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Natalie’s reflections

I have found my way back to some internet with time to spare so I’m thinking it’s high time for an official update of our recent goings on. So much has been happening in the past few weeks it's hard to know where to begin. Last time I left you hanging one week into my village stay so we shall start from there.

 

Village Happenings.

What an amazing experience. Four weeks of village happenings: an after school program with 50 or so kids. Daily prayer rhythms (starting at 5am!). Swims at the beach and river. Fish caught, cooked and eaten within minutes. A bonfire with kiwi style sausage and bread. Buckets of washing to pound. So much singing, a couple of funerals, multiple breakfasts in one day...

 

A few things that struck me the most.

The 'community-ness.' This has been such a beautiful thing to see and a privilege to be a part of. From what I gathered, community here means no one goes wanting, if you have a little you share. A catch of fish sometimes makes its way around the whole village! When I wandered through the village at a meal time there was without fail a call to 'Mai vakasiga levu' (come, have lunch) often from people I hadn't even met. It's a real testimony to how big the Fijian hearts are, how ready they are to share their food and lives. I experienced community in joyous times and in struggles, being bound together as we shared birthday celebrations and mourned the loss of someone close. It was wonderful seeing the way the youth and young adults cared for the younger village kids as brothers and sisters and how the kids were welcomed into any house for a meal.

The commitment of Father Demesi (the Anglican priest in the village) to the church. Even though often there were just two or three gathered for 5am morning prayer he still wandered across to church every day to begin thanking his Lord.

The interesting way of washing. Basically they take a huge bucket, fill it with water and clothes and then take a large pipe and pound! Apparently they were just handwashing clothes until they saw this pipe method on a Taiwanese movie (or something like that) and decided to give it a try!

 

Some musings, wise or otherwise.

Being available. I've been learning the importance of making yourself available - approaching houses, saying yes to offers of breakfast and a chat, moving my past fears of awkwardness and intrusion. Some of my most precious conversations have happened when I've done just that. A spontaneous chat with an Aunty in the village turned into a nightly family prayer with her and her five kids - where we sang ‘I’m gonna clap, clap, clap, snap, snap, snap and praise the Lord’ so enthusiastically that I think the whole village could probably hear!

Mission is messy. Coated in dust and dog poo, snotty noses and sticky hands. Late nights, heavy eyes, fuzzy brains. Dealing with multiple plans, changing plans, or no plans at all. Embracing the familiar ‘uncomfortableness’ of having no idea what you are doing, should be doing or will be doing next.
Yet out of all this mess comes real beauty. Kids’ laughter. Games of duck-duck goose and tag. Beautiful drawings, a shared sunrise, spontaneous worship. Deep friendships, stomach-hurting laughter and shared sorrows. Family, community, love.

 

A few prayer needs.

Next placement. Our next placement will be with the St Christopher's Orphanage. It would be awesome to be able to invest into the children in ways that last. They are used to having so many visitors coming into their lives one day and leaving the next and I’m not sure how we can make a real difference. Please pray for wisdom in this.

Myself. In this last month I’m aware that it would be easy to get comfortable and forget to step out and continue to be challenged. It’d be awesome to have prayer that I’ll recognise and grab hold of new opportunities (or even make some!). I’d love to grow more in sharing encouragements with people, in praying for healing and in preaching. All these things make me a bit uncomfortable so I think I’ll need that extra nudge to actually take the step when the time comes.