I have now officially been a Waidradra villager for one week! First impressions... Hmmm. There's so much life! Kids running around, dogs in various states, puppies and chickens popping up in bedrooms, roosters crowing at all hours off the day and night! I love the communitiness (I have a feeling that I just made a new word!) of the place. We all eat sitting around the tablecloth which is spread on the floor. Whenever anyone comes past you call "Mai, gugu tea" (come have breakfast)! Everyone is related in someway or another and I now have many ma's, pa's, momo's (uncles). We've been taught how to plant cassava at the farm (normally a male job but I managed to tag along!). Other new experiences include my first bush bash in a sulu, tasting a jack fruit (a big, ugly spiky thing that tastes like a strange mix of banana and pineapple), cooking everyday over a fire, oh and 5am morning prayer! I get jolted out of bed every morning by the banging of the lali, signalling the beginning of the rhythms of daily prayer which shape many of the villagers' lives. There's something rather cool about the first croaky words escaping from my mouth each morning being ones of praise to God.
Something that I discovered very quickly is what a luxury privacy and space is and how much I take it for granted. I've been really blessed to discover the beautiful beach which is within running distance of the village. It's become my place of retreat in the morning before facing the hubbub of village life.
The interesting thing about being close to such beautiful sandy beaches is that the village is right near some rather fancy resorts. I think the mere proximity of the two makes the contrast between village living and resort life very stark. Two worlds in tension and I feel like we are hanging somewhere in between - not a particularly comfortable place to be! We've already been offered horse rides and boat rides to nearby islands which many locals haven't had the chance to experience.
This first week has been the hardest yet in Fiji, though I'm not too sure why. Perhaps it's a bit to do with what I mentioned above - language barriers and a general dip in excitement making me question why I'm here and whether we have anything to offer. Somehow though, a couple of days within the mayhem of our after school program (our main task while in the village) and I'm feeling much more alive and excited to be involved. God is good! Please pray for inspiration in how to teach the kids - that we would be able to be creative and have fun while still learning about God and their place in his plans.
We've all been having a go at learning Fijian with varying degrees of success! The locals are so excited to teach us which is lovely and I've been really enjoying connecting with people. I've even ended up getting ukelele lessons! My hope is that in these conversations there will be opportunities to encourage people in their faith, to share and pray. Please pray for boldness in taking these openings, for discernment and the right words (especially where English is not well understood).
Thank you for your prayers and support. May you be comforted and hopeful knowing that in God we find shelter, refuge and strength.
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