Sunday, January 23, 2011

New Year's Getaway

 School was closed for 6-7 weeks for summer. We still went in and worked every day, doing lesson prep, but we did take a 6 day trip to the City of Nadi (pronounced Nan-dee) and the Yasawa Islands.
 (I'm sure many of you are wondering if we are doing missionary work at all, and I assure we are working very hard.)

This was a very ornate, colorful Hindu temple in Nadi.  While on the grounds you had to take your shoes off, and there was no picture taking inside.  It was very interesting, but difficult to understand.
A smaller structure at the Hindu temple.
This is the Radisson Resort beach on Denarau Island.

Monday morning we took a boat called the Yasawa Flyer out to the island.  The Yasawa Flyer is sort of a shuttle service to a number of small islands off the coast of the main island of Fiji.  The islands are very different. Some of the islands are so small you could walk around the entire island in a few minutes and others that would take many days to fully explore.  The first group of islands are called the Mamanuca Islands. The Mamanuca Islands are a group of beautiful reef-encircled islands located just off the Nadi coast. They are known for their beautiful white sandy beaches and island resorts. 

Beachcomber Island

Bounty Island Resort

I was just amazed at how different the topography was of the different islands.  I lost count of the islands and the names.  I think we stopped at about 12 different islands and dropped off passengers and picked up passengers.  They were very efficient, and it didn't take very long to do this.  Then came the next chain of islands called the Yasawa Islands. Only about 8 or 9 of the Yasawa islands have resorts on them, and the resorts vary in size and price.

Our island was called Nacula island, and we stayed at the Blue Lagoon Resort.  It was really nice. Very small, all inclusive resort, with mostly individual bures (bur-ays).  It was very reasonably priced.  It had great snorkeling, and very good food.  We loved it!

When we arrived, the staff was on the beach singing and greeted us with a loud, "Bula!"
Mike relaxing on the beach at our beach front bure.  You can see the bure in the background. 

The "outside" private shower of our bure.  Mike wants to build an outdoor private shower at home now.

The view from the front deck of our bure.
The beach right outside of our bure.

This is the beautiful thatched ceiling of the inside of our bure. It is wrapped with black, orange, and natural colored rope.  (Mike also thinks he is going to wrap the poles of his palapa at home like this.)

Taits and Elder and Sister Anderson (a senior couple from Canada who went with us.)  We took a hike up to the mountain ridge.  It was harder then the resort people made it sound and Sister Anderson got asthma and had no inhaler with her.  So she had a rough go of it.  But it was beautiful!

A view of  the chain of the Yasawa Islands from the mountain ridge.

Mike and Elder Anderson went on a tour of the limestone caves.  He said it was really cool.   (The women stayed at the resort and had massages.) .

Swimming in the caves.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Christmas Eve and Christmas

Christmas in Fiji is all about the family getting together and having a big meal.  It seemed like a lot of families serve ham for Christmas as they were plentiful in the stores, and I hadn't noticed any in the stores before.  But seafood is always a favorite of the Fijians.  We saw this lobster in the market and had never seen one this colorful.  The photo doesn't do it justice, but it was a bright yellow, green, and orange.  If you notice, we put two pens down so you can get an idea of how large it was.  

We were invited to a nativity play, that a girl from our church and her mother organized in their neighborhood. The only member of the church in the play is Talei, the 21 year old young adult from our ward.  It was really sweet, and we were surprised at the cast.  They used all neighborhood kids, and there were younger girls, ages 6-10 and then about 7 or 8 teenage boys between the ages of 14-17.  We were just amazed because boys that age would probably not do that sort of thing at home.  After the play, they brought out all kinds of refreshments and the boys had also each donated $5.00 for the food.  It was a very nice night, with Christmas hymns and scriptures and thoughts about the Savior's birth.
The shepherds, sheep (kneeling) see an angel telling about the birth of Jesus Christ.

The wise men worshipping Baby Jesus.

 Christmas Eve the temple president and matron, President and Sister Wooley had a nice get together for the senior missionaries.  We had some bags of goodies and went caroling at the patron housing at the temple.  This group of children from Kiribiti Islands, pronounced Kir-ee-bahs, were very happy to receive their bag of goodies.  These families had been at the temple apartments for almost 2 weeks.  I think they were going home on Monday, January 3.
The Kiribiti Children

After leaving the group from Kiribiti, we had a nice dinner together.  President Wooley had invited a family, with 9 children, to have dinner and entertain us with some Fijian singing and dancing. 
This picture came out with major red eye, and the dancers look pretty scary.  They were really such respectful and polite teenagers. 
This was the older of  their 2 daughters.  A beautiful girl, who also danced beautifully.  We then shared the Christmas story from Luke and the senior missionaries had bought the family some gifts and also a ham for their Christmas dinner.  The children were so excited about their gifts.  Their father said, that only the younger children receive gifts for Christmas, and that this was the first time all of his children had received a present. We then went out by the manger scene on the temple grounds and sang Silent Night, and had a closing prayer.  It was the perfect ending to a special evening.

The children enjoying the manger scene.

On Christmas day, Mike and I drove out to a resort, The Wellesley, about an hour from Suva.  We spent 2 days there and relaxed a bit.

We passed this mountain peak on our way to the Wellesley that the natives call "The Thumb".
Joske's Thumb is a precipitous volcanic plug that rises on the horizon to the west of Suva.
Sir Edmund Hillary was defeated in his first attempts to climb the peak. It  takes its name from Paul Joske, one of the pioneers who established Suva's first sugar mill.  There is a picture on the back of the $10 bill.
Christmas Evening the resort had a huge banquet.  The is the Fijian way of serving fish.  Cooked whole in coconut milk.  It was yummy.  They also served, lamb, turkey, ham, and beef along with the fish.   
The Wellesly is a small resort nestled in a lush, green valley right on the beach.  It was so beautiful and a wonderful Christmas break.

 This is the bungalow where our room was.
Last year at spring break we went on a cruise and they were doing massages on the beach, but I wasn't able to get one.  Since then, I have really wanted do have a massage on the beach, and I finally got my wish! 
Sunset at the Wellesley.