Tuesday, April 3, 2012

For the Love of Family

Our hero - Saimone Nairoqo, arrived Sunday night in Ba at the heigth of the flood.  He had travelled barefoot 215 kilometers from Suva in a colossal effort to get to his family in Ba under dangerous weather related conditions.  His boss said, "Saimone, don't go."  His wife said, "Saimone, it's not safe, you can't make it through the floods." Saimone said: "God will help me."  When we later asked him how in the world he thought he was going to make it when all the advisories said it couldn't be done, he said: "I could see it in my mind how I would make it."
Saimone has been away for the past month working at a good paying job to save money for his family needs -- the most important of which was to take them to the temple to be sealed on April 28th.  He had not planned to be home this weekend but with the floods, he was worried about his family and did not want them to be alone.

He awoke at 5am and had a prayer about the route he should take.  There are only two ways around the island and both had very bad flooding.  Our phone rang at 7am  with a determined Saimone on the other end, "I'm coming home." We couldn't believe it since the "coconut" news was reporting flooded highways, washed out bridges, and landslides.  All day we were anxious for his well being.  At one point we called and he sounded a little weary.  "Siamone, are you okay?"  "Yes, but I am wading the streets in Nadi trying to find a way through to get to the other side because it is too deep to go the rest of the way." Nadi is a major international airport town about 70km from Ba. At our next communication, he was on another transport and now closer and would call us once he was nearing Ba.  About dinner time he phoned and had just waded through Ba downtown and was headed our way.  What a sweet sight to see this faithful father and husband safely here!  We expected just Siamone, but as you can see he had hauled 20 pounds of scriptures, church manuals, and a hymnal in his brief case.  His backpack had started with about 15 pounds of dry clothes and arrived with 25 pounds of soggy belongings.  Dripping wet from his 11 hours of trekking, swimming, wading and riding, we offered him a "shower" (we're back to 3 cup bucket baths), some dry clothes and a hot dinner.

Between bites we asked more about his incredible journey.  He told us of washed out bridges, landslides, fallen trees over the road, and badly damaged villages.  He described wading and swimming through streets that had become rivers.  At one point, a police boat took pity and ferried him to the other side of town where he could catch another transport.  Each leg of the journey had unforeseen challenges of similar nature and somehow through it all, he kept his scriptures and church books dry.  We had all been fasting that day for his safety and as we ate and listened to saga of his journey, we were grateful that this dedicated husband and father had made such a great distance and against such odds.

As it was getting dark and he had yet miles to go before he would be home, we ferried him to the last river crossing.
The Crossing (picture taken the day before)
Taking only his phone in a zip lock bag and changing back into his wet clothes, he offered a prayer and dove into the rushing waters.  If only it hadn't been so dark we would have loved to capture the sight. This courageous and determined man knew he had to make it through the river's fierce current to the island before he could then cross to the other side. We kept the truck lights shining so we could make sure he had crossed over successfully. Once he had safely made it across, he briefly bent down in the cane field and we wondered if he was just resting or offering another prayer of gratitude -- or, perhaps both?  He then triumphantly raised his arms in the air and set off into the dark for the final leg of his trip.  About an hour later our text was answered with a short, "I'm home!"

At one point during the evening Annie had said to him; "Saimone, you're the man!" In his always humble way, he shook his head and pointed towards heaven.  We have endless admiration for this wonderful young man and his family.  They are all an example of commitment to family, faith, and self-reliance.
An earlier picture of the Nairoqo family with cousin Emily (pink blouse)


Matt said...

Wow...you were right. That is an amazing story! Pioneer-like in determination!

David said...

Amazing story. I love the Fijian people. You are so inspiring for your dedicated service and wonderful attitudes.

emily a. said...

What an amazing story. Is it so bad that I just thought it could be made into a movie?

Running Rinnes said...

We love this story. Not only Saimone's faithfulness and dedication to his family, but also how you fasted and prayed for him.

I couldn't help but think of the 4th verse to "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief,"
Twas night; the floods were out; it blew
A winter hurricane aloof.
I heard his voice abroad and flew
To bid him welcome to my roof.
I warmed and clothed and cheered my guest...

Heikki & Vicki

Leah said...

This is just amazing. Brought tears to my eyes. What a humbling story.

Ditto Family said...

WOW...that is all I can say.

sixmoores said...

I am thankful you posted that story. I fear that we are far to spoiled.