First Fiji Report August 2014

I’m writing this in my hotel room at about 8 p.m. I had just finished my email when my browser crashed for no discernible reason. So I must start all over.

Dr. Larry Rizzo, good friend and board member, drove me from my home to LAX last night to catch my flight. This was very helpful as I had a lot of luggage. I’d ask Air Fiji to grant two extra 23 KG check-in bags. I have almost 240 Bibles (which we are giving to the students at the camp) and other theology books and teaching materials as well as clothes, etc. for this month long trip. The airport shuttle drivers don’t like the trunks and try to make me pay an oversize fee and extra baggage charges as well. Having Larry take me took care of that hassle. The airline only granted a 7 KG “humanitarian baggage allowance” which meant I had to pay for one extra trunk. Dr. Tom, who arrives tomorrow night, will also have to pay for the extra trunk he’s bringing.

The flight boarded and took off exactly on time. It was an almost full flight, so no chance to lie down. I did get a bulk-head, aisle seat, however. No sleep during the 10 hour flight, as usual. We must have had a fairly strong tail wind, as we landed about 20 minutes early—around 4:15 a.m. Too early to begin meetings, etc.

Cuvu, Paramount Chief Ratu Osea’s daughter, and her husband Gabe were to meet me just outside customs and drive me to my hotel before we had breakfast together and began to shop for what we need for our mission. Turns out I was delayed over two hours clearing customs. They wanted to charge me for the reading glasses, and the currency forms were rather extensive as well. I didn‘t have my Fiji phone with me as I’d left it with Cuvu last trip to allow her to use it and keep it registered and charged. No way to inform them of the delay. Since they didn’t see me, they drove over to the hotel, then back to the airport, where I still was not out. In the end I bought another cheap phone and tried to call them. No connection.

Finally I took a cab to the hotel, checked in and was just getting into the room when they caught up with me. Fortunately their home, the hotel and the airport are all very close together. Still it was a bit of a hassle.

We had a rather long breakfast as we discussed a number of details regarding the camp, etc. Then I did currency exchange and began to shop for needed supplies. Cuvu had to leave me before noon. I continued shopping by myself and had lunch in Nadi before returning to the hotel to change clothes and have a shower. Then back into town for more shopping, etc.

I will not go to bed until around 10 p.m. I should sleep quite well and be on Fiji time by morning when Ratu Osea arrives from Suva for more meetings. We’ll likely drive out to the village where we will be stationed during the clinics. We’ll meet with principles, teachers and other leaders to discuss our schedule. Then we’ll drive back to Nadi to get more supplies based on what we learn from those meetings. We’ll move to the village sometime late Saturday night.

Dr. Tom will arrive tomorrow night around 9:30 p.m. We’ll stay at the same hotel that night and move to the village sometime Saturday morning to join the GIFT Fijian doctor’s team led by Aisake Emmanuel, a good friend who organizes our Fijian doctors, counselors, etc. They’ll arrive sometime around noon.

Everyone here is really excited about both the outreach and the camp. The students who are invited to camp have been contacting Cuvu and Gabe by phone, Skype, Facebook and email, expressing strong interest in what we’re going to be doing. This is really great.

Appreciate your prayers that all continues to go well.

Thanks and Blessings!