Day One (Saturday Feb 1st) Arrived in Fiji 435 am
After arriving at the farm for a quick luggage drop off, we were served an incredible breakfast of an assortment of fresh tropical fruits. Students enjoyed fresh papaya, pineapple, passion fruit, and new one for all of us, sour sup. We spent the morning at the beautiful beach of Wailoaloa. the adrenaline of being in a tropical climate seemed to serve as an antidote to jet-lag. All the students were in high spirits and have been unified as a group from the get go.
After the beach we headed back to Oasis Farm (www.islandencounters.com) to unpack, see our living quarters for the month, and get an orientation from the Pittmans, who are the Fijian Missionaries we are partnered with here in Nadi (pronounded Non-dee). The dorms weren’t quite finished yet, as we have quickly learned, Fijian time is a lot different than American time. So that night half our group stayed at the farm, while the other half went to stay with the missionaries at their house.
The adrenaline wore off at about 7pm our time, which would be 1am their time back home and every one crashed pretty hard.
The students are beginning to adapt culturally by learning some of the key phrases used here in Fiji…
“Bula” – Pronounced “Boo La” is the most commonly used greeting and should always be said with a smile!
“Vinaka” – Pronounced “Veh Nah Kah” means “thank you!”
“Vinaka Vaka Levua” - Pronounced as above with the addition of “Va – Ka Lay-Voo” means “thank you very much”
“Yandra” – Pronounced “Yawn Druh” is used to say “Good Morning!”
“Soto Taleh” – Pronounced “So Toe Tah Lay” means “See you later!”
Day Two (Sunday Feb. 2nd)
We woke up pretty early 5:45am, but not because we wanted to, but because our body clocks were so thrown off by the 18 hour difference. Which meant we all saw one of the most beautiful sunrises we’ve ever seen in our lives and were beyond blessed by the view during morning devotional time. The landscape here in Nadi is unlike any most of us have ever seen. The beaches are coupled with some gorgeous mountains.
We all had breakfast together at the farm, and from there we split up into 4 groups and visited 4 different Fijian churches. The students thoroughly enjoyed this experience, and were struck with the vastness of God. Some students were welcomed into the homes of Hindu families that had converted to Christianity. Experiencing the hospitality and true sense of Biblical Community and the Church was truly a memorable experience. Multiple students said it was so awesome to see that even half way across the world we have fellow believers worshipping the same God.
After church we rested back at the beach and were extremely appreciative to get some more rest as our bodies were still adjusting.
Day Three (Monday Feb. 3rd)
Our bodies seem to be adjusted and everyone was in high spirits, but maybe that was because they knew we would be shopping in Nadi town, where just about every male student purchased a Sulu, basically a man skirt. It has been fun watching how much the students have been conscience of respecting the culture. The Fijians are some of the friendliest people we have ever met.
We reserved a restaurant in Nadi Town that served us food and played the Super Bowl live for us. Which was an experience to say the least. Not only was it Super Bowl Mid-Day Monday for us, but the game was going on from 11am-3pm our time. Even though the game was a blow out, it is definitely a Super Bowl none of us will forget.
For those of us who weren’t very interested in the game, we took advantage of the free Wi-Fi in the coffee shop next door. Even though internet access in very limited here in Fiji, the students have absolutely loved the simplicity of life and lack of distractions they’ve had here in Fiji. Multiple students have said that not having their phones has cultivated deeper intimacy with God and others. Even though they said it was hard at first, they are all absolutely loving the depth of community that is being cultivated here.
Day Four (Tuesday Feb. 4th)
This was our first work-day on the farm. We began building the chicken coop, fertilizing and pruning the papaya fields, painting the trim on the dorms, we built a fire pit, poured a concrete slab for the washers (not dryer, they hang dry clothes here in about an hour max), tore out a sugar cane field with machetes, and organized all the tools and supplies on the farm.
Ray Pittman, the founder of the Oasis farm was blown away by how much our students accomplished in a day. He said the amount of work we accomplished would normally take 2-3 weeks and we completed it in less than one day! Adam Donyes was so pleased with our students, and said their positive attitudes blessed him beyond belief. Everyone here has been very servant hearted!
That afternoon, a small group of our students got to visit the Loloma House, a shelter for battered women and children. This place also serves as a home for children that have been orphaned due to out of wedlock pregnancies. Two women started the shelter and nearly 30 people, including mothers and children ranging in age from infant to 13 years, live in a small tin shack with a concrete floor. The joy these people exude is remarkable given their circumstances. The students were greeted with cheerful shrieks; huge smiles and lots of bear hugs. Each of our students will get to visit the Loloma House while we are here.
That evening the students heard from Uncle Neil, the pastor of Nadi Bible Chruch. This is a new church plant reaching out to the Hindu population that was visited by some of our students on Sunday. Pastor Neil shared his story with our program and discussed how the Lord transformed his life, breaking him away from Hinduism and giving him a heart for the people of Fiji.
Day Five (Wednesday Feb. 5th)
SCUBA BULA! What a day! We took all the students about an hour south to a beach called Momi. It was absolutely beautiful! Students went snorkeling, scuba diving, or just hanging out at the beach. Those that went scuba diving and snorkeling said it was the most beautiful reef/thing they’ve ever seen. One snorkeling group even saw a white tip reef shark!
After the Scuba trip all of our boys had the unique opportunity to be inducted into a village tribe, and as a result they know have permission to hike the mountain in exchange for the offering they gave the Headsman, which was a cassava root. This village is at the base of the mountain and possesses several serene waterfalls. Something that makes this mountain particularly desirable to hike, is the fact that we watch the sunrise over it every morning. It is the main landscape from our living space on the farm.
That night we got together for our team devotionals and did a “say so” to share all that God has been teaching us in the past week. It was very encouraging. God is at work in the hearts of our students here in Fiji. Amidst the simplicity of this beautiful place, the students have enjoyed getting to build new relationships with other students, while adding an intentional depth to those already created.
Day Six (Thursday Feb 6th)
Another work-day at Oasis Farm. We are continuing to build the chicken coop, touch up the dorms, prune and fertilize the papaya fields, and serve in any other areas we can be a blessing. Students are still in very high spirits and are getting along extremely well. This afternoon the students are split into 5 groups and will go out into different areas of the island to host “Kid’s Clubs” with the different churches. We will sing songs, play games, and share the Gospel with these kiddos. We get to continue building relationships with these children and churches as each of us return to the same church and “kid’s club” in the weeks to come.
Tomorrow we leave for Suva, the Capital city of Fiji and will be there for 5 days! We are excited about this trip! We will post another blog entry upon our return from Suva!
Keep praying for energy, resting in the Lord, and Unity. So far so good!