We spent time with another Senior couple, Elder and Sister Vermeeren, and they took us around the island. This is literally what they did. Monday we traveled to the south end of the road in a village called Navakawau. This village was hit so hard by the cyclone that there was nothing standing when it was over. They are still living in tents that were donated by the church and other humanitarian groups. They are now working on getting water from the top of the hills to the village by way of PVC piping. They have drilled a couple bore holes to get to the underground water, then pump it up into a large water tank, then they have several lines that go down the hill, using gravity, to different places in the village. They hope to have the first one working by weeks end. While we were there, we watched a village volleyball game. They say they have tournaments every Saturday. They were quite good,
Volleyball in Navakawau village
The next day we went to the other end of the road on the north to a very small village, Lavena. This village was another one that the cyclone seemed to take great pains in destroying. They are rebuilding schools, homes, etc. Gardens are beginning to show signs of getting fresh vegetables for the families. Most of them grow just enough to feed their own family, but the village has it's own welfare plan; some grow lettuce, carrots, others grow melons, cucumbers, etc. and they share with one another. We also hiked to the Bouma Falls,a very beautiful place, but the hike is up and down hill on uneven steps, rocks and mud. We loved it but were very happy to get back. Our legs, particularly the calves, were very sore.
Both these villages were on the eastern side of the island which took the full hit of Winston.Those on the west side were protected by the mountains so the damage was not as severe, but still devastating.
If any are interested in seeing the damage immediately after the cyclone, go to vermeerenfijimission.blogspot.com and look at the posts from March 2016. This is the couple that we visited, they leave in 6 weeks to go home to Calgary, Canada. they shared with us their wisdom and advise they learned in the past 18 months. We learn new things every day.
These people have so little but they seem to believe that they have everything. Especially the saints here. As long as they have family near and the gospel. They are blessed and their humility is one to be envied, if that is not a sin. In each village or branch we visited, the little kids came running and wanted to hold our hands, have pictures taken with us, and then we had to show them the picture, because they really don't have access to any kind of technology. Yes, they have cell phones and a few with satellite dishes, etc. but the kids have each other and the outside.
In a sacrament meeting last Sunday, we sustained a new district presidency. Each one of them bore their testimonies and you could feel the spirit was very strong in these men. They will be great leaders and spiritually giants in this part of the world. We met on July 24th. Now Fiji doesn't celebrate the 24th but it seemed appropriate that we were starting a new era for these saints on the same day we celebrate our pioneer heritage. These people are true pioneers here in Fiji. They were challenged to work hard to increase the membership and to share what they know and feel about the Love of Christ with their friends and neighbors, so soon they would be able to have a stake and wards, rather than branches and groups.
Lavena Village - Feet in the water
Lavena - 5 months after the cyclone
International Date Line
Jackie in today, me in yesterday
After the 3 hours hike to 3 waterfalls
A beautiful place but the falls are all uphill
Stairs up, always up
Friend we found along the way
3rd fall - rest time
Ferry ride to Tavenui
President Alafi, his wife and my sweetheart
Ferry ride view
Left hand is where we live, right is Navakawau Village
Ferry ride was from the land just above my right hand
Navakawau Village - tents are now their homes 5 months later
Wheelbarrows are the "strollers" for many
Jackie and two of the schools teachers
These girls must carry water for the village. In time a large water tank,like the one
behind them will be fill at the top of the hills next to the village. Running water.
Captain of the boat
Vemeeren's and Roberts
Dock, Where is OSHA?
Small ferry to go home
Tonight's dinner while on the ferry