The report

This is the report I  to my church about the Encounter trip. It is very clinic so I will probably write something more personal later on.

This report is based on the mission’s trip that I went on, run by the New Zealand Church Missionary Society (NZCMS).

The mission’s trip was named the encounter trip because we were a short term mission group and we were there to encounter the culture, encounter the people and to encounter how God was working in these villages.

We visited two villages they were Wainaloka and Wailailai on the Fijian Island of Ovalau.

We were in Wainaloka first for 7 days; it has about 50 houses and has had electricity for about 5-6 years.

Our daily program at Wainaloka was to have half of the team running a kids programme (kids too young, old or the parents who could not afford the pre-school our not old enough for primary school) this would run between 8 am to 12 pm, the other half of the team was at the preschool helping to teach math, English or reading books to the children.

After lunch we would go out for visitations which were a high light of my day, having the opportunity to hear about other people’s lives and the knowledge that they have from experiencing the world from a different view-point. During one of the visitations I came to a realisation that in our western society we don’t get to know people as we should, we don’t get to hear people’s life story’s, their achievements, their downfalls, their walk with God. It is a shame that we don’t, as we could learn so much about them, ourselves, our struggles and learn more about God. It was a privilege to be asked to pray for healing and protection by the elderly members of the village who were in my opinion the ones who had the best relationship with God and were just waiting patiently for him to come and collect them.

After the visitations we would come back together as a group to review our day and do a bible study that looked at different people in the bible and how we could follow their examples in our life. We would run a kids program before dinner for all the primary school kids, after they returned from school. We would go through a story in the bible each day and sometimes acted it out in a small drama we made up, singing kids worship songs and playing sports with them.

In the evenings after dinner we would run a youth program with worship songs, a bible study and a time for any prays that they wanted. The great thing about the kids and the youth was that they were so accepting of us even though we were different and did not understand everything they were saying, as our Fijian was very very basic (Greetings and manners, please and thank you etc) and the young kids English was basic (better than our Fijian) but still they accepted us and wanted to get to know us and we managed to communicate well most of the time. In Wainaloka we saw first-hand what it was to love your neighbour as yourself, the people of Wainaloka were so willing to stop everything that they were doing to help each other and us.

I have two examples of the sacrificial nature of the people. We were told on the Thursday that as a group we would be able to go out by boat to a small sand bank off the island for a morning of swimming and relaxing on Saturday. On the Friday evening Anna (our leader) went to confirm that everything was sorted to find that the village boat was broken but she found out that Luke (my host family father) was at the next village after walking quiet some distance organizing their village boat to come and pick us up, this was at 10 o’clock at night and he didn’t return back till a lot later. When he did get back we thanked him a lot and he told us that because he said we could go that it was his job to make sure we got to go, even if he had to sacrifice his time and money because as Christians we have to love each other as much as we love Jesus. The second example was when one of our team members had to go to the island’s hospital; all the villages stopped what they were doing and came to help us get Sarah over the stream and into the transport to take her to the hospital. All the time they were praying with us and helping in any way that they could ever though it meant they did not spend the day doing as they had planned and wanted to.

Wailailai was the second village that we visited. Our daily routine did not change that much as the villages were very similar in their needs. The only change was that we got to go to St James Anglican primary school instead of the preschool. It was very good getting a chance to teach the year 7 and 8 students of the school as they wanted to learn and were willing to try all the different maths games that we got them to do. The people of Wailailai really taught me about how I have to hunger for God more, they wanted to do bible studies and worship every night and all night. Their hunger for God, their want to learn more, to experience more of God was an inspiration to myself and to the rest in the team as we as a society sometimes go to church on Sunday and pray in the morning and night and read the bible occasional but we don’t hunger for God, we don’t ask him to be in ever thing that we do, in all parts of our lives. The people would pray for everything they do from the mundane chores to praying for healing and protection for people and family’s. We did not get to spend as much time in wailailai as we did at Wainaloka but the people were so amazing that by the end of the first night we felt like we were at home again.

I have grown through this encounter trip as I am now more confident, this comes from writing and preaching the sermon at the Sunday mass at wainaloka, from having to running events with little or no preparation time and from the visitations as we did not know who we were praying for in the next house or what their needs were. I have come back to Christchurch with a higher gratitude for the luxuries that we have for hot water, good wages and more opportunities to live our lives as we want. I have learnt from their culture as well, their sense of community of love for their neighbour and of being willing to sacrifice themselves for the benefit of others.  I would highly recommend this type of short term mission work to everybody that I meet as it has impacted my life and hopefully the lives of the villages greatly and God uses short term mission to spread his love for everybody.

Thank you every body for you pray’s throughout the Encounter, please keep praying for Wainaloka and Wailailai and for the Haerenga interns that are still over there. Don’t forget to read their blog at http://haerenga2012.wordpress.com

God Bless

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Radical Love

Wow, how can I even begin?

God has been so much at every turn during this Encounter trip.

I would love to list endless ‘success stories’ about people turning to the Lord and being healed of their sickness and sin but only God truly sees into the hearts of those who have experienced his transforming power in their lives and I want to be sure that any mention of this is to solely provide God with all the glory he and he alone deserves. I have prayed/pray deeply that God has been using us to influence and inspire the communities of Wainaloka and Wailailai for Christ… but in faith, I must put this into God’s hands and for the benefit of you, the reader, I will share a few things of what God has been doing in my heart because it’s only from my first-hand account that I can be 100% true in the testimony I provide of God’s epic love, authority and healing power.

So, here we go. The story begins 5 days into our travels when I began to get some cramping in my gut and all else that follows. The pain became more and more severe and this was intensified due to an existing condition that I suffer with. When the pain was at its worst I was slipping in and out of consciousness and was in a very dark space. On top of the pain, I felt incredibly vulnerable being in a foreign culture without any immediate medical help available. It was in this dark place that God met me in a powerful and profound way.

At this time, the Encounter team dropped everything they were doing to come and lay hands in prayer but it wasn’t long before the entire house was packed with locals who were joining in to pray and care for me too. A truck was organized to transport me to the hospital and when it arrived, members of the team and some of the locals carried me into a makeshift wheelchair before heaving me over a stream and down the rough path to the community hall. Once I was there, it seems the entire village was watching and although I don’t remember everything, I do remember Bale (who was hosting me in her home) holding me in her arms and praying for me through heavy sobs. I have never in my life felt so much love from those around me and it didn’t stop there. Once I was carried onto the truck and eventually into the hospital, members of my team never left my side. Those who were left at the village kept praying for me (as I found out the next day) and whilst I was in the hospital, Will, Kristen, Anna & John (from Wainaloka) all took shifts watching me, adjusting my drip and helping me get to the bathroom.

This experience has a lot to tell of God’s healing as I was miraculously cured from my intense pain shortly after arriving at the hospital (I received no immediate pain medication – only intravenous fluids) and was sitting up within hours. However, amazingly, God revealed something more of himself to me, something profound and deeply revolutionary– his great love.

Whilst I was in the hospital, I was overwhelmed with God’s love for me – a ferocious and passionate love – a love that was felt through the arms of the remarkable people who dropped everything to love me at my most vulnerable even though I had not known many of them very long.

During this ordeal I was reminded of the story in John 13 where Jesus washing his disciples’ feet. When Jesus approached Peter to wash his feet, he was shocked. He refused him saying, “No, you shall never wash my feet.”  Jesus then replied saying that unless Peter allowed him to wash his feet, he had no part with him. In Peter’s enthusiasm he said, “Then Lord, not just my feet but my head and hands as well.” Peter still didn’t get it. Jesus was demonstrating his love for the disciples – an unconditional love that wasn’t limited to our exposed and public selves, the parts of us that we aren’t afraid to show (representative of Peter’s head and hands). Jesus loves all of us, paying special attention to the hidden, unexposed and unclean areas of our lives. For Jesus to wash his disciples’ feet was radical. This was a job for humble servants – certainly not for the Son of God. But this is where it gets interesting. Jesus goes on to say this: “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set an example for you to follow.”

Wow. This might not seem significant to us in its original cultural context but if we think about an equivalent action today which would be as equally shocking in our culture, it’s a big deal. I would be thinking along the lines of helping another person after they have gone to the bathroom – something we would usually assign a home carer or a close family member. It’s a selfless and relentless love that isn’t afraid of the unseen and unclean private worlds of a human being. We, as Jesus’ disciples are to love this way. As Jesus’ disciples, following in his footprints, we are called to be hands of God, cleansing and laying hands upon the dark, unseen and unclean areas of people’s lives – spiritually, emotionally and physically. Could you imagine a world where we all loved like this? As a further reflection, it was only days after Jesus washed his disciples’ feet that he gave up his own life for them. He gave all that he could. He not only displayed a love that addressed and cared for the darkest depths of the human soul but he loved to the point of death. This is the radical love of our Lord Jesus Christ and the radical love that he calls us to participate in.

When I was sick and at my most vulnerable, I was moved by the love expressed by the Encounter team and the Wainaloka community. Through this furious and relentless love, I found myself experiencing God’s transforming power, his loving arms around me, holding me close. This radical love has transformed my life. I was changed and radically challenged to love others in the same way that Jesus loves. It also gave me comfort in the darkest place and provided an unbreakable unity within our team and with the local people of Wainaloka. I know now what God’s love can look like practically on earth, the ripple effects of this love and what can happen when we make ourselves available to him.

My encouragement to you from this experience is to love with everything you’ve got – loving in the way that Jesus demonstrated to the disciples and on the cross. When we can love like this, God moves and transforms in ways we cannot even fathom. It all starts with being available. As I type this, I’m reminded of an old song. I’ll end with the lyrics:

I wanna be your hands
I wanna be your feet
I’ll go where you send me
Go where you send me
And I’ll try (Yeah I’ll try)
To touch the world
Like you’ve touched my life
And I’ll find my way
To be your hands.

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From William

Hey my name is William Devery, I am 22 years old and will be turning 23 while in Fiji! One of the many awesome things that will be happening to me on this trip! (Thursday 5th July). So we will be leaving for Fiji tomorrow morning and I’m super excited!

Every Sunday session that we have had has been amazing, learning about culture shock and preparing our souls with the bible! I have been taking every day slowly with bible devotionals (Well trying to remember) and prayer, so that I will be ready to share my skills and love with the people of Fiji, but most of all get myself ready to learn from them. I am hoping not only to learn about their culture and their way of life, but how they see Jesus and how they share the love of Jesus to each other!

Thank you so much to everyone that has been praying for us and thinking about us. These prayers and thought are what are keeping us strong spiritually and mentally, and also for the people over in Fiji!

We are going to have sooooo much fun!

William

TRUST IN THE LORD

“Trust in the Lord, lean not on your own understanding” Proverbs 3:5-6

Only a day and a bit to go until we depart and will be in Fiji for this amazing adventure. We just had an awesome day of orientation and team building, in which I learnt so much about how we should function as a team and what to expect… or more importantly, not expect. Thanks to Brian for coming along and teaching us so much about mission and how to deal with it all, it made me feel a lot more confident. For dinner, we ate and helped make a delicious Fijian meal which was so yummy.

I’d love to say that I feel 100% perfect about the trip but right now, I sort of feel like maybe I’m going in over my head. I know that God is personally calling me on this trip for one reason or another but I have got no idea what or why. School has just finished for term 3 and I can finally relax away from school work and study… but more on to worrying about Fiji- packing and safety and technical stuff and culture shock and health and everything!!! Its such a long list. One thing I know for sure is that I am going on this trip for a reason, and the other thing I know for sure is that God does everything for good, even if it doesn’t happen straight away. So I have been, am and will trust in Him, that everything will run well and that we will be able to be witnesses of Jesus Christ and somehow encourage and inspire the people in Fiji about how awesome he is.

Ellen Reid

Nearly there

Hey guys just thought I would get another post up before we go as I don’t know how much time we will have tomorrow.

Had a great day today at St Chad’s today, getting to know the part of the encounter team from Auckland. Had some final training and team building exercises that got us to thing like a team and getting us to support each other. It was a long day but very much worth it, if not just for the awesome Fijian curry that we had for dinner, sitting on the floor and eating it with our hands.

One of the things that I got from today was that as humans we wish to fix and help most people that we see. To do this we normally tell them what they have to do and how to do it but I came to realise that sometimes it is better to allow them to solve the problem out them selves and if they can’t we should only give them the tools to solve the problem. In doing this we let them grow as a person and it is their own achievement as they solved it them selves. I think some times God is doing this when he doesn’t answer all our prays or does so in a strange way. He is getting us to solve the problem ourselves so that we may grow in our selves and grow in our faith of him.

I would like to thank Lea and Derek Tovey for letting us stay in their house well we are in Auckland.

God Bless

John

The much talked about Orientation

Hi everyone,

Today we had our Orientation at St Chads. It was a long day but went very quickly as we had a lot of team bonding and interesting information given too us. we also did the DISC personality test (Go Golden Retrievers!)

We also had some Fiji food cooked for us and ate it sitting on the floor with our hands as they would in Fiji.

Tomorrow we have out commissioning at St Chads and then our flight on Monday to Fiji!

It’s all very exciting and we thank you all for your prayers 🙂

Graeme

The Final Countdown

I can’t believe in three days I’ll be standing in Fiji.  This time next week I’ll be immersed in a  new culture, thrown out of my comfort zone, and gaining some amazing memories.

One thing I am especially grateful for is the work of my Youth Pastor Sarah. She has put a huge amount of effort into organising several fundraising events. They really paid off – no pun intended.

Several challenges in the past month made it seem like this trip would not happen for me; yet here I am, packed and ready to go! I ended up particularly stressed out about renewing my passport. But our God is an awesome God, and as always he is in full control, so of course my new passport arrived just in time.

I believe that God is preparing to do some amazing stuff in our lives over the next two weeks. I must learn to trust that God is in control. No matter what challenges I face, if it is God’s plan, nothing can stop me from going to Fiji.

Kirsty

Hello World

Hello to all the people reading this post. Thank you for supporting us in this Encounter trip to Fiji. This is the first time I have written in a blog so I thought I might just tell you guys a bit about myself. My name is John and I am 18 years old I am in my final year (year 13)  at Shirley Boys High School in Christchurch, I study Chemistry, Biology, Classics, English and Physical education. I attend St Michael’s  Anglican church in Christchurch with my family and have a heavy involvement in the life of the church. I also am a leader at Bryndwr Baptist youth group (as my church does not have a youth group) which I find awesome as it allows me to see how different denominations work and their way of interpreting God’s words. I play two sports; Hockey and Judo and I also coach hockey (primary school aged kids) so I hope to be able to do some work with kids in Fiji as I feel like I know how to help them learn.

Enough about myself. Why  I feel I should go on the Encounter is because I feel that God is telling me to go out and experience what he is doing in other countries and how I can bring this back to my life, church and communities that I belong to. Why to Fiji, that one is easy, the trip is during my school holidays. It still feels like the encounter trip is ages away even though we are leaving for Auckland this FRIDAY! And flying to Fiji next Monday! Wow, it is so close.

Thank you to all the people who have supported me, please keep your prayers going.

God bless

Last Week

It still doesn’t seem real that this time next week I’ll be in Fiji not knowing what I’ll be in for. Still got to pack and make sure I have everything. I decided to come on the Fiji trip after Anna invited me to go on the Vanuatu trip which got cancelled earlier in the year. I feel that this is another challenge from God for me to grow and learn to depend on him more. There is nothing like being taken out of your normal life and thrown in the deep end to do that.

Simon.

Introducing me

Hi everyone, Graeme Fraser here. getting ready to head out to Fiji next week!
Has been a pretty exciting time doing the prep and fund raising. Myself and some young people from my church (St Aidan’s, Bryndwr, Christchurch) put on a fund raising dinner for my church last week which was a great success!
The trip is getting pretty close now and feels more real each day. Thank you to everyone that’s supported me and is praying for me and I’ll no doubt be letting you all know about what we get up to over in Fiji and the great work that God is doing over there.

Graeme