provide our services to the local Indian schools and communities. That we are doing what we said we would do is very significant in this society. We are lifting up the Name of Jesus as we show that we keep our word. Some of these schools have never had medical teams come to help their students.

On this second day of our outreach, we saw 197 individuals at Lomawai Primary School. This is the second largest Hindu school in the region. 190 students and staff had eye and ear exams. 168 had dental checks, with 11 extractions. We gave out 26 pairs of reading glasses, mostly to teachers and members of the community. Our counselor prayed for 103 people and 24 received Christ. It was a very busy day.

Lomawai Primary SchoolIt is amazing to observe how disciplined the students are as they go through our procedures. This is a real tribute to their teachers and to their parents. The staff of the school was totally cooperative, even though this was a final examination day. Students came in by class after they completed their tests.
Tomorrow we will visit a school that has around 400 students. It will be a real challenge to serve all those students and their teachers along with members of the community.
Pray that we all remain in excellent health and that our strength holds out. We so rely on your faithful prayers.

Blessings!

Fiji Monday August 11, 2014

Welcome to NamataIt is Monday night, 9:15 p.m. and we have completed the first day of our medical outreach. We visited two Hindu primary schools and ministered to 79 students, the staff of both schools and folks from the surrounding communities. Students and staff expressed extreme gratitude for our visit. The head mistress of the first school told me that in the history of the school no one ever came like we did to help them. She was delighted that we would come. We were simply demonstrating the practical love of Jesus. This gives great credence to the Gospel and to the local churches.

Project heaven vanThe students began their day by reciting the Lord’s prayer together. But then they also sing a Hindu song to various Hindu deities. There is a need for discernment and truth.

We have not had water all day in the village where we are staying. Water was supposed to be pumped from the well into the village tank this afternoon. This has still not happened. Pray it will be so tomorrow.

Tomorrow we will be at a larger school in Lomawai. We really appreciate your prayers.

Blessings!

Eye Charts

Fiji August 10 2014

DSCN3831This morning Tom and I attended church in the village. The singing is incredible, as usual. I gave a few words of greeting from the TUtP board, my church and pastor, and my family. Then the rest of the service was conducted in Fijian. I knew the text of the sermon—the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke so had a pretty good idea what the pastor was talking about. However I spent the sermon reading Scripture so I could also be worshipping.

After church we had a lovely lunch of fresh-caught fish, boiled tapioca root and spinach. Ratu Osea was in church with us but could not join us for lunch because the bridge across the river between the church and the house we are staying in is under repair. His car could not cross it and he could not get across in his wheelchair, since the surface of the bridge was largely missing. He’ll join us during tomorrow’s outreach.

Aisake (General Secretary of the Fijian medical group we work with) and the GIFT medical team finally arrived around 7 p.m. The eye and ear specialists were unable to come until tomorrow. Hopefully they will join us early in the afternoon. The four who came settled into where they will be sleeping and just finished their evening meal at 9:20 p.m. We discussed the two Hindu schools we will be ministering to tomorrow and they headed off to bed. Dr. Tom went to bed before they even arrived, as he is still getting used to our time shift.

Our schedule for tomorrow: Breakfast at 7 a.m. Leave for the first school at 8 a.m. Begin the clinics at 9 a.m. Second school at 1 p.m. Finish the clinics and return to our village around 5 p.m. Debrief and eat our evening meal around 7 p.m.

We so appreciate your prayers as we begin.

Thanks and Blessings!

Fiji August 9, 2014

We are in the village. It has been a very loooong day. There was a bit of miscommunication regarding the shopping we needed to do to get the last supplies we needed. Eventually things were sorted out and I was able to get to all the shops needed to pick up all the food and pharmacy items required. Then a van and driver were engaged to move us and all our boxes, bags, trunks, etc. to our base for the outreach.

The driver asked for payment in full prior to leaving Nadi. Since we were at a gas station, that is not all that unusual. They require the money to purchase the fuel needed for the trip. The second he was paid, he got out of the van, which was loaded to the roof with our things. He walked to a van parked behind us and indicated he was not willing to take us to the village as he would have to travel off the main road and on a dirt road part of the way. He talked the van behind us into taking us, paid him and began to offload all our stuff into the new van. This is unheard of.
Still it did not delay us that long and frankly the van we moved into seemed like a nicer van than the one we had been in. When we arrived at the village, the driver said, “How much did you pay the other driver?” After the first driver negotiated the trade off, he told me he had paid the entire amount I’d given him to the new driver. He actually hadn’t. He totally cheated the second van driver and walked away with a nice profit for perhaps 15 minutes of effort. Nice shell game.

All the main village leaders were waiting for us to arrive so they could formally greet us. We took all our supplies into the house Tom and I will stay in, spread everything out so our hosts could see what was on hand and determine what, if anything else, would be needed before the Fiji medical team arrives late tomorrow afternoon. Sorted through things, asked some questions and wound up calling Cuvu to buy a few more needed things before she comes out tomorrow (Sunday).
All in all, a kind of interesting day!
Thanks for your praying.

Fiji August 7 2014

Yesterday morning was fairly light as Paramount Chief Ratu Osea was delayed in meetings until in the afternoon when he joined me at the hotel. Then we met for most of the afternoon and had our evening meal together. He went off to yet another meeting and I took a cab to the airport to meet our dentist, Dr. Tom Boone. His plane was to arrive around 9:05 p.m. Turned out that they actually arrived about 20 minutes early, so he came out through customs almost immediately after I got there. We took the cab back to the hotel and I got him settled into his room. Then we met with Ratu Osea until almost 11 p.m. You may rightly gather that Ratu does not pay much attention to the clock. In fact, he once said to me and my team, “You have a watch, but we have the time”, which indicates one world view difference between much 2/3 world cultures and our own Western culture. We had some great discussions as Ratu brought Tom up to date on several important things going on the Fiji. We enjoyed the time together, though it did mean that I did not get to write my second Fiji report until this morning.

Ratu was late in part because he was meeting with the various village and school officials in whose schools and villages we will be working. Everything important that happens in Fiji happens because of face-to-face relationships built up over time. I so appreciate Ratu’s heart and his many contacts around the nation.

We’ll have quite a busy day. The team will meet for breakfast here at the hotel in about 10 minutes. Then we need to pack up, go into town and buy most of the remaining supplies for the medical outreach, hire a van and driver to take us to the village, and drive out this afternoon.

We were able to talk to Aisake Emmanuel, General Secretary for GIFT (the Fijian doctor’s group we partner with) and determine what we need to get for the doctors. So we should be in pretty good shape as regards all of our supplies by the time we settle into the village.

I’m eating a very good papaya as I type this. Hard not to get juice on the keys. One of the perks of the job.

So appreciate your continued prayers.

Blessings!

First Fiji Report August 2014

I’m writing this in my hotel room at about 8 p.m. I had just finished my email when my browser crashed for no discernible reason. So I must start all over.

Dr. Larry Rizzo, good friend and board member, drove me from my home to LAX last night to catch my flight. This was very helpful as I had a lot of luggage. I’d ask Air Fiji to grant two extra 23 KG check-in bags. I have almost 240 Bibles (which we are giving to the students at the camp) and other theology books and teaching materials as well as clothes, etc. for this month long trip. The airport shuttle drivers don’t like the trunks and try to make me pay an oversize fee and extra baggage charges as well. Having Larry take me took care of that hassle. The airline only granted a 7 KG “humanitarian baggage allowance” which meant I had to pay for one extra trunk. Dr. Tom, who arrives tomorrow night, will also have to pay for the extra trunk he’s bringing.

The flight boarded and took off exactly on time. It was an almost full flight, so no chance to lie down. I did get a bulk-head, aisle seat, however. No sleep during the 10 hour flight, as usual. We must have had a fairly strong tail wind, as we landed about 20 minutes early—around 4:15 a.m. Too early to begin meetings, etc.

Cuvu, Paramount Chief Ratu Osea’s daughter, and her husband Gabe were to meet me just outside customs and drive me to my hotel before we had breakfast together and began to shop for what we need for our mission. Turns out I was delayed over two hours clearing customs. They wanted to charge me for the reading glasses, and the currency forms were rather extensive as well. I didn‘t have my Fiji phone with me as I’d left it with Cuvu last trip to allow her to use it and keep it registered and charged. No way to inform them of the delay. Since they didn’t see me, they drove over to the hotel, then back to the airport, where I still was not out. In the end I bought another cheap phone and tried to call them. No connection.

Finally I took a cab to the hotel, checked in and was just getting into the room when they caught up with me. Fortunately their home, the hotel and the airport are all very close together. Still it was a bit of a hassle.

We had a rather long breakfast as we discussed a number of details regarding the camp, etc. Then I did currency exchange and began to shop for needed supplies. Cuvu had to leave me before noon. I continued shopping by myself and had lunch in Nadi before returning to the hotel to change clothes and have a shower. Then back into town for more shopping, etc.

I will not go to bed until around 10 p.m. I should sleep quite well and be on Fiji time by morning when Ratu Osea arrives from Suva for more meetings. We’ll likely drive out to the village where we will be stationed during the clinics. We’ll meet with principles, teachers and other leaders to discuss our schedule. Then we’ll drive back to Nadi to get more supplies based on what we learn from those meetings. We’ll move to the village sometime late Saturday night.

Dr. Tom will arrive tomorrow night around 9:30 p.m. We’ll stay at the same hotel that night and move to the village sometime Saturday morning to join the GIFT Fijian doctor’s team led by Aisake Emmanuel, a good friend who organizes our Fijian doctors, counselors, etc. They’ll arrive sometime around noon.

Everyone here is really excited about both the outreach and the camp. The students who are invited to camp have been contacting Cuvu and Gabe by phone, Skype, Facebook and email, expressing strong interest in what we’re going to be doing. This is really great.

Appreciate your prayers that all continues to go well.

Thanks and Blessings!

Fiji Camp 2014

Fiji CampI fly out to Fiji tonight for our regular Teach Us to Pray medical, dental and evangelistic outreach. We will be working in three Hindu schools and their surrounding communities.

A week after the outreach is over, we will conduct a camp for 150 hand-picked youth from all over the main island. These are young people who have been identified as leaders within their village churches. It will be an intense week of leadership and discipleship training as well as a time for these kids to get to know each other. Many of them rarely get out of their own villages and have never had the opportunity to be together with a large number of Christians their own age. I was influenced to become a missionary because of my experiences in camp as a young person. I know how much impact this type of activity can have in the lives of those who attend.

I appreciate your prayers that this will be a life transforming experience for these kids. Please continue to pray for my health as well.