Sunday, January 27, 2013

Bula Vinaka ya'll... What a week we've had!.  Richard and I have been  finding and furnishing a lot of flats lately.  We bumped the AP's into a smaller flat so our second new senior couple who are here for only 2 months could use theirs (mainly becauase it has air conditioning).  Richard noticed the kitchen drawer was stuck so he was bent over  and was jiggling it to trying and  work it loose and out jumped this huge gecko, hitting his stomach, careening off the edge of my skirt, (Richard yelped I I screamed) then Godzilla scurried off into the bedroom where we took a picture of him.  We told the AP's their flat would be bug free but there was a surprise waiting for them.  They gave us an update.  They cornered Godzilla in the shower and waved a towel at him making him run around  and around the bathroom until he was exhausted, picked him up and set him outside to find a new place to live.

The Elder's on the L and R of the picture came down from another island where they've been serving.  The one on the left was quite plump when he first arrived (he showed us a picture) and he now looks completely differ4ent.  The one on the R is modeling a woven hat he bought before leaving Rotuma a more remote island where there's long stretches between boats that bring food to the island. 

A quick lunch at KFE (mock up of Kentucky Fried Chicken where we've discovered the best  meal is chicken bites

The guy on the Left is a future Elder coming to our mission.  Middle Elder Haimin, and R Elder Ulululakeba who  was serving here temporarily (he's Fijian) until his visa came through and is now heading to his assigned mission

Sister Mabey from Christmas island with Elder  Tebetanga.  It's a lot more challenging on  their island and when she and her were here with a group of member's coming for their first time at the temple, she was also trying to talk with embassy people to get the Visa this Elder had for the US as a baby upgraded so he could head to the Provo MTC on time.  He had to go back to another island Tarawa where the service center will help get his application in order and send paperwork to me to do the Fiji Visa when he heads for Provo.  It's very challenging for these kids to get police reports, bank account statements etc when most of them don't have a  car to get a driver's liscense, use cash and don't have a bank account etc.

Friday we headed out on an adventure.  There's a small island NE of us that  President Klingler  is putting elder's on after 10 years of not having missionaries there. We caught a bus that loaded on this boat and then we sat on chairs along the side of the boat during the 3 hour trip to the island.

As we headed home, we came out of the office just as a group of members from Christmas Island were on the steps for a picture and we were able to capture it.  This is why we are here, and what will be a part of  out sweet memories of Fiji.  It is so great, to see the joy in there faces as they come to the house of the Lord.  For some this will be their only time.

Looking down from the rail of the boat we saw this  about 10 feet behind a motor boat and Richard said  "a Fiji  wakeboard"  Of course it's a bamboo raft, but I was glad to be traveling on the boat.

Thisboat came into the doc as we were leaving.  It looked like a boat that transports food to the different islands.

We traveled along the back of Ovalau and there were a lot of grassy hills, trees and  coconut palms and one road along the perimeter of the island

The AP's told us to stay at the Royal Hotel in Levuka, so we rented a room for 3 days and  discovered  there was no air conditioning, a small mirror and sink next to the dresser in the bedroom.

A lovely view (these boats are a common site and many rust out quickly  due to the salt water)  The windows had no screens and heavy wood doors that we proped open with a stick with notches and a huge nail.

This is another shot of the bays we ocassionally saw with alot of  palm trees and group of houses

These two chairs and the table served as our game room.  Richard  got a yatzee on the first roll and another one during the game, (a definite sign I wasn't going to win that one, but I did win some others we played.  Our room felt like a sauna and as the night progressed I knew the heat had gotten to Richard when he said "I need a new bolo, then bulu until he finally got out sulu (mans skirt) that's more light weight material rather than the polyester one's I have now".

Yes you're looking at our suite.  That door is literally 2 feet wide.  The towels are well used and  their was no hot water (we began to savor the cold showers because it was very hot during the day and we took our unbrellas to create a little shade while we looked for a flat.  Tthe two white objects that look like lamps are mosquitoe netting which we didn't realize what they were or use until the last night, after serving as a smorgasboard for the local mosquitoes who sampled my R eyelid and both of our legs!

This is a historical picture of the hotel with victorian style railing that is now gone.  When   members at church on Sunday asked where we were staying and we said the Royal Hotel they kind of gave each other a knowing look.  We found out from the AP's after we got home that they have modern cabins with air conditioning that they neglected to tell us about.  The members tried to make us feel better by saying "the queen of England had stayed at the Royal Hotel" (It was built in the 1800's so I guess you can't fault them for not having some of the modern conveniences we're used to)

This is one of the many historical pieces they had in the dining area where we had breakfast

The lounge area with a mix of old and newer furniture.  When we rented our room the owner was an older man near our age, and we asked him "where's a good place to eat?"  "He said I don't know I don't eat out"

This is the back view of a church with a tall clock tower that reminded me of Big Ben in England

This is the road along the ocean in Levuka has several groups of shops.
They had store fronts that reminded me of the old west.  

We stopped at a museum....yes you guessed it, this is a neck breaker ,
used in the early days to dislocate the head from the body of their victims.

un uh (= yes) this is the famous club use to knock an enemy out
as they entered the low narrow door  of a villager's house.

Big Ben's cousin

We went around asking people on the street if they knew of a flat to rent , and one lead took us to Mike's house.  He offered us a glass of apple juice which we accepted and it had ice in it (the first we'd had.since arriving on the island)  It tasted so heavenly.  He'd traveled a lot over the years to Levuka with his work, divorced and then moved to Levuka and ended up marrying a Fijian woman and had 3 children (Mike is Caucasian).  He takes care of his yard and told us about an island we could see from his porch that is owned by a wealthy person who rented it to Bill Gates for his honeymoon.  It costs $5,000 a night and requires you stay for a week.   He said that during the Civil War when the Northern states couldn't get cotton someone enterprising came to Levuka and they grow cotton to supply the states.  There were other industries then too but as these entrepeneurs left the people didn't have the money to keep the industries going.  When I asked if Levuka was mostly influenced by the British,, he said no "the Americans were also here" and told us about early days, when the American Embassy caught fire and a prominent Chief and the natives looted anything of worth out of the Embassy.  The Americans demanded the items be returned, and when they wouldn't do it An American ship in the harbor shot cannonballs at the island.  (Mike's children found some of the cannon balls in the hills above their house. 

This bay is on the way to the flat Mike told us about.  We often see these
where the telephone poles were set up right through the water which is quite shallow.

A very old tapa cloth 

A view from the Chinese restaurant we ate at.  The trucks with tarps have bench seats along both edges and help people get around the island, but are hot while they wait for it to fill up.  The second night we ate here the chef came and apologized for the delay, which we didn't think much about since it took an hour the first time we ate there.  She said "we're out of vegetables, but they're coming on the boat and pointed to a boat like the one we came on slowly coming into view.  There was also a very noisy generator about 30 feet away that creates the electricity for Levuka that runs 24/7.  Our only question was why did they build it right by the dock for the boats and the shops in town?

I got up early one morning and watched the sun rise

This is the church in Levuka.  It is a small home with a space  for church (a small half wall masks the  sink area that was the kitchen, and there are two side rooms.  There were 5 sisters in Relief Society.  This is Sister Merekisi, I met her when I was frantically looking for a seat on the bus for Levuka.  Richard was outside making sure the Elders got our luggage loaded on the bus and said "go save us some seats"  I was near the entrance of the bus and experienced the "Fijian's don't understand the concept of a line" first hand.  Everyone pushed to try and get on the bus and when I got in there was one seat by Merekisi and another further back.  I asked her if I could sit by her and left my purse then stood by the other empty seat.  Richard was the last guy on the bus and several people were standing with no seat.  The bus driver tried to tell Richard to get on the next bus but he said "I'm going on this one my wife's on this bus" so the bus driver told 2 people to get on the next bus and one person sat on a large bucket in the isle.  Any way we learned that this sister lived in Suva and taught school 30 years, then lived in San Francisco in the states for 17 years and was now returning to live on her island that her family owns and is near the Ovalau. 

The church building

L-R Sister Liya, Emily, Wati, her sons and youngest daughter She asked me to send
her a copy of these pictures since they don't get a chance to have many pictures.

It's hard to see but there's a sad,bent over, basketball standard on the L 1/3of this picture
A basketball standard seems to be included on all LDS church buildings here,
even though the kids probably can't afford a ball and end up using the standard
 as a jungle gym instead.  If they have a ball it's to used for rugby.

Across the road from the church is this small stream and a swimming hole that   also serves
as the Waters of Mormon (baptisimal font) for the Levuka Missionaries

Catholic Cathedral in Levuka

This young man is a returned missionary who gives the Levuka  branch much strength.  He said his name was Diloi,  and we asked "are you related to our Elder Deloi?" who is serving in Suva?(the big guy we've shown pictures of before) and he said yes we're related and he is my name sake.  We also met the parents of Elder Musuka who is in our mission temporarily while waiting for his Visa and  Sister Anna Raloka's parents whose paperwork I'm working on right now.

Anyway, our trip was quite an adventure and we came back realizing how lucky we are to have air conditioning, a refrigerator, many stores and restaurants to choose from and hot water to name a few.
I'll close for now, be well everyone  Love Sister and Elder Hogge

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