Monday, 27 August 2012

Population of Fiji-800 000, Population of Suva-400 000, Population of Suva during Hibiscus Festival – 1 000 000 000 000 000!

On Saturday we went town to look around and do some shopping.  We talked about how busy town was today and how all the people seemed to be walking in the opposite direction.  We ignored it and carried on.  As we headed to McDonalds for lunch we wondered why everyone was lining up on the side of the street – like they were waiting for something.  There were police out directing traffic and foot traffic.  Then we saw why.  Today was the end of the Hibiscus Festival that has been running all week.  Today they had a big parade down the middle of town.  What an awesome parade it was.  While at McD’s a friend rang and wanted to meet up and take us for a drive around Suva.  We arranged to meet at a park opposite the festival grounds (what a mistake).  As we got nearer we got stuck in traffic – foot traffic.  We couldn’t move forward or back or anywhere.  The kids did so well to be tired from walking, stinking hot and stuck in a large crowd!  We snuck into the Hotel by where we were stuck and waited for the crowd to subside.  Eventually we made it out and got to meet up with Tahu.
Tahu is a friend of my cousins who lives in Fiji.  He picked us up and took us for a drive around Suva – it didn’t take long.  We found a lovely peaceful place where we intend to return when we have more time.  You can go for bushwalks, have a nice lunch and then swim in the pool.  Can’t wait!

On Saturday night we returned to the Holiday Inn to watch the All Blacks and have dinner.  It was great to be part of a crowd of All Black supporters - and a few quiet Aussie supporters.  A great game and great atmosphere.

On Sunday Jeremy spoke at Lami Gospel Chapel.  It was awesome.  He introduced everyone to the ‘hongi’ which was rather amusing.  The message was great – challenging us to make sure that God is what we treasure above all else in our lives.  We then had lunch at the pastors and got to try a new food – it is a big fat banana (name of which I can’t remember) but is cooked like a potato! 
We then went to the Novotel Hotel in Lami for a drink and a swim looking out over the ocean and a few islands.  We intend to return and catch a boat to Mosquito Island where we can relax on the white sand and swim at the beach.  A perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon.  Jeremy is working hard but this is a great place to relax as well! 

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

SOE Update

Well the SOE has been going for over a week now and things continue to go from strength to strength.  We have about 28 in the class which includes of couple of OAC staff. 
The students have been very inspired and encouraged in their faith and with the task of making Christ known in their communities.  Friday was our first afternoon of official outreaches, although some have been so inspired that they have been engaging in evangelism before this in their spare time.

Last Friday afternoon I broke the class into 2 teams.  One team endeavoured to communicate the gospel through door to door while the other team engaged in personal evangelism.  Reports came back and there was great rejoicing.

Many of the students were very nervous and scared.  Some have been involved in preaching at different times in a church but they have never gone and talked to a non-Christian about the gospel personally.

In the reports back they were so excited about how the Lord used them to communicate the gospel to people.  How as they overcame their fears they were able to sow the seed of the gospel in the lives of a people that don’t yet know the Lord.  That afternoon 2 people with a Catholic background received Christ as Lord of their lives.

At the moment Lew Meyer (OAC NZ National Director) is here teaching.  This has enabled me to have a small break.  He is covering how to share the gospel to different religions and cults, more specifically Hindu, Muslim, Mormon and J.W’s., the students are loving this part of the course.  These other religions are some of the main enemies to the expansion of the gospel in Fiji.

Please pray for
·         Health – I am fighting a cold at the moment
·         Continual effectiveness in equipping these students for effective evangelism
·         That the students would see many come to Christ and disciple them well.

Monday, 20 August 2012

New smells!

 Over the past 2 days there has been a new bad smell in our bedroom – not Jeremy, he is not new!  Today Jeremy went in search of what that smell was.  He found it.  It was probably the same creature that lived in our cupboard before we arrived.

Lew Meyer arrived last night and will be teaching at the SOE for the next 2 days.  This has been great.  It has given Jem a break and us (the kids and I) someone else to talk to.  Lew came for dinner and Paige talked non-stop.  

Jeremy has been chatting occasionally with our closest neighbour.  He has managed to get himself invited for the rugby on Sat. night.  We are all hoping to go.  They have kids so I am hoping this will be an opportunity for the kids to make friends.  Please pray that we will be able to build a relationship with them and have a chance to share our faith.

A beautiful nightsky from the Tappoo Building overlooking the harbour.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Ferris Wheel or 'Fear'is Wheel?

Well today we went to the Hibscus Festival at a Park not far from where we live.  It was a bit like the A&P Show with a few rides etc.  No entry fee and all rides were $2 each - "great" we thought, "Let's make the most of it!"  We went on one ride and the kids enjoyed it.  Then we went on a ride that looked like a Ferris Wheel - it was not.  It looked like it went rather fast but we still thought it would be o.k.  The seats could fit all of us, which was nice, although the seats were rather uncomfortable.  The first sign that things were not o.k was when the four small kids got on the seat in front and the lock didn't
 work.  The guys took a few minutes to fix it with what looked like number 8 wire!  It was rather high (I am not so good with heights!) but I was very brave!  Well it finally started for real.  It went so fast and we rocked so much we were all a little worried at one point or another - even Jeremy!  Then it started to slow - "my prayers have been answered!" I thought but they were just changing operators.  You get more for your money in Fiji - the rides are so long it is ridiculous.  Well the next operator was even faster.  When we went up we were struggling to stay in our seats.  I am sure that if got any
faster the seat was going to go completely upside down.  If I wasn't trying to brave for the kids I would have probably cried.  Eventually Jeremy nodded to the operator to let him know we had had enough.    He slowed and soon we were off.  There seemed to be a lot of the crowd looking at us as we got off.  Paige looked like she had just escaped death.  When I asked her how she would describe the experience she said, "scary, horrifying, falling, blah (as in sick) and terrifying!"  We all agree.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Finding my Place

When I am in NZ I know my place.  I know how I fit in the world around me.  I know what is expected of me and generally what people will think of me.   I know the small ways of Kiwis that make us unique – our sense of humour and our speech.  But in another culture it is easy to feel lost.  People don’t always understand you, your jokes are not always that funny to them and sarcasm gets easily lost.  I don’t know what people think of me and I don’t know what is expected of me.  I feel a little lost.
The truth is, my behaviour should never be based on what others expect of me or of what others think of me, the only opinion that ever matters it the Lords.  This is where I need to start.  Suddenly the truth that the Bible is cross-cultural means so much more.  No matter what your culture, your custom or your sense of humour, the Bible stands true.  And that should be my guide in life.  I need to recognise the difference between what God says is right and wrong and what our culture says is right and wrong.  When I base myself in His word and in His guidance then no matter what culture I am in I will always know my place – in HIM!

Dylan enjoying the bugs and
  small insects.

The kids and I visited the library.

As our days become more ‘routine’ with school, games, dinner e.t.c., we are starting to miss home a little more.  It is great spending this time together but we are our only friends and sometimes that gets tough.  The kids love writing home and are hoping for some responses.  At times I feel quite isolated.  Jeremy is very busy at present and also needs to work in the evenings to get prepared for the next day.  Please pray that will be able to support each other through the hard times and look for our comfort in God.

Some of the students on the SOE

Enjoying our traditional 'Movie Night' as a family - dataprojectors are great things!  

Monday, 13 August 2012

SOE begins!

So far our trip to Fiji has been a great adventure.  We have had many challenging circumstances over the last 2 weeks.  Yet because of your prayers and the goodness of the God we serve he has answered all our prayers and helped us in every way.
Life in Fiji is very different than life in NZ as you have been learning from our blog.  But in all the differences and in living with reptiles and bugs we have cherished and loved every minute.  It hasn’t all been easy but we are really enjoying our experience.
We went to church on Sunday and the kids wondered why there were actions to the songs and the sermon.  There was a sign language person at the front as many of the congregation were deaf.  A van of people come over to the church from the Fiji Deaf school we receive newsletter from at Riverbend.

Rugby on the Beach
When we were at Coral Coast in the evenings the locals would go to the beach and play touch.  What a blast!  The first games of touch I felt like a fish out of water a little.  They play touch very differently.  We play that a team is able to get 6 touches before handover.  Here they play one touch!  Although it was different it was great to play.  I love every minute of it (although I’m sure my body didn’t agree).  The hardest thing about playing was that after the game all 30 of us starting doing sprints, push-ups and sit-ups.  This pain continued for another 30 mins.  When the training session of death was finally over we sang a hymn, individuals prayed and they asked me to say a few words.  Before I left they asked me to play for their team in a tournament but unfortunately I couldn’t.  But praise God we can use something as simple as sport to connect with others.
The reason for coming to Fiji
Finally, today the first SOE in Fiji kicked off.  All the prep. and planning was done and now it is time to start the course.  Who would turn up, how well would I be able to communicate to this group of people?  These were some of the thoughts going through my mind. 
Today at the school we had 24 students from all over Fiji and one from Tonga.  We have about 5 ladies and the rest men.  As we went through the lectures on the topic of Personal Development it was hot!  About 29 degrees.  No air-con yet the Lord was at work despite people probably mistaking me for a waterfall as I spoke (with the sweat pouring off!)
It was a very encouraging time when I covered the session on “Are you related?” (Are we truly children of God?)  About 5 students realised that they weren’t and committed their lives to the Lord.
Here in Fiji there are many Bible Schools but not a lot of opportunities to be equipped or released into practical ministry with the Gospel which is where their hearts are at.  They never learn how to reach people with the gospel and impact a community.  Often they feel they have no real pathway to ministry or tools to fulfil the great commission. This is why we are seeking to run the SOE, to equip people for ministry and create a pathway where they can serve their church and community with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
 - Jeremy


Well yesterday we experienced the kind of weather us Kiwi’s expect in Fiji.  It was hot.  Not sure of the actual temperature but at bedtime it was still 26 degrees.

We went to Suva Gospel Chapel for church.  It was a very traditional Brethren church.  One instrument – a guitar, and many fans, although I don’t think they made a difference.  The service was new for the kids but reminded me of church as a kid.  After the first service I took the kids upstairs to the kids program.  We met Joe Rocokoko’s mother-in-law.  One lady asked if Jeremy was part Fijian – do you think it was the colour of his tan!

After lunch we went walking in search of a swimming pool  A 15 min walk down the road and we found the Holliday Inn.  A motel with a swimming pool and palm trees and loungers!  If you buy a drink you can swim for free - $11 for 2 cans of coke however!  Despite my efforts at sun tanning I am still the whitest person on this island!

I read in my devotions on Saturday about trusting God.  I was reminded of the verse in Philippians 4:6-7 that we are to cast our cares upon him and he will give us peace because He cares for us.  Well by nature I prefer to worry about my cares however, peace then eludes me.  As I try to cast my cares upon him he is faithful and grants me peace.  This is obviously something the Lord really wants me to learn as it seems there is one care after another.  Please pray that I would trust the Lord and give my cares to him rather than carry them around on my shoulders.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Enjoying the weather!

Well today is has rained all day, so we decided to enjoy it.  The kids have been dying to go swimming and it just so happens we had a pool in our backyard!

Even though it has been raining all day it is warm.  I was amazed at how quickly the puddles drained away even though it was still raining steadily!

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Shopping in Fiji!

Yesterday we went to the Laucala Sports Mall - not as exciting as it sounds.  We found a new Supermarket and did some shopping.  We have been to the supermarket many times over the last week.  As we had nothing to begin with there were a lot of things to get.  I took some photos of some things to show their prices.  We will not be having chocolate here!

 $15.95 for a cake of Whittakers Chocolate!  $33.95 for M&Ms and $30.95 for a box of nut bars!  Fijian dollar of course but still expensive!

Yesterday we went into Suva on the bus.  Quite an experience.  Suva is the place where NZ sends the buses it deems not good enough!  There were no windows, which wasn't a bad thing, but the fumes were unbelievable.  Here we are waiting at the bus depot in town ready to come home.  There were so many buses and so many fumes and people.  The bus makes so many stops on the way home it probably would have been quicker to walk.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Pooh Yuck!

There is a terrible smell in our kitchen.  When I used the oven it got worse.  I have disinfected the oven inside, outside, top and even behind.  It smells better but still bad.  I have cleaned out the cupboards and disinfected them and the drawers.  Smelling better, but still horrid. It smells like something urinated over everything, many, many times!

This was in the bottom cupboard!

The kids are getting used to a different lifestyle and realising that some things are harder here but that is just the way it is.  We all have to walk to the supermarket or pay for a taxi – Jem and I prefer walking.  We all have to pitch in with jobs and there is no T.V.  Dylan and Paige have both learnt to play patience.  

Today, once the oven was clean, I made scones.  It is good to do 'normal' things.

Jeremy had a meeting last night about the school.  So far there are 20 enrolled which is great.  They are hoping for more but I think Jeremy is quite content with that number.  A big school is harder to run alone.  He is working hard trying to get ready to lecture.
 As the kids are using our one small table to work on he has had to work on the bed. 

Monday, 6 August 2012

Our New Home!

So we moved out of the motel today.  We have a lot of stuff! But it is all necessary! 

 I never thought I would be excitied about our new home but I am.  It has 2 bedrooms and smells of mould and yuck but we have installed many air freshners and they almost cover the smell!  We have pots and pans with handles and I have a red jug and for those of you who know me well you will understand why I am so excited about that! It is funny how ordinary things at home are so precious here.  The kids have a yard to run around in and it is $5 in a taxi to town.  We have no TV but don't really care.  We will have to talk to each other instead I guess! 

I bought a lavalava thing today so look like a local - a very white local but at least I'm trying.  We went into town to the mall - I already have a favourite coffee shop!  That is also very exciting! 

Today the kids saw birds - no wait bats flying around outside.  Not something we see at home.  They were more excitied than I they would be.  The kids are excited about furniture - at one stage they thought they were having to share a bed!  We have that sorted. 

Thank you to all those who have prayed for this.  It really is a blessing.  I am learning everyday to appreciate the small things in life and I am realising that while in NZ we are not 'rich' people, compared to the rest of the world we are so wealthy in every way.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Moving Day - Again

Well this morning we shifted from our motel apartment to another room in the motel as that one was booked.  We are spending tonight in a not as nice motel room.  I have discovered that NZ has very high standards for everything.  In our room we have one frying pan with no handle, no plug for the sink, one eating knife, a bent fork and a few spoons.

Tomorrow we move into our last destination for our time in Suva.  It is a 2 bedroom flat at the back of another house.  We viewed it today and I wonder if our time in the motel was to prepare me for the house to come. 
As I had my quiet time I was reminded that God is our provider in all things.  He provides all our daily needs we just forget that some times as it all comes so easily.  As I learn again to look to God to provide our basic needs I am reminded that he is also the only one who can provide our spiritual needs.  He is the only one who can satisfy our need for love, acceptance and acknowlegement. 

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Moving Day

Well we have to leave the lovely Coral Coast Christian camp today as they have a group coming in.  We met a couple staying here from New Zealand.  They know a few people from Riverbend – Mr and Mrs King.  They are in their 80’s and come here each year for 6 weeks to teach at the Bible School.  She told me a few stories – none that made me feel very secure.  Just as well God is in control!

On Wednesday there was a kids club here at the camp.  It was great to get involved.   The kids got to play the games and learnt a few new ones.
Peter, our OAC contact here has found us a three bedroom in Llami, a suburb in Fiji – so mum and dad you can probably stay with us.  Apparently it will be great for the kids.  It is part of a compound owned by the church.  Hopefully it is close to everything!  I am looking forward to moving in there and getting set up.
The kids have started their school work.  They are doing really well.  I think, however, the novelty has already worn off.  Dylan has labelled his teacher name on the book as ‘hard mum’. 
This week has been really nice, a holiday after all the stress of organising everything to get here.  It has given us a break as a family as well as some time for Jeremy to get prepared for his lectures.