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)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Nadi Town

We've been learning tools for sharing the gospel for the last several days, and today we got the chance to go out into the town and put them to use.

We were told to try to connect with people, and if there was an opening, then we could share with them. I've been a Christian as long as I can remember and have done multiple mission trips, but in all my 27 years, I've never actually gone out to talk about Jesus. I don't know why not. It was never encouraged. In youth group years ago, we were told to "lead by example" or the Augustine quote was thrown about. 

"Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words."

These are great things to do, but as a Christian, they should not be a way to fall behind actually sharing the gospel with others.

The first person I got to talk with today was a girl by the name of Shoshon. Like 80% of Fijians, she goes to a methodist church every week, but she didn't know who Christ is in her life. After sharing with her, we asked if she would really like to make him real and have a relationship with him and she said yes!

My prayer is that she has a complete heart change and that it changes the way she interacts with her family and friends! 

Afterwards, I stepped into a shop that I've been in several times and started talking with some of the Indian women working there. 

(Side note: There is a large population of Indians in Fiji due to the British colonizing the islands and bringing them over to work the sugar cane fields)

So as I talked with these women I didn't get to share the gospel much, but I got to ask them questions about themselves and their religion. I feel like it is the building blocks for some good discussions in the future.

Well, it's late and I've got a busy day ahead. Please continue to keep me and my team in your prayers.



Nabila Village

The brevity of life is not one that I tend to dwell on often, but every once in a while I do. Why am I? well, this morning I went to check on the puppies to find that one was dead and the other had disappeared.

While a bit sad this morning, I just started reflecting on the fact that in our Western culture, we try to shield ourselves from natural life events, but in the village I visited this weekend, the hand of death and suffereing is part of daily life.

When I get a scratch, I have clean water to wash it out or antibacterial cream to clean it off. If it gets really bad, then we have clean hospitals to visit. For the friends I've made this weekend in the village, that's not the case.

I have so many new friends, and unfortunately, they know my name a lot better than I know theirs. They gather around in crowds. Smiling. Holding my hand and laughing with one another. They are some of the happiest kids I've ever met, but if you looked at them, they're dirty, their teath are rotten and their bodies are covered in scabs.

All of the children, even the smallest toddlers had scars and scratches. They climb the palm trees for coconuts and scratch their hands, but without the proper care, the scratch turns into something bigger. But... you don't hear any complaining. It's just daily life.

There are no computers, tvs, video games, or really any "children's toys" but they are so happy.

In a place so deprived of the "essentials" or basic Western necessities for survival, there is life. A fulle, more complete, well-lived life. In the slice of one day, there is fullness.

Some joke about living on "island time" and the inconvenience it provides when activities don't start when they're supposed to, but there's something nice about living with no rush.

They don't look at their clocks, impatiently waiting for the next activity, rushing from one thing to another.

After 3 days in the village, I'm happy to get back to the comfort of a bed and no bedbugs. I relished in the delights of a shower and electricity.

 Breakfast with one of the village families.
 Mitch with some of the kids.



Monday, June 22, 2015

Wash Day

I want to blog more about my weekend in Nambila Village, but when you spend a weekend away, then things start to get pretty smelly and when what happens, it's time to do wash.

Thankfully we don't have to do wash by hand here, but it is a learning curve figuring out the washer. 

Step one includes putting the clothes in the washer and filling it with the nearby hose and some washing powder. 

After the clothes are washed have been agitated for 15 minutes, you can turn the cycle in again for extra dirty clothes, or drain the water. Add clean water with the house and run the cycle again in the ran water the drain it. 
After that, you take some of the clothes and add them to the spinner. 
After a good spin, they're ready to hang on the line. 
And that's how it's done. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Puppy Love

Two of the training center dogs recently had litters, but unfortunately we don't know what happened to one of the litters. 

The poor mamma dog was full of milk, but had no puppies to give it to. She looked so sad and would try to go check on the other mamma dog and her puppies, but would be growled away. 

With 6 pups to feed and very little food, the mamma was nothing but skin and bones. She barely had enough to feed all of her babies. 

So we decided to take two of the puppies and give them to the other dog. 

It was amazing to see the change in this dog. She went from looking forlorn to being a protective mama as she immediately accepted them as her own. 

She won't let any of the dogs get close to them and gets anxious if one of us holds the puppies for too long. She's the most protective mama ever, even more protective of these two foster babies than the birth mom. 

It's beautiful to see. 


  (As the Australians would say, I was looking a bit "haggy" this morning) 

Jagged edges no more

I am so amazed at how creative God is and how very similar and yet vastly different each of the beaches are. Over the past 8 weeks, I've walked on multiple beaches around the world. Before I left my lovy hometown of Charleston, I took one last walk on the beach. Then in both Australia and Fiji, I've gotten the chance to walk on numerous beautiful beaches. Each one has a unique touch that the other one does not have. 

The beachfront in Australia has sandy beaches, but also sections of rocks. As you walk along the beach, you can see different pieces of sea glass. I've always been facinated with sea glass. The first time I saw it was years ago when I was little. My dad had a business trip close to the beach and brought a shell back for each of us, but for me, he had a small rounded piece of sea glass. 

Sometimes we are like these pieces of glass. We have sharp, jagged edges that cuts those around us. God is like the waves of the ocean and over time he rounds out those edges that slice. It doesn't happen overnight, but it takes time. It takes years of being warn down by the sand and waves. We aren't beaten down, but instead being refined. 

In the end, that piece of glass that was nothing but rubbish, has become beautiful, almost like a small gem. 

"Mightier than the thunder of many waters, 
mightier than the waves of the sea,
The Lord on high is mighty!"
-psalm 91:4

We are one in the spirit

For the months leading up to the internship, we prayed for unity with the interns. Whenever multiple people come together, there's always the potential for dissensions within the group. 

So far we've only been together for three days, so I really can't say how the remainder of our time will be, but already I feel like I've known everyone for years. It's amazing how a bond can be created with a complete stranger because of the unification we have in Christ. On top of that, each of us are gathered for a similar purpose and common goal. 

It's as if overnight, I've been blessed with 18 new siblings!

That's not to say that we are all the same and live in perfect harmony. As we get to know each other we've been learning to celebrate those differences. For the past three days we've been taking personality tests to discover what strengths God has given us. Instead of just being intrinsically helpful, the tests have also been a way to quickly get to know each other's personalities. This has also been the perfect foundation for seeking God's call on our lives. 

I'personally beginning to understand how God has wired me so that I can use my strengths to be an impact for the world. 

For instance, I just learned that one of my top qualities is enjoying the challenge of meeting new people and trying to win them over. I'm drawn to strangers and want to get to know them. 
On my first day in Fiji, I passed by a house with multiple children in the front yard. I told Langdon that I wanted to get to know those kids, and sure enough, I've already had the chance to meet them. Today, I asked several of the other interns to join me and we spent the afternoon kicking a soccer ball around and playing frisbee. 

My prayer is that as the weeks progress our relationship with these kids would grow and we can develop a relationship with them as we share the gospel. 

Pray also that God would develop those strengths and that we can encourage each other in them. 



Monday, June 15, 2015

EE Internship: Day #1

With staggered arrival times, all of the interns are finally together!

Five of the Americans came in early this morning and we've been spending the day picking up supplies in town, beginning our training, getting settled in, and getting to know each other a little better.

Displaying Day1Pac Interns2015.jpg
From left to right: Alex(Australia), Mitch(Australia), Panapasi(Fiji), William (SC, USA), Deanna(MD, USA), Emoni (Fiji) Lagi (Samoa), Breezy(SC, USA), Anne(SC, USA), Ashley(FL, USA), Buna (Fiji), ME!, Caitlin(SC, USA), Rusila(Fiji), Takape (Fiji), Walter(CA, USA), Pete (UK), Ashnil(Fiji)

As we went around the room sharing the things we most wanted to learn and grow from in the next six weeks, we were fairly unified in the response. #1 we want to learn how to share the gospel and reach the people around us for Christ and #2 we want to use this time to seek where God is calling us in the future.

Please be praying for my team and I as we take the next six weeks to serve the Lord together.

Pray for unity for the team.

Pray for our influence in the community.

And to end with a little story. Several of us went into town this afternoon to have a look around and pick up supplies. A few of us walked by a shop and the owner welcomed us with "Bula, come in and have a look."

Trying not to be rude, we walked in to his shop which was filled with carved masks and other ceremonial carvings. We were ushered to a mat where we were asked to take off our shoes and have a seat. While one person spoke about his village and the people who make the jewelry and ceremonial carvings, another man brought a large wooden bowl and set it on the mat.

He added water, then took a small fabric back and started filling it with a powder. The bag was then stirred around the bowl with the man's fingers, then he dipped a half coconut shell in the bowl and offered the concoction of kava for us to drink.

Kava is often associated with pagan practices around the island and is sort of a mix between an acoholic/drug for the people of the island. As soon as we refused, the man in the shop asked us if we were a church group.

I share this story to show how these spiritualistic traditions have filled the island and the need they have for Christ in their lives. As I left the shop, I got really excited about what I will be learning in the next few weeks and the ability that I'll have to share them with these people. I cannot wait!



Friday, June 12, 2015

Taking things at a slower pace

Today, we're in Wollongong (pronounced Wool-en-gong...at least I think so, sometimes it's hard tell from the Aussie accents). 

It's a bit chilly out, so to get us warmed up for the day, we had steaming hot bowls of porridge, which come to find out is the same thing as oatmeal. "Porridge" sounds so much more sunstantial though, doesn't it?
(View from the house we're staying in)

To go along with the warm cereal, I had to try a slice of toast with Vegemite. Although I don't dislike it, I can't say it eould ever become a favorite of mine. It's a bit too salty for my liking. Think of beef bullion, then just take out the beef flavoring. Pretty much pure salt. 

After "brecky" we hopped in the car and visited Symbio Wildlife park to cuddle with koalas, feed kangaroos and hop with the wallabies. 
(It's hard to tell in this pictures, but there is a Joey with the mama)
Tasmanian devils(not to devilish looking)

Although I've seen these animals before, it's so much better getting up close and petting them in Australia!!

I think my new favorite animal(not sure if there's an old favorite) is the koala. They are just as cute and cuddly up close as they look. Their fur is is so soft!

And random little fact, although it looks like a teddy bear, the koala is actually  a marsupial, in other words, he's the cousin to the kangaroo and wallaby. They also have a little pouch they keep their young in. In fact, one of the koalas had a a little Joey and she was just old enough to start popping her head out. 

The kangaroos were so fun. I'd never noticed how much they look like oversized rabbits. 

They were quite friendly and let us pet them and get close. 

After the park, we took a ride along the small coastal towns and stopped for lunch at one of the cafes overlooking the ocean. 

Wollongong is one of the larger of these towns nestled between a range of mountains and the coast. 

After lunch, we returned home and have been snuggled under blankets enjoying a hot cup of tea.