We recently took "the big boat" across the Somosomo Straits to Vanua Levu Island for a missionary conference:
|We weren't the only ones on the boat, but gratefully we didn't travel tethered to a post!|
|Now that requires patience!|
|The deck on the "Stinky Sofi" smelled better than the gathering room so we stayed|
out there most of the 5 hours playing Skip Bo ~ a fun game!
|Apparently the young missionaries didn't get the word that we could travel in P-Day clothes,|
or did we just make that up?
|On another boat were our friends, the Batarua family who were headed to Suva to secure visa papers|
for daughter, Lusi who just received her mission call to Ghana and was so excited!
|Who needs the ferry when you've got bamboo!|
Each day we see men and boys coming back from the hills where their farmland is located. Always with a big cane knife (often the only tool they really own), they return carrying something for dinner when they arrive home.
|Amazing how many coconuts this guy had ingeniously|
threaded onto a stick for easier transport
|A creative "cucumber house"|
|Beautiful Cacao (= chocolate)|
Our dear friend, Timoce was returning back from the farm when we passed him on the road. We are constantly amazed at their ingenuity for carrying things. Here, he had woven a palm frawn basket to carry bananas wrapped in dalo leaves, and you just have to bring home some coconuts! Son, Jone had more leaves, a mainstay for "green food" in their diets. When cooked properly, the leaves are fairly tasty. Not fully cooked, they cause an intense itching choke in your throat so we always hope the mother is not in a hurry when we come for dinner!
|Trying to reach new heights in Vuna|
On any given Sunday one never knows where you might be needed. No Primary leaders came this week but just in case that should happen, we had prepared something. The kids are starved for anything we might offer them and loved a few activities that went along with the teachings that day. By the time Sacrament Meeting came along we had several new friends joining us on the pew.
|Beautiful children that warm our hearts|
Gathered together in celebration of the 171st birthday of the Relief Society (oldest women's organization) the women and young women
joined for the commemoration.
|We were honored that an aspiring chef/baker would volunteer his time to make this|
special cake that served 32 appreciative partakers (including some wandering Primary children)
"What is this?", you might ask. A pomelo of ginormous proportions. Finally, the promised "grapefruit" of Taveuni was found!
and were rewarded with its citrus yumminess. Paired with fresh avocado, the two make quite a duo.
In the absence of robins and sparrows, our papaya trees feed the local parrot population as well as the giant fruit bats. Color is their forte, not their unpleasant squawking, but we wish you could see their iridescent blue wings as they dip and dive around the yard.
Beauty comes in so many different forms, from nature to the people who work, live, and play here. Most any afternoon when we pass by the beautiful Catholic compound we see youth of all ages engaged in sports. Never hearing what might be said, we are still struck by the symbol of unity in their circle.
We feel the same way about our circle of friends in Taveuni. Included among them are Sam and Ana from the nearby village of Soqulu. Our first meeting was around the breadfruit tree as they visited and wondered if we had enough to share. Over time we became friends and were especially humbled one day to find Ana on our deck when we returned home. Seeing our clothes hung on the line, she feared someone might take them so she had spent the afternoon sleeping and waiting on the deck to protect them until our return.
Radiant Ana and husband Sam have known great sorrow when their oldest daughter at age 3 died from a boil on her foot. Health care is so minimal on the island. Sharing the Plan of Salvation with them was particularly meaningful. On this night, little 2 year-old Lui, sat on the floor with his plate of casava and cup of water until full, then neatly put things away and crawled into daddy's lap for bed time.
Eight of the members pictured above have all been baptized since we arrived. It's a joyful day every time we gather by the sea for another ceremony. Sister Loma has been a long time member of the Church but her husband had been a Pentecostal minister and the kids followed his lead. Blessings and divine timing finally came together recently as his heart changed and he was thrilled with the message of the restored gospel of Christ on the earth.
Along the way we've loved the sights of Fiji. Our minds have been captured by them and our time together with friends will forever be etched in our souls. What a blessing.
|Ana loved the skirt Annie gave her|
|Vuna members gathered in the "Relief Society" room (young Pai loved his guava so|
much that he didn't want to give it up, even for the photograph)
|Dear friend, Ela|
|"And all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth . . . and also all the planets|
which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator."