the church leaders praying for Tevita who was part of the EE course last year that I attended at is now studying to be a pastor!!!
cici! rruuunnn and not grow weary, we will rise :)
youth gathering at Lomaivuna church
Pastor Manoa(EE field worker)'s new church held in his home, such beautiful people!
Lomaivuna church, so blessed by them!
Chief's house where we stayed in Navolau village, I slept in the right upperhand corner hehe
ohhh my girls! so great, wearing our chubas hehe
home visitation in Suva in a very poor area...with Radini Taina and Radini Alisi. sharing and praying with this lovely Indian Christian
another home visitation in underprivileged area, girl sitting next to me is Sangeeta (read about her story below)
Pastor Manoa's wonderful family!
food in the highlands! so good!
performing the action chorus with the youth at the church service, i am so Fijian! hehe
speaking at the youth gathering, encouraging the youth
Elenore and I in the village amidst the busyness during the wedding
groom and the best man in their traditional wear
maid of honor, flowergirl, and bride - love the outfits
relatives pouring in with their Fiji wear
Me & Tevita - such a good brother to me!
mmhhmm roroball(made from taro plant leaves and coconut milk fried witha boiled egg inside & dalo)
fellowship & worship - love it!
entrance to the village, so scenic :)
hanging out with the kids of course!
Bula Vinaka :)
Vinaka Jisu (Thank you Jesus) for His goodness and faithfulness! The past few weeks I traveled to 2 different areas of Viti Levu (the largest island of Fiji where I live). I was able to spend one week in a village called Navolau which is way up in the highlands in a very remote area. The week after I traveled to a small town in Suva (Fiji's capital city).When I left Nadi I did not know what to expect of my time in the village and Suva, I just prayed that my time in those areas would be fruitful.
Well, my time away from the EE training centre was more than what I hoped for. The first week away I traveled to Navolau village with Elenore Beach (EE worker for people groups who was such an encouragement and inspiration as she shared so much wisdom about cross-cultural missions with me. Her family had been on the mission field in Guatemala for many years) and the family of Isikeli, a Fiji EE field worker. It was a long first day. We took the bus from Nadi to Suva and were pretty crammed in the bus. It was a 4 hour ride. Then Isikeli and Tevita picked us up and we went food shopping before driving up to the village(another 2 hours). We had to do the shopping then because there would be no towns or shops near the village to do so. The village is up in the mountains in a remote area where you are surrounded by the jungle pretty much(lots of vegetation). There is no electricity and water comes from small rivers. Certain homes in the village had generators that they would turn on from 6-10pm. During the week I was able to spend lots of time with the youth and children.
The people in the village often walk about 3.5 km to get to church. They walk on bad roads that are muddy and rocky. I took that walk twice by moonlight. Whew! My calves were sore after that haha....I'm walking like a true Fijian now :) There was lots of rain while were in the village, so the weather was windy and chilly. One evening I spoke at the youth gathering at church. The young people were so blessed as I stayed and bonded with them. I got really close to people such as Isikeli's kids: Sokoveti, Timaima, Seta, and Una as well as Tevita's sister Emele. I encouraged them to be ‘salt and light’ in this world where we need to go against the current of this world, to be set apart. I told the youth to feel free to come to me about anything. Some of the teenage girls had such great questions, "How do we grow closer to God?"...."How do we discover God's Will for us?" I was so glad to be able to share my own experiences with them. The youth also taught me two Fijian action choruses (dances) to Fijian Gospel songs. Every night we would gather to fellowship and sing together where I was able to learn more Fijian worship songs. I praise God for being able to do things I love - dance and worship ministry! I also got to practice my Fijian a ton and learn more hehe
The Fijian culture is so communal. There was a traditional wedding in the village, and it was beautiful to see the village come together for one another helping in need. There are so many rituals and customs during a wedding. People poured into the village from many different places and the village was a busy place for a few days. Tons of handmade mats, pillows, blankets were exchanged among the bride and groom's family. 3 cow were killed for the wedding!
On Sunday church was an all day event. I was able to share my testimony and perform the Fijian dances with the youth during the afternoon service. The worship team even called me up to sing a Fijian gospel song with them during the service hehe The people of Navolau are such beautiful people with huge hearts! I had grown so close to Isikeli's family and many of the youth and children. They did not want me to leave and even offered land for me to build on and live there.
The second week away I stayed at Pastor Manoa's (Fiji EE field worker) house in Nakasi. Pastor Manoa has started a new church that is currently meeting in his home. I immediately developed a close bond with his wife, Alisi. She has a wonderful testimony and is a great leader along with her husband. He and his wife speak Hindi fluently and are able to minister to the Indian families in addition to Fijian ones in the area. They hold two services on Sundays, one Hindi and one Fijian. I was truly touched by their ministry. Their home is open 24/7 for anyone with a need. Their home is a home of prayer. People are always in and out of their home to share burdens or praises through singing and prayer. Everyday there are testimonies of God's love and power:
One afternoon, Pastor Manoa’s wife, I and a church member visited the homes where underprivileged families stay (receiving social welfare). We went to different homes praying for the families and sharing the Gospel. I was able to share with one boy, Fareez, who is from a Muslim background. As I was sharing I could see God open his heart. After sharing he prayed to receive Jesus Christ! Then I asked him, "How do you feel Fareez?" He replied, "I feel so good and at peace." The next day I went to buy him a Bible, and amazingly God provided me with free Bibles, tracts, and clothes from the staff of Nabua Bible Society. They were so encouraged by the outreach we had been doing that they gave us all the stuff for free.
In addition, at the homes I met a young girl named Wati. She is Indian but speaks fluent Fijian and attends a local Methodist Church. She had attended a mission school before but didn’t finish. Pastor Manoa's wife told me that she has been attending church for the social atmosphere and needs guidance on her personal walk with the Lord. I was able to encourage her on both growing externally through church and youth gatherings as well as the internal growth, thus spending time with the Lord daily through prayer and reading the Word of God. I was able to share with her about how my intimate relationship with the Lord took much effort and time. Her eyes were so big listening to me speak, I knew she was just taking in my every word. I could see it start to click in her head.
Also one afternoon I visited other underprivileged homes with some of the church youth to an Indian family: Shyam Rati (mom), Sanjesh - (son), and Sangeeta - (daughter who is deaf). These are Christians who have been ridiculed and disowned by their relatives. Their mom had sacrificed much to provide for her children. The daughter had a beautiful love story – she had traveled to New Zealand several years ago to attend a deaf youth conference where, via email met a young deaf man who lives in New York. Friendship grew into love and 3 years later the young man flew to Fiji to marry her! Things like this come only from God! Now she is just waiting for her visa to be approved so she can move to the States to be with her husband. I was so encouraged by her story! I was able to use the limited sign language I know to communicate with her. She kept saying, "I'm so happy to meet you!"
Ministry of outreach is happening. People are opening their hearts to the Lord! There is no other place I'd rather be, and no other place I should be than here in Fiji doing the work of the Lord. Thank you for your prayers and support.
I've been back in Nadi for almost a week. This past week a Theology course was held where I was an auditor of the teaching. The course was on Old Testament prophecy. I learned a ton! Such great stuff on how God used prophets then to speak to His people regarding obedience, judgment, and blessing. 9 nations came together for this course. It was fun being able to fellowship with EE leaders from around the world and even see people from back home :)
I've also become more aware of how to handle cross-cultural conflict on the mission field. I know struggles come and go. I praise God that He is sovereign and going before us in all things! It's a battlefield.
It only gets busier from here.....woo hoo! I'm ready!
Please be praying for –
Fareez as he matures as a new believer
Wati as she learns to spend time with the Lord daily
Sangeeta as she waits for her marriage visa approval and travel plans finalized
Pastor Manoa's home church for growth and land to build a church
Fiji EE field workers as they continue to raise support and build up EE in their regions
Myself as I travel to Vanua Levu at the end of this month to spend time with youth in Nabouwalu and in Labasa to help with an EE clinic
To God be all praise and glory,