Second Fiji Report August 2015

Aisake, GIFT general secretary, and I spent about 4 hours in his car driving into Savusavu town, then up north to Labasa to meet with various folks involved in some aspect of the next three weeks of activity here on Vanua Levu Island. By God’s grace we met with everyone we needed to see A number of us sat down for pizza, and chicken and chips at a small restaurant in Labasa where we arranged the last of our beekeeper’s schedule and for food purchase and preparation for the Dreketi outreach.

One couple who were with us, Chuck and Susan MacKay, are farmers near Labasa. I first met them a number of years ago when I was doing outreaches in the slums of Suva. Chuck is a man of many talents. He designed the women’s and youth center we built in the Namadi slums. Now he helps direct some of the farmer’s groups in his region. Some of these folks are Indian cane farmers who want to diversify their crops away from sugar cane. Some are Fijian villagers who want to learn how to best use their small village plots.

Chuck and his wife operate what I would call an experimental farm, growing a wide variety of crops and fruit trees, trying to determine which would be best to expand into the larger farming community. What grows best in a tropical climate? What is sustainable? What sells? Most of the local farmers have very little land, perhaps a couple of acres. However, if you combine their holdings, the growing area is fairly significant. Chuck keeps bees and encourages others to do the same. We relied upon his contacts to determine where and who Carl will train.

Chuck has begun to develop relationships with the leaders of the Fiji Beekeepers Association headquartered in Suva. I have met a few times with these same folks and know how committed they are to seeing beekeeping thrive around the nation. They have concluded that the best way to promote beekeeping is to train and mentor local trainers from among those who want to keep bees, so these trained individuals can have an ongoing beneficial impact among the various beekeepers in each community. TUtP wants to cooperate with this as we know that unless there are local trained and committed people in each community who will do follow up and be available to answer questions and troubleshoot problems, beekeeping will not succeed in most locations.

Our beekeeper, Carl, will be extremely busy travelling to a number of locations during his time here. Most training groups will be with him for two days of sessions. We have deliberately kept these groups to fewer than 20 individuals so each person can get real hands-on experience actually working in a hive.

One of the individuals with us this afternoon works for the International Training Center. ITC does some funding for development projects, but mostly is committed to entering into a variety of ongoing mentoring and training ventures like beekeeping and farming. They are big on hands-on experience rather than programs that emphasize theory over substance. We assured her that we share the same philosophy. She is helping gather some of their contacts for training.

The Fijian team from Suva arrives by ferry tomorrow around 2 p.m. Carl and Dr. Tom Boone, our dentist, arrive by plane in Nadi around 5:30 a.m. from LAX. Their one-hour flight to Savusavu arrives here around 4 p.m. We will head to the Dreketi area soon after they get here.

On Sunday morning, I’ll preach at the church where we will conduct our medical clinic and evangelism outreach. We’ll then set things up so we can begin medical work early on Monday morning. Carl will head out with Chuck to the first of his training sessions. So the beekeeping component will not be in the same venue as the rest of our activities.

Gotta love the tropics. Just went in to take a shower. A truly huge cane toad was ensconced like a potentate in the middle of the floor. Near the floor on one cement block wall was a small mud crab. Near the ceiling on another of the walls sat an enormous spider about the size of a tarantula.

Your continued prayers are appreciated. Please pray

  • For safe travel for everyone. Some of the roads into the farming areas can be a challenge.
  • For good health for each of us.
  • That those who should participate in the clinics, beekeeping sessions and the youth camp will find their way to the variety of places where we will be.
  • For people to find Christ through the various things we do.