Thursday February 6th – Day 6
This is where we left off last time…We spent the morning working on the farm. The students continued building a chicken coop, fire pit, and began a new fence along the bottom of the property, while others furthered their skills as Papaya Farmers pruning and fertilizing the orchards. In the afternoon the students were split into 5 groups to host Kids Clubs at the area churches and Loloma House. The students had so much fun leading the precious village children in songs, games and Bible stories. We are building relationships with many of the locals, as relationships are a vital part of the culture here. To embrace this as best as we can, students and staff have continued to go to the same church or village for these types of events. Everyone has enjoyed getting to spend time with locals that have become friends.
Friday February 7th – Day 7
This morning we got the opportunity to sleep in and have a leisurely breakfast, this was a much enjoyed by all after a long day of work on the farm. After breakfast we loaded up the vans and headed out for our trip to Suva City, the capital of Fiji. Along our way south down the coastline we made various pit stops, the first one being a handicraft store. These types of shops are popular tourists stops as they provide local handmade items, Fiji made lotions, and Sulus. We ventured on and stopped at Maui Bay, the first white sand and clear blue water beach that we have seen here! It was breathtaking! We enjoyed a picnic lunch here and watched a rainstorm blow through. Several students got into the water! It was a great time had by all. We continued our journey south and made one final stop at a tourist stop where everyone was able to get some more trinkets, as well as snacks for the road. We loaded up one final time and journeyed the last hour to Suva. Along the way, students were surprised to find that it actually costs money to use the restroom, and at some places we even had to pay for toilet paper! What a blessing we often take for granted in the states!
We pulled into Suva (in a caravan, with our staff driving standard European cars on the left side of the road in the rain during rush hour traffic) and checked into our Hostel right downtown. The students were pleasantly surprised to walk into rooms that had air conditioning! What a fun treat! We walked downtown to eat dinner together at a food court. Most people enjoyed Chinese or Indian cuisine and turned in early for the night.
Saturday February 8th – Day 8
We started off our first full day in Suva with breakfast at what we began to call our “home base.” A missionary couple from Australia has been so kind to allow us to essentially take over their house. They are with Pioneer, an organization that sends missionaries all over the world. This particular couple oversees all Pioneer groups in Fiji, including the Pittmans, our connection and trip coordinators. We begin each day here with breakfast, and end each day here with a home cooked Fijian style meal, devo, group prayer and some quality hang time overlooking a beautiful view of the ocean.
This morning we had the opportunity to visit the Gospel School for the Deaf. This school was started by a Fijian woman who has since passed away and is funded by a American man which visits often. The children are housed at the school. The staff is made up of several women that live on site with the children, a few local college students that are studying a program focused on child care, as well as some volunteers that help out on the weekends. Some of the staff are hearing impaired as well. Upon arrival, we were introduced to the students with our name and favorite junk food in sign language. This made all of the children giggle. They each introduced themselves with their sign name and a sweet smile. American Sign Language and Fijian Sign Language are completely different, but bonds quickly formed despite and intense language barrier. Our students were able to lead them in some songs. Jesus Loves Me and Jesus Loves the Little Children were two that had similar signs and were already favorites by the children. This was such a neat moment. The joy on their faces when signing a song while our students got to sing along was really an incredible experience. We then took everyone outside and played several high energy games of duck duck goose, red light green light, and steal the bacon. Some of the younger children really latched on to a buddy that they found amongst our students. It was remarkable to see the trust and love that was mutually shared between the groups and how quickly it formed. Some of our students shared a Bible story by acting out Daniel in the Lion’s Den, translated by Auntie Temma, the director of the facility and program. Before we left, the staff and children sang us a precious heartfelt song in sign language. We were so sad to leave, but it was an unforgettable experience.
After we left the deaf school, we headed to Tappoo, an upscale mall in downtown Suva. The students were given money and they were free to roam around the food court and choose whatever their hearts desired! They were then given the afternoon to shop around the city in their own groups. Some went into the local markets, while some stayed in Tappoo mall (what would be considered an “upscale” mall in Suva), while others enjoyed a long desired cup of coffee and wifi at a familiar place, Gloria Jeans! That evening we headed back to our home, and enjoyed a nice Fijian meal. We of course ended our night with a devo from one of our students.
Sunday February 9th – Day 9
We began our Suva Sunday with a delicious breakfast of fresh pineapple and baked oatmeal and then headed off for Gospel Church on Suva Street. This is one of the oldest Brethren Churches in Fiji. It was neat to see the way that this church is very traditional, yet relaxed. Any of the Brethren that feel called to speak on a given Sunday are free to give the sermon. This particular Sunday we got to hear from two of them. A fun surprise for all of us was that our friends from the School for the Deaf also attended this church. One of the Brethren that shared is deaf and his sermon was translated for us by the American gentleman that funds the school. It was a fun connection and so neat that he is in Suva at the same time as Link Year.
After church we returned to home base for lunch and then we went to Colo-i-Suva, a beautiful waterfall. We hiked and enjoyed many trips off of the rope swing and relaxing in the water. One of our students, Jon Subers was even baptized at the base of the waterfall, such a cool experience for us all to get to witness this moment in his life. The rest of the afternoon was relaxing, and students were able to rest, read, journal or watch a movie. We devoured a delicious dinner of authentic fried rice and celebrated Morgan’s birthday… complete with cake and ice cream.
Monday February 10th – Day 10
We started the morning with our usual, yetnever tiring, routine of fresh fruit, toast, and oatmeal. We then headed out the door as Fiji tourists! We visited the Fiji Museum of Culture, which first opened in 1999,
and we learned all about the European influence in Fiji, the very first missionaries here, and even about their once cannibalistic culture. Don’t worry parents-this was hundreds of years ago! We then walked around the courtyard outside, which was absolutely beautiful, and the students were able to explore all the green goodness here in Fiji. We even stumbled across the President of Fiji’s house! The president has a guard outside his gate, that is known for his stoic expression and his ability to remain emotionless.
So you bet our students tried to make him laugh! Even though our attempts at making him crack failed, we still got an awesome picture with him. That afternoon we went back to the house for some good ole Fiji style hot dogs that were made of chicken. They were a huge hit! Afterwards, we sent the students out into Suva for an afternoon.
The students had the freedom to do whatever they wanted, and they couldn’t have been more excited. A few guys went back to the Colo-i-Suva waterfall with Adam, while majority went up the street to find coffee and wifi. The students used this afternoon to maximize their moments with each other, to rejuvenate on their on, or to chat with loved ones. This day was a blast.
Tuesday, February 11th – Day 11
Today we went to Homes of Hope, a shelter for women and children that are victims of domestic violence. It is a beautiful village-like set-up tucked away in the safety and serenity of what closely resembles a rain forest. While our time there did not involve a lot of contact with the women and children, we were able to do a wide variety of work projects for them. We cleared out an large hillside of ginger root, complete with some of our guys using machetes.The jobs today were a beautiful picture of team work and serving behind the scenes. The Lord blessed us with some rain in the early afternoon. We were working hard, riding on trucks in the rain forest in the rain. Everyone was very wet, very muddy, and very happy! It was such a fun day serving!
The Pittmans blessed us with a wonderful evening at a local pizzeria, Bad Dog Grill. It was a really fun place to spend our last night in Suva! We returned to home base for one last night. With the living room full of the warm breeze coming off the sea, we enjoyed a student led devo and a time for everyone to share their favorite part of the Suva trip… accompanied by surprise! ice cream!!!
Wednesday Feb. 12th – Day 12
This morning we are meeting at the house for a delicious breakfast, always complete with fresh fruit and an incredible sun rise over the water. We will head out shortly to begin our trek back to Oasis Farm in Nadi. With a few fun stops along the way, we look to return to the farm mid-afternoon. Students will have time to relax, do some laundry and pack for the 5-day break that begins on Thursday morning. We will get to have dinner together tonight on the farm, followed by a student led devotional. A group of 13 students, along with the Donyes, will be leaving early tomorrow (thursday) morning to board a plane to Sydney. Another group of students and staff will be venturing a little ways down the coastline to a different beach for a little R&R. We have so enjoyed every part of our time in Fiji and everyone is excited for the next portion of the trip!
We will update everyone with another blog post at the conclusion of the 5-day break… check back mid-week next week! Please continue to pray for safety, stretching experiences, and unity as we embrace the culture, see the world, and journey on to serve the people of this island!