Monday, August 24, 2009

Naduri Village, Fiji

I left the States on July 10th and flew from Sacramento to LA to Nadi, Fiji then over to Labasa where I spent the night. Saturday, July 11th the rest of the team flew to Labasa; Pastor Nakiti, Ima, Sarah Abadines, the US team (Clark family, Sarah, Cindy K., Ivan, Jim, Cindy M., Jon, Georgie) where they met with me. We went to town to go food shopping and pick up anything else we needed for the week since Naduri was an hour away.

The chief of the village owns a bus company so we took one of his buses to the village. As we arrived the scenery was beautiful! The village was near the ocean and at the bottom of these huge mountains. Naduri village is bigger than most....about 1000 people. The chief, Ratu Peni, was also the pastor of the AGOFI church in Naduri. He walked with authority but also humbly. I learned a great deal from him just by observing the way he carried himself. The chief is an important person in Fiji as a counselor to the prime minister, parliamentary position holder, final authority for educational scholarships, and major business owner. We settled into a hall lined up with mattresses and prepared for the week's task.

Sunday was church in the morning. Pastor Nakiti gave a powerful message. After lunch our team met to prepare for the EE clinic. We planned out the schedule and teaching sessions. The rest of the day we just took time to get to know more people in the village.

The EE clinic was Monday - Friday from about 9am -4pm. Morning devotion was a wonderful time for the group to gather in fellowship and worship. Singing praise and worship was a blessing, hearing the Fijians pour out them hearts in song, lifting their hands.

36 trainees were involved in the clinic from different areas of Vanua Levu, the 2nd largest island of Fiji. Clinics always remind me of how powerful the Gospel is and how I continue to learn things about God's goodness. It was so nice getting to know people and fellowshipping together as well as learning more about the Fijian culture. It was a beautiful thing to see local Fijians from different denominations come together (something not often seen) for the cause of Christ. I was encouraged by the trainee’s excitement and passion to learn how to share the Gospel with others. Pastor Nakiti really did an awesome job leading, translating, and teaching in Fijian and English. God truly speaks through him. During the clinic we sat on the floor Fijian style which took the US team some time to get used to, not me of course. :)

I love being able to build relationships. During OJT (On the Job Training) where teams would go out to share the Gospel, we would visit different houses in the village. It was about getting to know the people you are visiting as well as sharing the Gospel. You could be at someone's house for over an hour visiting. My trainee and I spoke to 4 different women. Three of these women asked to pray with us to receive jesus into their hearts. One of them had just been thrown out of her home by her husband a few months earlier and was living from hut to hut with friends, the othe two were both un-wed mothers and my heart went out to them. Telling them the message of God's loving grace was the best part of the whole trip to me.

After OJT we had free time to fellowship, and most hung out with the children of the village who loved to sing, play games, and just talk. The afternoon session with the children was one of my favorite things. The children were precious. Sarah Abadines and Katie Clark taught them actions to worship songs and the hand motions for Kid's EE. I was encouraged by their receptiveness and response. Hearing them sing touched my heart, and hearing some of them pray in Fijian was such an encouragement. A few nights I was even able to tutor a few of the kids and young people in math which gave me great joy!

The people of Naduri were so giving and hospitable. They took such good care of us, it blew us away. Food in the village was amazing - fresh seafood like octopus, shark, clams, all kinds of fish, curry, noodles, cassava, and Fijian pastries. The water supply in Naduri came from up in the mountains. One afternoon some of us even climbed the mountain to a few beautiful waterfalls, the view from up top was amazing! And Friday afternoon a big group of us took 2 small boats to another island, the trip there was beautiful. The water was gorgeous. My trainee during the week was Pasematha. She truly loves the Lord and wants to share His love with others. She is the sister of the chief, Ratu Peni. Please be praying for her as she takes what she learned to her church, family, and friends.

Clinic Info:
US Team from CO, AZ, and CA came as EE teachers and trainers
36 trainees from different areas of Fiji
106 people heard the Gospel
21 recommitted their lives to Christ
71 people prayed to receive Christ!
AMEN!!! Praise the Lord!

I was moved by all the things that happened this week. We were able to raise a large sum of money to leave with Ratu Peni for the village and 2 suitcases filled with things like clothes, medications, and toiletries.

God is so good. I was so blessed to be part of this clinic where different kinds of people come together to proclaim Christ. It was bittersweet to leave the village. When we left the village Saturday morning, many tears were flowing. I will forever hold the children in the village in my heart.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Photos

If you have Facebook you can see the Fiji photos I posted on there.

Monday, July 27, 2009

XEE Evangelism Explosion

Check out the link to learn a little about why I do what I do. :-)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Coffee Cake



My friend Julia Jones is donating her Buttermilk-Cinnamon Coffee Cakes to support my mission. Suggested donations are $25 for one of these addictive cakes. Please help me out by becoming part of my team and I promise you will not regret it when you taste this wonderful creation.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

What? No Coffee?

Just received an email from Pastor Clark telling us the water we will drink is rain water collected off the roofs. That’s extremely cool; I hope I get a big roof since I drink a gallon of water a day on slow days.

However the 2nd part of the email freaked me out: “… they are big Tea drinkers so if anyone has coffee addictions they should go through withdrawals BEFORE the trip please!”

What?

From the tone of the email the tea is not caffeinated and this must have been a problem in the past. OK 1st of all my drinking coffee is actually to keep me off Ritalin and is approved my by doctor. Secondly, I can’t go off it before the trip as I have a job I need to go to everyday and get work done. I have tried to work without drinking a cup of coffee in the morning.

Hmm, as a matter of fact today is one of those days and its 9am and I am distracted and blogging when I should be working. OK, better get a “cup o’ joe” and get back to work.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sponsor Letter - The Final Edition

Yeah, I just sent my last Sponsor letter out a min ago. Whoa, you don't think you have that large of an address book until you start sending out email to each person. That's when it feels like it's the longest list ever. It has been such a blessing to hear from the people who have responded to me. I have taken a chance and sent it to some of my closer friends who I know aren't Christian but I thought, "Hey I'm desperate". And some have written back, "You have my support". All I can say when a Muslim or Jew tell me they will help me with my Christian mission is "WOW", I am truly blessed with the greatest friends in the world. :)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Raising Funds

I have only tried to raise funds once before when I did the Train to End Stroke ½ Marathon in Kona, Hawaii. I have forgotten how hard it is. As of today I have raised $260 which is great but a long way off from $2400. I see why they want you to try and raise the money though. It is very humbling. I can’t think of many things I like less than asking someone for money.
On the flip side it is nice to have people involved and feel like I’m sharing a part of the trip with them.
My current prayers are that I will be able to see God’s hand in raising the rest of the money.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Comforting words from the mission team leader

Received email from David Clark about the team going to Fiji, the itinerary for the group, and his hopes and prayers for God’s work through us and in the hearts of the people we will be ministering to.
The general plan is:
Arrive Nadi Saturday morning and go to the Training Center for a couple hours.
Back to the airport and fly to Labasa.
Go to the Market for food supplies and then to Naduri Village arriving early Saturday evening.
Sunday - Worship, Team Time and Final Training Plans.
Monday - Friday Teaching 8:30 - 2:30, OJT 2:30 - 4:00ish, Kids EE Gospel 5-6 pm
Saturday Morning - Boat/Island Team Time.
Saturday Afternoon - Team Departs Naduri and splits up for a variety of return plans.
AZ folks fly Labasa to Nadi, Others something different.
I copied and pasted parts of his email into this blog. I hope you enjoy his words, the rest are his:
This morning I read, "For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. -- 2 Corinthians 5:14,15 (NIV)
As Ambassadors of His message we answer His call to go to Fiji this July. We go to serve Him, His Church, and people made in His image. We go with a purpose, to disciple people in Personal Evangelism using tools from EE. At the same time we are humble enough to submit to His will for us during our trip, whatever that may be. Ultimately we pray that the Holy Spirit will produce Fruit in and through us, and that this fruit will continue to multiply in others after we leave, until Christ's return.
As brothers and sisters in Christ we come together from AZ, CO, CA, FL and all over Fiji to form a single unified EE Missions Team. I am looking forward to serving alongside each of you. We will all get the chance to know each other better as we work and live together in Naduri.
I am confident as we go with His Grace and Love in our hearts we will have the Time of our Lives!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sponsor Letters

I'm still working on sending out my sponsor letters, I’ve only made it through the K’s in my address book so far. I want to send each one personally to everyone. I just never realized how long that would take. OK, I did mass email my family but that was mostly to let them know what I was doing. I’m not hoping for anything from them because they don’t have the same beliefs as me. I love them all and will continue to pray for them whether they like it or not. 
Here is a copy of my most updated sponsor letter:
I was happy to find out that I have been selected to go on a Missions trip with Evangelism Explosion, www.eeworks.org, along with about 10 others. Our team will be traveling to the country of Fiji from July 9th to July 19th. While we are there we will be ministering to the people of Vanua Levu through training local pastors in Island EE and street witnessing. We will also be helping the missionaries in any way that we are needed. Through this we hope to win many souls to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, all I need is the money to get there. I need to raise $2,400 and any amount that you might be able to give would be greatly appreciated. If you are sending a check, please make it out to Verde Baptist Church. Write in the Memo Line: 'Fiji Missions' (Please Do Not Write My Name on the Check). Use a Post-It Note with my name on it attached to the check. Mail Support Checks To:
Verde Baptist Church
Fiji Mission
102 S. Willard Street
Cottonwood, AZ 86326
I believe that with prayer and God's help my financial need will be met.
Please pray for me as I prepare for this mission and while we are there. Pray that people will see the love of Jesus through us and will be touched in some way. My prayer is that this trip proves to be life changing for the people of Vanua Levu even more than for myself.
Thank you for letting me share with you what will be one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. If you cannot help in a financial way, please help support me with your prayers. If you would like to stay updated on my adventure please check out my blog at http://naturesjewels.blogspot.com/.
So that’s my letter, please pray that I can finish getting it out to each person and that enough people will be able and willing to help out. I know these are tough times. If any of you have suggestions on good fundraisers like spaghetti feed etc., please let me know. You can reach me anytime by commenting on the blog or sending a personal email to me at Juliesdogs@gmail.com.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Airline Tickets

So I ordered my tickets and somehow I messed up and got them for a day earlier than I was supposed to. It looks like I'm either spending the night in LA or Fiji while waiting for the rest of my team.

I'm not off to the best start but on the bright side I will be rested up when I finally meet up with them if I wait in Fiji.

Friday, May 15, 2009

My 1st Mission Trip - In the Beginning

This July 9th-19th Evangelism Explosion’s (http://www.eeinternational.org) Continental Director David Clark will be taking a team from Colorado to Fiji for a week to train pastors in Island EE on Vanua Levu (the second largest island in Fiji). I am honored that I was invited to join this team along with a group from Phoenix, AZ. After prayer and discussion with others I have decided to go and since I have bought my plane tickets; I'm committed.

I wanted to be able to keep people updated on what’s going on with me as I prepare for this trip and what I learn from it so I thought writing a blog would be a good way to do it. The people in the group I will be traveling and teaching with are David and his wife Sue Clark, Sarah Williams, Cindy Millar, Georgie Heil, John Fruchey, Jim Ayers, Ivan Kuipers, and Cindy (don’t know last name yet). I’m really looking forward to getting to know these other missionaries.

The village we will be staying at is about an hour outside of Labasa on the island of Vanua Levu. The village itself will be a new and interesting culture for us to learn from. An easy read reference is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture_of_Fiji if you’re interested in learning more than I mention here.

Sue has told me I will need to wear skirts and modest, shoulder covering clothes in the village. The skirts need to be knee length at least. Most people wear flip flops, as the Fijians take off their shoes upon entering a home. We may have good access to electricity, I will have to wait and see.

A little about the culture of the tribesmen on the island; we will feel like we are stepping back in time a bit because the women all serve the men. Sue has been there before and saw no women mistreated, they just have different roles than we do here in the US. Not wrong, just different. The women and men both work very hard in this culture. Everything is work; doing laundry by hand, boiling water to wash dishes, digging plants for dinner. It is not overly strange, just a harder life style.

The men eat their meals first and then the women eat whatever is left over. Often times there is a community bowl in the middle of the table and utensils may or may not be used. They often use only one utensil, cleaning off in their mouth before dipping back into the main bowl, or sugar bowl. In some villages, some eat with no utensils, just their fingers. They also are not big on washing their hands so this is something we will have to graciously accept.

In the past some missions groups treat the Fijians as lower citizens and we need to be very careful to not offend or look down upon their customs.

It is very much a community and things such as guitars or video games may be borrowed and left around or perhaps not returned at all. Sue also gave a warning to women about jewelry. If we compliment someone on something, they may just take it off and give it to us. Some women also expect this in return. She basically said that we should not take anything that we would not be willing to give up. I will be taking small items like necklaces, teabags, & candy to give away as gifts.

Some of you have asked me about the percent of Christian’s verses other religions in Fiji. Here is what I have found: The CIA world factbook (https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/print/fj.html) states: Christian 64.5% (Methodist 34.6%, Roman Catholic 9.1%, Assembly of God 5.7%, Seventh Day Adventist 3.9%, Anglican 0.8%, other 10.4%), Hindu 27.9%, Muslim 6.3%, Sikh 0.3%, other or unspecified 0.3%, none 0.7% (2007 census).

Our team will be meeting once a day for a time of devotion and prayer. I ask those of you reading this to be praying about the trip. Please pray for the health of the team and our service/testimony as we are with the Fijians. I will continue to update you.

As my mother always said “Love is Eternal” -- Julie

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Holding On

Rudyard Kipling said
"If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'"

This is how I've been feeling lately. Like the world is this crazy fast paced swirl of indifferent wind around me; blowing me this way and that way. It doesn’t care that I am tired or sore. It doesn’t care that I just want rest. But I cannot give up or give in. I must go on because that’s what we do. To give in would be failure and that is not something I have in me. I LOVE LIFE and I will fight all the way to the end.