It is after 11 p.m. on Thursday. Early this morning I flew the 45 minute over- the-ocean flight from Savusavu on the 2nd largest island in Fiji to Nausori on the 1st largest island. I then took a 40-minute cab ride into Suva, the capital.
Since my hotel room would not have been ready as early as it was, I stopped by the home of a pastor friend on the chance he might be there. I didn’t have his phone number because I don’t have the phone I normally use when I’m here.
Though he was at a funeral, his wife was there.
The family had been robbed recently and lost quite a bit due to a break in to their home while they were at church. This was an ongoing source of grief to the wife, who was not sleeping well as a result of the trauma involved. We had a chance to discuss the situation and to pray together for Jesus to bring her comfort and peace. When I have dinner with them tomorrow it will be interesting to find out how well she sleeps tonight. I believe this was one of those God appointments.
When I arrived at my hotel room, I took a very long, hot shower. Those who travel in areas where the luxury of hot water is not available will appreciate what that means.
I then called my long-time friend and ministry partner, Vuniani Nakauyaca to see if he was available to meet with me. I’ve known pastor Vuni since 2003 when I first began to come to Fiji. He is a phenomenal man of prayer who leads the Healing of the Land teams here. He invited me to have dinner at the HTL Center near Nausori this evening. Traffic has become so bad that the cab ride back out toward the airport took over 1½ hours. Then it was difficult to find the center in the rural darkness on the various dirt roads we were on. Thank God for a very patient and persistent cab driver and the extensive use of our cell phones to guide us to the right place.
Vuni, his son Sev and I had a lovely late dinner and then Vuni and I began to talk about some of the things we’ve done together over the years. Some dreams never grow old and never die. God gives a vision. We pursue it with all our hearts. We’re disappointed often, but don’t give up. Instead we tune our hearts to continue to hear what Jesus is saying to His church and what our part is in His strategies.
I have a copy of Vuni’s recently developed 5-year plan of ministry to reach every village in the nation. This includes the kind of community development I’ve been doing over the years. We discussed one particular aspect that has been on both our hearts from the very beginning of our time together—how to truly engage the local people and allow them to realize the fruits of their own labor. He and I will talk again prior to my departure on Saturday to flesh out a very practical idea.
God is so very good. He totally delights in seeing us delight ourselves in Him and His wisdom. We’ll see what comes of this other God appointment.
Early this morning Aisake and I drove up into the hills above his house to deliver some church supplies to one of the congregations I visited during my last visit to Fiji after Hurricane Winston. That trip we took up relief food to the church. This congregation has about 60 members, most of whom, like the pastor, are subsistence farmers. These folk so appreciate any help we can provide.
They have a 3-acre building site with a 180 view of the ocean and surrounding countryside. As we say in the States, “A million dollar view”. They need about $2,500 to build a pole building with half walls and a tin roof. When I get home, I’m going to try to raise the funds to complete their structure.
Right now I’m finishing my lunch in a nice restaurant in down town Savusavu. Just had a great Skype conversation with Joyce and Jessica. Miss them.
Tomorrow a.m. I fly to Suva to meet with various ministry partners prior to my return home on the 16th. So appreciate your prayers and support.
This morning Aisake and I drove into Savusavu to buy the food supplies and the fuel we needed for our visit to Kioa Island. Kioa was devastated by hurricane Winston, the strongest hurricane to ever make landfall in the Pacific. That was over 18 months ago and the island, like many other places in Fiji, has yet to fully recover. Fiji does not have the resources or the resilience the U.S. has under similar circumstances. I brought fishing supplies and other relief aid to the island on my last visit and have brought more fishing gear this trip.
After making our purchases, we drove about ½ hours to one end of the island to meet a small boat that met us and brought us over to the island. We are staying with the same pastor we stayed with on my first trip. We were to meet the chief and make our traditional presentation of gifts prior to giving out any of the supplies I brought. Turns out the island was involved in Father’s Day celebrations so we can’t meet with the chief until tomorrow morning.
I walked along the beach while Aisake took a nap. A group of kids followed along and helped look for interesting items in the surf and among the rocks at low tide. Really cute kids. I’ll post pictures to Facebook.
Kioa is a lovely, small island that depends almost entirely on fishing to exist. We spent day 2 giving out the fishing supplies to the victims of Hurricane Winston to help them recover their ability to fish. The 300+ residents of this small island are totally dependent upon fishing to make a living.
Have just completed the 2 hour drive back to Savusavu from Labasa. Many thanks to Chuck and Sue McCay for hosting me during the week of outreach. They have a marvelous farm and family. Chuck is in charge of all TUtP bee training and assets in Fiji. Could not have a better person.
Back at Aisake’s house I took some pictures of Chuck inspecting the TUtP and Aisake’s hives. They are in good shape, but since they were just split, they need to be fed sugar syrup for a period of time to build their strength back up.
I also took pictures of the chicken run, fenced in garden and green house at Aisake’s. TUtP provided funds to fence the garden and yard, build the chicken run and buy the hens. Now they have about 75 mature birds laying eggs which they can sell. They could not raise any garden before because the neighbor’s cattle and goats would come in and eat whatever they planted. Now they have several mature banana trees, papaya trees, tomatoes, etc. which they can eat and sell. The greenhouse is full of tomato plants.
It’s great to see this family doing so well. Aisake is a key person not only for TUtP, but for Gideon’s and other ministries. He just needed help to be able to raise food for his family and for selling. They sell about two trays of eggs a day (60 eggs) which provides some income and gives them eggs to eat every day.
Yesterday we concluded our 2017 medical and beekeeping outreach in Lewaki Village. We served 165 individuals with some form of medical, dental or eye care. We distributed 96 pairs of reading glasses after eye exams. Our dentists extracted teeth from 45 folk. 48 people accepted Jesus as Savior and 18 recommitted themselves to active faith.
We trained 56 in beekeeping. The women’s group in the village will take responsibility for the project and TUtP will mentor them over the next 18 months at least, leaving our hives in the village for them to use and to split so they have their own hives by the end of the initial phase of the project.
On Monday we go over to Kioa Island to take fishing supplies over to help the folks recover from the hurricane they suffered over a year ago. We’ll spend the night. Then on Weds. I’ll fly over to Suva to meet with our partners there to discuss ministry opportunities and renew friendships.
Some of Aisake’s chickens
Great to see maturing papayas After the hurricane there was nothing.
Inside the fence that TUtP provided. Mature trees. A year and a half nothing could grow because animals ate the young trees
Recording hive facts
The yellow hives belong to TUtP and were put here so Aisake could learn beekeeping and expand to have his own hives. This is also what we do in the villages.
Today was the 1st day of our beekeeping training. 60 people had registered. There were at least 55 there, but I could not get a solid count as people tend to move around a bit. They were asked to sign in so we would know who was there for future reference. Chuck did the teaching and his son-in-law Josh did the practical in-hive, hands-on training.
Tomorrow we will show them now to extract honey and how to set up their women’s group on a good business model to enable better success in the long run.
Appreciate your prayers. Blessings!
At the hives
Checking out the bee suits prior to training. All veils were repaired the night before.
In the classroom
Getting into the bee suits
Here is how to extract a frame. Look at the honey that is capped.
Thankfully these are fairly friendly bees Nice. I could get this close without a bee suit and not get stung
We’ve completed our second day of medical outreach. There has been a delay in getting a count on what we’ve accomplished as the paperwork got a bit messed up among the volunteers who are keeping track. By tomorrow everything should be worked out. I know we’ve served over 130 individuals. We’ve provided dental help to over 33 patients and have given out over 60 pairs of glasses. We’ve also had at least 22 people accept Christ as their Savior.
I would call that a very good couple of days work in the Kingdom. God is so very good.
My health today has been excellent. The brief episode yesterday with a visual migraine was dealt with through prayer. For those of you who don’t know, a visual migraine does not cause pain. It does produce a bit of fatigue. What it mainly does is create visual distortion. Yesterday’s episode I think was provoked by being slightly dehydrated and hot and in fairly bright sun without using my sunglasses. Appreciate all your prayers and expressed concern.
Tomorrow we start our beekeeping training. We moved another hive to the site this morning after we learned we would have 41 participants. The extra hive will allow more hands on experience for our trainees. By the end of the day we had 60 signed up. So we will also take an extra trainer with us.
We are working with the women’t group in the village, as I mentioned, because we have found that the women are highly motivated and very likely to succeed long-term.
This is the first day of our medical outreach in a rather remote Fijian village. While I don’t yet have all of the numbers, I am confident we provided care to at least 80 individuals, many of whom were Indian Hindus. We are showing them the love of Jesus in a very practical way, as we have been doing all around this lovely nation since 2004.
We wound up temporarily with 3 dentists on site. The ministry of health unexpectedly sent one of their dentists, a man who had been a student of our dentist, Dr. Reggie Jr. He had already done a few extractions by the time our team assembled. Jr. was much better equipped to carry on, so the other man assisted him for the remainder of the day. Jr. brought another dentist, a friend of his from Labasa town along as well. Both of them were steadily engaged in pulling teeth throughout the day.
At the end of the day I went in to see how they were doing and to let them know it was time to quit. Turns out Jr. had been working for a long time on a very difficult extraction of a rear molar. The tooth broke and he could not get the roots no matter what he tried. There is no x-ray, no way to do any of the things that would be routine in office in the city. As in past situations like this, I laid my hand on his shoulder and began to pray out loud that he would get the roots out successfully. Within a few seconds, one entire root came out. The other dentist took over and I prayed for him. A few minutes later the last root came out intact. God is good. Our dentist from past trips, Dr. Larry Rizzo will recognize this story.
I called Joyce and spoke with her briefly. Within seconds of hanging up, I began to experience an aural migraine. I’ve had these a couple of times some years back. This wasn’t as bad as the previous ones, but I immediately called Joyce back so she could pray with me. Within minutes the visual distortions stopped, though I was left a bit tired. Thank the Lord for swiftly answered prayers. So appreciate all of you who are praying
We will begin again tomorrow at 9 a.m. and anticipate another very good day serving as His hands extended. The team from Downey CA is doing a fantastic job helping with a variety of tasks, including giving out reading glasses.
Today, Monday is my 4th day in Fiji as we prepare for our TUtP 2017 medical outreach and bee keeping training.
The day began at 6:30 a.m. with breakfast as Aisake, Pastor Joshua and I got ready to travel back to Labasa to meet up with various team members traveling from a number of locations. The two hour drive was uneventful, though through quite beautiful countryside. We drive over the spine of the mountain that divides the island, so we have quite the view.
Once in Labasa I first had to resolve the issue of the non-working modems so I could be sure to have access to the internet over these next few days. That was accomplished fairly easily and I now have two modems, each from a different phone company, working on my computer. I’m able to use the one with the best connection depending upon where I can get the best signal.
we will have two counselors to talk with those who come through our program. Pastor Joshua is one of the counselors. The second arrived fairly quickly after we got into town. We ate lunch and drove out to the site where our 10-member team from Downey CA will be bunking. The site is a nice 2-story building on the edge of town. Lovely view. Great breezes.
The pastor of the church that operates this guest facility was waiting for the team to arrive. However unknown to us, the team had decided at the last minute to drive from the ferry into Savusavu where we had driven from, to leave some items at an orphanage before coming to Labasa. We didn’t find this out until the pastor called us at 7 p.m. asking if he could go home for his evening meal as the team had not yet arrived. We were a bit embarrassed that the team hadn’t called anyone to let us know of their change of plans. This meant that the host from the village where the outreach will be held had to make his way back into town in order to get the team settled in and provide them with directions to the village. Hopefully everything has been sorted out.
In the meantime, I met up again with Chuck, our bee keeper trainer and drove back to his farm where I’ll be sleeping throughout the outreach. I really appreciate Chuck and Sue. He is tending the TUtP beehives as well as conducting all our training. We should not have to bring anyone from the States anymore unless they want to come. It’s always helpful, though.
I trust all the pieces will come together in the morning and we will have an incredible opportunity to serve the people of this area and share the love of Jesus with them in very practical ways over these next three days.
As always, we so appreciate your prayers.
This is Sunday, my third day in Fiji and a day of rest.
I taught this morning comparing the stories of the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her hair and the Canaanite woman who came to Jesus asking Him to deliver her daughter from a demon. Two diverse women in two very different locations and situations, both encountering the Lord of Life and presenting specific needs which He met. Interesting reflection on their similarities and differences and how Jesus showed love to both. Had a good discussion afterwards with some of those who heard the homily.
I didn’t sleep well last night. I had quite bout of acid indigestion. Haven’t had that problem for some time. Sudden extreme variant in diet, I’m sure contributed to the problem. Good old baking soda helped considerably once I was able to get some and take a couple of teaspoons in water. Still it was some time before I was able to sleep. Have tried to doze a bit this afternoon, but I don’t do well sleeping during the day. I should sleep very well tonight.
It is a gray rainy day. It poured on and off all night long with quite a strong wind. I’m staying within a stone’s throw of the ocean. I’d hoped to walk on the beach today but the on again off again rains don’t allow it. It has been fun hearing the rain beat down on the tin roof of the house. Those who have had the blessing of living in houses such as this can appreciate the pleasures of the unique sound this produces. Very evocative of past places where I’ve lived. Brings up many nice memories. The sound of the surf is also very calming and pleasant.
We leave in the morning to drive back over to Labasa. We’ll meet the other 10 members of the team from the States. They arrive by ferry from the main island tomorrow. We’ll all go out to the village and begin our setup for the medical outreach. Our bees have been in the village since last Thursday. It takes a few days for them to settle down enough to be worked during the training.
I was not able to get the modem I bought yesterday to work. Appears it is defective. Will have to return it and get another one that hopefully will work. Otherwise I’ll be cut off from communication while in the village. Hopefully at night I’ll have access from the farm where I’m staying each night.
It has been interesting spending time with Aisake and his family. TUtP invested a lot in his compound to enable him to raise chickens and plant various crops. Things are going well. His bees have thrived and he’s been able to split our hives. We’ll see at the end of the week what kind of honey flow he has when our bee keeping trainer visits.
We’ll be targeting the women’s group in our bee keeping training. We have found over the years that working with the women produces more lasting results than working with the men.
So appreciate your prayers that all will go well during this outreach.
This is my second day in Fiji. I’m still having difficulty with the internet but am temporarily on a very slow connection modem I bought today does not seem to work. Since it is Saturday night here I’ll have to wait until Monday to try to rectify the problem before the outreach starts and I’m in a rural area with no way to get onto the internet to send updates. Pray all works out.
Drove 2 hours from Savusavu to Labasa to buy supplies for the outreach and meet with some of the key participants in the program. Quite a hot, muggy day with rain during the 2 hour drive back. But we accomplished what was needed. All our supplies should be in place when we begin the medical and beekeeping programs on Tuesday morning.
I was also finally able to reach Joyce on the phone after repeated attempts over 2 days. Great to hear her voice. She’s also on the road visiting friends.o