Let’s all just take a second to look at this beautiful FULL rainbow that we saw our first day back on the farm from our break! God’s hand has been over this whole trip, unity has been incredible and we are so excited to be back together!
Tuesday Feb 18th
We began our last week in Fiji, and our first day back together after a long break, with a day on the farm! The students and staff alike have grown to love Oasis Farm days! Working together has a way of providing intentional conversations and cultivating deeper friendships. Our students have almost finished the chicken coop, groomed and fertilized and entire papaya orchard, built benches and fire pit from scratch, and some have even learned to make and lay concrete. Hard work and a lot of sweat have produced some pretty epic memories for the Link Year team! Everyone enjoyed an afternoon off to relax in hammocks on the farm, walk, sleep, read and play games. A small group of students got to visit the Loloma House, a home for battered women and their families that we have visited frequently during our time here. The students that went this time taught the children how to jump rope! For dinner that night, a local family that works for the farm and has been a vital part of our team while in Fiji cooked us a traditional dinner. The meal was cooked using “Lovo,” everything was cooked underground beneath a fire and hot rocks. It was delicious! Juicy chicken, potatoes, an array of vegetables, topped of with fresh guava juice! What a great start to our final week, wrapped up with this gorgeous sunset!
Wednesday Feb 19th
This was probably our most cultural day of the entire trip. We spent the morning at the Pottery Village, a nearby village that receive all of their income by selling the pottery crafts that the women make there. Their hospitality was incredible and the way that they welcomed us into some of their traditions and rituals was such a neat experience! After a great tour of the village grounds, we were welcomed into their meeting room where we were surrounded by pottery. Some leaders of the tribe took us through a Kava Ceremony. Each member of the Link Year team was welcomed with a friendly clap and served a bowl of Kava. (this was shocking to most of us…. As it was drinking a sort of juice made from kava, a root, and a few herbs) Each of us were also given a handmade lei made from banana leaves and beautiful flowers. Some tribal women did a demonstration of pottery making for us, and then they performed some special tribal dances that we were even able to take part in. Such a fun time! They served us a delicious morning tea-time of fruit juice, bananas, sweet bread and brown sugar!
From there, we headed off to Natadola Beach, a beautiful white sand – blue water beach! We enjoyed a picnic lunch in the shade and then everyone bolted for the water Some students snorkeled, others relaxed in the water… and a few girls soaked up some sun and a good book! This was a favorite memory for many of the students, as it was a day filled with much variety and fellowship!
Thursday Feb 20th
Thursday was another half-day on the farm! We finished many of our projects from Tuesday, including the benches for the fire pit and painting of the boys dorms! The weather was beautiful and the sweet kitchen staff blessed us with a delicious morning snack of juice and coconut brownies! In the afternoon, we all split up to do another Kids Club! It was so much fun for us all to return to the same place we previously help KC and visit the children again! We lead them in songs, skits, games and of course a Bible story! The children’s ministry here is very different and requires some pretty intricate planning from our students. The young ages of the children, as well as an intense language barrier at some of the churches required us to get creative in the way that we share the Gospel! The children love to play and interact with visitors and it is fun to see some of them remember our faces! It will be sad to leave them all. In true Fijian culture, we have attended the same churches and kids clubs for the duration of our trip. This has produced some lasting friendships and life-changing conversations.
Friday Feb 21st
This was a once in a lifetime experience for many of us! We went to the Sabeto Mud Pools! What a relaxing day this was! When we arrived, we all walked into what looked like your typical pond. After some shrieks from a few girls, we were quickly reminded of where we were. The water was warm and as soon as you stepped off the stair you were in neck deep water with knee-deep mud! Our bodies were completely covered from head to toe in dark thick muddiness. After some hilarious photo shoots and about 30 minutes drying in the sun, we hopped back in the first pool to rinse off. Apparently, as the mud dries, it removes impurities from your skin. The second pool was a very warm one, like nature’s hot tub! It felt incredible. Once we were all raisins, we got into the last pool, a much cooler one to relax and just cool off. Result, an incredibly sleepy, very relaxed, exceptionally smooth-skinned Link Year team! The afternoon was free on the farm! Students enjoyed the down time to journal, play Catch Phrase, help around the farm, have great conversations and prepare a great dinner of beef and potato stew! The students are still in such good spirits, tired at times, but being fully supplied with strength, energy, and joy from our faithful God. We are soaking up the down time and enjoying every minute we get to spend with one another watching the clouds roll in and the sun set each night. What a blessing this trip has been for each of us!
Saturday Feb 22nd
Saturday morning the students woke up, a little later than usual, and headed to Nandi town for a scavenger hunt! The students were broken up into 5 teams and given a list of “must have photos”, along with things they must do to gain points, and were officially set loose! They had so much fun venturing around Nandi town, snapping photos of various things, and enjoying time together. (Girls were also shopping for a gift to give Annaleise at her surprise baby shower later that afternoon) The students were told that they had to meet at McDonalds by 12:30 to add up all the points and determine a winner. All the students were treated to a nice McDonalds lunch- which everyone LOVED- and the winning team received free McFlurries! Later that afternoon, Laura took a group of girls to Annaleise’s baby shower. All the girls had a wonderful time, drinking sweet tea and coffee (!!), homemade cookies and cupcakes, and celebrating the life that was soon to be born! Meanwhile, the guys spent their afternoon hiking a very intense mountain, close to our farm. They had previously participated in a welcoming tribal ceremony, granting them the right to hike on Fijian property. They LOVED it!
Sunday Feb 23rd
It’s safe to say that this Sunday was a favorite for all. On this beautiful morning, all the students returned to the same church they attended our first Sunday here, and were able to reconnect with the same Fijian people. After attending a very touching and meaningful church service, the students were then invited to join different local families for a real Fijian style lunch. Some students paired up and went to the people’s homes, while others ate at a “pot luck” community style lunch. Regardless of where they were, everyone agreed it was the best meal they have had so far! That afternoon, a group of students went back to Wailoaloa beach, while others stayed back at the farm to read and hang out. It was a very relaxing Sunday, soaking up the sun, drinking fresh pineapple smoothies, and enjoying each others company. We love Sundays!
Monday Feb 24th
Today was one of the coolest experiences we have had so far. What was previously supposed to be a work day, turned into an all day boat excursion!! We quickly changed gears, threw on our suits, and headed to the Pittmans. The Pittmans live right on the canal, so we were able to get on our boat from their backyard, how awesome is that?! We spent the entire day cruising around the South Pacific Ocean, listening to music, laying out on the front of the boat, snorkeling in the beautiful blue water, and we even had the opportunity to ride around on a wave runner. Our students were in heaven, to say the least. We also were able to watch the sunset that night, and we could not have a better view. God’s creation is truly magnificent!
Tuesday Feb 25th
This morning we had an early wake up call, and headed out at 7:30 to the Sabeto Sand Dunes! After the Sand Dunes, we headed to a school right up the street, and were able to lead one of their chapels. The students ranged from elementary to high school, and were thrilled to see us when we arrived. We had planned a couple songs to sing to them (and have them teach us one), perform a skit based on a story from the Bible, as well as have two of our students give a brief testimony. Afterwards, our students went to recess with them and taught them how to play “elbow tag” and “marco polo”, both students loved it! After chapel, we had a picnic outdoors, and then headed to Natadola Beach or back to the farm to relax. We are beginning to pack, clean and get things together, to head back to the United States on Thursday!! We have absolutely loved our time in Fiji, and can’t wait to come back and share all of our experiences with you :)!
Wednesday Feb 26th
We packed up early this morning and left Oasis farm for the last time! It was bittersweet as we said goodbye to our dear friends Sala, Russi, and Flora. Praying over this beautiful family before we left was a moment we will all remember forever. This has been the trip of a lifetime for each of us full of memories we will cherish forever. Thank you so much for your constant love, prayers, and support throughout this month long experience. We are each individually forever changed and cannot wait to share our personal experiences, memories, stories and pictures with our friends and family! Tonight we wrapped up the trip with a pizza dinner hosted by the Pittmans and are currently in the middle of poetry night in our hotel! We will shop in Port Denarau tomorrow and head to the airport around dinnertime to fly out for LAX at 9:40pm. (Just to help you out, that is 3:40am Central Time on Thursday morning in the States) We are scheduled to arrive around 12:15 pm PT on Thursday at LAX. What a trip!