This morning we caught the express bus in front of Aisake’s house for an hour ride to catch the ferry from Vanua Levu Island to Taveuni Island. I was last on Taveuni, known as the Garden Island of Fiji, around 2009 to lead the final Global Day of Prayer held on the International Dateline. The trip across the Coconut Strait took 1 ¾ hours. The ocean was almost as smooth as glass.
We arrived just before noon and immediately hired a 4-wheel-drive cab-behind-cab truck and made our way to the stores to purchase relief food supplies for one of the churches we work with. There are 14 families in the congregation of around 90 people. Six families had their homes destroyed, two totally and four damaged more than 50%. The pastor’s mother’s home was destroyed except for the cement block walls.
It is almost impossible to buy building materials, as all the hardware stores are almost sold out of all essential supplies. It is also very difficult to find a carpenter, as they are all engaged rebuilding the multitudes of destroyed or damaged homes on the island. Virtually all crops were destroyed as well. Tens-of-thousands of coconut trees have been stripped of nuts. It will be some time before the Garden Island lives up to its well deserved name.
Pastor Peni told me an incredible story of God’s grace to the villagers who live in the village of Navakawau. Navakawau is on the utmost southern tip of Taveuni, right on the beach. Most of the people there attend one church. When Typhoon Winston hit, almost all the villagers were at home, having decided to ride out the storm in their houses. When the eye of the storm came over the village, all the winds ceased, bringing an errie silence. People ventured out during this brief respite to assess the damage to that point.
When they got outside, they looked toward the ocean and saw an immense tidal swell that was higher than the tallest of the coconut trees, meaning it was over 30’ in height. It was rushing inexorably toward them at immense speed. They cried out to God, because they knew they were all doomed. Immediately a powerful wind from the opposite direction blew into the face of the wave and flattened it. This happened five times, as wave after wave attempted to wipe the village and all the inhabitants into the sea.
Is God incredible or what?!
We leave here by ferry at 7 a.m. tomorrow to return to Aisake’s home. I will preach on Sunday at the church Aisake attends.
Thanks for your continued prayers.