At home in Fiji

When someone says the word 'home', where or what do you imagine?

Before our Local Church Mission in Raiwaqa village, I would have naturally imagined the front view of my family's house in Pymble, Sydney. It's definitively white, with two stories and has the greenest and most loved garden on the street. Mum and Dad would be happily working in the garden, and my siblings playing music inside. But after only 7 days here in Raiwaqa, the deeper meaning of home to me has been turned on its head. Or should I say, on it's roof.

Is home where you live, how you live, or why you live? Or, is it who you live with? I'm still unsure.

17 days of Fijian immersion down, our group of 13 Aussies arrived in Raiwaqa with decisively incomplete expectations. From our experiences over the past weeks, we all felt confident running Christian gatherings from Scripture assemblies to adult bible studies. But what about living in Fijian homes, with Fijian families, in a foreign village?

Some were questioning what their village house would be like. A bed? A shower? Both? Neither? Some were dreading awkward moments trying to relate to people with such a different background. Some were counting down the days until they would arrive on Australian soil again, to familiarity, to family and friends, to home.

But in less than a day, Raiwaqa had already impressed ‘home’ on us.

The village life came on all at once as we were dropped off to our respective home stay houses, without leaders. Meeting new people is usually awkward, but we were overwhelmed with kindness, generosity and the comfort of a family. This is like home.

My home stay mum and dad made it clear that we could come to them for anything we need or want. They showered us with the best care possible and we felt respected and loved. Other villagers continually pop in and out of their central home to cook and work, often introducing themselves and offering me food, tea or a causal invitation to their home. This is like home.

We were also met with a people so confident in their identity and faith in Jesus. Something considered slightly 'taboo' or 'personal' in my experience in Sydney was openly discussed and treasured in Raiwaqa. Taking a step back, I could tell that having full assurance and common joy in our future in heaven, together, was what made these relationships form instantly and was such an encouragement. The fact that we could pop in at any house and be greeted with tea and an uplifting conversation or bubbly children (or both) is testament to a community who value building one another up (1 Thessalonians 5:10-13). They do this not for selfish gain, but to demonstrate to us their love for Jesus and their resulting care and acceptance for us 'kavalagi' (outsiders, in Fijian). I felt instantly valued, and for me, this is like home.

Just as our stay in this beautiful village home was temporary, so too will my stay at home in Pymble be, and home in Australia even. I can't say exactly what God has in store in the future, but sometime soon we will all leave this earth! Scary? Where is home then?

"But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body." Philippians 3:20-21

This is such good news that I have been reminded of in a new and fresh light here in Raiwaqa. The stunning Fijian landscape, jumping from house to house in fellowship, and getting to know some genuinely caring people has been the tiniest taste of our true home in heaven. Combining my experience and appreciation of both Pymble home and Raiwaqa home, I look forward more and more to the day of perfected fellowship and perfected bodies with our already perfect Lord. This eternal truth is what brings Christians joy and peace in all things. That is truly home.

by Year 13 Team Member Jessica Wye