Monday, August 31, 2009

Babasiga kids in Suva letters

from w
Grandkids wearing out Grandpa in Suva

Dear Wendy
Bula vinaka and may the Blessing of the Lord be with you. I am a bit tired today. We had a very successful day yesterday. Yesterday was as good as Sunday when people of Fiji recognised and valued our presence as well making our stay more meaningful. I
took the boys to Navuso and spend the whole day there after being in the Epworth House till 11 30 am. Today we are going to see L.
Best Regards

Dear Grandma,
Wear going to L’s house at 11 o'clock this morning. We went to Navuso yesterday to get our presents from M.S. The presents were clothes and tshirts from America. She went to the States last year.

Dear Grandma
Yesterday we went to Navuso Village. We went to get our presents that M.S. bought for us in Arizona, America. We saw the new bridge and the tarsil of the road right through the village. we went to the house in the village and got some rest and we ate. After we ate we went to walk on the bridge it was so beautiful. Once I walk on the bridge the bridge was okay. I thought it will collapse or how do we say it. Our gifts were T-shirt, cardigans, toys and a rugby ball etc. They were really happy to see us when we arrived and we played with the rugby ball. So we had to go back home. So today we`ll be going to Pacific Harbour to see L. We might swim I guess. Thank you for the Photo you send to us. The next day we`ll be going to a birthday party in Cunnigham. It’s one of our cousin`s birthday.

from W.
Peceli's reference to Epworth House is about the soli given by American and Australian Fijians. They donated about $475,000 to the Methodist Church in Fiji. The earlier plan has been that the USA contingent open the choir competition and the Oz contingent close it. Instead it was done informally.
The photo Jordan referred to is of his cousin who danced at Tadra Kahani and her school won the Junior Prize.
I'm glad to hear that the new Navusa Bridge is standing up well. Last time I went to Navuso we had to go in a punt across the river in total darkness so my grandchildren had to look after me!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Letters from Suva

from w
Received some letters from Suva this afternoon. Edited slightly!
Dear Wendy
Jordan says bula sia to you grandma while Andrew is playing game in the playstation. G. took me to Church this morning before 10 am, while on his way to work. The Australian Fiji Parish Choir more than 60, plus members from Melbourne led by Rev Iliasa Naivalu, more than 10 were there. The American group were there also so after the service they gave us a beautiful magiti dinner at Epworth Hall........ Loloma. Peceli.

From J.
Dear grandma,we went to the Hibiscus Festival last night and we ate Hamburgers and Hot dogs and the food was so delicious.We went in some rides last night and it was fun. We saw some of Grandpa`s old friends.

Miri`s wedding was good and some of the people from Labasa had to come and they brought some mats and some other stuff too. The wedding was held in village called Naivucini. The village is in Naitasiri. When we reached there they set breakfast for us. We had pie,bread,scones etc. The road was dusty and bumpy. We saw big rivers. We went to the church and had the wedding service. The weddng was great everybody had to shake their hand when it was over. Bubu Miri and Bubu Luisa was there in the wedding they danced and danced when they were coming back from the service.
Your sincearly,
From A.
Dear Grandma ,we went to the hibiscus festival yesterday with Grandpa, Wendy, Dada and J. We bought hot dogs and hamburger. We went on the swing. in the marygoround.

Air Fares to Fiji

from w
So much advertising is misleading these days. Sometimes they give the fare only one way, or they give the fare without the charges which might be about $200 extra, or they advertise the fare as 'from...' Flight Centre continue to advertise Melbourne Fiji as from $715 return, but when you contact Flight Centre the cheapest fares may be about $910 return. Those cheaper tickets probably were only for about six seats three months in advance! I saw this little piece in today's Age Traveller section, so I wonder whether it is really on or not. Does that Bula pass take you to Samoa and Tonga for only a little more than the Oz-Fiji fare? Also beware of some of the cheaper plane rides where you get slugged for luggage, food, etc. or the route is redirected to extra stop-overs!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Peter Thomson interview

from w
I've just been listening on-line to an interview with Peter Thomson from the ABC radio. The topic was Fiji and Sanctions by Australia and New Zealand as he thinks they are inappropriate as a strategy. It goes for about 20 minutes and downloads quickly. It was originally broadcast last Monday afternoon on a program called Counterpoint.

It can be downloaded on and is well worth while listening to. I heard most of it though a phone call took me away for a few minutes. Peter Thomson of course has a long track record in Fiji - in government etc. and his family have lived in Fiji for many generations. He is the author of Kava in the Blood.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Royale in Labasa

from w
Though Peceli is in Labasa he doesn't write any stories - says he's too busy with other things - going down to Dreketi, over to Mali, painting the house at Vatuadova. Sobosobo, so I have to find babasiga stories on the internet!
Good luck to the Royale, a new venture in Labasa, that provides opportunities for students in hospitality. Such students do 'attachments' which is the practical component of their studies.
Fiji Sun reports:
North hotelier helps catering students

Hotelier Rinesh Prasad is one of the successful business owners in Labasa. Mr Prasad, 21, is the owner of the Royale Lodge and he started his business three years ago. “I first opened up a wine and dine hotel because there was no such business in Labasa,” he said. Recently, Mr Prasad opened a small computer business within the premise. This is because he wanted to put his knowledge in information system and technology into full use.

“There are so many people who come by to the Lodge as we provide the best affordable service in town,” he said.

As a concerned citizen, Mr Prasad later employed six students from the National Youth Service School that is currently looked after by the Ministry of Youths and Sports in Labasa. Mr Prasad said the students have started their attachment this week and would be working with them for three months. Laite Vukivuki, a student from the National Youth Service School majoring in catering said.

“This is where I get the opportunity to gain all the skills from the staff,” she said.

Sunil Kumar, the cook at the Lodge said, he is happy to train the students on how to prepare 200 varieties of dishes.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Favourite Hymns

from w
Sometimes here in Geelong we have a Favourite Hymns service, songs chosen by the people in the pews. Here are some well-known hymns from a conservative list that does not include many of the songs since 1900 and even 2000. I would add songs like 'Nothing is lost' from New Zealand, and many of John Bell's songs from Iona. These are in English, but there are many Fijian hymns I like from the Fijian Methodist Hymn Book of 1938 such as 199 Kemuni na veitokani and 261 Mai seretaki ira ga, and Hindi bhajans as well such as Jisu ne kaha jiwan ki roti. There are numerous excellent hymn and anthem writers in Fiji. In 1985 and 1988 choirs visited Australia, particularly Geelong who came from Labasa and were led by Saimoni Kete.

This year we do miss the annual Choir Competition in Suva. One church in Suva which produces remarkably good singers is Samabula East. Here is a picture of some of their singers.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Soli, levy, tithe, first-fruits

from w
There seems to be a confusion over words used in recent articles in the Fiji papers, words such as soli and tithe.

A tithe (from Old English teogo├ża "tenth") is a one-tenth part of something, paid as a (usually) voluntary contribution or as a tax or levy, usually to support a religious organization. Today, tithes (or tithing) are normally voluntary and paid in cash whereas historically tithes could be paid in kind, such as agricultural products.

Sometimes the word ‘levy’ is used in the Methodist Church in Fiji as a translation of soli. The levy suggested for the annual solevu (large meeting) is $10 per person in the church. Now that is not even one tenth of the usual annual income!

And as we all know, this year the annual Fiji Methodist solevu, choir, and meetings are off! However, the Fiji brothers and sisters in USA and Australia have already collected their contributions and representatives flew over to Fiji to formally present their donation - as you can read in the article below from the Fijivillage website.

I think there is a connection between the Methodist custom of soli and the ceremony or custom of offering first fruits to the chiefs which has continued in Fiji. Instead of giving an agricultural product - e.g yams, the people give money in a ceremonial way – in a procession, and often connected with dance and singing. This is done as a community not as an individual and within the context of an annual festival. There is an aspect of reciprocity in a solevu - perhaps an exchange of mats, masi, salt, magimagi, some specially of the donor, etc. from visitors to host, and in exchange fine food, gifts and a good time had by all!

In traditional Fiji the first-fruits ceremony was held when a clan or vanua group gave to the chief a gift of yams, etc. at the beginning of harvest. The Fiji Methodists have been continuing – in an evolved form, this kind of ceremony.

The word 'tithe' also grew out of an agricultural context in the Middle East and was not cash at all. Some of the newer churches in Fiji request a tithe of one-tenth of income from their members, often giving the number of an account for direct debit. A tithe would be considerably higher than the requested levy of the Methodist Church.

New Testament scriptures are seen as teaching the concept of "freewill offerings" as a means of supporting the church: Many Christians today support their churches and pastors with monetary contributions of one sort or another. Frequently these are weekly offerings given in ‘anonymous’ envelopes and sometimes one-tenth of income is suggested, though not often fulfilled as people give also to various charities.

The principle of giving in money or kind or time or talent to a church always needs to be set alongside other concerns such as justice, mercy, honesty, as suggested in this quote from Matthew 23:23

Away with you, you Pharisee lawyers! You give to God a tenth of herbs, like mint, dill, and cumin, but the important duties of the Law — judgement, mercy, honesty — you have neglected. Yet these you ought to have performed, without neglecting the others.

From Fiji Village today
People should not be burdened with church solis
Publish date/time: 24/08/2009 [07:50]

More than $300,000 was given to the Methodist Church yesterday morning by the delegations from the United States at a service at the Centenary Church. Acting General Secretary, Rev Tevita Nawadra said they were delighted at the large sum presented from church members overseas which also proved to them that even though the church is going through difficult times, they always have support. Nawadra said three million dollars is needed for church operations.

Meanwhile, the New Methodist Church will be having a church crusade from tomorrow at the TFL Stadium.

On constant solis, Head Pastor, Atu Vulaono and former Methodist said the church should not burden its members.

When questioned whether the New Methodist Church was also collecting money, Vulaono said they use the tithing system.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Tadra kahani winners this year

from w
This year's Tadra Kahani finals were on last night in Suva. I was delighted to know that a newcomer school, a very small school, won the Junior section. Pacific Harbour Multicultural School. Way to go, children!
Tadra means 'dream' and kahani 'story' and this annual event gives primary and secondary Fiji children the opportunity to create an eight-minute performance that tells a story through song, dance, drama. It's a super opportunity to learn many things about stagecraft, story-telling, working together. To me (being a former art/music teacher) these sort of opportunities are certainly as important as language and maths! Or even more! Some of the best times we can have is when we use our voices, use our bodies to create a performance that can communicate a message/theme/story to an audience. Fiji youth are very good at acting, singing, dance. More photos at Fiji Times gallery.
from Fiji Village today:
Newcomers take top honours
Publish date/time: 22/08/2009 [08:47]

Two new winners were last night crowned the Junior and Senior Tadra Kahani champions after an explosive final featuring 5 primary and 8 secondary schools, which ended with two newcomers walking away with the top honours in front of a packed Vodafone Arena.

Following three powerful days of students sharing their dream story of their hopes for a better society, Pacific Harbour Multi-Cultural School was last night declared the Junior Division champions, while fellow first timers to Tadra Kahani, Lomary Secondary School beat 10 other Schools to walk away with the Senior Division trophy.

Basing their performance on the theme "Transition and Integration of Cultures in Fiji, Junior Division champions Pacific Harbour-Multi Cultural School, put on a colourful performance to show the different cultures present in Fiji's society and how it has made Fiji what it is today. Rounding off their performance with the signing of the national anthem, students believe that size does not matter and that they always believed having a school roll of just over eighty students, would not have been a hurdle against bigger Primary schools at Tadra Kahani.

Meanwhile, Senior Division champions Lomary Secondary who put on a performance based on the theme "Appreciation and the Protection of the Rights of a Child", was a crowd favourite last night, as students held nothing back, as they took the crowd on a journey of a child who gets into trouble, as he gets caught up in the negative side of life, and therefore ends up facing hardships. Student representative Papamama Pokino said as well as coming to win for their outgoing principal, they hope that their message is clear that children are creations greatest gift of all.In the Senior Division, first runners up were Suva Grammar, while Monfort Boys Town was declared the second runners up.

and from Fiji Times about a little school of about eighty students down the coast at Pacific Harbour.

First-timers take a bow
By Gereldine Panapasa
Saturday, August 22, 2009
NEWCOMER to Tadra Kahani 2009, Pacific Harbour Multicultural School, was crowned winner of the junior division after a sterling performance at the Vodafone Arena in Suva ast night. The Deuba school also scooped two special awards, including best concert award, and best costume award and cash prize of $1500.

School co-ordinator Lasaro Rabaka said this was a big achievement for the school. Their colourful creation of the theme - The Transition and Integration of Cultures in Fiji through Dance - left a positive message to a full-house audience last night.

"It's a very fulfilling, rewarding and very satisfying feeling to be named winners of this year's Tadra Kahani junior division," he said. "It was challenging for us in the beginning with the concept but the students really worked hard to improve their performance. We chose a theme that matched our school and that's what we wanted to portray, cultural diversity."

Show co-ordinator Loretta Jackson said this was yet another successful year for the Tadra Kahani and praised the confidence level of participating students at this year's show. "One thing is clear and that is the standard of performance by the students has lifted yet again," she said. 2008 junior division winner Nakelo District won the tfl best set design award and Vodafone most entertaining while International School in Suva took out the FM96 best soundtrack and tfl best choreography awards.

First-timer Dilkusha Girls Primary won the UNICEF most innovative award.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A man from Babasiga land

from w
Many men and women of the older generation are an inspiration. Here is one, a doctor who comes from Namuka, Macuata. (story from Fiji Times today). One thing I noticed in the article was the emphasis on discipline. I heard a good quote a couple of days ago. 'Without discipline we are not a human being. We are just an animal.' Not that I mean harsh discipline, just an orderly life keeping in mind the community not just your own needs.

A true heart of service
Friday, August 21, 2009

HE was taught by his father at a very young age to serve with a true heart. After 60 years of service, Doctor Ilaitia Turaganivalu (pictured) believes he has done well in keeping to his father's philosophy. "We were very obedient people and were true to our work," he said. The Namuka man from Macuata cannot ever remember being late to work in his 60 years of service. "There's nothing like a serving life," he shared.

"My first posting was to Lautoka. After that I went to Rakiraki and many other hospitals in Viti Levu. I knew the kind of work we did was not like private practice. We looked after patients in hospitals day and night. In private practice, patients were sent home after they were seen," he said."If anything happened at night, we had to go and check them. I am happy to have been engaged in that kind of life. People remember us because of our contribution and our work."

When he retired, he was re-employed and posted to work at the St Giles Hospital where he served for about 24 years. Dr Turaganivalu retired again in 2007 and is now forced to live a life he describes as boring. "It's very boring now since I stay home all the time," he shared. To keep himself busy, he tends to his plantation every morning. It is a chore he grew accustomed to as a child. "I used to plant every morning from 6am-7am whether it was rainy or sunny. I thank God that he gave me the strength to serve people.

"My father was a very religious person and life was a bit difficult for me and my older brother. We were not allowed to join the rest of the boys in the village. I used to cook every morning while my brother went fishing or to the farm."

Dr Turaganivalu observes that today's generation is different. "In the old days, we were disciplined. I think in this new age, young people are cleverer than us and not as frightened of their boss as we were." He believes young people nowadays are not as dedicated to their work and are not afraid of their parents. We always followed the rules but we enjoyed life."

Dr Turaganivalu was nominated by his daughter, Losana Ah Yuk. She believes her father has played a big role in serving the communities of Fiji in the medical profession. "He has done it for more than 60 years and I feel that it is a major accomplishment for a village boy who came from a very poor background," Ms Ah Yuk said. She said her father served the country with dedication and never thought of going into private practice.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Vew Zealander wins shotput at World Championships

from w
From 2 a.m. onwards our house has been lit up each day this week to watch the World Championships in Berlin. (The athlete in the family, not me, though I usually get up and make a cup of tea.) I was delighted that a New Zealander won the shotput. Go, girl! Valerie Vili was born in Rotorua, New Zealand, to a Tongan mother (Lilika Ngauamo) and an English father. She is married to Bertrand Vili, a discus thrower from New Caledonia.

from stuffNZ
Valerie Vili's global domination of women's shot put continued at the athletics world championships in Berlin today. New Zealand's queen of the field won a second successive world title with a put of 20.44m, well short of her personal best but still more than enough for her to claim the gold medal by 24cm. She finished comfortably ahead of silver medallist, German Nadine Kleinert, who threw a career best 20.20m, and China's bronze medallist Lijao Gong, who managed a personal best of 19.89m.

"I'm just very happy and overwhelmed," Vili said. "We've done all this preparation and to come over here and defend it is ... well, two world titles, I'm pretty happy about that."

It was not all smooth going for Vili in front of a big parochial German crowd, cheering for three local finalists. She made an indifferent start with a timid first put of 19.40m and found herself in fifth overall after two rounds, having scratched her second effort by deliberately placing her foot over the barrier. Vili tries to set the tone in big competitions but was in the unusual position of having to play catch up.

Kleinhert had set the stadium alight with a first up personal best 20.06m and for a brief moment Vili looked vulnerable.

"I got off to a slow start. I knew Nadine would be in full swing because it is a home crowd for her," Vili, 24, said.

"But I like competition and I like the way she pushed me out there." Any pressure Vili may have felt early on soon diminished with a powerful display in round three as all her poise and composure returned. Vili knew her third throw was big the moment she released it and a fist pumping gesture to the crowd signalled her delight after it was measured at 20.25m.

While Kleinhert produced another personal best of 20.20m, the German was tiring.
With her confidence up and the earlier tension gone, Vili produced 20.44m with her fifth throw to guarantee her triumph.

She admitted afterwards that tension probably played a part in her first two puts.
"There is a bit more pressure as defending champion, especially wearing this gold bib which tells everyone you're defending champion. It's not as easy to do," she said.

Despite that pressure, Vili responded exactly as she hoped and said she did what was required to win. "Tonight I wasn't able to achieve what I wanted to throw but I achieved the title. That's got to be good for me, my country, my people, my family," she said. A sixth attempt was not required from Vili but she stepped regardless, registering 20.25m before the celebrations began.

Vili leapt about in joy at securing back to back world titles. She embraced her coach, Kirsten Hellier, in the stands before proceeding to acknowledge a small contingent of New Zealand fans by proudly waving the country's flag.

The victory caps another remarkable year for Vili, who in May broke her New Zealand record with a heave of 20.69m in Brazil. She joins German Astrid Kumbernuss and China's Zhihong Huang as the only multiple world shot put champions.

Serenity Prayer

from w
When life is crushing you, when you feel powerless, when the past stories catch up and haunt, or the future stories are imagined with fear, it is time to recall a very simple prayer that has been taken up by thousands of people, not only those who belong to Alcoholics Anonymous. It is the Serenity Prayer.

"God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change,
courage to change the things we can,
and wisdom to know the difference."

The original "Serenity Prayer" was conceived in a little stone cottage in Heath, Massachusetts by Reinhold Niebuhr and, per his daughter, was written like this:

"God, Give us the grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed, Courage
to change the things which should be changed,
And the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other."

Early in World War II, with Dr. Niebuhr's permission, the prayer was printed on cards and distributed to the troops by the U.S.O. By then it had also been reprinted by the National Council of Churches, as well as Alcoholics Anonymous. Also, n a rather dreary hall of a converted hotel, overlooking the Rhine at Koblenz, there is a tablet inscribed with the following words:
"God give me the detachment to accept those things I cannot alter;
the courage to alter those things I can alter;
and the wisdom to distinguish the one thing from the other."

For fifty years, the prayer has become so deeply imbedded into the heart and soul of A.A. thinking, living, as well as its philosophy.

One variation comes from Ireland -
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference
Living one day at a time
Enjoying one moment at a time
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is.

Well I have had an interesting day. A writing friend helped us cart a trailer load of stuff to the recycle depot - old chairs, lounge, hundreds of plant pots, wall board when Peceli rebuilt a fence, etc. etc. Then I spent several hours reading two of our helper's manuscripts to go to a publisher - a short story collection and a novel for teenagers. From the reality of the day's chores to the pleasure of the imagination. But then I'm reminded of Fiji and as I read the abbreviated news on the web, I imagine other stories that are not told. But Heaven help us to read the Serenity Prayer and take that on board for today. Peceli is spending his time well, assisting with village projects of small scale development. way to go, watiqu sia!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Donation in Kind gets to Nadi

from w
Peceli took some photos when he stayed in Nawaka village (Nadi) recently for a funeral and also visited the places where some of the Geelong Donation in Kind goods are being used.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Muddle of a mini conference

from w
If I can be a Ms Bossy-boots I would like to commend the Indian Division of the Fiji Methodist Church for getting their act together and do not feel the need for another Division meeting. All the Divisions already met earlier in the year anyway. Also the Indian Division people had finalised their soli (offering) already.

It must be remembered that there are different ways of financing the work of any church. Some use envelopes, weekly offerings, some have occasional fetes and activities which include donations, but another way which is the traditional Fijian way which is to give the donation by groups, not individuals, as part of a ceremonial occasion which includes choirs or meke groups. This is called a Solevu. The Fiji Methodist Church has for many years used this method during the annual conference which includes choirs, a fete, mekes, perhaps the laying of a memorial stone, an ordination ceremony, etc. It is a respectful celebration of being part of a group which is part of the wider Methodist community at the national level. The Fiji newspaper articles that keep on referring to 'fund-raising' do not explain these other aspects of the conference. To divide up the different aspects of the annual conference is to diminish its ongoing valued tradition.

The Annual Conference with representatives from clergy and lay people has certainly ordered to be cancelled, and the alternative suggested meetings will be quite inadequate. Instead of the annual meet being a time of catching up with friends plus singing plus soli plus prayer and discussions, it just won't work the way proposed. Will there be many people coming from USA and Australia and who will they sing to? How will their soli be given without the respectful ceremonies?

I am tired of the press releases that just talk about 'fund-raising' because that is an inadequate description of what occurs during the annual conference. Also it's obvious that the bias in some newspapers does not tell it all.

From Fiji Times today:
Methodist division won't fundraise
Monday, August 17, 2009

The Indian Division of the Methodist Church will not have any fundraising or divisional meetings, says its superintendent Reverend William Lucas. He said they had already had their divisional meeting in May, and were also up to date with their levy to the church's headquarters.

"As you know, in May all the divisions held their meetings, and we had ours at Dilkusha and all our proposals and motions are at the church's headquarters," Mr Lucas said. "We don't need to fundraise as well because the church has managed to collect $27,000 from the $10 levy per head for this year's levy. This levy is given to the church's headquarters at Epworth House to help run its day-to-day activities..

Meanwhile, the Suva Division is expected to have it's (its) fundraising drive at Furnival Park in Toorak next Friday. Other divisions are yet to finalise their program. The government has given the green light to the church until October to hold it's (its) divisional meetings.
(Later: now the Solevu (traditional collection) will not be permitted!
One National News (Fiji TV)

Solevu cancelled 17 Aug 2009 04:23:30
The Solevu or gathering to collect funds that was to take place at different Methodist Church circuits is now cancelled. The decision was made by Government today after it says it discovered that the Church was planning to do other things that would have breached the condition of their permit. The Methodist Church has been informed of the decision. The Government says it will NOT entertain any more requests from the Church for any meetings or gatherings.

New Methodists granted permit for crusade
Publish date/time: 18/08/2009 [12:40]

The New Methodist Church has been granted a permit to hold its crusade in Suva next week. Head of the New Methodist Church Pastor Atu Vulaono confirmed that the permit to hold the crusade has been granted and they are looking forward to their program.
He said more than 20,000 church members are expected to be in Suva next week for the crusade.

Joy in Fiji

from w
Peceli phoned this morning to say he and Joy will be meeting with the team coming over to Vanua Levu from Geelong Australia to put in the water infrastructure for a village in Dreketi, then I read about it in today's Fiji Times. Vinaka Joy. Here is a photo of Joy in Fiji from an earier trip.

Overseas club to build village's water systemMonday, August 17, 2009

A NEW water system will soon have more than 50 families in the Northern Division with safe drinking water. Members of the Rotary Club of Geelong in Australia, who donated the system, will start installation this week. Team rep Joyce Baxter said villagers of Nabavatu in Dreketi, Macuata would have a new water reservoir and piping system.

"If there is a lot of material, the villagers might get new taps in their house but our main area of work is the reservoir and building a new tank," Ms Baxter said. "The team will arrive this week and work will start on Friday where a new water tank will be built. The assessment of work on the water system was done last year when we came to help the villagers.

"The club has adopted Nabavatu Village as its project of help and we have helped the villagers in past years."

Villagers last year received clothes and medical supplies from the club. Ms Baxter said medical supplies were given to the Dreketi Health Centre for the community's use.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Yachties going to Macuata?

from w
I was surprised to read that a few yachties are achoring along the Macuata coastline even though there is very little infrastruture, certainly in the Labasa area, for them. Way to go, Palmlea guys for this infor given to the Fiji Sun journalist. There certainly aint much in the Fiji news these day! Go to the website for Palmlea to know exactly where they are talking about. Also, I've written a couple of times before about Palmea in this Babasiga blog.

Macuata identified as new yacht destination

While most of the coastlines along Vanua Levu remain untouched, the North shore of Macuata is now identified as a new destination for yachts. Macuata resort owners, Joe and Julie Smelser believe there is a potential to develop the yachting industry along the north shore of Vanua Levu. The north shore of Vanua Levu has been identified as a hotspot for yachts attracting sailors from all over the globe. The Smelers’s who own the only eco-agritourism resort in Fiji situated along the Tabia-Naduri highway now operate an anchorage for yachts.

Palmlea Anchorage has received 17 yachts so far this year.

“The north shore of Vanua Levu is now becoming more popular for sailing because our winds are lighter and our seas are calmer,” said Mrs Smelser. “Everywhere else on the other shores, they get more trade winds building in so seas get quite rougher over there.”

While Savusavu and Taveuni are predominantly known as destinations for yachts, Mrs Smelser said the northern bay also has the potential.

“Our anchorage is a new destination for yachts on the north shore and the only one in the Macuata province.”

Being expert sailors themselves, Mrs Smelser said the season for yachts is between May and October. “We started off two years ago with just a few yachts and now it’s become quite a destination for yachts in the north shore. They come to our place because the anchorage is intact and protective and we give them quality service where we look after the sailors,” said Mrs Smelser. Well versed with the roads throughout Vanua Levu, she said visitors to the area will go back satisfied after excursions through unexplored back roads through untouched traditional villages. “We believe that Vanua Levu is untouched by tourism at the moment. It has so much potential here that hasn’t been explored,” Mrs Smelser added.

Friday, August 14, 2009


from w
I also found two photos going back many years to when we lived in three bures beside Nukutatava Beach. One is of a painting I did at the time of the natural spring a few feet from the beach - I have no idea where the painting is now. The other photo is of two of our boys playing on a boat built by a relative from Mali Island. We lived there - at Nukutatava and Vatuadova in the early 1970s. An idyllic life beside the sea - mostly!

One day two strangers arrived there and were measuring up, so I asked them what they were doing. 'Oh, we are going to put in a tramline for sugarcane.' What? No way. Peceli and I went to the Mill Manager's office and truly, without consultation, they had planned to make a railway line right in front of our bures near the shoreline. We objected strongly. They said they would give us $3000 and we could also move our houses up the hillside. No! We won and they made another plan far away from the sea.

Fiji photos

from w
I've been spring-cleaning - throwing out old potplants, clothes, sorting photos and came across some old pictures. I wonder where the people are now? One photo is of the Phillips family from Maravu Street Lautoka - Wesley, Sarita, guess who, a guy from Melbourne, Rhoda and Sunita. They migrated to Melbourne later on. This photo is from end of 1961 I think. The second photo of four students from Lelean at the 21st birthday of the school - in 1963. Where are those boys now I wonder! The other photo is of Ulamila who lives in Vatuadova near Labasa. This photo was taken when she was a dancer with the Labasa choir when they visited Australia in 1985.

Don't tell whoppers to vavalagis

from w
I bought an old Geo magszine at the Geelong West Rotary Book Fair and was surprised to read an article in it about Samoa and Margaret Mead. Way back in 1925 this 23 year old American girl asked many intimate questions of young Samoan girls and the girls who loved to joke and tell whoppers really misled this budding young anthropolist. Margaret Mead's book Coming of Age in Samoa became a blueprint for a theory that while American teenagers had problems, the Samoan teenagers did not. It was all about boy - girl behaviour.

An elderly Samoan woman Fa'apua 'a Fa'amu was 89 in the story (Geo 1991) and she explained with a mischievous smile that the girls had told Margaret Mead whatever she wanted to believe. It wasn't till a New Zealander, Derek Freedman, questioned Margaret Mead's conclusions that anthropology students realized that sometimes vavalagi researchers don't get it right. Freedman was told by Samoans (in the 1980s) that girls are strictly brought up!

And in Fiji - Marshall Sahlins wrote his definitive research book on Moala and he believed the tall tales told around the yaqona bowl and put them into his research as factual.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


from w
When sorting out old poetry files yesterday I came across a poem I'd written way back to the time of the road blocks in Labasa which must have been about 87. I rejigged the poem a little and here it is. Wasavulu of course is a historical site a few k out of Labasa town.


Near our grandfather's garden
knee-deep in weaving grasses
we leapt barefoot over flat stones,
ducked around grey pillars,
targetted trees with coconuts,
made spinning windmills.
Mere called out for lunch
'Come and eat shellfish.'

Grandfather, after a Christian grace,
said, 'The gods are friends;
they organize, sustain us.
In return we host others,
bhaini and bhaiya, who
plough valleys and hillsides,
and lease money becomes
our new tradition.'

Tabu to women once, a secret place,
a priest's falsetto prepared for war.
Ritual blood smeared the grass
and mana leapt amidst stones.

Goddesses once hauled stones overland
after a skirmish in Cakaudrove.
The bure kalou now invisible,
The shark-god not spoken of.

Men no longer dance in moonlight
but look sidelong at neighbours
as school buses stall on bad roads.
Do you remember when sandals
slapped bitumen in political marches
and hymns were sung at a road-block?
Now men dream over yaqona bowls,
cannot speak of islands scorched by the sun.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Two articles in Fiji Village

from w
Do I laugh or cry? There will be a mini meeting of the Fiji Methodist Church leaders, and the second article is a new approach to telephone conversations. So do I now say 'Praise the Lord, Hallelujah' or silently cry for my interfaith friends?

Now there's nothing wrong with saying words like 'Hallelujah' in the right time and place. I remember the time we attended a wedding and Talatala had helped this shy man in advice on romancing the girl of his dreams. When the time came in the ceremony to answer 'Will you take this woman to be your wedded wife?' the guy said loudly 'Hallelujah, hallelujah, I will, I will!' It was a great moment!

Church permit granted for meeting Publish date/time: 12/08/2009 [12:45]

The church ministers of the Methodist Church can now have their ministerial meeting after the permit was granted by the Commissioner of Police, Commodore Esala Teleni. Assistant General Secretary of the church, Reverend Tevita Nawadra said the three day ministerial meeting will be held in Suva.

The permit has also been granted to have the church Solevu in different divisions. The Solevu is the annual fundraising drive to raise funds for the running of the Methodist Church.

But it is the call of the Divisional Heads when they will meet in their various circuits. Last month the Nadi Circuit met and collected more than $200,000.

Meanwhile the Suva Solevu will be held for a week at Furnival Park in Toorak starting from next Saturday. The Suva Circuit will also host the choir from Australia and the US. Reverend Nawadra reiterated that there will be no choir competitions.
And the second article is rather stunning, considering the aim in Fiji to respect all religious views.

Force adopts Jesus strategy
Publish date/time: 12/08/2009 [12:59]

This is the new approach of the Fiji Police Force. All police stations as part of the Police Christian Crusades are now answering the phone by saying “Praise the Lord”. This started a few months ago. The Police Force has today revealed that they are trying to change its image by adopting the Jesus strategy.

Deputy Director Operations SP Erami Raibe said all the officers around the country have been advised to be more people oriented and to answer the phones by saying "Praise the Lord, how can I help you". According to Raibe, they believe the Christian approach is the way forward for the Police Force.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

A sea change and Vorovoro

from w
The tribewanted project continues on Vorovoro Island near Labasa. Here is a posting from a sea-change family, which is on the tribewanted website. While many visitors to Fiji continue to stay in the large resorts, eat expensive food, etc. with little interaction with the local people except in a tourist-staff worker relationsip, those who go to Vorovoro experience a real change in lifestyle and get to know the people from Vorovoro and Mali islands who are Peceli's relations.
A family perspective of Vorovoro...
Community → Blogs from Vorovoro → Jenny Cahill's blogPhotos
By Jenny Cahill,
Posted 1 day ago
Just a couple months before arriving on Vorovoro, we made some exciting and scary major life changes in our family. Prior to these changes, we were like so many other middle class American families –we were stressed and burned out parents trying to squeeze the most out of the few hours we had per week together as a family, trying our best to raise kind, loving, conscientious, and capable children in a culture where it seemed everything was against our goals.

Despite our best efforts to keep our family a #1 priority, we had become slaves to busy schedules and endless obligations. Jimmy spent most of his time at a demanding and unfulfilling job that, while it provided well for us financially, left him with little time or energy foranything else. The job of raising and schooling our 3 kiddos fell primarily to me, and we felt that we were just enduring life, rather than enjoying it. Jimmy and I longed for a more balanced life, where we could both be present in our family while also sustaining our family financially in ways that fulfilled us rather than drained us. After years of this exhausting battle, we decided to change it all. With no solid plan in mind, we said goodbye to the 13 year career, the security, the generous paycheck. We traded financial security for happiness, fulfillment. We stepped into faith that we couldmake the life we wanted -simple, uncluttered, intentional, with time and energy for ourselves and our family,earning money through skills that we enjoy. We chose a summer of living in Vorovoro as a springboard for our family as we entered this exciting, new chapter of our lives.

Our family has been on Vorovoro for 6 ½ weeks now, and sadly, have just under 4 weeks more to go. Our time here has been the most intensely joyous time of our lives. We fled here from a culture that thrives on productivity, efficiency, and impersonal relationships, our hearts hungry for something that we did not yet know, but hungry just the same. Within days, maybe even hours, of setting foot on Vorovoro, our hunger had begun to satiate, and now I would say our hearts are content and full in ways they have never been before. Everything about this place is salve to the heart, food for the soul. Never before have we felt so connected to each other and to ourselves. Surrounded in beauty, laughter, and song, one cannot help but to see clearly how Western culture has gone wrong, how the hectic schedules and pressures of American life leave little room for the things nourish us our souls. It is this contrast that gives strength to our intentions to change the way we live our life in America, intentions that we brought with us to Vorovoro, hoping that we would find something here that would help us sustain those intentions in our life back home. We have found exactly what we were hoping for, and so much more. The unique community that is Vorovoro is amazing in ways that I find I just cannot describe.

The fellow tribe members we have spent time with have been just amazing – older folks with wisdom and stories to share, young travelers who impress us with their insight and maturity – remarkable role models for my children, and ourselves. Our Fijian family – warm hearts, open arms, hearty laughs. Their enthusiasm and joy are authentic and sincere, their playfulness and love of life are incredibly contagious. The ideals of the project areso in line with our own visions. It has beenhugelyrewarding to be part of a work in progress and see the results of your own hard work at the end of each day. The island allows freedom and independence for my children – they have grown in ways I never anticipated. Timid at first about meeting so many new people, they are now usually the first to meet and greet the new arrivals, eager to show them around the island.

Tribe members and Fijian family alike join in their playfulness – there is always someone willing to guide, listen, play, or with whom to simply share a laugh or an adventure. The line between work and play just doesn’t exist on Vorovoro – everything is exciting and fun. They join in on projects and discussions, their ideas and efforts are respected and appreciated. They are made to feel important – the kindness, gentleness, patience, and respect with which they have been treated havemade them aware of how capable they are. They move in and out of daily activities – working with the ladies in the kitchen, grating coconut, chopping paupau, or baking bread, or maybe clearing brush, catching bait, or weaving coconut leaves with the men. They’ve all formed their own close relationships with various members of our Fijian family.

They live their own lives here, set their own schedules, make their own goals – I have become aware of how much they are capable of. It has been inspiring and affirming to me to watch my children grow, become comfortable with new people and experiences, challenge themselves and see projects through to completion. As I hear their laughter ring through the village, when I see the joy they bring to others with their smiles and questions, when I listen to them tell me about the things they have learned from watching and talking to other people, I am filled with gratitude. More than ever before, I understand the old wise saying that goes: “It takes a village to raise a child.” Truer words have never been spoken.

Our time on Vorovoro has given us gifts that will be a part of us forever – we have experienced enduring and strong connections to ourselves, to each other, and to our goals and intentions for our family. We have formed relationships that will last the rest of our lives. The important lessons of slowing down, laughing much, and enjoying the moment we are in have become a part of us. Sega naleqa! A world away from our other life and the distractions that come with it, immersedin meaningful work and interactions, no longer running on the proverbial hamster wheel, we are beginning to learn to listen, really listen. And we like what we hear.Au lomaniiko, Vorovoro.Vinakavakalevu na wisdom.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Mini Koniferedi in each area?

from w
Radio Fiji ran this story today: they had better get organised quickly as the timing of meetings needs to be in the next school holidays! Have the Labasa people planted enough kawai to feed the visitors from nearby churches? Koniferedi means Conference of course. The media has often portrayed this as mainly about fund-raising but that is not the main purpose. Surely such meetings are to affirm relationships with God and with the community. Money matters are not the priority.

Church proposes to extend committee
Friday, August 07, 2009

The Methodist Church of Fiji and Rotuma has put forward its new proposal to government to approve for the extension of its Standing Committee. Church assistant General Secretary Rev. Tevita Nawadra says the understanding with government is for the standing committee to hold the Bose Ko Viti and discuss appointments of pastors, the church’s institutions and other church matters. Rev. Nawadra told FBC News the church has requested for an expanded committee and are awaiting a response from government.

He says they have also sent a request to the Commissioner of Police Commodore Esala Teleni for a permit to hold the meeting and also a permit to hold the church festival in various church divisions and not in the usual manner where the congregations from around the country converge at one venue as normally is the practice.

Rev. Nawadra says the church is awaiting a response to a request put forward to both Government and the Police Commissioner.

Meanwhile in an interview the Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama said the Methodist Church will hold their conference – but on a smaller scale. In an interview he says the mini-conferences will be held in each division and will not be as spectacular as the Annual Church Conference – as is the usual. “They will have their mini-conferences in their won divisions. It’s not going to be a conference like that was planned. They’ll go to their own divisions like one in Labasa – Savusavu, Bua and Macuata.”

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Tragedy at sea for Tongans

from w
Our hearts go out to the bereaved and anxious relatives after the sinking of a ferry in Tongan waters. It is an awful tragedy and we wonder why such things happen. Perhaps the ferry was not really seaworthy and the weather was not calm. Our prayers are with the Tongan people at this time. But why did the King of Tonga go on a holiday to Scotland even after hearing of the tragedy?

From Fiji village:
Tonga still on state of shock
Publish date/time: 07/08/2009 [13:05]
It is the worst ferry disaster ever in the Pacific region and people of Tonga are still in a state of shock as rescuers desperately search for the people still missing in the Tongan waters after the MV Princess Ashika sank late Wednesday night. The worry and the sad news continue to unfold from the island kingdom today.

The number of people who may have died in the Tongan ferry tragedy has nearly doubled, with two confirmed dead, and 62 people now unaccounted for.

The Commander of Tonga's Police Force Chris Kelly said they have now revised the manifest list and think that 117 people were onboard when the Princess Ashika sank. Kelly said he cannot explain why only men have been rescued but there may have been a shift change happening, which would account for all the crew being on deck.

He said of those missing, 23 are men, four of them crew members, 21 are women, and 7 are children, with the rest yet to be identified...

Fifita (from radio Tonga) told us that the ship sank within minutes and the women and children were trapped inside.

There is an audio file attached to this story. Please login to listen. Fifita said the MV Princess Ashika was declared seaworthy but concerns are being raised that the vessel was only built and used for inland waters, not the open seas.

Some survivors have said that two big waves hit the ship which resulted in the sinking.
Meanwhile, the Tongan National Centre for Women and Children's Ofa GuttenbeilLikiliki said people are desperate for information. She said it is common knowledge that the Princess Ashika, which was brought to replace another ferry, was far from seaworthy. She said the vessel was an accident waiting to happen.

A survivor of Tonga's ferry disaster said the vessel rolled so quickly in rough seas that women and children sleeping below decks had no chance to escape.

According to the Operations Officer for the Tongan Navy Daniel Tuita, the crewman said the captain of the Princess Ashika had warned of rough seas approaching with less than a minute's notice. He said a very short minute after the captain warned them, they tried to yell out to the people inside but the accident happened so suddenly. All the women and children were inside, sleeping and taking refuge from the rough seas while the men were outside smoking and lying on the deck. Tuita quoted the crewman as saying that when the accident happened, unfortunately those who were safe inside were the first to go down.

One of the survivors Siaosi Lavaka, whose mother is among the missing, said he woke to find the ferry rocking violently and waves breaking over the lower deck. He said the rocking apparently moved cargo to one side of the ferry, unbalancing it and turning it over.
(later - Sunday.) It now seems that there are overy ninety people missing, after counting names on the manifest etc. That is really huge. Is the Tongan King over in Scotland? Surely he should come home immediately to show he cares about all these bereaved families suffering in Tonga.

Do Fiji kids play Rocks Scissors Paper?

from w
Certainly our kids used to play this when there was a task such as putting out the rubbish, changing the TV channel (when we didn't have a zapper) or drying the dishes. As if....ever.... The game is played by two people with hand gestures. The game is often used as a selection method in a similar way to coin flipping, drawing straws, or throwing dice to randomly select a person for some purpose. I hope important decisions in Fiji are not made using this game, but are done thoughtfully and prayerfully!.
Sportspeople often use the game (both officially and unofficially, in place of a coin toss) to decide on opening plays.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Favourite Fiji foods

Sairusi Tuivonovono and Alifereti Veitokai of Nabuli in Rewa show kawai they uprooted on Tuesday. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU
from w
Here's a story especially for Macuata people and Peceli who is over in Fiji at present. The Rewa people planted extra food for the visitors to come to the Conference that is not a Conference, so this planter of kawai ( a special delicacy loved by Labasa people) ready for visitors, but, now he will just give it to his local talatala!
from Fiji Times -
Church benefits from cropBy UNAISI RATUBALAVU
Thursday, August 06, 2009

REWA native Sairusi Tuivonovono started planting kawai, a root crop, from last year as part of his village's preparations for the Methodist Church Conference that was to have been held this month. The retired soldier managed to get 30 to 40 pieces of kawai when he harvested it from his garden at Cunningham last Tuesday.

The 58-year-old from Nabuli in Dreketi was tasked to take care of the the Serua divisional superintendent, who was to have been billeted at his village. "I was thinking to take some kawai for the minister so he could have it for his breakfast while staying at the village. I don't want him to have the Western style of breakfast, which most of us are used to like bread and tea.

"But now, the conference is cancelled, I just take some of my harvested crop to our minister here at Cunningham," Mr Tuivonovono said. He said after planting the crop and seeing the kind of harvests he got, he would continue planting kawai for as long as he can. "I also know that not many Fijian men in Rewa and other villages in Viti Levu are planting this crop." He said he got the idea for this particular crop from his observing his elders planting kawai when he was young.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Good News from the Gospel of Mark

from w
Peceli and I were privileged to hear a lecture yesterday (one quiet sit down in a hectic day as Peceli packed up to fly Air Pacific to Fiji) by Brendan Byrne, a Jesuit scholar, who was invited to Geelong East Uniting Church. The event was organised by the Presbytery and we had a delicious roast dinner afterwards. Brendan was an engaging speaker, using language without jargon, with points spelled out using a data projector, as he showed us that the Gospel of Mark is much more than a 'cinderella' book, much more than bare bones without flesh. Line by line he gave us possible meanings and in one hour 20 minutes we had only covered about two chapters! He gave printed handouts so Peceli reckons he has seven sermons-in-progress if he has to preach in Fiji in the next four weeks! During the presentation I kept thinking how relevant this all was to Fiji's situation and the Methodist Church there.

Here is some cut and paste about Brendan Byrne and his commentary on Mark’s Gospel.
Brendan Byrne’s A Costly Freedom: A Theological Reading of Mark’s Gospel. (Liturgical Press, 2008. RRP $ 29.95)
A sample of his writing is on the web.
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat -

This Good News according to Mark is essentially a message of freedom - a freedom, however, that does "not come about without cost: a cost to Jesus, a cost to the Father, and a cost to those called to associate themselves with his life and mission." Mark holds out to us both the price and the promise of freedom.

And some bits from a book review:
Timely commentary on Mark’s Gospel
Published Tuesday, 27 Jan 2009, by Anglican Media

The invitation to place ourselves in the shoes of the disciples, who despite their failure of Jesus are extended an invitation to meet with him again in Galilee, provides a strong note of encouragement. It is the fallibility of Jesus’ disciples that make for a robust strand of goodnews to those who have tried to follow Jesus and feel that they failed. “As the disciples failed, we too fail – but that does not mean that Jesus ceases to be the Shepherd who will gather the scattered remnants of our loyalty and lead us to a new beginning in ‘Galilee’.”

The reflective conclusion of the commentary still leaves us a sizeable challenge – discerning the “demons” of our day - agents of control which oppose the rule of God or as Byrne puts it, “forces, frequently transpersonal and socioeconomic, that stunt human growth and freedom, alienating individuals from each other and from their own true humanity”. Byrne suggests that there are other commentators (such as Ched Myer who wrote the Markan commentary Binding the Strong Man: A Political Reading of Mark’s Story of Jesus in 1988) who have suggested whence lie the demons of their age, but that every generation and group must do this act of hermeneutics afresh as “sociopolitical conditions change and new challenges arise”.

Byrne believes that there is a particular relevance of Mark to the Western church increasingly conscious of its Post-Constantinian state. “We are now witnessing the end of the “Constantinian church” in which leaders were accorded honors and symbols of rank more reflective of worldly power than the values of Jesus, and where the institution itself was built into the fabric of society. The pain that goes along with the loss of status and honour is perhaps akin to that experienced by the disciples of Jesus as they struggled both to hear and to resist what he was saying. Like them, we are all on our way to Jerusalem with Jesus.”

Good news for Tuvala people

from w
Mostly forgotten was the story of the kidnapping of the crew of a German ship by Somali pirates over four months ago. One Fiji man was also in the crew. One of our friends is from Tuvalu and had told us about the difficulty of getting the men released. Well, at last,after the ranson of $1.7 million American money was given, the ship and crew were set free. Now this is good news, and a bit more important than some of the mickey mouse stories in the Fiji papers which would be more appropriate in a magazine! Now an interview with some of the released crew would make for interesting reading, and also an examination on the reasons why young men from Somali decide to attack cargo ships!
This item from the Tuvalu website:


August 3, 2009
Hamburg - The German shipping company Leonhardt & Blumberg late Monday confirmed the release of its container ship Hansa Stavanger and crew of 24 from the hands of Somali pirates. Pirates released the ship after payment of ransom in the amount of 2.7 million dollars according to the Somali pirates.

The 20,000-ton ship was set free off the coast of Somalia and was on its way to Mombasa, Kenya, where it was expected to arrive on Thursday, said the company's head Frank Leonhardt in a statement. Leonhardt said the negotiations with the pirates were "extremely difficult" and that his main priority was the safe return of the 24 crew members. "I am relieved and happy and celebrate with the crew members and their family members that this interminably long four months as hostages are over," he said. He said he had confirmed through a telephone connection to the ship that the crew members were doing well, all things considered.

The ship's crew includes five Germans, three Russians, two Filipinos, two Ukrainians and 12 persons from the South Pacific nation of Tuvalus. After being cared for in Mombasa, the crew would be sent on their way home to their respective countries, Leonhardt said.

Source: Earth Times

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Some light reading for a change

from w.
This afternoon we were in Altona Meadows/Laverton Uniting Church for the Fijian service then picked up a snack at Macdonalds, then went to Wyndam Vale to have kava and dinner with Sailosi Koto's family. They had a little white rabbit - being fed with grated carrot and lettuce leaves. I said give 'Ben' (a girl or a boy no-one knows) grass from outside. Oh no, says the young owner, Ben wants carrot and lettuce. When I said we can cook the rabbit for dinner she was shocked! I told her we used to eat rabbit for dinner and her eyes widened. Then she showed me her music book and a song she learnt.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Traditional protocol in Lomanikoro, Rewa

from Peceli, Vinaka vakalevu. They have performed the correct protocol in going to Lomanikoro, Rewa, to the Roko Tui Dreketi and the vanua of Rewa. The church is privileged to have back-up men like Rev Laisiasa and Rev Tevita to lead this group and to have the right approach. We hope and pray that good arrangements can be made for the future. The cancellation of the Methodist Conference was like a tsunami but we don't want anyone hurt.

From the Fiji Times: God's willBy TIMOCI VULA
Sunday, August 02, 2009
Members of the Methodist Church delegation led by former president Reverend Laisiasa Ratabacaca, third from left, ride across the Rewa River to Lomanikoro Village yesterday.
IN a solemn pilgrimage across the Rewa River, senior Methodist ministers made a traditional approach to the chiefly host of their 2009 annual conference to announce its cancellation yesterday.

Led by former church president Reverend Laisiasa Ratabacaca, the 11-man delegation made a presentation for Rewa to accept the church's decision made on Friday.

"It was a difficult task for the church to convey this message to the vanua of Rewa and it was also difficult for the Marama Roko Tui Dreketi (Ro Teimumu Kepa) to accept," church assistant general secretary Reverend Tevita Banivanua told the Fiji Times.

"But we're strengthened by God's word when He said: 'For when I am weak, then I am strong' (2 Corinthians 12:10)."

He said there were two ways to deal with the State's decision not to allow the conference - to be confrontational, which the church did not want to be seen as, or be humble.

"That is God's will," he said.

"The challenge is huge. When it is God's will, he will surely open many other doors in the future."

Mr Banivanua said the delegation informed Ro Teimumu of the decision and highlighted reasons such as the recent arrest of clergymen, including hers. "We kindly informed her that the church was mindful of what the consequences could be for the whole of Fiji if this meeting was to go ahead."

Mr Banivanua said the cancellation of the conference was not a loss for the church. Its humble approach, he said, meant victory because "God will triumph at the end of the day".

He said the vanua Rewa had accepted this decision since it only awaited the voice of the church.

"We thank the vanua of Rewa for their initiative to approach the church to host the conference, which was confirmed in 2006, 2007 and again in 2008.

"Their forefathers had not fully adored Christianity and this was their opportunity, this was their time, which was why they approached the church."

"But there is always hope for another time provided by God," he said.

Ro Teimumu is currently bound by strict bail conditions, which means she would not be able to call for any meetings to inform her people of this decision.

Mr Banivanua will make a formal announcement to all members through the church's Sunday programme Raici Jisu Matua on Radio Fiji One today.

He will officially inform church president Reverend Ame Tugaue and general secretary Reverend Tuikilakila Waqairatu (of the meeting with Ro Teimumu) tomorrow, after which immediate arrangements for its standing committee meeting would follow.

The 32-member standing committee will be expanded to include heads of the church's 53 divisions who will discuss issues of the church this month on the scheduled date of the annual conference.