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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Fiji Regional Conference - Day 21: "God's Little Gifts!"

Eva wouldn't have believed it!  This year, for the PNG gang living at the Reki Street house in Fiji, is so different.  Just down the street, where once was a field and then construction site, is now a shopping complex.  It's closer than McDonalds (by a couple of buildings) and is complete with movie theatre (although the listing of what's playing there seems a bit bizarre), barber, grocery store, restaurant, clothing store, phone store, and pharmacy.  It's lit up at night and is even open on the week-end!  It makes it so much easier to manage in another country, living in a house that's not your own, and without a car.

Eva would have loved shopping there!  What a nice thing for God to provide!  It makes life just that much smoother, easier...Thank you, God!

View from our bedroom window. Complex is the red and blue lights.

Fiji Regional Conference - Day 20: "The Squeeze...and the Crunch!"

We're getting towards the end of our time here.  My emotional and physical stamina are feeling stretched and my brain feels full.  We took a break from homework tonight for a small fieldtrip to McDonalds to pay my ice cream cone debt...and of course the whole PNG contingent joined in.  ("One for all and all for one!)  So as we munched and crunched, we squeezed in a short planning time for the campus ministry.  (Dan leaves NZ two days after his return from here to join the PNG staff in welcoming the Aussie project in PNG.)


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Fiji Regional Conference - Day 19: "Lost Bet!"

Today we had another of our class quizzes.  This time Dan was in my quizz group.  The only problem with this is that I couldn't try to do better than him, because our group of four all get the same grade.

At one point I was pretty confident of the answer in a multiple choice question, and the other two people in my group agreed with me...but not Dan.  So, I told him if we get the answer wrong I would buy him an ice cream cone.  We looked up the answer after we finished the quiz...Dan was RIGHT.  (The answer had numbers in it, so I should have known better!)  I owe him an ice cream!
We prayed after the quiz.  Next time I'm doing it before!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Fiji Regional Conference - Day 18: "New Class!"

Yes, we've begun our new class this week for Systermatic Theology.  It's called:  The Bible, God, and the Holy Spirit.  Dan is also taking the class, so I plan to get a better grade than him.  (TeeHee!)

One of us has a bit of a tummy bug.  Can you guess who?


Fiji Regional Conference-Day 17: "Movies!"

This weekend we took Lillian to the movies as a late birthday present.  Movies in Papua New Guinea are really expensive and an adult ticket here is $6.50 Fijian dollars ($4.20 NZD, $3.20 USD).

We saw Night at the Museum III, even though Lillian hadn't seen Number 1 or 2...and it didn't matter.  We all really enjoyed it, laughing out loud in places, and it was a wonderful break from studying!                                                      

The movie was dedicated to both Mickey Rooney and Robin Williams.  What legends they were!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Fiji Regional Conference - Day 16: "A Cushy Solution!"

The Problem:

I didn't mention it before...much...but we've been having difficulty sitting comfortably in our room.  We have two hard, wooden chairs (one of which has a cracked bottom.  (I hear you laughing out there!   Naughty!)  The beds, as you've probably read, don't allow headroom for sitting.  I've developed a new appreciation for the Puritans!  Of couse, there's always the floor (yes, Julie, I hear you,) but it's hard on my tush initially, and hard on my knees when trying to get up.

The Solution:

(Hush! Don't tell!)  We've taken the mattress from my top bunk and put it on the floor.  It's our pretend couch!  It's still hard to get up, but it provides cush for the tush.  The cracked-bottom chair is now used for an end table.  Why didn't we think of this sooner?


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Fiji Regional Conference - Day 15: "The End of Class #1!"

I've spent a week cramming information into my little head.  It's pretty full.  Now was the time to write my own personal doctrinal statement about what I believe about Man, Christ, and Salvation.  Oh my!

The good news is that this class has made me think about issues more thoroughly than I ever have.  It's helped me think through true things about man's inherent dignity because he was made in God image, about our desperate need for God's grace, about what it means that Jesus was both fully man and fully God, about all that happens at the moment of salvation.

More good news is that this class is designed to always help you think through the practical  outworking of what you believe in your own life and as you minister to others.

Another wonderful thing is that we started each class with a hymn.  (And islanders can really sing beautifully!)

Another wonderful thing is that we had small group quizzes.  Therefore, we could pool our aquired knowlege and draw from a deeper pond than my own poor brain puddle.  (Our teacher said that theology was meant to be discussed in groups.)

After writing my final paper, I think I used up all my brain capacity...wrung it out, so to speak.  Well, I guess I should say, "As an intigrated whole of body, mind, will, and emotion, this human (who was created in God's image, now bearing a sin nature, but by God's grace, His forgiven and justified child) is...SPENT!"
My class photo!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Fiji Regional Conference - Day 14: "Studying!"

The end of this week's class draws nigh.  Things are due, readings must be finished.  And we just learned that one member of our group didn't have a textbook for his class.  (No wonder he was falling behind!)

Most of our group at this house are taking the Bible study methods class...and they felt the need for Dan to help them with a group study session.  Sitting around the dinner table, we decided as soon as we were done we'd re-group and bring books to the table and "have-at-it!" -----Then the electricity went out!

At McDonald's
No electricity meant no lights, no computers, no group study session.


We packed up and headed down our drive to troop to the Golden Arches.  (Who knew if we could plug in computers, but hey, ice cream was more on my mind.)  As we headed down the drive, the electricity came back on...lights lit, voices called out, "It's on!"  But, it's hard to stop a moving train (heading for ice cream.)  We decided on studying an hour at Mac's and then continue on back at home.

When we returned home, we noticed the light over the kitchen table looked very dim and there was a resident sleeping on the floor in the nearby lounge (living room), so once again we "flexed."  We brought chairs from the kitchen to our room upstairs, and everyone got down to wrestling through the assignments.  I moved from my chair to my bed about 10:30, but Dan and the others kept going until late. 
Lillian, Lore, Elton, Dan
Lillian and Kaylynn
Lore (from our Guam ministry)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Fiji Regional Conference - Day 13: "Odds and Ends!"

A backstory to attending the netball game:
Dan and I waited for a while to meet up with some of the rest of our staff team.  As we waited a frog hopped behind my legs where I was sitting.  We couldn't get a reply to our text when we'd been waiting for a while, and the game had already started.  Question:  Is it more polite and loyal to keep waiting, or would we just make everyone feel bad that we waited.  When it started to rain, we went with option two.  It turned out that they went for that option as well and were already seated on the opposite side of the stadium.  Our seats were pretty close to the action at one end by the goal.  The unusal thing about our seats in this indoor stadium is that we felt little sprinkles of rain on us every now and then!  However, a little rain is kinda welcome in a crowd in the tropics!

Also...I learned a banana dance that goes to a rap beat.  The beat is: Doop, de doo doo, (pause) Doop, doop, de doo doo.  The words go:  You got to peel banana, peel, peel, banana. (With actions)  You got to chop banana, chop, chop, banana...then there's "slice," "mash," "fry," "eat," and finally, "Go bananas, go, go, bananas!"  It's a hoot!

Ready for class!

Also...My theology class is held in a room in the Fiji Office.  Twelve of us are in that room, and our teacher says he's never taught in such a small area.  (We have a distinction!)  My teacher is an American, living in Singapore, teaching at the Cru seminary for East Asia there.  He's married to a Singaporean and has three small children...and is hoping he can make it through the two weeks until he sees them again.  (I really am enjoying his class!)
Morning tea!


Fiji Regional Conference - Day 12: "Island Rain"

Thunder and rain...warm, wet, soaking rain.

rain from the gutter
After class the sky bucketed down.  No standing on the curb to catch a taxi and that point.  Dan, of course, was content to work on visa problems for the ministry via his notebook.  I had no electronic devices, no novel, no textbook.  (I left the big textbook at home and figured I'd do the required reading there.)

Others were in the air-conditioned conference room, working on their homework from the bible study class.  Dan, as a TA for my theology class, didn't have a class to study for, so he worked on his ever-present PNG ministry details that needed attention.  I preferred to sit with Dan under the covered porch, idly watching the rain.  Conversation was not an option.  Who could hear with the pounding of rain on the tin roof?  The breeze felt good.  Someone was cooking upstairs and good aromas were wafting towards me.

Sometimes it's good just to enjoy the moment.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Fiji Regional Conference - Day 11: "Humanity, God...and the Silver Ferns!"

Wow!  I really like my class.  Systematic theology is biblical theology as it relates to my world.  There are many issues I haven't thought through completely, so I'm learning lots.  

Reading on bunkbed with arms my dad
I got a little mixed up on how many chapters to read for tomorrow.  The good news is that I read more than I needed to.  The bad news is that I didn't have enough time to write my short paper before going to the netball game.  (The New Zealand Silver Ferns played Fiji's netball team tonight!  What a thrill to see it live!)
New Zealand vs Fiji

Waiting outside stadium for the game to start

I just finished the paper...which is a little on the short side.   (Then, again, I always have trouble writing enough words.)  Oh, well.  I'm content and looking forward to tomorrow's class and the ensuing discussions.  I just wish all you at home could be taking this class with me! 


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Fiji Regional Conference - Day 10: " The Longest Day!"

Daylight savings for Fiji.  The sun woke us up at the same time, but it was an hour earlier.  This is our last day of reprieve before our seminary classes start tomorrow.

Have you ever experienced driving towards a mountain and you never seem to get any closer?  That's how I felt reading my assigned chapter in my textbook.  I kept looking to see if I was close to the end of the chapter, but there always seemed many pages still to go.  Fortunately, it's very interesting...I just never have been good at reading things quickly for information.  (I was an art major, what can I say?)

In the afternoon Lillian and Elton and Dan Skype-chatted with Australia.  The guy in Australia wanted to record an interview to play at the Australian Student Conference this week.  They partner with us in Papua New Guinea by sending staff and students over for short projects.  This year they're not only sending students and staff for a week-long project, but two girls to spend the year with our staff and students!

Tonight we just returned from a group banquet where we met our professors for tomorrow.  It turns out that Dan is the TA (teacher's assistant) for my class.  I guess I better be extra nice to him this week.
This is a picture of Dan earlier today.  The bunkbed makes sitting on his bed a little bit scrunchy!  Enjoy his Lazy-boy chair while you can, kids, 'cause when he comes home I bet he'll head straight for it!

I don't feel like I've done much today, personally, and it's not even bedtime yet...but I heading for my pillow.  I feel zonked, and I need to be fresh for my class tomorrow.  (My teacher is the age of my son.  I'd hate to embarrass myself by taking a "Nana-nap" right is the middle of his lecture!)

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Fiji Regional Conference - Day 9: "Day of Two Halves!"

Saturday morning.  After hand-washing a few items and hanging them up around our room and outside, Lily, Dan, and I left for an adventure in the city.  We visited a wholesalers, various shops, the handicraft market, then ended with McDonalds.  There's something so comforting about tasting the dill pickle and American ketchup in a cheeseburger when you're in a foreign country surrounded by the unfamiliar.  Best purchase of the day (aside from the cheeseburger):  a hand fan.  (I forgot mine in New Zealand!)  It was so still and humid and hot all morning...then Dan bought me the fan from the handicraft market.  What a nice guy!  Sweet relief!

We came home after lunch and immediately the thunder storm came.  It's now after 7pm and while the rain is just a mist now, the thunder is still rumbling.  I really enjoy being inside and safe, but with the windows wide open to catch the breeze and boom of the thunder.  I guess it's kinda like walking with God.  He's so powerful and mighty, but I'm safe.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Fiji Regional Conference - Day 8: "Life In the Margins!"

This was our last day of our staff conference...Next week starts our biblical studies.  While it's been a wonderful conference, full of inspiration and encouragement, I thought maybe you'd rather first be filled in on our wider experience here.

Lillian with our housemate!
We live in rooms of a house occupied by three generations.  There's a grandma who owns the house, about 3 daughters, I've seen one husband, and there's at least 5 children, all boys, two of which are just learning to walk.  (I played "Round and Round the Garden" with one of the toddlers at least 10 times before heading to the office.  He kept sticking out his hand to me!)

The women prepare our breakfast before we leave to the Fiji office building.  Breakfast consists of bread (from the Hot Bread Kitchen) with a choice of butter, peanut butter, and jam... and tea.  Sometimes there are bananas, too, right off a tree. 

We have lunch at the Fiji office, then return home at the end of the day and the women again fix our dinner.

Just down the street within easy walking distance is a new shopping complex where we can buy credit for our phone, get snacks from the grocery store (We bought coffee to drink in the morning), buy a coffee at Gloria Jeans coffee shop, or get ice cream from the nearby McDonalds.  Some of these places are air-conditioned and feel wonderful to walk into.

To get to our room in the house we first climb the steep driveway.  After catching our breath, we climb up maybe 10 stairs to get to the main floor of the house.  After catching our breath again we climb another staircase to get to our top floor room.  Laurie, you should be proud of all the exercise I'm getting.  Even though the shopping complex is within easy walking distance, it requires commitment just to get to and from the street!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Fiji Regional Conference - Day 7: "Souvenirs!"

After our meetings, Dan and went to the American store Cost-You-Less to buy some food-type souvenirs to bring home to New Zealand...

Also purchased today for those of us who live at Reki Street were electric fans and mosquito repellant.  (We aren't at the resort any more!)  Still, it's nice not to have to do our own cooking.  Dinner tonight was:  tempura fish & eggplant, coleslaw, and tapioca.  

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Fiji Regional Conference - Day 6: "Reki Street"

Remember last time we were in Suva,Fiji we stayed in a group house with a STEEP driveway?  Yup!  That's where we are again.  Same room.  Our home-away-from-home!

The bus ride here from the Naviti Resort was down, wind blowing to off-set the heat.  There was a cruise ship in the harbour, and I saw Noni's picture on a billboard.

We're settling in.  We have 2 more days of staff meetings, then on Monday, our classes start.  Here's a picture from just out our window.

Fiji Regional Conference - Day 5: "Miss Fiji"

Tonight was awards night and new staff dedication.  It was a wonderful time of celebration and worship and thanksgiving. of the eyebrow-lifting, smile producing facts is that "Miss Fiji" is one of our new staff.

I came across a group of giggling, texting hotels workers.  When I commented to them that they were having too much fun, they told me they'd just seen Miss Fiji was a part of our group.
Elton & Noni

Greg & Noni
After the dedication, Noni put on her crown and good-naturedly posed with our staff.  (I think Elton got his picture taken with Noni on a couple of different occasions!)  The heart-warming thing is that right after the picture with Miss Fiji, the PNG staff wanted a picture with us.   I told Elton I didn't have a crown, but he said I had a different kind of crown.  (I wonder if he was referring to my gray hair!)

Fiji Regional Conference - Day 4: "The Videos That Weren't"

I was going to upload a video of our PNG "item" for fun night.  Each team had to come up with something representing their assigned island.  Our group was assigned PNG. I'm was a little embarrassed because I narrated the story of how the Fijians took the gospel to PNG...and I sounded like I was addressing children instead of adults.  I tried uploading the thing anyway, burying my pride, but even after trying all night, the thing wouldn't upload.  (Yahoo.  My dignity will remain intact!)

What I'd really like to show you but don't have a video of is Dan playing musical chairs with the island staff.  We were all divided into teams for game night.  Two reps from each team were chosen for musical chairs.  My goodness...the loud laughter and cheering and pushing and antics and fun...It was wild!  Dan didn't win, but he lasted until the final few.  (Mills kids:  imagine Koli's shout of laughter, plus La's...then times 50!)

Since I have no video, I'll include these two photos of me playing games and one of Dan golfing:

Dan, golfing with a group of 25...a game called "best ball"

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Fiji Regional Conference - Day 3: Getting Ready!

It's PNG's turn to share about our year tomorrow, so we've spent a bit a time planning.  We're also leading a discussion about discipleship, so Dan's been organizing different people throughout the region to share their stories.  And I've been assigned a group to put together an "item" (fun song or dance or something) to represent PNG tomorrow night.  (Nobody else from our PNG staff is in this group!)  Should be an interesting day tomorrow.

I was also given a textbook for my systematic theology class that begins next week, so I can get a headstart on my reading.  My, it's a thick book!

Fiji Regional Conference - Day 2: Resort!

After our morning bus ride, we arrived at the resort just in time for me to add my additions to the welcome table Kathryn set up, and right away began greeting old and new friends, passing out name tags, notebooks, candy, etc.  (It's a fun job!  Everyone likes free stuff!)  It's sure fun to be with these precious people again.

The Fijians greeted us all to their island with a song of welcome before our first session.  After the song each of them put a sulu (or lava lava) around the shoulders of a non-Fijian.  What a lovely welcome and gift.  We felt loved!


Friday, January 9, 2015

Fiji Regional Staff Conference- Day 1: Here We Go!

As with most flights to the islands, Dan and I are up at the crack of dawn.  After checking in our bags, it's off to McDonalds for breakfast and a very needed cup of coffee.

Yesterday, we were at this same spot saying good-bye to Dan's sister and family as they headed back to the States after 13 days in New Zealand.  We had a wonderful time with them, but now we need to change gears and think about the conference ahead and our island friends.  I hope we packed everything. (I know we have the individual packets of candy I put together for the welcome/registration desk.  So, I have the important stuff, right?!)

We're meeting the PNG staff in Nadi, Fiji today, then we will all take a bus together in the morning and head for the conference.  I wonder what the next 3 weeks will hold?