Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Passing of the Torch and Fitness Testing

Here in Fiji they have a country wide high school track meet called the "Cokes".  Can you guess who sponsors the event?  Before the event they do something similar to the olympic torch relay, although obviously on a smaller scale.  The torches go to all the schools competing in the meet.  This is the students from LDS Church College at the torch relay ceremony.  Everyone was excited.  The students holding the torches are 2 student leaders at the college.

Our friend Apenisa that was baptised a month ago is going to Fiji National University to be a PE teacher.  His class came to the college and did some fitness testing for the rugby team.  Here are some of the boys during the test.

Elder Tait and Apenisa deep in conversation.  Apenisa, "Do you think you can do better than the rugby players?"  Elder Tait,  " I am in great shape! I go to the gym every morning at 5 am., unless I am too tired.  Ummm maybe I'm not as in good of shape as I thought."

Some of the students watching the fitness testing. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Saioko Branch and Wananavu Resort

We had an amazing weekend with our friends the Stanfords.  Stanfords, Mike and I were asked to speak in a small branch "out in the bush" and so we decided to make a weekend of it and see a part of Fiji we had not seen before.  Our first night we stayed in a rustic place called Takalana.  It has a beautiful view of the ocean, but it was cloudy and so the pictures don't show the beautiful view very well.

Mike, Susan, and Frank enjoying breakfast Fijian style!

 These are rafts made out of bamboo tied together, called billibillis.  The Fijians go up and down the rivers on them carrying their goods.

A family traveling on a billibilli.  If they are going upstream they use a pole and push the billibilli.

 We had a beautiful drive through a rainforest.  The road was sometimes unpaved and rough, but so worth it to see this part of Fiji.

This family was selling bananas on the side of the road.  $1 a bunch.  There are little stands like this all over with the people doing their best to support themselves by selling fruit and vegetables.

Dinner at Wananavu.
Wananavu Resort.

Sunday Morning we left Wananavu resort and traveled into the bush to the little village of Saioko.  We picked up the branch president and he guided us there.  It is a good thing we had him with us because I don't know if we would have found Saioko without him.  It was a rough, muddy road and took about 2 hours to travel 28 kilometers.

A bure in a village we drove by on our way to Saioko.

This little village was nestled in a valley next to a beautiful bay. 

We parked in front of this sign.  (some of the letters are missing.)  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints  All Welcome.
We parked and the Branch President said he would meet us up the hill and he hurried off to get changed for church.


Here we are starting up the hill following a very slippery, often muddy trail.  (Can you imagine doing this every Sunday for church?)  What a sacrifice for these sweet people!

About halfway up the hill some sweet young women met us.  They took Brother Stanford's backpack and my purse and guided me through the less muddy places.  I asked the girls if they had ever fallen down on the path.  One of them laughed and said,  "Yes.  Yesterday I fell down right there in the mud." 

After about a 30 minute climb, we were greeted by the sweet members of the branch.  They helped us wash our feet and legs and were so kind to us.

The inside of the chapel.  They explained to us how they carried all the materials up that hill and then constructed the building.
After Sacrament Meeting, they folded up all the chairs, and then laid long pieces of cloth on the ground.  The Branch President invited us to have some lunch. 
The Sisters had prepared a feast!  They people have so little, yet they prepared a big meal for us.  There was lentil soup with pumpkin and eggplant, chicken and noodles, fried fish in coconut milk, dalo, kasava, and another kind of vegetable which I don't know the name of (and which I almost gagged when I tasted it).  But most of the food was good.  I especially liked the lentil soup.
                                      Fried Fish in coconut milk.  It was actually surprisingly tasty.

The members waving good by as we headed down the hill.  It was a really special day.  The people are so humble and loving you can't help but just love them back.  The girls helped me back down the hill.  Each of them had me hand and they carefully kept me out of the slippery mud.  Leili kept telling her cousin to slow down and asking me if I needed to rest.  She was really sweet the way she took care of me.

The ride home was filled with many interesting sights.  These boys are tending this pair of oxen as they are pulling their load up the hill.

All the men and boys have a cane knife here.  One of the men in our ward said, "A man isn't a man without a cane knife."