Sunday, February 12, 2012

Beautiful little ones

Who could not be drawn to the beautiful children of Fiji?  They live in such simplicity and although there is much to be desired, for all that they do not have we marvel at their guilelessness, their timid curiosities, their loving and respectful ways and the fun they so easily have with so very little.  We hope these pictures will begin to capture some of what we perceive from these young Fijians.
Ten year-old Ulamila Bainivalu lives in difficult circumstances yet
glows with optimism.  Her Fijian mother died from cancer when
Ulamila was a baby and her father was never in the picture so she
is being raised by extended family. She gives the best hugs!
Six year-old Ana is not only a great sister, she is also a budding cook.  We
found her sitting on the floor one day with a large knife cutting up eggplant
for dinner like she was a seasoned chef.  No cutting board, just rapidly slicing
the vegetable in her hands while carrying on a conversation.
Lilli Nairoqo is 5 years old and a beautiful bundle of dancing energy.  She
was so shy in the beginning but is warming up little by little.
One day, while visiting the Nairoqo family, one of the children threw a ball up on the roof.  Soon, we heard the patter of feet on the roof and looked up to find 7 year old Simi retrieving the ball.  How did he get up there? And how would he get down?  

Aunti Mere and Uncle Ben with baby Ifereimi.  Fijian tradition has baby boys growing their hair until their first birthday but this was the hot season and he happily got a reprieve from custom.
Interestingly, his dark curly locks grew back into a light brown after being cut.
Though we only met this family once when they were at the home of an
investigator, we were taken by their happy countenances.

A beautiful little girl at the market.  Indian families dress with bright and
fashionable clothing.  They go all out when they come to town. 
Olivia spent hours braiding Faiza's hair
Luci Nairoqo (15) and Ben Mateiwai (13) dressed up for church
Pauliasi Uluvosa - happy baptismal day.
Cane knives and children always seems like a bad idea but it is quite common - and they
really know how to use them!  We found these kids cutting the grass by a ditch.
Speaking of cane knives, we wanted to share a touching story of a 13 year old boy whose family have become dear friends.  He was coming to the traditional age for circumcision but his family had no money for the operation.  Earlier, during his school break time in December, he had worked in the cane fields to earn money.  This is very hard work and cane knives are large and heavy, but he worked all day for three weeks and earned enough that he was able to pay for his family's transportation into town and food for the family as well as the operation (a total of $50 Fijian - about $28 US).  After taking a bus to the town, his mother and siblings stayed behind at the open market while he and his father took another bus to the hospital.  His family had been at the market most of the day when we providentially met them.  After his mother timidly shared the story of what was happening, we just couldn't imagine this young man having such an operation, taking a bus back to the market and another out to the country where he would then have to walk some distance to their home. How grateful we were to be guided to contact this family at that particular time and be able to take them right to their doorstep.  What admiration we have for this courageous, independent, and responsible young man.

We found these boys enjoying a swimming hole with great enthusiasm.  This
scene is repeated almost everywhere we travel -- when there's a deep enough
hole in the creek, people are swimming, bathing, and washing clothes.
Jumping off bridges is their specialty!
Congratulating each other on a great jump . . .
. . . and so pleased that we took an interest in them!  Wish we could find them again to
share a copy of the picture.
Alvaretti Bainivalu (12) is the most engaging
young man.  One day at a party, he sat down
with us, "Tell me," he said, "about your generations."
And he meant it, he wanted to know about parents,
children, grandchildren, etc.  What 12 year-old
asks that kind of question?
A great Fijian smile worn perpetually by Epa Mateiwai (8)
Church was a just a little too long and everyone is used to sleeping on hard floors.  We put away
the chairs in the chapel and she slept right through it all.
8 month-old Isaac in a nifty home made swing
Epa Mateiwai long anticipated his father (Waisei) baptizing him
No fair -- first, chicken pox and now a slip in the mud!
Lucky to have big sister come to the rescue.
Ba Ward Primary Children on the day of their special church program
The Sunday before the flood, a thought occurred to Annie during Church of an idea to connect our Corvallis primary children to the children at church here in Ba. Plans were made to create a banner with the Primary program theme for 2012: "Choose the Right."  The banner would be created here in Fiji and then sent back to Corvallis for the children in the Church there to have. They, in turn, would create something for the children here in the Church at Ba.  Talented Vaceseva Bainivalu, happily accepted the invitation to create the banner:
Vaceseva (left), created the blue mock up of the banner for "approval" before doing the 2'x4' fabric banner.  She combined ideas from the Fijian flag design and the Primary Children's theme. She is
joined by a few of her extended family including her 74 year-old mother on the far right.
We should note that when we brought the paint, brushes, and fabric to Vaceseva plus a table and chair to work from, she kept exclaiming: "Oh Lord a mighty, Oh Lordy Lordy."  All this because this talented artist really has no supplies with which to express her talent except those we've brought and she was so grateful.

A few days later we picked up the beautifully completed banner and then began going to homes of children to add their stamped hand prints, agreeing to "choose the right" and send their commitment to the children in Oregon. This captures a portion of the activity in one of those visits.  Just one note, the father in this home is a police officer and was sure he knew best how to get a good finger print of each of the kids.  We think he enjoyed his role:

Load up!  If you're lucky enough to have a "transport" home rather than
walk, you jump in fast and hang on!
Shopping along side the road is common whether you're on foot, passing by in a car,
or riding your favorite horse
Handsome Simione (10) loves to hold your hand and have a long conversation
about anything, but especially our family.  He doesn't live with his parents
but is a great helper to his grandma.  He always greets us with a tight hug.
Handsome boys showing off their Sunday best
Fijian 007 and his bodyguards


Leah said...

We couldn't wait till Monday FHE to watch the videos. We all loved them. What sweet, sweet children.

Megan and Ben said...

I think I could look at these faces and listen to their giggles again and again and never get bored.
Oh, the beautiful faces of children around the world. They made me melt...and smile.
Always so impressed by their optimism and huge grins with sparkling white teeth and yes, the white dresses.
Thanks for sharing.
-the wallaces

Running Rinnes said...

What wonderful photos!! And, your idea for the Primary banner swap with Corvallis was true inspiration. It would be fun to see the reaction in Corvallis.

emily a. said...

Whenever Mila is extra grumpy I go to and pull up the 'I Am A Child of God' video on Mormon Messages. Instantaneously she is happy and content. Tonight your video joined the sacred rank- both of the girls loved the video.

The children are so beautiful. I felt a twinge of jealousy that they get both of you but then I reminded myself we get you too, just not in person for a while.

The banner is just beautiful. I loved seeing mom paint the kids fingers. I'm excited to see what Corvallis comes up with.

Matt said...

Such beautiful sweet children. I love the banner exchange! The last video of you guys walking up to the house and then the singing was especially sweet. I can tell (and no surprise) that you are leaving a mark wtih these people that will never be forgotten.

Anonymous said...

What a great post! Thanks for sharing so many pictures and stories of your work there. It looks like you are building relationships that will last a lefetime and beyond.
Jared Clavin