Warena Tumai

Fiji Reflections

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First I want to say what an amazing and beautiful….and HOT country this is. Plus the hospitality of the people making this Journey even more exciting.

The first couple of days being here was a get-used-to-the-culture (and heat) time. We went to the markets and saw these huge crabs, tried traditional Fijian food like the “Lovo” (food cooked in the ground like the Maori Hangi) and watched these guys praise God in ways I find awesome.

We had the privilege of being apart of a St Luke’s worship and praise night held on a Wednesday, which allows people to sing and praise but also gave them space to share their testimonies and what they are thankful for in their life.  We met the man of the church which I call ‘Uncle Junior’, known for his humour and high pitched laugh. At the cathedral there was a BIG group of Australians here taking a gap year to come to Fiji and do training for mission.

We were then joined with another Australian group with a organisation called ‘Evangelism Explosion’, or ‘Xee’ in short. Xee is a programme that takes you through mission and discipleship training where you do on the job training. With them, we learnt about our fears of approaching people about the Kingdom of God and how to turn that around so we can teach others about the Good News.

Last week we had a group of about 25 youth, leaders and adults come over for a short term mission trip. They were so much fun to be around, to laugh with, to cry with, to experience God’s presence in a way we wouldn’t usually. As we partnered with them, we journeyed with them to places like Basden College, where we learnt a lot about the school history, the school’s famous reputation for singing and even heard a few testimonies, one coming from a boy who loves to sing his heart out. We got to mix and mingle with some of the students – and I found a boy who was 6 ft 9 towering right over me.

After spending a few hours at Basden college, we then set out to St Christopher’s orphanage where we met some people hailing from the mighty Waikato of Dio for Girls. We introduced ourselves as they did themselves, and even traded a few songs with each other. At lunch time, we ate and ate and … well ate till we couldn’t any more. We gathered the boys from the orphanage and team and took them out to play some games of Rugby, Soccer and even Basketball. We met so many new brother’s and sister’s from this visit. It was so good to see the work of the nun’s and what they do for the kids.

Our next trip was to a village which could only be reached to by boat. A lot of us were looking forward to the trip – this village is known to make it’s source of income by fishing, and I love my tuna. We were welcomed onto the village and given Kava to drink as a ‘welcome to our family’ tradition. And this was my first time trying Kava. We then were welcomed to a school of kids that were more energised than some of us were, ready and keen to play rugby before and after lunch – I wasn’t ready for that kind of commitment. We were given a tribal dance performed by the school boys and which made some of us a bit scared. After lunch, we all danced together – I must add, I have some very classy moves. But all in all we sang some gospel songs that the kids of the school could join in and have fun with.

On the last full day with our Kiwi friends we visited a village in Wailouku and were welcomed with such beautiful singing from their choir group. We followed with a huge feast and got the opportunity to meet and greet people. We exchanged songs and even language tips. As our Kiwi friends left the next day, we gave farewells and hugs and words of encouragement to share. I said: “All of you guys grew spiritually only in the few days you guys had here.” Some people have taken back some of the values they had learnt like being grateful to God.

Although it sounds like its all been well and no challenges, it isn’t true. We have all had challenges face us in different times. One of my challenges is humbling myself, knowing that I’m not better than anyone else. Putting others above myself… I find that hard because back in high school, reputation was all about me. But God says in Philippians 2:3, “Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves”. That’s my challenge I have been faced with being here in Fiji and I hope to grow spiritually and take on the challenge and finish it and move on.