Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Several months behind...

I often find that in life's busiest moments, when I have the most that I could write about, that I lack the time to sit down even for a moment to reflect. I've had limited internet the past four months and haven't kept up to date.

The last four months have been a whirlwind of activities. While I had no intentions of returning to Australia after being in Fiji, that's exactly where I found myself. My bookend Australia trips were much different from each other.

When I travel, I often think that as much as you can plan for a place, it's hard to know exactly what to expect without actually being in the place. I always wish that I could return to the same spot with the knowledge of what it's already like. That's exactly what I got to do.

My life was just as crazy on arrive back in the states. I had a week to catch up with friends, get over jet-lag and pack up all of my belongings before moving back to my hometown, Greenville, to start a new job.

Catching up with my sweet nieces was one of the best things about about returning home.

I'm going to have to write a post just about my experiences at my new job, but I cannot express how much I love it. For the first time in years, I feel like I'm EXACTLY where I need to be. A place where my gifts and talents are truly being used, while getting to experience adventures with other people.

My crew at Max Patch, the beginning of our weeklong hike of the Appalachian Trail.

These are such amazing ladies! L-R: Candler, Me, Rheannan, Abbie K, Bonnie, Abby T., Kristiana, Abby M.(yes, there are 3 Abby's!)

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Harvest is White

This morning I woke up right at 6:00 am to the sound of a honking truck and barking dogs. I'm sure that I was not the only person at the training center to wake up to the sound the sugar cane farmers starting their day before the sun had fully risen.
Taken from my bedroom window bright and early this morning
I was able to slowly drift off to sleep for just a little bit longer, but somehow the slow, methodical whacking of the machete against the sugar canes made it into my dreams and I thought there was a loud clock ticking beside me.
I come from the American south where crops are abundant, so seeing a harvest is nothing new, but I've never witnessed a sugar cane harvest. Sugar cane is able to grow in a dry climate with relativly little rain. When it's ready to be harvested, the tops of the canes get a white fluffy top.
Lift up your eyes and see that the fields are white for the harvest.
- John 4:35
"The fields are white for the harvest"
In Fiji, there is no big production for cutting the canes. The land is often owned by a village and the fields are planted, tended and then finally harvested by individual men. There is no fancy machinery to help in the process, just manpower and a machete.
We've been privileged to have the author, Norman Blackaby here with us these past few days. As we sat listening to him teach us how to better study the Bible and get the most out of reading the word, I started thinking about how warm it was inside. As soon as the thought crossed my mind, I heard activity in the field beside our training center. The same two men who had been at work since the morning were still out in the field in the middle of the afternoon heat.
I tried to get a couple of sneaky little shots of the process
A couple of weeks back I spoke with a cane farmer and asked him about the process of turning the sugar canes into cane sugar. He could tell me everything about the planting and harvesting, but as soon as the sugar canes were cut and loaded onto the cane train, he had no idea.
From where I stand at the Kennedy Training Center in Malolo, Fiji, sugar canes can be seen in every direction. With all of the fields, there are only a handful of people out in them each day. There were two working the field beside the center all day.
As I've been reflecting on this and the implement in our own lives I'm reminded of the verse, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few." -Luke 10:2
As we headed out for another OJT this afternoon, I saw direct ties between our work and the work of the cane farmers. For months, they prepare their fields, plant them and tend them, ready for the day when the harvest is ready. In the same way, as Christians we have prep work to do before we can go out into the harvest. Our preparation looks a little different, but it must be started before the harvest can be brought in.
In our lives we have to cultivate a relationship with the Lord. Just  like a field that's been planted, it can't be done one time then returned to months later and expect an abundant crop. We have to actually know God and this can only come through a relationship with prayer, studying the world and listening to his words spoken to us.
Sometimes we want immediate results, but don't realize that it takes time for seeds planted in our own lives to have an effect. 
Sometimes doing OJT in town can be frustrating when we make connections with people and make plans to follow through, but aren't able to. Our time here is short and we may never see many of the people that we've been able to impact. It's like the cane farmers who see one side of the process, but never see the canes actually turned into sugar.
I want to know the whole process. I want to see lives radically changed wherever I go, but sometimes it's only a seed that will get planted,
I thank God for the work he is doing in my life and the lives of those I have met. As we've gotten to see a harvest, I pray for those who will come behind me and help finish the process. I am so thankful !
God Bless,
You Said

You said, "Ask and you will receive
Whatever you need"
You said, "Pray and I'll hear from Heaven
And I'll heal your land"

You said, Your glory will fill the earth
Like water, the sea
You said, "Lift up your eyes
The harvest is here, yes the Kingdom is near"

You said, "Ask and I'll give the nations to you"
Oh, Lord, that's the cry of my heart
Distant shores and the islands will see
Your light, as it rises on us

You said, Your glory will fill the earth
Like water the sea
You said, "Lift up your eyes
The harvest is here, the Kingdom is near"

You said, "Ask and I'll give the nations to you"
Oh, Lord, that's the cry of my heart
Distant shores and the islands will see
Your light, as it rises on us

Oh, Lord, I ask for the nations

Monday, July 13, 2015


Bula to all,

I'm now back in Nadi after a week spent in the capital, Suva. 

The past two weeks have been packed. We started off the first week with an EE clinic in Nadi. It went really well, but unfortunately several of us got sick that week and had to stay back at the center. 

The second week we piled in a bus and drove four hours along the most beautiful coastline to Fiji's capital, Suva.  On the way, we stopped at a resort for lunch and a swim, it wasn't quite the most exciting Fourth of July, but at least we got to celebrate a week later. 

As we drove to Suva, we noticed a subtle change in our surroundings. The dry, dusty roads gave way to lush, green coastal hills. The sugar canes got replaced by papaya trees. 

But the biggest noticable difference was the humidity. Several people had warned us that Suva was colder than Nadi, but with the intense humidity and daily rains, we were constantly sweaty and sticky. 

We made our home for the week at the Suva credit union in dormitory style rooms. It wasn't the most pleasant of experiences, but we survived the bed bugs and can now laugh at our adventures. 

It does make the little nursery rhyme, "goodnight, sleep tight and don't let the bed bugs bite," a whole lot more funny when you know you'll actually end up with bites in the morning.  

We met so many lovely people in Suva, on of which shared my name. Elizabeth told me that when you cave the same name as someone else, you can call them "Yaca"  (in Fijian the "c" is pronounced as a "th" so it sounds like "Yatha." The same is true for the Fijian word for goodbye, "Moce", which is pronounced as "mothey")
(Liz, Elizabeth, and Breezy, all 3 different variations of the same name!)

We arrived back in Nadi late Thursday night happy for our home sweet home. 

On Saturday night we said goodbye to around 20 people from Figtree Anglican Church in Australia. They'd been with us for the past 2 weeks as they helped lead EE clinics in Nadi and then Suva. It was bittersweet saying goodbye. They are such amazing people and I'm blessed by so many new friendships, but I'm glad that we'll be able to step back and go at a little slower and quieter pace for the next couple of weeks. 

The best part is I'm going to get to see them all in two weeks! They've all done a wonderful job at convincing me to return to Australia. It's such a beautiful country and I can't wait to spend more time with all of my new friends!

We been able to persuade one of the girls from Figtree to stay for the remaining two weeks of the internship, which I'm thrilled about! 

So after the group left, we decided we needed to celebrate the 4th of July. On Saturday night (a week late) two other American girls and I made a southern meal for all of our friends. For some, it was new and the only thing they could compare it to was KFC, but for others it was great to have a taste of comfort food. We made fried chicken, green beans, mashed taters, cole slaw, biscuits(which everyone here calls small tea crackers or cookies, so they were heaps confused). 

After the dinner, we had an evening talent show and fireworks. It was the best belated Independence Day celebration.



Friday, July 3, 2015

From the Heart

We began the day with a loving example of a generous and selfless heart. Even after having little sleep for the past few days, Rod Story, the vice president of EE, woke up early to fix a delicious breakfast, something he's been talking about doing for the past week.
After we were given our breakfast, a group of us got into a small bus and drove to Nabila school. A school in Australia has been raising support to buy the Nabila school several laptops, as well as a printer and stacks of books to add to their library. Both the teachers and students will be able to benefit from more resources.
While we were presenting the students with their gifts, I was again blown away by the selfless generosity shown by others. The students were thrilled with their new books. They couldn't wait to start reading them and poured over the pictures in the book.
For people that have so little, they have so much to give back.
I have a lesson to learn from today. When I'm tired, I think I owe it to myself to save the last scraps of my energy. I don't want to turn around and give back to others. In fact, when I get tired, I become selfish and it doesn't cross my mind to look out for those around me. 
1 2 3 4   7
I want to give from my overflow, but when I'm running low, I begin to hoard. It's not just my time or willingness to help others. I do the same with my money. I'm generous when I have plenty, but when the coffers get low, I tend to keep what I have for myself.
8 9  11 1012 13
I'm reminded of the story in Luke 21:1-4 where the widow puts the last two coins that she has into the offering.
Jesus told his disciples that she gave more than anyone else, because "they all contriuted out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on."
For a school that has so little, they were able to put together a snack for all of us. Again, I was blown away by their generosity. Here we are to love them and help them in any way we can and what do we get in return? They're putting everything they have together to give back to us.
Today I am blessed by the giving hearts of those around me and encouraged to act likewise.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

OJT-orange juice time

Several weeks ago OJT was nothing more than a mysterious acronym to me. I couldn't figure out what it meant and several of us decided to call it, Orange Juice Time. I know we're in Fiji with a wealth of tropical fruit at our fingertips, but what does Orange Juice have to do with missions? 

I have come to learn that OJT stands for On the Job Training. Which at first seemed unclear. What does it mean? 

On the job training is the EE term to describe going out into the community and sharing the gospel. We can only learn so many techniques for sharing while sitting in the classroom. The real training happens out on the field. Usually we go out in groups of three or four with one person who's been trained in EE in the past. 

Last week we were the ones training in the classroom and this past week, we got to help host an evangelism workshop in Nadi. We've gotten to share the training that we've been learning for the past two weeks with those who have never learned how to share. The group is a mix between local pastors, people from local churches as well as several people that we met on the s tweets last week who have turned their lives around. 

In some ways, Fiji reminds me of the south, or the "Bible Belt." People are friendly and give you a big smile with "Bula!" When you meet them. and for the most part, they've grown up in a church, so they know any bible stories, but their relationship with God is not one that have become personal to them. 

The predominant "religion" on the islands is Methodist. Although the Methodist church is one denomination under the banner of the church, here it is its own religion. 

The word is preached in church, but not encouraged at home. Many people involved with the Methodist church still practice pagan traditions, such as drinking Kava, that have been part of the islands' history for hundreds of years.

I have to say, the early missionaries did a fantastic job with bringing the church, but somewhere along the line, things changed. Just about every village has a Methodist church in the center of their village. Today, it is mostly the old who attend. 

The early missionaries did not have instruments to bring with them, so now it has become part of the tradition of their church. They sing a capella  in church and would kick you out if you dated bring a musical instrument in. 

There is a legistic emphasis on good deeds. Because of this, many people don't realize that God is personal and wants a relationship. In fact, many are excommunicated from the church if they begin having a personal relationship with God. 

When we go out to do OJT in town and share this with people, most of the time they light up when they hear that God loves them and wants a relationship. 

In the past two weeks, I've gotten to speak with many people from a Methodist background, as well as seventh day Adventists, Jehovah witness and several people from Hindu descent. 

Most are completely overjoyed to hear the gospel. 
My new friend Judah changed completely from when we first met him and at the end of our talk. He couldn't wait to bring his wife back so she could hear about Jesus as well!

He was beaming and had tears in his eyes at the end. 

L-R, ashley, William, me, Mitch, and one of the trainees at the clinic. 
Several men on their lunch break who all said they wanted to follow Jesus. 
Sharing with some school boys. 

Two beautiful girls I got to share with. Vaciti and  vitinia. 

Most have been receptive in wanting to hear more about Christ. There is a hunger to know him! Pray as we continue to follow up that there would be a heart change and a hunger to know Christ more. 



Thursday, June 25, 2015

Pictures from Nabila

I wanted to share some more photos from our visit to the village last weekend. For church, all are required to dress up, which means long sarongs for the women and sulus(man skirts) for the guys. 
The crew of interns after church. 
Several villagers cut some fresh coconuts for us. Hmm, best coconut water ever!
God's given me a sister that I never even knew several weeks ago. She's pretty awesome! Ashley and I went snorkeling together on Saturday. 

Some of the adorable girls from Nabila village. 

My new little friend, Junior. 
Charlie's angels(including helicopter or small dot in the background)