Two visits to Fiji

Two groups recently visited Fiji: four executives from the New Zealand Association of Anglican Women (AAW) in September and six Anglican Youth Ministries (AYM) residents with their leaders in November. Both groups enjoyed developing existing relationships with their Fijian hosts. Here are their stories.

The AAW group landed in Nadi and visited groups there and in Lautoka and Ba. They travelled on to Suva, where they met with the Polynesian Executive Committed and were welcomed with a service and dinner. For the next three days, they met with seven groups in the Suva area, sharing talanoa (dialogue), devotions, and food. Pat Vincent, AAW president, says “We were humbled by what our sisters were able to produce from the sewing machines we’ve donated.  They have made the most beautiful priests robes, table cloth sets, sheet sets and sold them at the local bazaar or amongst the congregation to raise funds to cover their subscriptions and to provide necessary items for their churches.  Most groups met weekly to share bible study and sew.  It was pleasing to see their groups included a variety of ages and it was a joy to visit three of the eight kindergartens we sponsor.”

The team also visited St Christopher’s Home and met with the House of Sarah team, who aim to transform women’s lives by eliminating violence towards them.  On the final night, everyone shared prayers, speeches, dinner, and dancing. Each group had made a new outfit, incorporating gold to celebrate the AAW golden jubilee next year, and wore these to their celebration at Suva Cathedral in August.

Pat says of the trip, “It was a wonderful experience and a highlight of my term of office.”

The AYM group, led by Andrew and Emily Spence and Aisake Kiro Rokotakala, also landed in Nadi and then travelled to Suva, with the aims of experiencing a different culture and way of living and forming relationships. On their first night, they slept on the floor among the worship, kava drinking, and gathered young people. The following day, they travelled three hours north of Suva to a village, where they stayed for five days with people who had very little but showed so much joy. The team was struck by the amount of intergenerational connection and learning that was happening.

One of the AYM participants had fundraised in her parish to take orphans from St Christopher’s Home to the movies and Burger King one afternoon. Other highlights included eating taro, cassava, and fish with locals and learning that technology is less necessary to life than we in New Zealand tend to think.