Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Of Mice and Men

Moving to another culture will teach you many new things. It will start by teaching you things you never noticed about yourself that suddenly stand out in a foreign culture. Small diminutive mannerisms that don’t seem out of place until you take them into the abnormal.

The other thing it will teach you is the extent to which people around you affected your people communicate in many different ways, with many different underlying foundations to affect their worldview. While this has always been true in theory, it’s not until you experience it that it truly begins to shine through in a real way.

While being here in Fiji, I obviously interact with people from all over the world. Australians, Kiwi’s (New Zealanders), Americans, Fijians, Philippino’s, French, British etc. Every one of them holds different values and different ways to look at the world. Put them all into a room, and abruptly it’s like turning on the neon light. Oh, don’t worry, they all get along just fine, but as the night starts to draw on, different sides of them begin to emerge as they interact.

Many of you know that I love to sit back in a crowd and just watch what comes out in people. People do eccentric and comical things when they think that no one is watching, myself included! But a rare few do the weirdest things when they know that people are watching. It begins to show what really lies underneath. Do they think that they are superior to the people that are around them? Are they crass and uninhibited underneath that smile? Are the oblivious to what goes on around them? These questions are answered very swiftly over the course of a night. The fortress begins to come down.

So the question that I have to ask myself, and I think we all should is... what’s inside that fortress? Are you really ready for people to see it? Or are you trying to veil it for everything you’re worth. It’s a chilling thought, but a necessary one.

I think I'm Starting to Enjoy This

I'm in the process of taking Phys Ed through Prairie Distance Ed. That means that for 3 times a week, I need to have some form of strenuous exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes. Last week, I biked for 30 minutes, walked for over 3 hours (mowing the lawn), and ran for 30 minutes. You know how it goes. You feel great for the first 5 minutes, ok for the next 10, and then awful for the last 15.

So awful that you wonder why you started in the first place, no sane human being would truly do this to themselves and call it fun. It hurts, you want nothing more than to stop, but because of some invisible source (read: pride) you keep going. You keep going... and going... and going. Every second scrapes past you, taking an eternity to merely get on with it.

And we keep coming back for more.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I spent most of the morning working up to the inevitable 'work-out' that I was going to have to prod myself into later in the day. Deciding to get it over with sooner rather than later, I hopped onto a bike. Ten minutes went by... this isn't so bad, I thought. Maybe it was the iPod... yeah, that must be it. The iPod is making this more enjoyable.

Fool, it's sucking you in.

You're starting to enjoy it. Listen to yourself! You're talking positively as if this were fun when every single aching muscle in your body is BEGGING YOU TO STOP!

I got off. I felt good. There has to be something sinful about that.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Crossroads

There are times in all of our lives when we are forced to make hard decisions. Decisions that affect not just yourself, but many others that are around you, and not always in a positive way. There are times when the right decision is not the easy decision. It is in times like these that we can know we have a loving, caring Father in heaven who guides our feet through the valleys.

Esther 4:14 14 "For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?"

God's hands guide our lives, they shape and form us into exactly who He wants us to be. It's a scary thought, submitting your very essence to the moulding of a 3rd party. That's like allowing someone to take auto-pilot over your life. In that, I am comfortable about nothing.

And so I stand at the crossroads. There is a very real possibility that God has prepared me for such a time as this. But the pushing through, the strife that comes along with it makes me yearn for easier days. Days when only I was affected by the decisions that I made, and that didn't so clearly go against the grain. Yet I stand at a crossroads once again.

Once again He is asking the question, "Who is willing? Who will go?" And once again, I feel my hand creeping up my side, and my mouth opening to say, "Here I am, send me." Scary, but fulfilling.

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Missionary Experience

Never, ever let anyone tell you this is easy. Never let anyone say that to be a missionary is exotic or in any way glorious. That statement couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s hard. It’s like someone taking their fingernails to a chalkboard. There are experiences you can never truly prepare for, and punches that are hard to take.

Last night, I was sleeping in the back of Lami church, and for whatever reason, the cockroaches decided they were going to spend the night with me. I killed about 20 or 30 of them before I went to bed, but that was maybe half of them. Maybe. All throughout the night, I would feel something crawling over me, smack it (to a rather disgusting crunching sound) and go back to sleep. When I woke up this morning, I had a few bites… not the best night I’ve ever had.

I had all day to prepare for the Bible study this evening. So I decided right around noon that I would hope into Suva, eat some lunch, and get on the internet. What I wouldn’t do to be back home in the comfort of friends and family. Distance begins to take it’s toll when you are attempting to retain the relationships you have formed, and the depth that you delved to prior begins to show it’s worth when the well starts to dry up. Six months apart from Jordan takes its toll on a relationship. One month apart from family and you start to feel separated. Neither are particularly long periods of time in the grand scheme of things, but seem like eternity in the present.

But there are beacons of hope. I have to remind myself that I am still exactly where God wants me to be. I am experiencing what He has planned, and going through what He wants. None of it is easy, but He never said it would be easy, did He? But these trials, these deep chasms filled with rays of light are the things that build character. They build the well and solidify the rock underneath your feet, so that the storms of life don’t seem so bad.

Keep your head up, soldier. Zion is just over the crest of that next hill. March, because that’s the only way we’re ever going to get there.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

This is Where It's At…

It’s hard to really know what to say in a moment like this, because in on one hand you are both excited about the opportunities that are presented in front of you, and at the next, you are unsure about where the future will really lead you.

I was awoken this morning by Tupau, the elder here at Lami church, asking if I wanted to go up the mountain to have breakfast with his family. They don’t have an AM service here in Lami, so his entire family (which is most of the church) gets together for breakfast in the mornings. While this may sound like an awesome idea, it was only 7:30 AM and I hit the sack about 3 AM. Regardless, opportunities like this rarely come up, so I was up and at ‘em far earlier than I planned this morning!

We drove a little ways down the road, and then climbed up some cemented steps to Tupau’s home. I know what you’re thinking… why is Tupau living at the church when he has a home? Well, his entire extended family moved into his house, so he moved out. It’s a cultural thing that I don’t know if I ever really will understand.

After breakfast, I came back and slept till about 1, and the afternoon was filled with getting reading for Sunday night. I once again led the Senior youth, talking about Paul’s second missionary journey. Then the evening service.

You’d be amazed how loud worship can be when 2/3rds of your congregation consists of people under 18. They aren’t ashamed of what they have to sing, and they aren’t afraid to do it loud. It is both fun and amazing to listen to. I have a few videos posted that should give you a little bit of an idea of what it is like.

The message went well, and after the service, a few of us had dinner at the church, talking about some of the problems I’ve been having here. Encouraging to know I’m not the only one in the midst of it all; or the first one to go through them.

Ministry, people, life… this is where it is at.


Just a reminder that I just posted a whole new slew of pictures... you can find them at the link to the right, or here.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

One Month

Its official, I’ve now been out of Canada for one month. Its crazy looking back on the drama and the lessons that God has been teaching me over this short period of time, and both exciting and terrifying to look forward to the next two and see what He’s going to do. There have been challenges and encouragements, reasons to muster faith, and reasons to doubt the reason I’m even here. But threaded into each situation is the unwavering faithfulness of God, standing by my side.

Never before in my life have I literally felt the prayers of others in my own life. To the many of you who are praying for me, I want you to know that I can feel it. It permeates my every conversation, the people that I talk to, the way that they react to me, and the spirit that overarches my ministry here. If I were to take liberty from Frank Peretti and bring the spiritual realm into practical terms, I’d have a battalion of angels that go with me each day. That cover that you give me, those prayers that you offer up to God are making a real, tangible, measurable difference… thank you!

We hosted Senior Youth tonight, all on Fiji time. Most of the kids arrive around eight, a whole hour later than the event was supposed to start. We played some theatre sports, had some snacks and laughed a lot! Fijian people are exceptionally expressive in everything that they do, but they won’t offer something until you ask them, unless they are comfortable with you. In many of the games that I play with them, it takes time for them to warm up, and only after numerous different encounters do they start to ‘let loose’ and be themselves.

I’m enjoying my time here, and I continue to pray and ask God for guidance in the future. Only He knows where I will end up, and I’ll keep trusting in that!

Friday, February 23, 2007

God is More Than Our Imagination

I was once again awoken by the sound of my alarm going off, but this time it was a self-imposed deadline. I am in the process of taking Phys Ed through Prairie, and that means I need to be running at least 3 times a week for more than 30 minutes. No easy feat if you don’t like to get out of bed early, and the country you are living in becomes unbearable for hard labour at 9 AM. I find myself in a conundrum. My mind says yes, it is time to go to bed; my body says no, just a few more minutes. What my body really means is no, just a few more hours. Today, my mind won, and I jogged for about 30 minutes… I hope it gets easier!

The morning, as with all Fridays was spent at the Airport school. I love those kids, they bring an enthusiasm and a willingness to the Bible. Much like back home, you have to realize that while you are only teaching and giving information, you are also planting seed with which God can do great things later on in life. I just hope that the stories I tell, and the conclusions we come to are ones that will stick with them, and fall on good soil to be cultivated later.

After school it was off to Suva. Normally, you would like to catch a Taxi to the capitol city, but they are not always available. A minibus (11 seater van) will also get you there, but the drivers like to take a few more unnecessary risks on the way down. Today, it was by minibus. I managed to snap a few fantastic shots of the Fiji coast and some of the people, so feel free to check out the pictures to get an idea of what the drive down has in store.

I am in Lami all weekend, and that means a very different experience than you will find in Nadi. The church has a mean age of around 20, and they are alive and free to express their opinions and faith in worship. Youth tonight was quite the experience of Fijian culture! The kids were inspiring in their worship, some laughing and enjoying themselves, some singing boldly, and some closing their eyes in reverence. Reminds me of my BugAM days. The games that came afterwards were wild and frantic. Think normal games… with about 10 times the intensity, lots of yelling and jumping around. It was a blast!

After, Molly and I went into Suva to go see Ghost Rider. While I certainly can’t recommend the movie for many people, it was quite the laugh. No, don’t think that’s a positive statement, the laughs weren’t intentional. The writing was awful, and the directing was even worse… both by the same guy. In his attempts to make the bad guys menacing, he uses every horrible, awful scare shot in the book, and at no point does he actually succeed in making you scared of the characters themselves. The plot seems thrown together, and nothing really sticks.

Worst of all, however, is how he portrays the struggle between evil and evil. God is an absent party in this movie, offering no protection and the church is portrays as a feeble institution. That leaves evil to ward off evil and protect mankind. It makes the Devil the force of justice in the world, and I have a small problem with that. It is no wonder our culture is disillusioned with who God is when everything they see bombards them with falsities and watered-down religion. Nothing is true, everything is relative. It’s sad, and it is far past time we make a stand to say that God is real, active, and caring in our world. Time to pick up our swords and start fighting back.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Those Times When it is You and God

4:50 AM, and my alarm goes off. Thankfully, I had the chance to actually get up to my alarm this week, and so while the day started off especially early, at least it started off on a good note. Perhaps a sign of good things yet to come?

Thursday mornings are spent at the camp, working on the cabin that Ken is attempting to put up. It won’t be ready for the May camps, but they are hoping that with a few of the building crews, December is an option. Lots of work has to be done between now and then, but the value of overseas work crews begins to shine through when you think of 20 teenagers working 8 hours a day to build these cabins.

When I got into the back of the van, we had a lawnmower loaded as well, and so I knew it was going to be a good morning. I’m not sure why, but the prospect of taking care of a lawn is a lot more inviting than using a hammer to me. Something about helping something grow, rather than blunt force really makes an impression in my mind. And so, when we arrived at camp, I didn’t go to the cabin to begin hammering away, but started up the lawnmower and disappeared into my own world, where I like to be.

It reminded me of my summers at Sealy, when you’d get up at some ungodly hour and work for 3 hours before you even started to wake up. The difference here is that I’m pushing a lawnmower, rather than using a nail gun… you determine which one is safer to use while asleep! I had a few hours to do some mindless work, while I concentrated on thinking and praying about other matters. I actually revel in these opportunities. You have nowhere else to go, and nothing else to do… so you make the best of it by talking with the one person who really wants to hear from you: God. This was, by far, the best morning at camp so far.

We drove back to Nadi around 11, and after I made myself lunch, I went over to Jong’s to get into some A/C and talk to Dad and Jordan. I still had some unfinished conversations from yesterday, and it is important to get those conversations finished so that everyone is on the same page.

The evening was spent at one of the pilot’s homes, celebrating Ewing’s birthday… and he wasn’t even there. His girlfriend surprised him earlier today, but we decided to use the excuse to get together anyway. Good conversations, good people, and good food. Can’t complain about that.

It started right, and now the day is ending right. I think the conversations with God make that difference, what about you?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Of Miscellaneous things

2/21/2007 10:41 PM

The last few months have taught me that a crucial aspect of a successful ministry is knowing when to withdraw and recover. Thankfully, Wednesdays are that day when I do not have to think about a single thing, but can get away from whatever is going on and relax. Today, I decided to not set my alarm, and take my time.

However, there were a few things I needed to get done today as well. I wanted to get online and check on any e-mails that may have come in, and talk with family and friends back home. I also needed to get started on my Phys Ed course; meaning running/biking for at least 30 minutes today. Jong txt messaged me this morning to let me know that the internet at his flat was up, and so I crashed there for the day. It allowed me to not have to worry about how much time I’d spent on the net, and let conversations go naturally… a nice change.

And I did manage to force myself onto that bike! 30 minutes straight of some light work, and I really need to work out more often! Funny that I have to come to a hot, tropical environment before I really get started on my physical education course, who says God doesn’t have a sense of humour?

Tomorrow, I’m up at 4:50 to go Sigatoka and work on the camp down there… time for bed!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Perhaps my experience is different than yours, but nearly every time I have a life changing experience, it is not because of a great event, but the conversations that flow out of it. Youth retreats were great, the speakers were dynamic, but it was the friends that made it special. College was fun, classes were sometimes too, but it was the friends, and the subsequent conversations that affected who I was, and my perspectives on God.

I may be reading too much into my own experiences, but these conversations make a powerful statement in my own life. Change is not something that comes quickly; it takes time. It also takes that personal connection to really effect change in a person. These are personal, one on one conversations that speak to the soul, not to the mind. These build friendships.

These friendships build trust, and this trust leads to change. Only when trust is built do we have the right to speak into another persons life, and only friendships lead to true trust. Friendships take time, work, and conversations! So it is a progression that leads to change, and so we must be diligent in our pursuit of friendships. This is where ministry is done. It is in a sermon, and it is in a Sunday morning service, but it shines through extraordinarily in discipleship and friendship.

What are your thoughts?

It is funny how in the midst of situations where you should be feeling the most stress, God gives you peace. Of course, I should know about this, because of the messages that I have preached, but knowing God is in the driver's seat of my life and my situations makes a world of difference. Truly, peace reigns in this place.

I got online early today, in order to talk to my Dad, Rosalie from FIM, Lorelei and Jordan. Luckily enough, I was able to talk with all of them! My father is a huge encouragement because of the situations that he has been in, and the sagely advice that he gives me. Something about a parents prayer just gives it that extra amount of power, and I appreciate it infinitely.

Talking with Rosalie allowed me to express the entire situation in detail, and to leave it there. Now we will seek out God’s will in the midst of this together, and I truly feel as though I am under accountability and on the right path. That is a luxury I am fortunate to have, and her, myself and others will be praying over the next few days (join with us!) to seek out God’s will.

Have I ever expressed the joy my niece brings me? She just got up from a nap when I came online, and Lorelei put her onto the webcam. It amazes me how children have the acute sense of joy deep within them. This one child holds a special place in my heart, of course. Her laughter and facetious nature always gives me something to smile about, and I walk away from that short conversation with a huge smile on my face and a joy in my heart.

And lastly, but certainly not least, I was able to talk to Jordan. I wasn’t sure if she was going to be online, because I am normally not online until this point in the day, but God scheduled that one through. We talked about the Orphanage, about what has been going on in my life, and reminded each other that it is important to trust in our Heavenly Father. He takes care of us all.

So it’s true. In the midst of a raging river, God is the rock that holds you firm. I am sheltered, fed and clothed, and I am at peace. The battle belongs to the Lord!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Hang Tight to What You Believe In

Well, it came. It arrived like a day late, but don’t let that fool you, it came like a freight train. It did not intend to ever slow down, ploughing through as though nothing stood in its way. Why do that when you can keep going full steam through the station and the countryside ahead? It’s worked in the past, and it will work this time as well. Makes you wonder when God is going to derail that train, doesn’t it?

My conversation with Ken is my simile, of course. Why God has placed me here is not yet clear, why I have gone through the variety of experiences will never come to full breadth. Yet I stand. I stand as a man, yet kneeling before God as a servant and asking Him for guidance. I could say many things, share with you the totality of my conversation, but it would not do it justice. It may spark conversation, but it would not capture the heart of the matter.

Let me quote from The Message:

1 Timothy 4:12-14 And don’t let anyone put you down because you’re young. Teach believers with your life: by word, by demeanour, by love, by faith, by integrity. Stay at your post reading Scripture, giving counsel, teaching. And that special gift of ministry you were given when the leaders of the church laid hands on you and prayed—keep that dusted off and in use.

1 Timothy 1:18-19 I’m passing this work on to you, my son Timothy. The prophetic word that was directed to you prepared us for this. All those prayers are coming together now so you will do this well, fearless in your struggle, keeping a firm grip on your faith and on yourself. After all, this is a fight we’re in.

Did Paul really write these things for Timothy? Did he know that there would be countless others after that would look to these words for encouragement, for their sustenance when the going gets tough?

Today, I was confronted about my behaviour last week, and apparently this past Sunday. The odd part about it is, I did not, and continue to not feel convicted about my actions. I’ve been praying, I’ve been searching but in the deepest parts of my heart, I find no wrongs. Sorry about offending them, yes, but not about what I said. And I was informed that I should not expect an apology, it’s childish to expect that.

So now, I stand on a precipice. We have come to a river that cannot be crossed, and a bridge takes two people. I have been sent here by a church that believes in me and in the abilities that God has given me. I have met people here who do not think that my age allows me to offer a significant contribution to ministry, and least of all to ministry that is currently established. I am here to sit and learn. I came 5000 miles to sit and learn, I raised the same amount in money to sit and learn.

No, I came to preach, teach, encourage and learn. I came for people who are thirsty for God’s word, who are desperately seeking out our Father in heaven. This is my call; this is my passion. But I fear a schism. I do not want to be the one to cause a break, yet I see no other way. Lord, reveal to me another way, bless my ministry and build me a bridge. Yet if this is not in your will, if you have other plans, give me the wisdom to see them, and the strength to follow them. It will not be easy, but I am willing.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Man’s Lows, God’s Highs

Have you ever been in a situation where you are so frustrated, so angry that when you open your mouth, no words come out? Have you ever found yourself in a place where you feel so free it’s like your feet want to lift off the ground? Welcome to my day.

Today, of course, is Sunday. Sunday means that I’m in Nadi in the morning and Lautoka in the evening. It also marks one week since the very dramatic confrontation last week, and the first time that I have seen Mary since that time. A week to cool off will often give both parties the ability to look at the situation rationally and hash out a solution that is reasonable for everyone. I wish I could say that this is exactly what occurred this morning, that everything is now ok. I can’t.

I talked to Mary ahead of the service; begin with the mandatory small talk, ignoring the dark storm cloud over the situation. When it passed, I brought up what happened the previous week, and how it really had offended me. Red Alert! Red Alert! Everyone to their battle stations! The problem was not between her and I, I was told, but I should talk to Ken about it. When I asked her about the ‘poking,’ she told me flat out she did not remember what I was referring to, and that Ken would have a stern talking to after the service, because they were both appalled at my behavior from the previous week.

I came back to my room and took a few minutes to cool off myself so I could enter the service with a spirit of worship, and not anger. Ken never talked to me.

The evening, however, was a world apart. I preached in Lautoka, and from the moment I entered the service, God’s presence could be felt. There was a free, unsquelched atmosphere over the church, and it shone through their worship and sharing. It was like diving into a warm pool after hours of running, both soothing and refreshing. It was fun… I forgot that church can be fun. I forgot that church should be fun.

When it came time to preach, I began with my testimony, and then used a revised version of last weeks sermon in Nadi. They were both appreciative and responsive to my message, and I left the church feeling valued and uplifted. If only I could be of more help to a church like this, who have been without a pastor for a very long time. As I said to Meriam after the service, this is the place where my heart and passion begin to poke through; a place where I could see myself.

I drove Jong’s CRV back from Lautoka, which is an adventure in itself! Remember to drive on the LEFT side of the road, and swerve to avoid the potholes… you can lose a wheel in them. Have no fear, I made it safely back!

And then I killed a cockroach that was at least an inch and a half long in my room. *shudder*

Ministry has its ups and downs, but as I preached tonight… it only requires that you be willing. I’m where God wants me to be, and I am willing to do and say as He wants me to, regardless of the cost.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Nobody’s Perfect

Saturday. If you are prepared, and have done your work throughout the week, then you can have Saturday off. That means you can sleep in, you can take the day off and enjoy it. Well, I got to do the latter of those two. I woke up at 5:55 AM this morning, so that I could be awake for the prayer meeting at 6 AM. There were 5 of us there, 4 of whom live here at the BDC, one who called the meeting. I can’t say I remember much, we prayed. Then I went back to sleep.

When I awoke, after some pretty incredible dreams I might add, I was ready to start the day. I had a dream where I was in a car chase, one where I was in Tokyo and another where I was in New York. Don’t ask me where those come in… but they were fun! I ran into town with Jong and ate lunch, then picked up some clothes here in town. Fiji is a very hot place, and I decided that I needed a few more shorts in order to get me through the next few months. In Canada, it’s below zero. Tough life.

I spent the afternoon at Mimi’s place, talking with her and Molly. Amazing how much you crave having that personal interaction in a place like this. For all of its paradise, there is just as much that sucks the life out of you. Without friends, and people of your own age, I’m not sure how you would survive… form a tight group and hang on for the ride.

Around seven, Sebastian flew back into town (literally!) and we went out for lunch at a local Indian place. The food was good, the conversation was better. Expressing your thoughts always brings them into clarity, even if they were fuzzy before. Tonight was one of those nights, an opportunity to defragment everything that has been going on, put it into perspective, and really look at it from a third person perspective. And while there were a lot of things said and realized, I think I can sum it up in a single phrase: nobody’s perfect.

We all have our faults; we all have our frustrations. I know there are many people who probably don’t think so highly of me from my past. Some rightfully, and some not so much, but it serves to remind me that I am not perfect. I am human, and I make mistakes. That grace, and that reminder is important for us to remember, so that when we meet someone who also is not perfect, we are not hasty to dole out judgement.
Remember: nobody’s perfect.

Friday, February 16, 2007

It’s All in the Perspective

Great challenge is great opportunity. It is not insurmountable. It is not overwhelming. It is a mountain, to be climbed one slow step at a time. A battle of the will and the mind. How you choose to look at it is completely your choice. I can guarantee that God is viewing it as an opportunity, so are you choosing to look at it from God’s view? And if you’re not, whose view do you think your viewing?

It is Friday, which means that I started the day teaching scripture in school. From 9:15 to noon, I go through five different classes, teaching them about the Bible and about God. What a unique opportunity to boldly share the gospel to children that largely consist of Muslims and Hindu’s. This morning, we discusses Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. How they choose to go against the crowd and follow God’s command rather than breaking it, knowing that it could cost them their lives. Such a powerful story, and very interesting for young minds, I know this because it fascinates me!

Tonight, I went to the Lautoka church to lead youth. Wow... what an experience. It is so awesome to see people who are authentic about their welcoming spirit and open to what God has to do in their lives. The spirit over the church just blows my mind, because it is friendly and light... it is free. I haven’t experienced that in a church while I’ve been here yet, but Lami was very very close.

After I gave my devotion (on salt and light), we went outside and played a game of volleyball. That and Rugby are the main games that are played in the schoolyards down here, but soccer is close behind. It was a friendly game with loose rules and more laughter than I’ve experienced in a long time. Amazing what a group of teenagers that are out to have fun can do to you... reminds me why I used to go to youth. It’s fun.

But it’s all in the perspective. I’m really struggling at having a good attitude while I’m here. Not because of the Fijian people. I’m struggling because of the input that I’m receiving from those who have been here much longer. I search, I strive to see the good, and I’m really having a hard go at it. I’m praying constantly that God would give me a good attitude, that He would keep my heart open and searching, and I continue to fight with it. I fight with it because it seems like from certain perspectives there is nothing good about this country or these people. Everything is a struggle. Everything used to go better ‘back when....’ Everything is questioned, nothing is trusted. Nothing will work. And it goes on... and on and on... it’s exhausting! It’s frustrating! And I’m wrestling with all my might to help on desperately to a positive attitude.

Ken and I drove to Lautoka and back together. On the way there, I interjected into his conversation (I wasn’t participating too much), and asked him what he loved about this country. I am striving for that one ray of sunshine amidst the clouds. “Nothing in particular.” Nothing in particular!? I don’t know if I could be in missions for 30+ years in a country that I love nothing in particular about. There are SO many redeeming qualities of the Fijian people. They are welcoming, friendly, loving, open, caring people. They are simple minded, but they have so much untapped potential. But I feel after being dropped off like someone has tethered their expectations to the ground.

I am constantly told that the Fijian people are unlike any other people group I’ve met. Yet everything I hear... they are struggling with drugs, alcohol, immorality, and those that know the Bible don’t apply it to their lives... keeps bringing me back to the thought that they sound a lot like people back home. I’m sure there are MANY things I don’t even see at this point, but is ministry really so complicated? Is it not as simple as spreading God’s word and love? Why do we have to make it more than that? Why do we doubt when we should push forward? Why do we call what appears to me as scepticism as ‘wisdom’ that is gained with age?

I know I’m young. I know that makes me passionate. I know that makes me foolhardy and hasty. But aren’t the young supposed to balance the old? Don’t we have something to offer too?

I guess it’s all in the perspective.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Be an Oreo

What a day! So many different things happened; it’s hard to put it all into perspective. I was awoken this morning to knocking on my door... 7 seconds before my alarm was set to go off. Have you ever had that experience? You knew that this morning was going to be long, and so you wanted to have some semblance of control, and someone throws it off? It’s like falling off a log into the water, exhilarating and aggravating all at the same time.

But God is faithful, even when I am being petty. The drive down to Sigatoka was filled with wonderful surprises in the form of my ‘back of the van buddy’ Jackson. Every Thursday morning (please pray for rain next Tuesday night, so that I can get some decent sleep =) ), we get up at some unearthly hour of the morning to drive to the SPEF camp and work on the cabins there. Jackson and I draw the short ends of the stick and ride in the back together.

Today was an encouragement, however, as we got talking about church, about how to related to you, and especially about how to make faith real to people. He is a native Fijian who is soon to be pastor of Nadi SPEF church. In many ways, he feels completely unprepared, because all he has is Bible training. And as I learned during my internship, that means absolutely nothing. So he’s hungering to learn more about pastoral ministry and coming up with dry wells. So I have a new friend!

Later in the morning, he was collecting coconuts to bring home with him, and as I inquired (as all good Canadians do), he taught me how to husk and open a coconut! Fascinating stuff. You sharpen a stick and put it into the ground, and drive it into the soft part of the shell about 1/3 of the way up, driving it nearly all the way through, and then use it as a lever to force the nut away from the husk. Repeat until the nut is free. Then, you take a reed or straw, etc and hollow out the small white hole (God has it all prepared for you!) and drink out all of the milk inside. Then... between the ‘eyes’ of the coconut, half way down the coconut, you strike it with a blunt object, and it will split evenly, opening it up for you to eat the white nut inside. It is delicious and MUCH better than the stuff you get in the stores.
When we got back, I ran into town to get on the internet, and had an hour to talk to Jordan. Back where all of you are, it is Valentines Day, and I arranged for her to get some flowers, so I was eager to make sure they arrived and what she thought of them. Hehe, Lorelei, you drilled it into me too well, I quite enjoy having surprises like that!

And tonight the young adults got together. I taught from Matthew 5:13-16. Being salt and light in the world around us. Very practical, but very hard to live up to. Fascinating stuff when you get deep into it, and extremely relevant to everyday life no matter what culture you are in. I encourage you to spend some time studying the passage... you’ll discover some interesting Jewish cultural connotations that go over our ‘modern’ mindset that at a new dimension to the passage.

And the title of the entry refers to the different types of cookies here in Fiji. You can buy the real Oreo... which is crispy, sweet and just a wonderful bundle of goodness; or you can buy an imitation brand, which is mushy, and tastes like paste. If we are supposed to be salt and light in the world, I also propose that we are to be the ‘oreo’s’ in the world. Be the real deal, and show people who Christ really is, not a cheap imitation that will turn people off!

God is good, always providing for our needs.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

This Coin Has Many Sides…

One of the first things that life taught me was that you can never take one persons word for it. Life and its many experiences tend to jade the way we look at the future and different situations. Only when we talked to various people who each have had unique experiences can we really begin to get an outline of what the real thing looks like.

Being here in Fiji is no different. I always enjoy the opportunity to talk to a new expatriate about their experiences in Fiji, because undoubtedly they will add something new to my current understand of ‘Fiji’ in the cultural and political sense. Some have a negative outlook on Fiji, others will have a positive, some will have a realistic, and others still will only be looking at it from a business perspective. Each of these opinions is valuable because they compliment and flush each other out in such a way that I am better for hearing each one.

Had I taken one or two people’s words for it, I don’t know if I would even believe that there was a reason you would have anyone trying to ‘do missions’ here. It certainly is not a short term mission, because you need to build into the people’s lives, and the gospel develops characteristics in a person that is foreign to this culture. Yet even in the midst of that, I have to be careful that I am not taking my ‘western’ idea of Christ and attempting to impose it upon a pacific culture.

Christianity is by no means a white-picket fence faith. Rather, it is diverse and culturally independent. I’m sure the way we worship now would have seemed completely foreign to the early Jewish Christians. Imagine what it will look like in another 2000 years. I’m sure we would shake our heads in disbelief and amazement at the way Christ permeates our culture.

Nothing of note really went on today. It was my day off, so I hid in Jong’s flat and enjoyed the air conditioning while watching a movie and doing some reading for my courses. He had a friend fly in from Australia, so there was a group of us bachelors that went out for dinner on Valentines Day. Went to a pretty excellent Thai restaurant, and had various rice dishes. It was good, but as with anything else in Fiji; don’t expect it to be too cheap! Up early tomorrow to go work on the camp… and the rest of you will be enjoying Valentines Day!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Stay in Touch

It is amazing how when busy you can stay when you have a free day. Things take time to get done. I had a bit of a slow start to the day, just relaxing to the sound of the rain outside while I waited for an opportunity to run into town. The plan was to finish what I started yesterday and get onto the internet to talk to some people back home and send out replies to the many different e-mails I had. There was a short break around one, so I quickly got out to the street, and amazingly a cab picked me up right away.

I spent most of the afternoon talking with Jordan. She was online around the same time, so we had a chance to spend some actual time talking, and that was really the first long conversation we’ve had since Christmas. Strange how 15 minutes conversations just don’t seem to cut it compared to a chance when you can wade through the ‘catching up’ phase and actually be able to carry dialogue on a deeper level.

At the same time, I finally caught my Dad online! I’ve been trying to get a hold of him for the past week, but we always manage to miss each other. The past few years have given me a deep appreciation for the relationship that we have built because of the hard work that has gone into it. I am blessed to have a father who can give me a wisdom and an external situation while still knowing me very well. He often helps me sort through the issues I can’t quite get my head around.

On my way out of town, I hopped into one of the van carriers. They run people around for the same cost as a bus, and have the added advantage that you take your life into your own hands! Haha, they usually aren’t that bad, and it’s normally not as crowded as the bus. A young couple from Denmark got onto the same carrier, and so having equal amount of white people in the car as natives, I decided to strike up a conversation. They were in the process of travelling throughout the world, starting in London, travelling through Thailand, Singapore, Australia and then to Fiji. I could have told you this, but Fiji is super expensive to live in. They said what it takes to live in Fiji for one week would last you at least a month in Thailand. And another bonus fact: they were leaving for Toronto in the next few days. Suckers! They had some idea what kind of weather they were stepping into… but they won’t really feel it until they get off the plane. It was a fun conversation, and they were pleasant people! You meet all sorts of people around here.

The evening consisted of going to a pizza dinner at Meriam’s with a bunch of the pilots on the island. Both Jong and I had other places to be in the evening, so we rolled in for a quick eat and run, but it was good to catch some conversation with people my own age. A lot of those guys (and girl!) intrigue me, because their belief in God is nominal, and Three Hills isn’t really the best place to meet people like them… so it is fun to see where the conversations go.

Then it was back to the BDC for the weekly Bible study.

And God is continually teaching me that attitude is important. He’s also teaching me not to hold too tightly to the way you do things, flexibility is a valuable trait to have.

Monday, February 12, 2007


I always smile at those who say that the flood was a localized event. How could God promise that He would never send something like that again if it was merely a local event? The details just don’t seem to add up.

Today was essentially a day off. Ken and Mary are at the Lami church, and I had nothing on the docket, so it was a lazy day. I got up around 10, coaxed myself into the cold shower, made some lunch and planned to go into town to make some phone calls back home. However, it was raining pretty hard all night, and I certainly didn’t want to make the trek into down with the rain coming down. So I waited.

Around 1, the rain cleared up. Jong had messaged me earlier to check up and make sure everything was ok... because it was flooding in Nadi! Naturally, I had to see the phenomenon for myself! The internet cafe is on high ground, so perhaps it was still open to. So I packed everything into my backpack, and headed into town.

You can check the pictures for yourself, but the Nadi river had swelled over it’s banks. I had to wade through water that was over my knees. It was a lot of fun. All the Fijians were out having a ball in the water, laughing and splashing one another. A group of us held onto one another to make sure no one got swept away by the current, and once I made it to the bridge, water was no longer an issue.

Unfortunately, the internet cafe wasn’t open, but I did sit down at a coffee place and finish up an assignment for my Internship course. Chatted with a guy that Jong and I actually saw yesterday at the Shangri-La... he was stranded in Nadi because of the flooding and they were waiting for the water to go down so they could make it back down the coast.

And then I set out to come back to the BDC. A Toyota truck was about to drive through the water, so I jumped on with a bunch of Fijians. I was riding ‘Fiji Style’ as they like to call it here. We made it through no problem, and I stayed on the truck until the exit to the BDC. Don’t tell Dad (as if he’s not reading this!), but there were moments in time when we must have been going 60 or so. The Fijians were hooting and hollering at all the other cars, it was hilarious.

The truck actually blew past my stop, and the driver had no intention of stopping anytime soon. But a bus pulled out in front of him a few blocks down, and I took the opportunity to jump off the back. The Fijians found that pretty hilarious too. It was quite the adventure, check out the few pictures I took of the water!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Never Stop Believing

What a day... it was filled with a variety of different activities. Some I would consider encouragements, and a very few that weigh heavily on my heart. They strike to the very core of who I am and make my blood boil at the mere thought.

I preached the message this morning, and it was quite the interesting endeavour. I’ve never used a laptop for the totality of my notes, and it took a little bit of getting used to, but it worked out well in the end. I had the attention of everyone who was there, and despite asking them to reach up a little to some new vocabulary (which I did my best to explain through usage and other synonyms), it was a very practically focussed message. It honed in on discipleship. Each of us are called to be disciple-makers, we all have a different way of making disciples, and we all have a place in the body of Christ and a role to fill. The key, of course, is that we have to be willing to go wherever God takes us.

The frustration came after my message. We had communion today. It was a different way of doing things than I’m used to. The children are dismissed from the service, the youth are asked to sit at the back of the sanctuary and the adults who are going to take communion move to the front three rows of the church. What was a point of contention in my mind was the way the youth are separated from the rest of the congregation. The way it came across was that they were not welcome to participate in communion with the rest of the congregation. To me, it just simply isn’t right.

When I asked Ken and Mary about it after the service, they said any of them were free to participate in communion. I naturally told them how the way it was explained came across to me and a few others, and waited for their response. They said that they never expected the youth to participate in communion! So I asked them if they had tried openly inviting the youth to come forward and participate in communion if they were believers... and then it came out. Mary turned to me and with her finger pointed right into my arm said, “Listen, young man, don’t you tell us how to do ministry here.”

Was that the earth slowing to a crawl? Could it possibly be true that the stories I’d heard were true? Did she actually just say that while poking me in the arm? Was my question really that offensive, when I was just curious on why they did things that way?

As the world sped back up, I decided it would be wiser to walk away from that situation than let my mouth express the many emotions and thoughts that were running through my head. How can you expect the next generation to take hold of your faith if they are treated like second rate citizens? Why can we not believe the best in the people around us and think that maybe, just maybe they can be better than they currently are? If I was treated that way growing up, I’m not so sure that I would want to be a Christian either... if that is who Jesus is, I wonder if I would want any part of Him.

Many questions, few answers. I have a strange feeling this will not be the last of that particular incident, and for that, I am actually quite glad. It is time to put the car into gear and start moving forward. It hasn’t been used in awhile, and it’ll be a difficult shift, but it is a needed one.

Jong and I spent the afternoon and evening travelling to the Outrigger and the Shangri-La. My first touristy afternoon while I’ve been here. Check out the pictures!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Preaching to a Different Culture

I just finished typing out my first sermon for Fiji. It was an interesting experience attempting to mix what I know with what they will understand. The truth is that many Fijian people are very basic in their faith, and many of them are still feeding off the milk when they should have been on meat years ago. So as I look to writing this message, I spent a good deal of time talking with others about it and praying. I let it sit, marinate a little before I sat down to write it out. It kind of felt like procrastinating, but God kept saying to me... “Not yet... let it sit for a little while longer.” So I did, and when I finally did sit down to write it out, it flowed out of me. It’s not often that it does that.

I spent the day with Jong, just relaxing and talking about our lives. From his upbringing, to the hotel, to back home in Canada, to working with the Fijian people, it was a very enlightening experience. I had a chance to get on the internet sometime in the afternoon, after spending 30 minutes figuring out how to get through the network to the net, I discovered that I needed to set up a proxy. Once that was done, everything was hunky dory!

After dinner, he took me for a tour around the hotels around Island. We went to the Sheraton, the Westin and the Hilton. All three of them were hovering around 30% occupancy rates, and they generally need at least 50% to break even. Keep your eyes posted for wicked good deals to come to Fiji and visit! I’m sure they aren’t that far away.

While we were touring through the Chinese architecture of the Westin, a tropical storm was brewing of the coast. There was nearly blinding lightning and some huge thunder that just got me excited. By the time we pulled up to the Hilton a few minutes later, it was POURING rain again. We made a quick dash to the hotel lobby... and got completely drenched in the process. I had a blast. Once we were inside, they gave us a ride via golf cart to the restaurant. Inside, they gave us towels to help dry ourselves off. That’s what five star arrangements will get you. They were even warm! ;) I love the rain here in Fiji.

And then it was straight back to the BDC to write my sermon... tomorrow I preach.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Bring a Boat

I was starting to wonder if Fiji really was a tropical country! ;) I’ve been here for two weeks tomorrow, and while there were short bursts of hard rain, there was nothing really what I would put into the ‘epic’ category. Have no fear, today fixed that for me! It started raining about 10 AM in the morning, and proceeded to turn on and off like a tap every 30 minutes for the rest of the day. Take into account this is rain like the pictures, with HUGE drops of water. By the night time, you just didn’t wear shoes outside if you were smart, because your feet and probably your ankles were going to be underwater.

This morning I went to the Nadi Airport School to teach scripture. It’s reminiscent of being back in Three Hills, but these kids are even better behaved; and they know very little about the Bible. I took them through the stories of Ehud and Gideon, and they knew neither of them. Both of the stories led into the fact that God has a plan for us regardless of how left out or weird we may be.

They had their prefect ceremony yesterday morning, so Josepha and I were only able to take 3 classes, but the ceremony was interesting. I’ve never seen a school use the prefect/head boy or girl system before, so it was intriguing to sit through it!

During the afternoon, I finished my sermon outline, went to Jong’s flat and relaxed a little. And then I walked back in pouring rain. It was fun trying to time walking past the puddles with the passing of cars. I was splashed good a few times, but I made it to the bus stop and eventually to McDonalds! Youth was starting in about an hour, and so I needed to eat something quickly. Boy, that sounds like I need to justify myself, lol!

While eating, a Fijian man, Jim, struck up a conversation with me. He was there with two young children, and it turns out he’s an associate minister with the Associated Gospel Churches here, full-time. Naturally, the conversation led to ministry, and some of our backgrounds. At the end of it, he gave me a ride back to the BDC and saved me a 10-15 minute walk through the rain and some REALLY large puddles!

That evening, we had youth. To be honest, I wasn’t so sure that we were even going to have youth, because of the rain, but when I got back, Josepha had taken the van and was out picking up the youth. They arrived about 20 minutes late, but we had a fun time regardless. Just a small number around 6 tonight. I spoke on the need to let God’s word work from the inside out, and some of the different responsibilities that we have in that process. I’m not sure why I was told that the youth here don’t really talk, because they were pretty conversational to me. Actually, they talked more than my first month in Sunday School back in Three Hills. There was the awkward looks, the unfamiliarity with someone actually asking their opinion, but eventually they started to engage with what I was saying. Knowing me, you already know this was very informal, and I made a few jokes about the massive pulpit that sat in front of the benches. Perhaps there is some hope for the kids... I wouldn’t have known it from what I was told.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


For anyone wondering if I’m getting my fair share of adventures in while I’m here in Fiji, have no fear. Today contained enough adventures for weeks! I got up at 4:47 this morning (3 minutes before my alarm was supposed to go off), to drive to the camp site down in Sigatoka and work on one of the cabins there. Four of us went down to work on the cabin, and once I woke up, it was actually a really fun time. Bau and I worked on ‘hurricanizing’ the cabin by putting in strips of sheet metal attached to the different planks. We had to expand the nail holes first, and then put on a special kind of nail that had a ‘button’ of sorts on the end. I’ll try to get some pictures up the next time I go down.

We worked for the entire morning on the cabin, from 6 up until about 10:30 when it started raining. In that time, Bau and I secured about 14 planks to the main frame, and ensured that the roof would not blow off by nailing the strips into some of the cross-supports. Nice to be using a hammer and getting a workout while enjoying the company of others.

On the way back, Sebastian txt’d me and told me to be at the airport at 1:30 PM, and I could go on a flight with him to one of the outer islands. Naturally, I was ALL over that. Unfortunately, the truck we were driving in had a ruptured coolant line, and we had to pull over. The funny part of this is that I attempted to hitchhike in order to get into town! No one picked me up, but I ended up catching a carrier van (like a taxi with bus rates) into town, and paying a taxi to take me to the BDC and then to the airport. It was quite the endeavour… and I made it in time despite Ken laughing that maybe it was divine providence that the van broke down and no one would pick me up.

Sebastian flew a couple out to Castaway Island, one of the resorts out here, and I had a chance to do some shallow-water snorkelling. VERY pretty fish under the water and the sand is nearly perfectly white! It was a super fun experience, and my first time here in the ocean water. It was like a warm swimming pool, and Sebastian tells me it’s actually really cold this time of year. I could handle that!

This evening, we went to Tu’s again for dinner, as one of the Canadian couples quit their flight jobs and were leaving on a plane to head home. One comment… drunk people are retarded, in a sadly funny way. They don’t make a lot of sense, their conversations go in circles, and they have no inhibitions about what they look like around other people. I was half laughing, and have standing in awe of what unfolded in front of me as both the couple and their friends proceeded to get completely plastered. I’m curious to know how they made it through customs!

Definitely some adventures to be had!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

How Does One Relax in Fiji?

By phoning home, silly! I was awoken this morning by Ken (pre-9AM!) knocking on my door, and I think he carried on a bit of a conversation with me before he left again. I don’t really function earlier than that, especially on my days off, so it was a bit of a blur. I’m preaching on Sunday, I need to be ready to leave at 5 AM (that’s not a typo…) tomorrow to go do work at the camp, etc.

That ruined my hopes of sleeping in… so I got up, had a cold shower (that’ll wake you up!), and got ready to go for the day. My plans were to run into Nadi, and spend 2 hours at a local internet café phoning home, and that’s exactly what I did! I talked to Lorelei for 45 minutes, telling her in detail about what has been going on here, and the best ways to pray for me, and then hearing about what’s been going on back home. Amazing how just talking can make such a difference! I then talked to Jordan for about 20-25 minutes, hearing a little bit about how her week has been going, and sharing how Fiji has been. And then I phoned back to Three Hills and had a chat with my good friend Andrew. I miss our chats!

The early afternoon was awesome. I left the café generally just feeling good about life, and all because I had a good chance to talk to people back home. It’s amazing how hard it is to carry on without the support of others, I don’t know how the early missionaries did it.

The later afternoon was spent hanging out at the Tanoa hotel, in Jong’s flat (it’s not an apartment here!). I watched Spanglish, and just chilled. That’s my idea of a relaxing day off… no pressures, just enjoying life. And then I went for a quick dip in the pool. Nice to be swimming in a tropical environment!
Relaxed… and refreshed. I am blessed.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Are you a Taxi?

Have you ever stopped to think about all the small analogies that surround us on a daily basis? Take a taxi for instance. Fiji is the second place in the world that I have ever ridden in a taxi… but it is the first time I’ve been the one paying. They travel throughout town, picking up people, and move on to their next destination, constantly seeking and never at rest… all in search of more money. Does that sound familiar?

It doesn’t matter where you go in the world, money is the driver. The Fijian culture is one that does not pay back loans, and the concept of ‘borrowing’ is lacking at best. So what do the companies do? “Buy this large screen 58” HDTV for only 54 dollars a week!” Did I mention that Fiji only has one television station unless you get satellite? Honestly!? What is the point of that? Status!

This is where Christ stands so counter-culture. He was, and never will be about money. He’s all into the business of saving lives. What business are we into?

We drove back from Lami this morning. Uneventful taxi ride… but some seriously beautiful scenery. At one point, I was awed by the breaking waves over crystal blue sea on one side, and the rusty metal shanties on the other. The contrast is astounding. And the world rumbles on by.

The afternoon was spent checking my e-mail, talking with Lorelei (hi!) and Jordan (hi too!). Jordan’s parents finally made it down to Mexico to visit her, after a 6 day delay in the flight schedules. Quite the debacle, all in all. And then in the first conversation we’ve had in over a week… we ended up having a theological discussion. Why, you ask? I really don’t know. You’ll have to figure that one out for yourself, because I still don’t get it!

I ate dinner with Jong at his hotel, having lamb… and the best part, free! Gotta love free meals. Then he drove me back to the BDC for men’s bible study. Tomorrow… I relax. And maybe even see my beautiful little niece over the webcam!

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Many Faces

Has it ever occurred to you how many different faces that we have in our country? There is the government, who is so polished and so professional, always working to make a positive impression on the populous. Then there are the corporations, lavishing in their power and money. There are the wealthy, who avoid anyone who does not fit into their financial bracket, but instead choose to hold parties for their friends while others die around them. There are the families, with their parents and children, sometimes happy, and sometimes the picture of anger. There are the homeless, wishing only to find a place to sleep and a meal to eat. Our culture has many different faces.

Fiji is no different. The only difference is that it is much more noticeable here, less segregated. I travelled around the south east of Fiji today with Ken, seeing some of the towns and different places. We first went to the missionary training centre to see a pastor from Australia that has come in to work with some of the men and teach. There were people from all over the south pacific there; all to learn about God and one day go out to make a difference in the world.

We then travelled into Suva, the capitol city of Fiji. One word… dirty; oil slicks from buses, uncleaned sidewalks, and far too many people for the infrastructure. All wrapped in a city that bustles around you, and people who are hurting… and I’m sure people who are wondering how they are going to put food on that table that night.

Can you see how these two relate? Do they coincide at any point in time? When does the gospel of Christ begin to make tangible differences in the life of people so that they can understand how Jesus wants to be a part of their life… personally. There are many, many challenges before this culture is even ready for that step, starting first with the church. These people desperately need to learn how to be salt and light, and how to make some basic choices in their own lives that will have vast effects on their well-being.

I’m not sure if this is the place for me, but whoever comes has a formidable job ahead of them. It’s not a short-term kind of thing.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Three Hours Can Make a Big Difference

Today was my first trip down to the Lami church. Lami is located about 10-20 minutes outside of Suva, the capitol of Fiji. The church here was the one the Cairns had originally planned for me to take, and so it was of particular interest for me to come and see.

The morning was spent at the Nadi church, having the normal morning service. Nothing really of note to speak of there, but I’ve always been curious about translating a North American style church into a different culture. I’d be curious to get an honest opinion about what they locals think about the way we ‘do’ church. Would they do it differently if they were given freedom from the start? Or would it look much the same? How can you avoid syncretism if you give locals freedom of worship. Interesting problems… and I’m not sure that I’d have an easy answer.

The Lami church was… much more alive! It’s a far younger church, with most of the group consisting of youth. I led the senior youth Sunday school class, and we talked about some of the difficulties in following God. It’s not always an easy thing to do, despite what it might seem like at first. They were generally open and receptive (at least to my Canadian feelers!), despite the warnings that I’d received to not expect any feedback… normal youth! It was refreshing!

The service also had an energy about it that at least to me seems to be lacking in Nadi. Perhaps it’s the youth, and the prominence of music in the church, but I found myself really enjoying it!

This evening, I went with Molly, Tepal (the elder of the Lami church) and his Wife to go see “The Pursuit of Happyness.” Amazing how you can be in a 3rd world country, and still go see some of the latest movies. Very good, by the way, it makes you think about the things you give priorities in your life, and how fortunate we really are.

Ministry has its ups and downs… but we need to remember to trust.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

It’s Raining It’s Pouring…

While I write this, it is absolutely pouring rain outside. If you check the pictures, I will have posted a few of what tropical rain looks like! Exactly like a torrential downpour, it’s one of my most beautiful things you can imagine. Flash floods are a common occurrence here because of the volume of rain that comes down in such a short period of time. AKA, it’s right up my alley!

Today, I got up right around 8:30 in the morning. For the first time in years, I had a pretty vivid dream about my mom. A lot of the details are fuzzy, but I remember waking up remember what she looked like and what her voice sounded like. I’ve never had that experience before, so it was a welcome surprise.

I ran into town to put some money on my phone, as I’d run out, and to upload some pictures. Fairly uneventful trip all in all, no marriage proposals while I’m in town yet! Normally an ex-patriot will get solicitations for money or for marriage while they are walking around the town. People here are very pour, and any way to get a hand up on life is a welcome one. People tell me to wait until I’m a little more familiar, and then I’ll start to get some proposals! I’m not sure what to think about that!

The evening was spent with friend. Jong and I went out for coffee at a little shop by the Nadi river and talked while the locals jumped off the bridge into the water below. The drop itself is about 50 feet, but the river is just nasty… comparable to the North Saskatchewan in Edmonton, not something you’d want to spend a lot of time in. I’m not sure if they know better.

After that, Meriam, Sebastian and Molly (Ken and Mary’s other daughter) picked me up and we went out for dinner at a local restaurant. The prices were very reasonable, and the portion was humongous! I’m not sure I even finished half of what they gave me before I was full. We had a good chat about the local culture and my experiences so far. It is always good to hear other people’s perspectives to round out your understanding!

Oh yeah… and I slept through the 6:30 AM prayer meeting this morning, but didn’t even realize it until late afternoon when Jong mentioned it to me! Totally slipped my mind! Oops!


I've had a lot of people asking for pictures of my time here in Fiji. I want you to know that the first batch is now posted! You can view them online at

Friday, February 02, 2007

Have You Ever Been in a Group of People When...

You felt completely alone. Friday nights is youth group here in Nadi, and this week was obviously my first week to be in attendance! It’s amazing how isolated you can feel in a room full of people when they are all speaking a different language and laughing about things that you don’t really understand. It gives me a new appreciation for those who have to learn to fit in with people who have been friends for a very long time!

I tried to get on the internet to get caught up today, and ended up taking a bus down to Jong’s hotel, since they normally have wireless that he offered to me. Lucky for me, however, they were redoing the entire network infrastructure, and it went down this morning! He gave me a fruit drink and a ride back to the BDC as compensation. Lol, at least I could to talk to someone my own age!

And today was really my first real tropical rain experience! Literally, it’s like God turned on a tap, and suddenly it is pouring rain. I love it! I was sitting in my room working on the computer, when suddenly I hear some drips out the window... and then it went into full drive about 5 seconds later. Fantastic!

Lesson learned today: Always work to include the odd man out. It’s lonely out there!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Sometimes a New Country is Like a Cold Shower

Isn’t it amazing how God takes care of us even in the midst of uncertainty? Truly, He watches over the birds of the air and the blade of grass... and He watches over me. Orchestrated in the symphony of life, He knows what we need before we are even aware and always provides in just the right way! Today (and He is providing on a daily basis) He reminded me that He will always give me the company that I need to be fulfilled. Good friends make a world of difference.

I’ve now moved out on my own into the BDC, and it is something that I am actually really looking forward to! I have my own room, and it gives me my own private space to settle in and enjoy. It gives me some security when everything else is moving and shifting. I never realized it, but having your own space that you can exert a little bit of control over makes a humongous difference!

This evening, I ate at the very authentic, very Fijian... McDonalds! =) I was in a bit of a rush, so I figured some fast food wouldn’t hurt. While it is a bit of a taste of home, it lacks the ... taste of North America. How can McDonald’s taste any different, you ask? I don’t know, but it’s not as good as back home. It lacks that McDonalds twang that makes it so good, and yet so bad for you.

Jong met me there, and we came back to the BDC (Bethel Discipleship Centre, where I’m living) and I grabbed a few verses for the devotional tonight, and then we drove over to Meriam and Sebastian’s. The young adult gathering was there, and in typical Fijian style, we showed up on time, meaning about an hour early. The evening was a little awkward at first, but once we got the games going, the ice (I use that phrase loosely, because Fijian people only know ice for water) was broken and the laughter came out. We played a game where you had to act out or point to an object; it had a little computerized thing that kept track of the scores too. After that, I had to explain Taboo to a group of Fijians. You never realize how many Canadianisms there are in that game until you play it with people that have no idea who the Lone Ranger is.

Finally, some of the main differences between Fiji and Canada came out. Quite a few of the Fijians lacked the reading and grammar skills to really get the game at first. They were fine once some of the stronger ones picked up the game, but it wasn’t a fluent transition for any of them. We truly are blessed to have the educational system that we have!

Remember, God is faithful and He will ALWAYS provide!