It has finally come - the day we head off to Fiji on our much anticipated trip.
With Reverend Peter and Alan as well as Hayley accompanying members from our youth group, Niamh and Archer Walton, Ben McCullough and William Anderson, the team of 7 departed Auckland at 3:45pm travelling for Nadi. This was the first time out of the country for Ben, and the first time that Niamh and Archer both remember doing so. William, on the other hand, is a seasoned traveller and so could helpfully guide us all around the airport. In comparison to the mammoth Airbus A380, our Boeing 737-700 was a tiny aircraft with six of us taking up an entire row. Everyone enjoyed the flight, some got a sleep while others excitedly awaited every moment.
For much of the flight there was nothing to see by sea. The sense of distance between New Zealand and Fiji setting in to some of the kids, especially as we showed a map of how far the rest of the world is, even by plane. As we drew nearer Fiji, however, we began to see the land. Fiji was a strange sight. On one side lush and green, on the other dry and predominantly brown. There were numerous fires all around the island, which we later learned were a mixture of rubbish burning and sugar cane field clearing, sugar cane remaining a staple cash crop in Fiji.
On arrival in Nadi the thing everyone noticed was the heat. It was a humid 27 degrees as we departed the plane and walked onto the tarmac. Compared with the mild 21 when we departed Auckland, it all came as a shock. As we got through the airport, the heat and tiredness of the time was getting to us. That was made worse when we found that the van booking was not correct and so became stranded in Nadi. But you have to make lemon of lemonade sometimes and so we took the opportunity to book into the nearest, and also cheapest, hotel we could find and settled in for the night. This may have been a blessing in disguise as the hotel had a pool. As we all hurriedly got changed to have a swim, we realised we may not have survived the 4 hour drive to Suva on the same day as the flight.
We set ourselves down for sleep later in the night to get as much rest as we could before setting off midday tomorrow to meet with our host families in Suva.
While we're in Fiji, we will be undertaking the following projects:
- Leading bible study and worship with St Mark's Youth.
- Devotions with Bishop Kempthorne Memorial Primary School, Newtown
- Painting and fencing work at St Christopher's Children Home.
- Painting and cleaning work at St Mark's Parish, Newtown (our host church).
- Visiting the community of Nadawa (said Nandawa) and painting their church, St Philip's.
Amongst all that, we will be spending time with the young people of St Mark's, Newtown (many of whom visited us at Christ Church late in 2015) and with the wider church in the place.