Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Natural Beauty

Even though Ba is not in a lush part of the Fijian country, it still has plenty of natural beauty.  Here are some plants and trees we walk by each day on our morning exercise routes -- they make life here more joyous.

A variegated Bougainvillea bush

Papaya trees are in most yards, called "Pawpaw" in Fijian

Beautiful Plumeria

We're finally getting educated on using coconuts and are loving them!

Banana trees are plentiful with various types available -- a large bunch at the open market sells for a little over $1US

We asked the Indian home owner what this large fruit was, he gave us a wonderfully long Hindi name which we couldn't begin to remember.  But these fruits are about the size of a bowling ball -- and very heavy.

A lovely Indian lady out in the early morning by her Jasmine bush

Every school has their uniform colors.  These young Fijians and many others pass by our home each morning on the way to  one of the 3 schools near us.

This lovely tree graces the downtown round-about

We're just coming into Mango season which is late this year due to bad weather during the blossom season

Another of the many varieties of Bougainvillea
Not pretty, but as we have commented before -- everything is on "Fiji time" here.  That means that you never know when something will really happen, begin, or end.  We figured this must have been a very long "Fiji time" lunch break for the drivers of this truck and the fast growing flora took over before they could get back to work!

Mango trees are big and we wonder how they harvest them before they fall and become bruised.  We see kids in trees but wow, these trees really tower above many of their neighbors.

Star Fruit

One of the bushes by our front door.  What's amazing is you see many plants which your recognize as relatively little "house plants" in America and find that in Fiji, they grow wild and are on steroids!

More front yard plants

Another beautiful Plumeria tree - we just love these

What beautiful creativity the Lord blessed us with

Every once in a while we pass by what appear to be some kind of cactus succulents -- they always seem out of place in Fiji
And finally, one of the thousands of Myna birds which dominate bird life here.  These rather plain looking birds are anything but plain in their beautiful LOUD and varied chirps, whistles, and ever changing calls to each other.  They are so loud that when we are on the phone or even talking with our kids in the US over the computer people can hear them in the background and they can make it so we have difficulty hearing who we're speaking with.  There are always lots of them (no loners in this bird group) and one day at Church they were so loud outside the building that we literally could not hear the speakers.  They might be pests to others but we just love them.  They are goofy in the way they lope along, sometimes up and down, sometimes sideways and they can walk sideways on a wire like nobody's business.  They also change up their sounds - like they are experimenting and mimicking other sounds they hear.  Their only flaw is that they don't seem to know when it's time for others to sleep and they often begin the cacophony at 4:30 or 5am.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Nairoqo Family

One of the really sweet experiences we're having is teaching the preparatory lessons for those who are wanting to go to the temple for the first time.  Families are EVERYTHING in Fiji -- and when these wonderful people accept the Gospel and learn that their families can be sealed in the temple and then exist together in the afterlife, they are thrilled.  Here's some shots of this extraordinary family and a little about our experiences with them.

Saimoni and his wife Elenoa built their home on 8 acres deeded to them by the chief of the village about 20 minutes from Ba by car.  They are tremendously hard workers, farming their own sugar cane and vegetables as well as Saimoni cutting cane full time for the 6 month harvest period (he earns about $100/week and 15-20% of that goes to the transport trucks to get them to church on Sunday). In spite of the drain on their finances, they are determined to not only go to church but be there on time; "We want to be the first family there," said Sister Nairoqo.  Yesterday was Sunday and there they were when we arrived.  In speaking to them, they related that they had left the house in two waves, the kids wanted to get going and left earlier walking towards the church several miles away.  The parents left 15 minutes later and when they got to the main road to meet the kids, they had decided to walk all the way and were out of sight.  The night before we had taught them about tithing worthiness for the temple and Saimoni commented that he had just been talking to his wife about "being honest with the Lord" in paying a full tithe.  We had talked about the Lord blessing them for their faithfulness and then the next morning, when they arrived at the main road to catch a transport carrier, there was a friend driving by who picked them up and brought them all the way to church; "right to the front door," exclaimed Elenoa!  Annie said to her, "that's a blessing from paying your tithing." The kids had been so excited that they must have walked fast as they were there on time as well.

When we came this day, Elenoa was out in the cane field dressed in several layers of old ragged clothing and with a sock over her hand because both the cane and the weeds have sharp "saw-like" edges (she was barefoot).  She had gotten up at 4:45 am to the sound of her husband listening to and singing hymns.  She was so joyous over that since her husband is a relatively new convert and usually listens to "worldly" music before he heads off to the cane fields.  He commented to her that he was only going to listen to hymns from now on because it brought such a wonderful spirit to him before he goes off to work.  They sat together and sang for a while before she they ate something and fixed his lunch.  Fijians eat very little in the morning (likely because of expense) -- they often have something to drink and hard-tack breakfast crackers. After Saimoni left,  Elenoa fixed all the kids something, did the laundry (by hand, of course), hung it out, and then headed for their cane field to weed.

This is Emily, their niece at the kitchen just behind the home.  They have run out of kerosene and can't afford to buy more so they continue to cook with wood - the almost universal scene at most homes in a village.  Next to the kitchen is a 3-sided "shower" area for taking a bucket bath/shower.  They currently have no running water so they purchase water from a neighboring home (about 100 yards away) and carry it in jugs home each day. On the most recent night we came, they were having boiled sweet potatoes for dinner (very fibrous, dry, and not really sweet).  They wanted to share with us but we declined so they sent us home with a large potato which we ate with our dinner.  Elenoa put it in her husband's lunch box, we assume because it was the only "take away" container they had.  Annie fixed some cornbread and filled the box to give back to them the next day.  They never had cornbread before and all seemed to enjoy it.

Since there are very few entertainment things available, the kids endlessly create games from whatever is around.  Here Simeon has found a skate - it doesn't really fit, no laces, and one wheel kept spinning off but hey - you can do a lot of tricks balanced on one of these!

Above and below are two of the kids in the mango tree next to the house -- they all love to climb trees and are great at it.  No one seems to worry that they climb really high regardless of their age -- if they can do it then let 'em go!  This brought life to the scene in the movie, "Other Side of Heaven" where the little boy falls out of the mango tree and is healed by Elder Groberg.  Since there are no addresses in the villages, here's a sample of directions to the Nairoqo home: "Go to Vesaro village, pass the pine trees and take a right at the large Mango tree, then go left at the yellow flowered bush and travel through the cane field until you see some coconut and mango trees on a little rise, their home is under those trees."

As is almost always the case, many kids from the village gather at each others homes to play. Below are some shots of us teaching the kids how to jump rope ("hose" in this case).  They were so joyous at a new game!

Lili is the youngest Nairoqo and is a pure ray of light.  In the first picture of the family, we are all seated on a woven matt brought outside from the house so we could sit and teach in the cool breeze (well, slightly cool that is).  The evening was coming on and that brings out the toads and geckos, all hopping and scurrying around with the other insects, rats, and mosquitos which freely go in and out of the open homes.  They are very proud of their home which Saimoni built himself and they take great pride in keeping it as nice as possible along with their farm area -- it's all beautiful perched up there on a little hill.  Below, Annie sits with 15 year-old and Lusiana.

On this night and one previous, everyone sang their hearts out as is the custom here.  We continue to be surprised by how many hymns they know by heart and they want to sing an opening and closing hymn every time you come.  After we had the lesson, they chose to sing; "I'll Go Where You Want Me To Go, Dear Lord."  Both Annie and I could not contain the tears as we sang the hymn, particularly the line: "there's surely somewhere a lowly place in earth's harvest fields so wide.  Where I may labor through life's short day, for Jesus the Crucified." There we sat, in what is by American measures, a very "lowly place" but it was divine to us.  We both shared our testimony with the family that when we were called to Fiji we knew nothing about it and had a difficult time adjusting, but we had promised Heavenly Father that we would go wherever he sent us.  There in the Nairoqo home, we came to know that the Lord had sent us here and we felt blessed beyond expression.  This Sunday, the same hymn was sung and later I was visiting with the parents and they said: "Did you hear your favorite hymn?" Then Brother Nairoqo looked at me and quietly said; "I'm glad you kept your promise."

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Oh the signs you see in Fiji !

Our giggles these days often come from the "English" signs along the way.  We thought we'd share a few with you:

We hope Mama knows about this.
"Mega Choice" above this  store that was about 10'x 12'  and has the same  5 choices as any other store.

This made us wish for some pizza which is not available.  What IS on their menu?

  Like Mark Twain said, "I feel sorry for anyone who can't spell a word more than one way."


We'll be shopping here for Christmas.

There are no bears in Fiji but who cares?

Not quite the shopping center you may be used to but a lovely option in Ba.

Finally, one that makes sense.
We knew our Physical Therapist son-in-law was talented but we had no idea his field included all these specialities.

And if the signs don't keep you laughing, you can always read the manuals for your appliances:  In trying to diagnose an icing up problem in our refrigerator we had to first determine if we had "the first, or the second kind" of refrigerator -- no explanation as to what models were available but the manual stated that "this serial refrigerators are unanimous."  Later we learned this sage advice -- "the food kept too long in the refrigerator will taste less original.  Spoiled and stink food must not be kept any longer."

And speaking of things that "stink" - we were reading the users manual for our new DVD player provided by the mission.  Under the section designed to caution you regarding power issues we read: "Please do not bind the power line is too high will arouse the unstable of the voltage and damage to the equipment.  When the DVD have unusual sound and smell such as splintering and poop, please witch off the power line as soon as prossible."  No kidding - that's a direct quote!

Chears frum Figi !!! ?