Fiji February 21 2014

Yesterday was another busy, profitable day of meetings. I began the day by taking a taxi to a business in Suva that repairs power saws and similar equipment. I was trying to arrange for the rehabilitation and repair of a heavy duty mechanical planer that is at the Lomawai Center where our beekeeping workshop is located. There are complications. The machine is over 20 years old and is no longer manufactured. In fact the company that built it is out of business. We would have to transport it to Suva for inspection. If the variable gear is still sound, the machine can probably be used for another 20 years. If it is not, we will have wasted over $500F in transport and diagnostic costs. If it is still functional, it could cost up to $700F to refurbish it.

The owner of the business encouraged me to have the Lomawai Secondary School write a proposal to the Department of Education to enroll in a program where the school provides 1/3 of the cost of a new machine and the Department provides the remaining 2/3. He has provided a large number of machines to schools under this program. That would be an outlay of $1,000F on our part and we would have a totally new machine. I’ll have to meet with school officials again at the end of next week to determine how to go forward on this.

As I was leaving the saw place, I was surprised and delighted to receive a call from Youngna, one of the individuals I thought I would have to meet on Vanua Levu Island next week. She is in Suva getting ready for a trip back to South Korea. We were able to get together at the Holiday Inn. It was fantastic to see her again.

I first met her about four years ago when we discussed what TUtP was doing in Fiji. She is a friend of one of my business contacts in Suva, my good friend John Samisoni. She and her family are very strong Christians from Korea who have been living in Fiji for many years. They own property in Vanua Levu and are building a world-class eco-resort that will also serve as a model farm. Many of their goals are consistent with what TUtP hopes to accomplish through our beekeeping and farming initiatives.

We talked for over two hours. She is excited to catch up with developments in our projects and is interested in how our mutual concerns might overlap in coming years. At the very least, when they begin their beekeeping, they can buy all their equipment from our center in Lomawai. But there are many areas of congruence we can pursue. As she request, I’ve just completed a summary report of our conversation which I will email her. I’ll attach a report from our Fijian partner, the Viti Landowner’s Resource Association (VRLA), to help her family understand the how our various partnerships work together.

After that meeting, I had to rush to a meeting with Dr. Joe and Dr. Eric who are the Permanent Secretary of Social Services and the Permanent Secretary of Health for Fiji. Both are close personal friends who have served in our many medical outreaches over the years. Dr. Joe is the head of GIFT, the Fijian doctors group under whom we conduct our medical activities. It was great to catch up with what they have been doing. GIFT has recently acquired a plot of land in Suva where they will build a center from which they can continue their work. Dr Joe wants me to help him get around 100 theological works for a library on the center. They also need help in securing the medicines they use for their two monthly outreaches.

As I arrived back at my hotel, which has a wonderful view of Suva Harbor, I could see it was pouring rain across the bay. The storm was fast approaching the city. It turned into a thunderstorm with frequent lightening strikes. Quite a sight from my 4th floor window.

After a good night of sleep, I’m back in the city. No meetings today, just catching up on emails. I’m writing this in a food court that also has a great view of the harbor. Will catch a bite to eat soon.

I will travel by ferry to Vanua Levu on Tuesday. This is an overnight trip. After my meetings there, I’ll fly back to Nadi on Friday and then back home on Saturday, March 1.

Thanks again for all of your prayers and encouragement.