Though they were arriving at 5:10am at the international airport in Nadi, 1 1/2 hours south of us, we needed no alarm to wake us. We excitedly jumped in the truck and headed down the road to begin our short week together. We had planned two days in Ba sharing our life and friends together so they could get a real feel for what we do and what it's like here. Then we wanted to show them the island, go to the temple in Suva, and explore some of the Fijian tourist attractions. We couldn't wait to get started!
Sara has since done a wonderful job of chronicling our daily journey together and you can find her story on their blog. If you have time and interest, each day can be accessed by clicking on the noted blog address. In between, we'll add some reflections of our own.
Day One - http://dittofam.blogspot.com/2012/04/our-journey-to-fiji-and-day-one-in-land.html
|What better way to start the day than a swim in the ocean & pool!|
Olivia and Tuliana made us promise that our first stop in Ba would be their home.
|Faizil, Sahil, and Faiza|
|Amidst the muck to the right, a potential treasure - are you missing it?|
|Weeks later with the mud dried out -- thanks for helping hands!|
|Safe at new home but not yet in final resting place|
Day Two: http://dittofam.blogspot.com/2012/04/day-two-sweet-fijian-sabbath.html
Come Sunday morning, we became aware of how comfortable the temperature had become since Sara and Birch had arrived. Was Fall in the air? Were we to become liars after months of complaining about the heat and humidity? Apparently so as we've never had nicer temperatures and they lasted all week! Our "sob story" was saved however, when at least the power went out for an hour before Church. As you can see from their blog, they were loved and welcomed and put straight to work! How we appreciated their attitude and willingness to contribute.
Although they are 20+ years away from their time to serve a "senior mission" together, they are well equipped already. We realized the added strength they brought as we enjoyed reaching out to many families and individuals throughout the rest of the day and into the evening (individual visits are well described in Sara's blog). Two plus two seemed much more than four when serving in such a wonderful cause, which we admit we feel isolated in from time to time.
Day Three: http://dittofam.blogspot.com/2012/04/day-three-bula.html
Though Suva was our eventual destination, our drive across the interior brought many stops and views of village life in Fiji which you never get at resorts.
|Sara included this traditional Bure unders construction, and . . .|
|... we saw it the next week all tidy, trimmed, and nearly finished.|
|Soft and silky when broken in, these mats are traditional gifts at weddings and funerals|
|A really nice decorative mat by a skilled craftswoman -- 3 days in the making|
Not wanting to miss out on an adventure into the rain forrest near Suva, we changed into our swimming suits and explored the Colo-i-Suva Nature Park. Sara posts some great pictures of our hike but here's some action (please focus on Birch and you may hold your applause for the senior missionaries):
Day 4: http://dittofam.blogspot.com/2012/04/day-four-tarzan-goes-to-beach.html
Amidst some of the challenges we face in Fiji, coming "home" to the temple is always a strengthening respite. A scripture describing the nature of the temple says: "Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing, and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God." It is all those things to us as it focuses on our relationship to God and His orderly plan of salvation through Jesus Christ.
One of the special things about attending a small temple, like the one we have in Suva, is that we have become friends with many of the people who serve there and we look forward to renewing our friendship each time we are in Suva. Early Tuesday morning the four of us attended this peaceful and inspiring "House of the Lord" and being together was an added blessing.
Zipping along with Tuesday -- from Suva we packed up and headed to the Coral Coast for a few days of more traditional Fiji tourism. First stop was at Zip-Fiji, tucked away on the edge of a rain forrest -- what a thrill!
To da beach -- off we went for a couple of days of swimming, kayaking, snorkeling, reading, great food, and even a massage on the beach.
|Gearing up - we were impressed with how safety conscious they were from start to finish|
|Check out them guns!|
|Before launching on any line, the workers at both ends of the cable had a system of|
hooting and hollering in Fijian code to acknowledge all was clear for the next zip.
|We were conservative in our zipping style but before we went off a|
tower, one of the workers always went first and they did flips and tricks
all the way down. Hmm, maybe next time?
|Great equipment, great guides, great fun|
|Every night the local villagers would gather for rugby. The sand looks nice but there was|
lots of coral chunks in it -- ooh, ouch (not for Fijian feet though - like thick leather).
|Sara and Annie off to the massage shack on the beach|
|We did enjoy eating out with delicious food and nice company. Food in Ba is Ba-aad and|
Ba-oooring so we never eat out (ignore those fries, Tom was waiting for his fish to arrive).
Being a tourist for a couple days has its perks!
|. . . it was worth the wait, and since it came late they did not charge us!|
|Perfect days and beautiful sunset evenings -- we loved our days together|
After Sara and Birch went to New Zealand for 2 days, we had a few more precious hours together between flights while they waited for the red-eye flight back to the States. It was hard to say goodbye but we felt refreshed and ready to get back to missionary life -- that is, after all, why we are here and for which we are most grateful.