Monday, September 10, 2012

The flat area is the local park for playing soccer or rugby

This is the resort we ate dinner at near Lautoka

Lautoka Zone lunch 

The Chapel in Lautoka, chapel on right and classrooms on left, the Bishops offices in between

The large Elder in the middle is Fijian and will play football for BYU after his mission.  His American companion is the third from the left.  

This is the ward kitchen where we all prepared the lunch

The view outside the hotel we stayed in

We wore out the Elder looking for the sister's new flat

An original Fijian home before the British made Fiji a colony

Fijians sell home grown vegetables and fruit next to the streets from these structures

This land is being developed for homes to be built  here
Bula Vinaka everyone.  We've had a great week full of new experiences.  Brother Hogge and I and another senior couple who are the second couple who work in the office (finance and medical specialists the Whitings) were invited to travel up to Latoka and help with that areas zone conference. President and Sister Klingler flew up north to the first zone conference with the Assistants.  They all flew to Latoka on Wednesday and we office seniors each drove a small car loaded with 2/3 of the food, coolers, etc and met up with the Kennerly's who are a senior couple that just transferred to Ba (a town that's out in the bush).  Sister Kennerly was assigned to bring the fresh fruit and veggies.  We closed the office at noon on Wednesday and drove up in a rain storm that lasted all day (it was coming down pretty good but sister Whiting said to me "oh you haven't seen a heavy rainstorm yet" that will come in Nov-Jan)  It took about 4 hours to get  there and we enjoyed seeing a lot of jungle growth, Patches of pine trees in areas that looked similar to northern Arizona with open rolling hills and mountains in the distance.  Then came the sugar cane fields.  As we drove along we thought it would be fun to write down the names of villages we past...ready?
Lami, Wainadoi, Lobau, Navua, The Pearl (a resort area that will let you use their stretch of beach to snorkel if you eat lunch there), Taunavo, Galoa, Korovisalou, Navutulevu, Namataukula, Navola, Komave, Korolevu, Votua, Nawavu, Vatualailai, Taqaqe, Namada, Vatukarasa, Malevu, Korotoga, Nayawa, Sigatoka, Volivoli, Yadua Semo, Yako, Korovuto just to name the ones we drove through because they are right along the road.  I'm sure there are a lot more villages back in more remote areas.  They all have similar four wall homes with corogated metal roofs and there's always clothes hanging out on the line.  I saw a little boy about 4 take off his shorts, pull some clean ones from the line and put them on. Due to the poverty I don't think they can afford luxuries like underwear.

Another reality is a limited variety of fruits and vegetables but what they are able to grow they use and try to sell the rest at road side stands to earn a little money.  The veggies are a thin tender type of egg plant, tomatoes, pumpkins (pumpkin shaped type squash that is a bit soggy when boiled) potatoes (not as flavorful as your Idaho spuds but edible) onions (smaller and stronger than our onions) green beans, carrots, a small leaf type lettuce, cucumbers and for fruit there's small watermelons, pineapples, and lady finger bananas.(also papaya and mangoes when in season for part of the year)  You may be thinking wow that's not much variety of fresh produce, and yes it isn't speaking for myself because that's all that's available for us too! We're slowly trying to adjust to it and make the best of it but I'm having trouble eating cooked cucumbers.  Wednesday night we and the Whitings stopped for dinner at Denarau on the West end of the island.  It's a nice resort that the tourists go to when in Fiji.  We checked all the restaurants and decided to splurge at a pricey restaurant that advertised Surf and Turf.  I mistakenly pictured something like the small Lobster that Red Lobster has and a small nice steak like you can get in the states.  When they brought out what looked like skinny lobster compared to the smallest one at Red Lobster that had 3 chunks of meat and a lot of sauce and a steak that was way under cooked and so tough that I couldn't chew some of the pieces even though I cut them very small, I think I finally realized that there isn't any place on this island that will have any food that is like what we are used to in the states, and decided not to do the high priced meals anymore.

normal Fijian bridge over a stream
Our zone conference started at 8am on Thursday and went until noon.  We had sloppy joes, fruit salad (fresh and canned fruit mixed) pasta salad noodle, frozen peas, cucumbers, tomatoes, with ranch dressing) and floats (red, orange, pineapple soda with vanilla ice cream)  President Klingler had Elder Hogge speak about car safety (one of our elders got in a head on accident and it cost 10,000 for their car and 12,000 Fijian for the other car, ouch) I spoke to them about accuracy in filling out baptisimal records (good news the lost 70 baptism records were found so I won't have to redo them, Wahoo!) Brother Whiting spoke to them about hygiene and then We women headed back to the kitchen to bake cookies.  About four the Elders had cookies and milk and then we heard testimonies and finished up with President Klingler doing interviews until 8pm.  The Whitings left about 2 pm so they could be in the office Friday morning and Elder Hogge and the rest of us headed to the hotel for a late night dinner.  We stayed an extra day because we had 2 flats to find for the sisters in Latoka and Nadi which they are opening up for sisters.  Elder Hogge had the zone leaders look ahead of time but the area the sisters will be in is a more wealthy area and most of the homes are for sale rather then rent.  When Sister Klingler heard about the situation she fasted and prayed hard that we would be able to find something and when we all went looking Friday morning we were able to find a good flat.  The only problem is it's unfurnished which will mean more 3-4 hour shopping days for Elder Hogge at Courts   , but we felt so blessed to find a flat.  There were 3 possibilities in Nadi but after looking at 2 that were not good we had to drop President and Sister Klingler at the airport.  We checked the third one out and it was perfect, and furnished.  Well I'm out of time and have more to write but it will have to wait until next week.  Take care everyone love Sister and Elder Hogge.

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