February 21, 2016

Fiji Day 14, Heading home

Filed under: Trips — pearsey @ 2:02 pm
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27/11/15 – Suva, Fiji to Melbourne

Last day today. Up early and packed up stuff to go. Below you’ll see a couple of us sitting around in the lounge just before we left.

Had a last breakfast with some paw paw. The others had been eating it & loving it the whole time, thought I’d better give it a try again. Wasn’t too bad, was much better than at Savu Savu. Ritchie & Boila took us into the bus station & we got our tickets on the Sunbeam Bus. Because we were a little later, the bus was pretty much full, so we had to take seats wherever we could get them. I ended up jammed, literally, between a large lady & rugby player. I couldn’t even breathe properly. At least it was air conditioned and even had a dvd playing of the Mentalist. I moved seats when a few got off only to end up with 1/3 of a seat again when a large Indian lady & her daughter climbed into the middle seat. Least I had the aisle to spill into. Buses here have a 2-3 seat combination, so the seats are already smaller than normal with a smaller aisle. Normally it is inevitable that you will sleep on the bus, but even I failed this time, I was concentrating on breathing, give me a break…

Had some lunch at Raffles Hotel, was planning on a swim, but ran out of time. Back to the airport, check in and successfully spent all our Fijian money. Another challenge accomplished on this trip!

Good flight home. Really good trip. Loved the food, the weather, the swimming, the company (turns out Maree, who I’d never met went to the same primary school as me) and the good mix of work and rest. I do enjoy preaching and teaching in overseas locations, so if I could do more of that on OS trips, that would be great. Now that I am back at work, holidays all finished, I will miss the ability to eat whenever I want and the ability to sleep whenever I want. I do try and maintain some good regular habits at home, which includes not eating or sleeping whenever I feel like!


February 20, 2016

Fiji Day 13, Suva

Filed under: Trips — pearsey @ 1:47 pm
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26/11/15 – Suva, Fiji
7 down, 0 to go! All graduated, all speeches given, all gifts given, all hands shaken, all feasts attended, all done! And here’s Ritchie below giving his last introduction.

Last graduation today and it all went well, once it started. There were 4 kids running late and we had no power, so it didn’t start till 11. I had a bit of a sleep while we waited much to the amusement of others! It was the biggest, with about 65 kids graduating and about 300 fed at the reception afterwards. Did much better with the speech, hopefully it was ok. We sat at the feast in a table at the front of the preschool, the kids were fed McDonalds and then dessert was a mango trifle type thing. There was so much food on our table, plenty of fish, pineapple, watermelon, pawpaw,

Came back and sat around until we went to a ladies thing, played the chocolate game, Heather shared (did very well) and then of course we ate. Finished with pineapple and ice cream.

Said goodbye to the ladies and that was the end. Tomorrow we head home.

February 19, 2016

Fiji Day 12, Suva

Filed under: Trips — pearsey @ 12:55 pm
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25/11/15 – Suva, Fiji

Woken by raking right outside my window at 6ish in the morning. How do they consistently go to bed at midnight & get up at dawn? Somebody said sleep in the afternoon, but I’m not sure I’ve seen much of that either.

Went into the city centre of Suva & had a look around. Went to some fabric shops for Heather so she could get some to make a skirt & picked up a few last minute souvenirs with our dwindling Fiji cash. Managed to complete the challenge of finding a Fiji flag for $1. We collect flags from different countries at work, but we only spend about a dollar on them. It gets expensive when you have to buy 7 or 8 of them! Don’t want big ones either, they need to be small enough to add to a collection on a desk.

Had a walk around the port area and saw the area where the ferry had sunk the day before. Caught the public bus home which was good, it kindly drove very slowly so we could see the view like in the photo. Took a tour round the CRC property and rested for the remainder of the arvo (means we had nothing to do), except when we helped with the washing & folding. Lamb chops & salad for tea, very Australian, to go with the bread fruit chips, fried rice & pineapple.

February 18, 2016

Fiji Day 11, Suva

Filed under: Trips — pearsey @ 12:44 pm
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24/11/15 – Suva, Fiji

6 down, 1 to go.

This ceremony was different again, the building very small and it gets flooded regularly. Parents seated on the floor, mainly Indian, many don’t bother to pay their school fees, which are set at a hefty $20 per term. Even in Fiji dollars, that’s not much.

The little guy in the frangipani garland in the photo wants to be a pastor. Hope he carries that dream and turns it into reality. We need more willing to serve God.

When I’ve done my speech, I’ve always stopped and asked the kids some questions, in an effort not to bore them and keep them involved, but also because I wanted their input. Today I was asking them a few questions, the usual what had you learnt – which you didn’t get an answer to, you needed to be specific. So something along the lines of: Have you learnt your alphabet? Yes they yelled enthusiastically. Have you learnt to count? Yes. Have you learnt your colours? Yes. Seasons? Yes. Have you made friends? Yes. Each question was answered each time with more effort and noise than before. Have you been nice to your friends? Yes. Are you nice all the time? Yes. Do you fight with your brothers and sisters? Yes they yelled back enthusiastically, at which time everyone else, including me broke into laughter. I think the kids were wondering why we were laughing, they’d just got so much into the swing of yelling yes that they hadn’t even heard the question! That remains one of the highlights of when I was doing the speeches.

Another feast, followed by ice cream. I haven’t mentioned, but in Fiji, primarily the locals eat with their hands. When we’ve been eating, we’ve been given knives, forks and spoons, which is a real privilege. Nothing changes though when they get to the ice cream. The kids scoop it out with their hand, making for a delightful mess that somebody has to clean up!

Home about 1, then cleaned out my bag from the mouse visit. It found my Muesli bar, unopened, in a plastic bag, in my other bag and had a pretty good go at it. Right next to my head and I heard nothing, the others were woken by it. Judi and I helped with laminating the certificates, then went for a walk to the nearby shops. Spent ages looking through Rups, pronounced Roops, a Target type reject shop and the supermarket. Amazing what can keep you entertained. Back home in time to eat again. I asked Alipate and Boila if we could have a prayer meeting and that was tonight. Was good. Another cold shower, then bed, just 2 more of them to go.

February 17, 2016

Fiji Day 10, Sigatoka

Filed under: Trips — pearsey @ 12:27 pm
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23/11/15 – Sigatoka, Fiji

Off to the sigatoka graduation, about 2.5hrs from Suva, back toward Nadi. Meant to leave at 6:00am, but it was nearly 6:40 when we got going. That’s not Fiji time, that was the others (Fijians) not being ready! Ritchie drove a little faster to make up time & must’ve caught the only speed camera on the road… Just two minutes after we suggested perhaps he slow down. Funny really. The little van we were in managed to catch every single bump, it was like being towed on a ski biscuit. Nevermind, despite the bumpy road in places, it was indeed inevitable that you will sleep on the bus. Both ways.

Graduation was different again, the kids didn’t do as much and I was a little out of practice on my speech! I’d had a couple of days off… Again we’re our own worst critics. Funny how we can do the same speech and it will come out totally different every time. The graduation lacked a little of the ceremony that the others had. There was one little kid sitting up the back who was a little mischievous and would pull or tap the kid in front of him. He would stop when either the kid he was annoying reacted, or the teacher noticed, but then be back at it again as soon as she looked away. He kept it up for most of the ceremony which was pretty funny to watch.

They had a really cool playground there, which of course would be illegal in Australia as you might hurt yourself. A seesaw, some swings and slides and a heap of tyres half buried in the ground so that you could walk on them, jump on them etc. You used to see that when I was a kid, but now they’ve been replaced by generic professional playgrounds which don’t look anywhere near as much fun.

Plenty of food again, some of the ladies had been up until 7am preparing the food – they went home then and were back by 10am for the ceremony. This is the significance of the event, the effort that so many of the families go to, the value they place on graduating from preschool. It is a big deal over there.

Off to the nearby beach and had a swim. Did some water aerobics and running in an attempt to work off the consumed food. Quite nice at the beach and the water is much saltier than Australia. The water is also warm, it’s warm when you get out and even if it’s raining, it’s still warm! Gotta love the weather. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this done elsewhere, but something the young boys were doing was getting wet, rolling in the sand so they were totally covered in sand, then jumping back in the water. Perhaps it’s some kind of beauty regime that keeps you looking young… I should’ve tried it.

Drove back again on the scenic road, stopped at the pier for a walk along it, then back home around 5:30. Long day, but fun, met some new people & saw a bit more of Fiji. Met Enoch, Fuwe & Rhodas son who is running a church near here. Had a little chat to them and caught up with what was happening there.

5 down, 2 to go!

February 16, 2016

Fiji Day 9, Suva

Filed under: Church life,Trips — pearsey @ 11:57 am
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22/11/15 – Suva, Fiji
Church today. Really nice worship, declaring the name of Jesus. Some songs in English, some in possibly Hindi or Fijian. Introduced ourselves & I was the preacher, talked about speaking the name of Jesus over our lives. Had fun, did well, I enjoy it, perhaps more so in countries other than Australia.
Finished off with a bit more worship declaring the name of Jesus again. Service was about 2.5 hrs, we started pretty much on time. Came home, had lunch, then off to church again later for the youth service. Light refreshments after, including home made doughnuts! Thought that was our meal, but then we had another feast! Food everywhere.

February 15, 2016

Fiji Day 8, Nadi

Filed under: Trips — pearsey @ 11:17 am
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21/11/15 – Nadi, Fiji to Suva Fiji
So this was sleep in day. Except that we got rudely awoken by very loud knocking on the door. Turned out Heather had gone swimming early but not bothered to take the key. Thought we’d be up by the time she got back! We weren’t! We didn’t even hear her leave.
Still had time to go swimming before we left anyway, had breakfast, lunch, said goodbye to Maree then took the bus to Suva. Saw a sugar cane train just near the airport, got this dodgy snap. A 4 hour journey, but quite a nice trip in air con comfort on the Coral Sun bus. Nice drive along the coast, some great scenery, will be heading back that way tomorrow and Friday again. Bus trip was uneventful, arrived in Suva about 5 and it literally started raining as soon as we stepped off the bus and yes stopped as soon as we got under shelter. Picked up by Ritchie then taken to Boila and Alipate’s place at the church property, where we are staying. Saw the new church building and preschool, before eating again (seems we spent half our time eating, so this is a significant event!). Spent some time preparing sermon for tomorrow and chatting to everyone.

February 14, 2016

Fiji Day 7, Savusavu to Nadi

Filed under: Trips — pearsey @ 10:33 am
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20/11/15 – Nadi, Fiji
Flew from Savusavu to Nadi on the 10:15am flight. The primary school kids of the area were doing an excursion and they’d all come to see the planes. The guys at the airport even let them on the plane, so 50-100 kids took it in turns getting on the plane – plane was delayed, but only the ones in a hurry minded… Not us! You would never see that happening in too many other countries. At the airport we actually got weighed with our carry on baggage. Apart from our trip to Labasa, I haven’t had to do that before. I was a bit worried about the figure on the scales though, as my carry on bag wasn’t that heavy and I didn’t think I’d put on that much weight! (I came to the conclusion the scales must have been wrong (or were misread) because when I got home, despite the feasting I’d lost 1kg, so it was all ok).

The plane was really cool too, it was a nice small 10-12 seater plane so you could see all the instruments the pilots were using and we had an excellent view of the scenery as we flew over it. Islands, blue water, it seemed endless, but then just as quickly we transitioned to the contrasting farmland which looked dry and in need of some rain.

Back to the bustle of Nadi, which was still really pretty laid back, then to the Raffles hotel where we checked in & went swimming, had a hot shower, ice cream (what else) and a bit of a rest. That night we had a couple of Fijian guys entertaining us on the guitar. We requested the Fijian national anthem that we’ve heard at every graduation so far. In fact the kids even sing it, which is pretty cool. They played it for us, so we stood with our hand on our hearts much to the amusement of all the staff. Fiji, ever Fiji… And that’s the only line we know of the anthem!

Has been good so far, they really get behind the kids, many families have come to salvation through the work of the preschool & the bethel preschool & management team has a good name amongst the communities they are in.

Fiji, ever Fiji…

February 13, 2016

Fiji Day 6, Nacavanadi

Filed under: Trips — pearsey @ 10:23 am
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19/11/15 – Savusavu, Nacavanadi
4 down, 3 to go.

The most fun graduation so far, at the village in Nacavanadi. The kids had fun, they sang a lot of songs about the things they were learning, doing it with all the enthusiasm they could muster in the hot weather, the parents got up and danced to some of the songs and afterwards everyone seemed to talk to each other and there was a real sense of community – no doubt because it was in a village, rather than a larger town.

Remember the song in Sound of Music – These are a few of my favourite things – well, they dished up pretty much most of my favourite things at the village! The best food, two types of fish, pineapple, watermelon, passion fruit (in the drink), then cake and ice cream. Oh, and just imagine that heaven actually is better than that. Ritchie asked me if I wanted anything more and I’d just mentioned to him I couldn’t fit another thing in. Out came the ice cream. There’s always room for ice cream! It became a standing joke whenever the ice cream was produced at the end of the feast.

Looking around the village was really interesting, the huge mango tree was the center and it provided plenty of welcome shade in the hot afternoons. Left the village and went down with Sarah and looked around the shops and the shoreline. Really scenic on the shoreline, palm trees, yachts, water and islands. It was funny that we actually met people we knew down in the town. We felt like locals! We also met a rather special person whose name and details I cannot mention, because we were sworn to secrecy. (Doesn’t help that I can’t remember the name). He was a very nice person who served us ice cream. Yes, I managed to fit more ice cream in after the feast earlier in the day!

It was Heathers birthday today so we had another feast that evening, which included a very small birthday cake and then some board games.

Bluff Game

Actually, the board game is worth mentioning because you don’t need much equipment at all. So here it is for my future reference. It was called Bluff – or something similar in Spanish. Everyone has 6 dice, a cup and that’s all you need. You throw your dice but don’t show anyone (leaving them underneath the cup). You then have to take it in turns calling out what you think are going to be shown on the die when you remove the cups. So player 1 might call four 2’s, meaning they think that when all the dice are shown, there will be four showing 2 dots. 1’s count for anything, so if you roll a 1, in this example it would count as a 2. Player 2, has to “up” the call. They can only increase the call – so they could call anything above four 2’s (ie five 2’s, six 2’s etc), or increase the number shown on the dice – so they might call four 3’s. They have to start at four though, because that was the number on the original call.

If you are calling that 6’s will be displayed, the next player may cut the call in half and change it to 1’s. So if you call six 6’s, the next person can call three 1’s. It can only happen on 6’s and you round up if the number does not divide by 2 evenly.

At any point the next player can call bluff if they don’t think the previous player’s call would happen when all die are revealed. At that point, every cup is removed showing the values on the die. Count up what is showing, remembering that 1’s count as the number called. If the player who calls is correct (there can be more revealed, but not less), the player who called bluff loses a dice. If there is less than the call, that player is wrong, and loses a dice. Last person with a dice wins.

February 12, 2016

Fiji Day 5, Savusavu

Filed under: Trips — pearsey @ 9:37 am
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18/11/15 – Savusavu, Fiji
38 kids graduating today. 3 down 4 to go.

Attended a funeral in the morning. Not quite sure why we went, except that the person we’re staying with and the owner of the property asked us to go. A bit of worship, a sermon or two, a eulogy and the ladies sitting around the open coffin, men sitting behind and old men sitting on chairs. Family wore black. Others wore whatever, but preferably black or white, although Indians were in coloured clothes. People arrived whenever, from 10 am. Just at the end, as the coffin was about to go, the women wailed over the body. I mention that, more because it’s not something that we do at our funerals. If there is no cremation, the coffin will be carried out and the family, then friends will follow behind. But this was an intentional part of the ceremony, perhaps a way of letting out grief, but something that was almost uncomfortable to witness and I felt like I was intruding on a moment of grief.

Had some make shift lunch, whatever was lying around, then waited to be picked up for the next graduation service. And waited! Ok, we were only 20 mins late and the other honoured guests arrived after us. And they would never begin without us anyway, they will wait an hour or more if some kids haven’t shown up. Was hard to speak as the guests kept talking, not just through mine, but others as well. There was a great view from the church when you were preaching, it would almost encourage the preachers to go longer, except that they (we/I) need to remember that if you go outside, it’s a much better view! More incentive to get it over and done with quickly!

So often we take our surrounds for granted as we go through the hustle and bustle of life and it’s not until a visitor comes or we intentionally take time out that we actually see what is always around us through new eyes.

Students did some good items, but they did go a little long. They were showing their counting skills, going from 1 – 100 but the loudest person got it wrong so the rest followed. It was pretty funny. Had another good meal, followed by ice cream, then a celebration funeral service back at the house/preschool.

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