Letter from Sabeto

BULA from Fiji! 

Sabeto Christian Camp was our first stop. It took a little while for us to accept that we were in Fiji. The camp felt very similar to facilities you might find in Australia, though there were some big differences. A big one was the lack of hot water in the showers, though we quickly got used to that. I think the thing for me that made me realise we were actually in Fiji was the food. The food at Sabeto was great, but very different to what we have in Australia. There were some familiar things like rice and curry and chicken, but there were some more exotic things as well, such as kasava and paw-paw and taro.

Our time in Sabeto was very busy. After dinner and some sleep on Thursday night, we all jumped back on the bus to head to Korobebe, which is one of the local villages. We were welcomed with a traditional kava ceremony where some people were game enough to try some kava. After the official ceremony, we had the opportunity to meet some local people and have tours around the village. The Fijian people are a lot more welcoming and friendly than you would find in Australia. . After walking around for a bit, we had some great lunch. The men had prepared a lovo, which is a traditional Fijian meal that is cooked in a pit on top of a bed of hot coals. The women had also made an impressive array of different dishes including chicken curry, deep-fried taro leaves and delicious pineapples. 

After lunch, we were invited into the community hall where the children of the village performed a few songs for us. It was really encouraging to see how these kids, so far away from what we know in Australia, singing Christian songs together. They then asked us all to sing some songs so we sang My God is So Big and Father Abraham. After this, we got to spend some time running around with the children and talking to the locals. To farewell us, the locals performed some songs in Fijian and we all danced around with them. It was quite an experience to say the least. The Fijians definitely love their music and dancing.

We returned to Sabeto where we had some time to prepare for youth group that night. Something that struck me was how similar their youth group was to what we have at home. There were songs, some games, a talk from the senior pastor, and us Yr 13ers performed a skit for them as well. Later, we got to enjoy supper and the company of the regulars which was really fun. We tried our hands at volleyball, but were quickly put to shame by the skilful locals. It was a nice taste of home life for us all. 

Saturday was an interesting experience. We visited Nadi town and then Denarau Island, a nearby resort destination. The stark difference between Denarau and Nadi was quite baffling. On the one hand, we saw lots of western tourists and a few Fijian employees and on the other a bustling, lively crowd of friendly Fijians and Indo-Fijians. The contrast forced us to think about the impact that western culture is having on Fijian culture, and whether it's entirely good or bad. 

We also visited an orphange. We were also confronted with the issue of western tourists when we visited the orphanage. We had a lot of fun singing and playing around with the kids there. We really tried to invest in the kids as much as possible in the short time we had with them. I had a chat with one of the caretakers, and at first she was reluctant to open up, but when I showed a real interest in her, she really opened up and told me about her family.

Saturday night, we had some reflection time, and it was really good to hear stories from other people about the wonderful miracles God had already been performing through our team over the first couple of days. We have such a big team so it's really hard to talk to everyone and hear their stories, so I found it really encouraging to have a time when everyone could share together. 

Sunday morning, we all went off to church. The service I attended was very traditional with a Fijian prayer book, but the hymns were upbeat. Another unique thing about St. Peter's is that there was a mix of native Fijians and Indo-Fijijans, which is a very rare sight in Fiji.

Overall, our stay in Sabeto was very educational. We learned a lot about Fijian culture and what it's like to live in Fiji. We were forced to realise that we would only get through this trip on God's strength alone and that no matter how prepared or otherwise we might feel, any good we contribute on this trip is only because of God working. Please be praying that we would rely on God throughout our trip, and that we would trust that He is working even if we can't always see it. 

Vinaka vaka levu! (Thank you very much!)

Alex Woof is a year 13 Student on the current Youthworks Mission to Fiji