Thursday, April 25, 2013

Bula everyone, we went on an adventure last weekend  (April 20-21st).  On the way we  stopped at Navua to drop some items off to the Elders and I saw this Bougenvilla in their yard that was gorgeous because of it's double blooms.  We have it growing in Arizona, but I've never seen one with such beautiful blooms, Fiji is truly full of beautiful flowers.

Solid rock mountain and tough vegetation growing on face.  We  dropped some mail off to the Sigatoka Elders and  seeing that it was going to be sunny and dry, Elder Hogge announced that we were going to drive up to Nasivikoso.  (the village that he stayed overnight in with Elder Tennis earlier this year ).  

She asked to have her picture taken by some tourists, so Mary obliged  

Mary and I went to Nasivikoso in the bush, she is a trooper, as long as she didn't have to sleep overnight

Lots of great views on the way into the village

Wish I had this four wheel drive truck permanently!  This belongs to the Kennerly's who are  temporarily
serving in Taveuni, until a new support couple arrives next month.  We flew over to Nadi one weekend,
and drove it back to Suva so we could use it to deliver items needed in the missionaries flats.

This is the village bathtub.  

The children love to take baths here, with soccer balls too

Here is the bath drain--beautiful place!

Kids are never shy when taking pictures

Mom decided to join the bathtub fun

They all run in the sun to dry off

The Fijian Elder on the left has only six weeks left on his mission,
the  other has 20 months, and I have only 9 months--crazy!

The road going up this hill is the way the teenagers  go to school, about a half hour walk,
uphill both ways.  The mountain behind there, the Elders climbed up on P-day.
They found some caves where the villager said they use to hide during ancient times,
and  throw large rocks at their enemy.  There are waterfalls there also which serve as a water source.

Elder Dakunimata gave us the directions for taking a different road from Nasivikoso to Nadi.
In this spot with the pine trees growing on both sides of the road, and the air conditioner on,
it felt like we were driving in the mountains of Arizona or Utah

Another beautiful village along the way, traditional Bure on the  left.

Do you like this road? I loved driving this road, Mary just kept talking to me
but kept her cool.

We stopped and had lunch under this tree, then I took a wrong
turn at a junction of 3 dirt roads, and we  ended up in Ba village,
about 60 kms from where I intended to be (in Nadi).

A village down in the valley from where we ate our lunch.

Lots of small villages along the way, no electricity,
no indoor plumbing, and cooking by campfire

A few moments after the drive through the pine trees we drove by clumps of bamboo

There are lots of wild horses along the way.  Mary told me to stop so she could take a picture, I tried to move the truck a little closer and as soon as I got near this mare and colt they hid in the bush, thus our picture of their  rear ends!  

This is a village that has maintained it's charm by keeping everything traditional .
Mary snapped this picture before we got ran off by a villager.  Seems
that they make money by inviting tourists into the village and charging
them to take pictures of homes and people

When we began our trip to Nasivikoso I wondered how rough the road would be, and it went so well that we both were saying" this really isn't too bad".  On the way down to Nadi on a road neither of us had been on before it was a lot rougher and we did a lot of shake rattle and rolling to the point that I decided it would be easier on my back and head to not lean back against the seat, but hold on the loop up by the windshield and lean forward!  The surprise ending was when we drove into town, and I didn't recognize anything...I noticed store signs like Ba Hardware etc and said to Richard, "I think we're in Ba"...he said "no this is Nadi Mary"... then we drove up a hill and at the top was BA POLICE STATION sign.. and Elder Hogge said "this is Ba, how did that happen?"  We called the Nadi elders to let them know what happened, drove to the next town Lautoka and met with those elders for diinner, then drove to Nadi and checked into the Tanoa Hotel where we usually stay when in Nadi. 

Hey Hunter, how about a game of chess?
Old Bure home with new conveniences in Nadi outskirts where we were asked to look for a flat  that elders might stay in.

This is our church located in a village near Nadi named Drautabu 

Tuesday we had Elder Rasband and his wife come for a visit.  Our missionaries sang a
special musical number for them and then President and Sister Klingler bore their testimonies, and Brother
 Rasband and Hamula spoke.

Here are about 35 missionaries out of the 106 now in the mission
all Elders wear sulu's

Our next trip this coming Saturday is up to Rakiraki with these new bikes for the Elders.  We will travel
way to the north of Viti Levu on a different road than we usually take.  It should be another great adventure.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Bula Vinaka, we hope all is going well with everyone back home.
This first picture was taken at a training meeting for the sister on our island Vitu Levu.
They're a special group of young women that we love a lot.

This is Elder Memea, he flew into Suva last week for surgery on his big toe  and will be with us  for at least 3 weeks
while he recouperates.  He was stuck in our office for the day and had to keep his foot elevated.  (He is wearing a wearing a member's glasses to look good for the picture, Elder's aren't allowed to wear sun glasses).

We needed to go make arrangements for flats in two outer islands this last week.  We flew into
Taveuni  on  Friday April 5th (picture above of smallest airports we've experienced thus far)

palm lined runway was pretty cool

This may look familiar, it's a pier by the Garden Island Hotel we've stayed at before,
but I think Elder Hogge is looking pretty healthy and happy, and even posed for a picture for me.

I read up on some of the animals in Fiji and was surprised when I saw this skink (lizard) there are tons of them on the  sea wall by our hotel and they would run down between the rocks where the ocean splashed on them.

These are some carvings of tools used in early times by the Fijians that are on big shelves in the hotel lobby. 

Fijian carvings

Fijian boat

Below, they put fresh flowers on our bed, the tables, in the bathroom each day, and  since I love flowers,
I had to take a  picture of them.  They're is such a variety of beautiful flowers in Fiji

This is about 15 inches long x 9 inches high.You aren't allowed to take any shells this size from  Fiji
and if you  have one  in your suitcase it would be seized and a heavy fine would be charged.

Wildflowers growing on the side of the road inTaveuni

This is Courts and a few other stores that comprise all of downtown Taveuni.  We went to a restaurant
 across the street from here.  It was upstairs, very hot with no air conditioning and had some pizza.  I'm just glad
 Elder Hogge brought two hankies along so we each had a sweat rag to wipe our neck and faces.

After inspecting some flats here, we went to this store for some items the Elders needed.  The girl checking us out was on the last items (4 loose forks and 4 loose knives) that didn't have a bar code tag on them.  Elder Hogge said we don't want them, she misunderstood and left to find where they were in the store.  Twenty minutes went by, I left to go find her and as I turned the corner and saw she had found where they were, then went around another corner and in the back of the store where it says employees only!  So I returned t to where Elder Hogge was still waiting and was obviously hot (no air conditioning) and frustrated.  I put my hand up and made the sign President Klingler taught us, folding down 4 fingers one at a  time and he started to laugh. Whenever someone starts complaining and is frustrated, he raises his hand and bends 4 fingers down slowly meaning "you're in Fiji now"

This store has food, dry goods household appliances and furniture.  The space above the Variety sign has other products that are sometimes different from what's out on the floor.  These goods come by boat so a good rule of thumb is if you see something you want, you had better buy it now, because you don't know when it will be available again. 

After Elder Hogge got through the checkout at the store, he had to wait  for  another salesman to hand write
each item he had ordered for the Elders to pick up later (mattress for be, lamp etc)  I walked down the street
 and got a few pictures of the village church

village house

Historical Lali (drum that was used to communicate a long distance in earlier days)

In this village most of the houses had the same design fence on the porch but in different colors

Big Hibiscus on our table inthe room

This trip was a real treat because we had a little time here and there to relax.   Elder Hogge had some things to do on the computer and suggested I go have a massage.  What a wonderful gift.  This hut has white strips all around it and you could hear the ocean waves lapping on the shore.  It was a truly heavenly experience.

This big piece of coral was on the path to our room

I love to collect shells and in Suva there are only pieces of coral. I saw this brown shell and was about to pick it up when it moved. A hermit crab was using it fora home.  As I noticed other shells all of them were also moving.

There are somestone stairs down the sea wall and a hole in the rocks to the right of the stairs.
 I saw some crabs and every time I moved closer to take a picture, they disappeared in the crevices!
So I sat very still, used the zoom  and finally captured them.  

another hermit crab

The view outside our room

This bush was in front of our hotel and was unique because it had  large white blooms
 and small hot pink blooms on the same bush.

Frangi Pani (plumeria)

Carvings outside the massage hut

We flew over some islands that havebeautiful bright tourquoise water around the edge where the coral beds are.
They don't sell postcards here so I tried to capture some of them, even though the camera doesn't capture the intense  colors (I'm taking a picture through the glass windows of the plane).

This trailer is an eatery that holds only 2-3 customers but I'n told the Elders go there regularly.

These big clam shells are all around.  This is in the lobby  Garden Island where we stayed.

As we flew into our 2nd destination Kendavu, we flew by a volcanoe (top R corner)  We were told  that this was where King Kong (the 1st movie made in about 1930) was filmed.  In front of it is Kong reef.

The airport and runway at Vunisea was between two large lagoons and  Elder Jack and Ravatamada met us and got a transport truck to  drive us up a rough dirt road.  They each hauled a suitcase for us and we walked in some tall grass down a path and around a big tree to this house and then began the steep climb up a hill with dirt stairs carved into it.

It was breezy and cool at the top and had a beautiful view of  the second  lagoon.

Mattresses to sleep on, a rusty drying rack that is starting to leave rust stains on their clothes (put 1 drying rack on your    \list elder Hogge)  They hang their flour in large buckets from the ceiling so the rats won't get into it.

View of the village below who own the land the Elders flat is built on.  One reason we are here is to try and smooth things over.  The man who owns the flat the Elders are living in has taken rent for two years, but not given the portion owed to the villagers (land owners) and now the lease is expiring and they don't want the Elders to live here.

Pine tree forrest on the side of the flat.

Kitchen.  Elder Ravatamada (who is Fijian) made us some pumpkin curry for lunch and Elder Jack made some  Roti.  

On inspection of the support logs under the flat we discovered some cracks. The  elders said when they have
a big storm the flat kind of does the hula... I think it's time to find a new flat.

We discovered it wasn't any easier going down ,and  told the Elders as  beautiful
as the view is, we wouldn't be coming back to their flat anymore during this visit.

Houses along the shore in Vunisea

This island is about 20 years behind others as far as modernization goes and  until recently only allowed Fijians
 to live here.  They now have 4 Indians living here, but they must have a spouse who is Fijian in order to rent.
There is also not much work, so you see more men around during the day.  The Elders helped us find our
transport boat that would take us to our lodging which was about 20 minutes by boat.

Some Fijian women coolingoff in the water in their clothes.  No one wears bathing suits here.

The bure we stayed in #8

This bure was next to ours and was double like a duplex and was used by one of the owners of Matana.
They live in New Zealand and come for a visit one or two times a year and have villagers who cook,
clean and a manager it when they're back home.

These two boats were near our bure and I wondered how they got them up here.

This little girl and her dad rode with us the next day when we returned to Vunisea.  Her dad wanted  her to move to a bench on the boat where he was sitting, and she gave him the stink face.

next thing ya know she was asleep.

The man in the red shirt is Dave.  He was filling  in as manager until the new one arrives, since he used to be the manager here.  He has a big beard and bushy eyebrows and is married to a Fijian woman in Vunisea called Mere (Mary)  He told us a funny story about the first owner of Matana.  There were so many roosters around the two villages that are behind the Matana back then, that it was disturbing the guests.  The owner had someone send him a bebe gun through the mail and was slowly picking off the roosters when someone complained, and the authorities came over to investigate and told him that it was illegal to have any kind of firearm in Fiji.  So the owner told the villagers he would give them $5.00 a head for every dead, plucked rooster they brought him.  His freezer began to get very full and he realized something was fishy, and on further investigation, discovered that since he didn't specify that he wanted roosters from
the 2 villages, the men were going to a neighboring island to find roosters!  

We went to visit Brother Lal.  He and his wife have recently returned from working in Australia to get money to buy materials to build a new home after he lost his last home when it burned down in a fire.  They invited us to have lunch and Elder Hogge and I sat on a wood bench by the table.  The Elders ate on the floor and Brother and Sister Lal stood and ate.  The house is partitioned into two.  Half is a store that has supplies they bought in Suva.  The two beds are where they and their young son sleep.  We had canned pears in coconut cream, bread and cold spagetti from a can.  I had brought some crackers and peanut butter in a small container in my purse knowing that we may be busy and not get back to our lodging for a meal.  I added it to the rest of our lunch and it was quite a hit with their little 3 year old son.

Above their house is a leveled out area they wanted to build  a bigger house before their house burned down.

Big limestone boulders outside their house.  They didn't have doors, but had wood slats nailed to thedoor
 opening so their  son wouldn't fall out (slats and door frame lower part of picture)

View of the 1st Lagoon

Goats met us when we got out of the truck transport

Elder Jack and Lal's puppy

and of course theirs a few chickens hanging around

Sister Lal threw some grain out the door and they were there in a flash

The government wanted to upgrade the old dock in Vunisea, but the people  didn't want to go for it,
so a  road was built around a large hill and a new dock was built further down the shoreline.  We didn't
see anyone using the old dock the whole time we were there.

Elder Ravatamada, Elder Hogge, Brother Lal, Elder Jack
The church building.  It has one room and when they break up
into RS, Priesthood and Primary  they just go to
different areas of the room and each do their lessons.

Outside of the church

These traditional bure's could be seen from brother Lal's house

I know this transport looks way cool, but it was so tall that we had to hold the loop above the door
 and pull  hard to get  up into the truck!  It's great to grow old... 

Another great piece of driftwood that won't fit into my suitcase

The ceiling in our bure

Kendavu is the best place by far to find shells

Our room, we had a fan for a couple of hours in the evening when they ran the  generator

The owner actually found a few postcards for me, but I thought  I'd better send it this way, as the missionaries
are still  getting  Christmas cards.  Yes these are the fun shells I found on the beach  on my daily walks

This is Noah (the owners son). He loves to collect shells too and  helped me find some good ones's

One day I heard something strange and looked out the window and saw pigs  rooting around the bushes by our bure.
Conny, Noah's mother told us a funny story.  When the boat comes into Vunisea it's fun to go see what goods and people are arriving.  When they went one time, there was the biggest pig she'd ever seen on the boat
and when they landed it took off running and jumped into a big puddle in the road and rolled around to get cool.
 A transport truck came and it took 10 men  to pick up the pig, load it and then they all jumped in.
Connie said it was comical seeing the truck drive away, with the back end riding way lower than the front.

We had Fijian food for breakfast,lunch and dinner.  Every night we started with soup.  One night we had fish and chips and the chips were made from breadfruit (pretty tasty) .  The most  interesting soup was a dark green thin soup made of Dalo leaves.  Breakfast was continental fruit, cold cereal or a cooked breakfast.  Elder Hogge was too full from dinner to have breakfast except for the last morning.  I had my usual cold cereal, fruit and juice that morning, and the server brought out a cooked breakfast for Elder Hogge.  He said "oh I just want some toast would you give that to my wife"  knowing that I would eat it rather than be ungracious.  So if I'm looking fat in these pictures I blame it on Elder Hogge!

This was the market a central meeting place for the villagers

The site where Brother Lal's house/store burnt down

Kids getting out of school, shoes are optional

The boy on the left is carrying a cane knife.  The children help to cut the grass around the school yard down.

The beach near the market

Our flight home Wed. got canceled (they said it was due to mechanical problems, but we all know it's because  there weren't enough passengers to make it worth it to go.)  We could have taken a boat that came Thur morning and is a 9 hour trip, but we decided to take the next flight Thurs afternoon,and luckily there were 6 passengers and we got home about 4pm.
 I heard some noise outside our bure and saw a lot of men using logs under a boat to get it into the water.
We later found out it was going to be our transport for the day.

This was our transport earlier, and when it started to rain I was glad they used the other boat

When we got home, I washed and sorted all the shells and put then in a bowl.  The next day I saw a black shell
on the bathroom floor.  I asked Richard about it and he didn't know how it got there.  I jokingly said "It's alive!"
 He picked it up and there were some legs inside that moved.  It was a hermit crab, and
we made a trip down to the water's edge to introduce it to it's new home. 

Our trip to Taveuni and Kendavu was one of the most enjoyable one's we've had.

We hope all is well with each of you Love Elder and Sister Hogge