We have been going full tilt since arriving in Fiji, so today we took a day off to fish. This is a first for me, in all my trips here, I’ve never been fishing. We went out in a small boat with a 60 HP motor and trolled along the river heading to the open ocean inside the reef. Caught nothing,not even a nibble.
Went to the house of the chief in whose waters we would be fishing and snorkeling to greet him and give him the requisite gift. Chuck has known the man for many years. Ceremony complete we headed out to the inside of the reef. Caught three fish over the course of the morning and afternoon, including a 20+ lb. wallou–a truly marvelous fish to eat. I hooked a huge fish, but it bit through the line and took off with the lure and leader. But I did land a 10+ lb. rock cod.
After lunch and some more trolling, we headed back to a beach where three of the team snorkeled among the coral. All in all a wonderful, relaxing day.
I head to the airport at 7 a.m. to fly to Suva. Already have a lunch appointment that day with the Permanent Secretary of Health and the Deputy Secretary for Social Services. Both are doctors with GIFT, the group we do our medical work with here in Fiji.
I still have no voice, though I am much better each day. Didn’t risk a swim today, though. Didn’t want ot push it.
Our beekeeping training began at 10 a.m. this morning (that’s 9 a.m. Fiji time). We had a local group from near Chuck’s farm where the training is taking place. I’ve known Chuck for many years. He’s the man who did the blueprints for the TUtP Women’s and Youth Center in Namadi. He chairs a number of local farm groups including the beekeeping group.
Carl, our beekeeper trainer, was sick yesterday. We prayed for him and by morning, he was totally well. PTL!! He does such an incredible job with a wide variety of people who have varied experience in beekeeping. He lectured for most of the morning and then got everyone into bee suits, and they got into an actual hive.
The hive selected was a wild-caught one taken from a church wall some time back. As a result the frames were not normal. This was a good opportunity for Carl to show everyone how you inspect a hive and correct things that need to be taken care of. Each student showed keen interest and asked great questions as the process went forward. You could see the new people settling down as they handled the bee frames and got into what was going on.
Then we had lunch and there was an additional lecture with lots of questions. In the class, we have a man who has established a bee business in Labasa, importing bee keeping materials from both China and Australia. He has a wide price and quality range, as a result, which allows him to meet the needs of the well-established people as well as those who are just beginning. He has invited us to dinner at his house tomorrow evening. This is a great contact.
So far we have trained over 200 individuals during this trip. There will be one more two-day class starting on Thursday. By then I’ll be in Suva.
My health is improving. I slept very well last night. However, I still have a chest cough and do not have a voice.
After church, we rested. Then we loaded up and headed out. Filled the vehicle with diesel and headed up into the mountains and over to the other side of the island. We were almost to the top of the pass when the car began to steam. The fan belt had broken. Never a dull moment.
We were still at least ½ hour away from our destination. Aisake drove to the side of the road immediately and turned off the engine. What he did not see is that he missed by only a very few inches, driving into holes bored into the side of the road to put in guard rails. When I opened my door, had I not looked down I would have fallen about 6 feet into a gaping hole around 3’ in diameter.
Within seconds another car going in our direction pulled over to offer assistance. Turns out the driver was a med tech from the Labasa hospital who knows a lot of the people we have been working with. We loaded my stuff and me into his car and off we went, leaving Aisake behind to arrange for repair of the car.
Monday and Tuesday, the beekeeping training will be here at Chuck’s farm. Couldn’t be more convenient. Prior training sessions were capped at 20 students. Not one has had less than 32 and one had over 40 as folks learn how good the training is. People are continually asking why anyone would come so far to train them for free. Carl gives his testimony and shares that what he is giving is his from God.
Chuck and Carl have a lot of ideas already for future training. We are building an immense amount of good will and credibility this time which will pay off for the Kingdom in the years to come.
Continue your prayers for the health of the entire team.
I thought last night that we would head for Labasa this afternoon to join the beekeeping team. However, as the morning wore on I realized I still needed the day to continue to recover. Did two sauna breathing treatments and generally rested. I did take about 1/2 hour walk along the beach in the late morning. This is such a beautiful area of Fiji.
I still had a bit of a struggle during the night with coughing though I am really much better than I was. Had to use the steroid inhaler twice, once during the night and once this afternoon when the wind was blowing so very strongly. Never thought I’d be indoors in Fiji during the sunshine with a scarf around my neck. But, as I say, I am getting better.
So the plan is to go to church in the morning and head to Labasa in the afternoon after I do a last inhalation treatment. I will stay with the beekeeping team until Weds. a.m. when I will take the ferry to the main island of Viti Levu.
Thanks to all of you who have been praying for my health. This has been a battle. When my respiratory problems first started during the second day of our Dreketi Outreach, I thought I was experiencing allergies due to a combination of factors—lots of dust and smoke, and from the anti-mosquito stuff used in our room during the night. Those were irritants, but I had contracted a cold/flu that is circulating around the island.
When I reached Aisake’s home on Sunday, his daughter, who is a doctor, listened to my lungs and told me I had pneumonia in the bottom of my right lung. By then the cough had become quite severe and I was having a great deal of difficulty sleeping at night because of massive drainage, etc. On Monday I got a prescription for erythromycin (I’m allergic to the cillans and can’t use them), started taking that and began the first day of our Savusavu Youth Camp.
By Wednesday, I had lost my voice entirely, though I seemed to be getting generally better each day, though not as fast as I desired. I was quite tired from coughing and from not sleeping well, as you can imagine.
I went to the hospital the next morning to see what was going on with my lungs. The doctor indicated the pneumonia had cleared, but she didn’t like how much I was still coughing. She prescribed a steroid inhaler to replace the rescue inhaler I had been given two days prior, scheduled a chest x-ray and took a throat swab and two sputum samples for analysis. She did not extend the erythromycin as she felt it was no longer needed. I finish the current course tomorrow morning. No more antibiotics unless the swab and samples show something else going on.
At Aisake’s home I was being treated to my own sauna. Select leaves, herbs, etc. are boiled in a large pot. The pot is put on a mat in the center of the room. I get into a sulu and sit under two thick blankets, leaning over the steaming caldera and inhale the infusion. It is marvelous and wonderfully effective.
This afternoon after about 45 minutes of this steam therapy, I took a quick cold shower, put on heavy coats, etc. and got into bed to be covered under several blankets. I feel asleep for about 45 minutes. When I woke, my chest was so much less congested and my voice was beginning to return. Marvelous therapy for which I would have to pay hundreds of dollars in the states.
So I pray that by tomorrow morning the cough will be significantly reduced or non-existent, my voice will be back, and I’ll be ready to head to Labasa for the next phase of ministry, checking up on the beekeeping project for two days before taking the ferry over to Suva on Viti Levu Island, to set up the GIFT Biblical Studies Room and catch up with other ministry partners.
Thanks so very much for your prayers and concerns.
Friday morning the Savusavu Teach Us to Pray Youth Camp for August 2015 ended. The youth had a great breakfast, policed the dorms and grounds and met together one last time to discuss what they had learned over the week. Everyone expressed thanks for the time to be away from everyday responsibilities to spend and extended time thinking about Jesus. A few quickly finished projects as the remaining craft materials were distributed.
Then there were tears and farewells, with hopes to get back together next May 2016 at the mega-camp we are now planning.
Eight campers gave their lives to Jesus during the first evening. And the campers led another nine individuals to the Lord during their practice evangelism at the hospital.
I would call that a wonderful week.
How can I adequately thank you for all your prayers for this undertaking? Know that He knows and appreciates your efforts on behalf of all those who were at the camp. And He is very happy.
Today, Thursday, is the last full day of camp. And what a day it has been. Our Campus Crusade counselor talked more with the kids about the meaning of discipleship and Godly living. He refreshed them with regard to the 4 Spiritual Laws and after lunch drove them to the hospital in town to witness. While I was getting a health checkup, they were busy guiding 9 people into a confession of faith in Jesus. You think they were happy? Yes. The kids, the new converts and those who instructed them in the process Oh, and did I mention the angels? They were rejoicing as well. Probably still are.
Tonight the campers will watch one last film, finish craft projects and begin saying their good-byes until they meet each other elsewhere.
We are already planning our next camp to be held next May when all of the churches on the island hold a twice yearly youth gathering. Those who are in charge of the program have been so impressed with what they saw during this camp that they have asked us to duplicate it on a very much larger scale.
To God be the glory.
My lungs are clear, though I am to finish my course of antibiotics. I’ve had a throat swab and will have a chest x-ray in the morning. hen will take two samples of sputum to the Labasa hospital for analysis when we head over there this coming Saturday. Pretty thorough. I have a different inhaler—one that contains steroid to help shrink inflammation. I still have bronchitis, but it is on the losing side of prayer and good treatment.
Just before sitting down to eat my chicken soup, I had my own personal sauna. This is a traditional Fijian treatment for breathing ailments. One takes a truly huge aluminum pot, fills it with select herbs, tree leaves, etc. and bakes it in the oven until it is absolutely boiling. This mixes in all the scents for maximum effect. The person being treated gets into a sulu—think cotton skirt. He sits down next to the pot which is in the center of the room on a mat. Then thick blankets are draped over person and pot. It is simply delightful. I love saunas, but hardly ever get to use them. This is the poor man’s version. I cooked for about ½ hour, breathing in all that marvelous infusion of steam. Throw back the covers, towel off vigorously and sit down to a hot cup of lemon-fresh ginger-honey tea and a bowl of chicken soup.
Appreciate you all Great blessings and thanks for your prayers and comments.
Last night the internet was acting up, so I couldn’t send out any report two days ago.
The 3rd day was interesting. I awoke with no voice. I could hardly speak above a whisper and when I tried to speak louder, I coughed. For the first time in my life because of stress induced asthma brought on by the pneumonia, I have a rescue inhaler which I have used a number of times already. Despite having said that, I feel better than I did the previous day. It is just a very slow recovery. This is the 4th day of antibiotics as I write this.
Joe, our Campus Crusade counselor did all the teaching yesterday morning and will have to continue today, as I can’t even whisper loud enough to be understood this morning. He taught the kids personal evangelism techniques primarily using the 4 Spiritual Laws with which most of us are familiar. Today the kids will go into Savusavu and do witnessing on the streets. I can’t wait to hear the results None of them have ever done anything like this in their lives. They seem to be looking forward to the opportunity.
Yesterday afternoon we had a team from a Calvary Chapel church in Downey come and put on a program. Aisake, General Secretary for GIFT (the Fijian doctor’s group I work with), was asked by a mutual missionary friend to help them find their way around the island. They came to Vanua Levu to visit the prison in Labasa. Due to unexpected restrictions, they were refused admittance. So Aisake asked if they could come to our camp instead. Each of the team introduced themselves and gave a personal testimony, some quite powerful. They then taught the kids CPR and other emergency response maneuvers.
Almost no one in the islands knows these basic techniques. Red Cross has a lock on teaching CPR and charges $50 per participant, which even the hospitals cannot afford. As a result many people in villages die who could be resuscitated. The kids loved it and it was a wonderful afternoon. The team also had Bibles, candy and prizes, which are always welcome.
They stayed for supper and when we finished the meal, in a very feeble voice, I told everyone about soaking prayer and asked if they would pray for me. They held me before the Lord for 12 minutes of prayer and worship. PTL!! What a blessing. Now they have another tool in their arsenal as well.
As the last event of the night our campers watched God is Not Dead. This is a wonderful movie, if you haven’t seen it, you might want to get the DVD.
God is on the move here and blessing. So appreciate your prayers. Keep praying for my full and swift recovery. This morning I am doing steam inhalation using local traditional herbs and leaves as an infusion. I will also most likely visit the doctor again to get an assessment of my progress.
I so depend upon your prayers. So many of you have indicated you are praying.