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