Baston College Year 12 students telling their stories to the Golden Oldies
“When I grow up I want to be a Prison Officer” was what one of the Senior Students shared to the Golden Oldies as they visited the first Anglican Primary and Secondary School. The Primary School caters for 500 children coming from the local area and slum village communities. And seven years ago a Secondary School was established and now there is a class every year upto Year 12, next year expanding to Year 13.Interestingly the Head boy and girl are Hindus, at an Anglican Christian School. Strange choice?
“We welcome the other religions to come and learn at our school, as then we can tell them about our God, and let his love bless them”, was the response from the Deputy Principal.
Peter with student aiming to be a Prison Guard, and Head Boy (right)
Another example of the Fijian Christian approach to embracing cultural diversity.The School with its high standards for excellence and teaching has achieved exam results higher than other schools around Suva. And for them, looking forward, they want to raise funds for the squatter children to gain scholarships for furthering their education, to extend their buildings to incorporate vocational skills training, and of course a Chapel.
As we said our goodbyes several students excitedly told us they would see us tonight. “You are coming to OUR church for dinner”!
Suva Cathedral -half English, half Fijian
‘Without God our week is Mournday, Tearsday, Wasteday, Thirstday, Fightday, Shatterday and Sinday. So allow him to be with you everyday!’
Archbishop Winston greeted everyone at the Suva Cathedral before he was to perform a funeral there. He told the story of the English experts coming to build their Suva Cathedral, designed with windowless walls to keep it warm and with a high skylight to let the snow run off! On completing this stage of the Cathedral a crisis then arose.
No more money and the half completed Cathedral stood as is for the next 20-years.
Inside: the altar area with no windows! and the back half adapted to Fijian conditions with windows!!
But a crisis doesn’t mean the end, it can merely be a chance for God to enter the situation. And God did, for 20-years later the Church was completed. However without the presumption of what works in England can be replicated effectively in another culture. Now adapting to local conditions the back half of the church incorporated windows to allow a cool breeze to flow through the church.
And the lesson for us Golden Oldies is not to presume we have the answers for their needs. Observe, listen, inquire and together the group with the local church can determine the best ways to help these mission projects, and people’s lives.
The Golden-Oldies escaping during siesta curfew!
The tour had carefully arranged for the ‘oldies’ to have siesta time between events.
But what happens on the first ‘scheduled siesta’?
Yep, a mutiny. There’s most of the team escaping out of their compound to hitch a ride on an open-window local bus for a tour of the city! Chief mutineer, Jill, 80-something, whispered the escape plan to another comrade, and bingo, before you know it the jailbreak word has got around, and virtually the whole team are waiting at the bus stop!
A wonderful trip bouncing along on the island bus with
Jill (left) our wonderful chief muntiner, next to Eileen, and Adele our Nurse in front of them both
Hindu pop music blearing at full volume as we weaved ourselves past upmarket houses next to slums, shopping complexes, the University of the South Pacific and back home before the siesta curfew is finished.
Well done Jill, a great time enjoyed by all the co-mutineers!
Rev John preaching the word
Rev John Ward, one of Archers Chaplains is leading the team in a daily devotional thought on contrasts from the book of Ephesians. Today this was followed with the group being honoured with the arrival of the Archbishop himself to greet the group.
“you have finally made it!” were the first words expressed by the Diocese of Polynesia Archbishop, Winston Halapua. “Today history is made with the first Golden Oldies Mission
You ‘Golden Oldies’ are making history today
group arriving onto our shores of Fiji”. The Group were honoured by Winstoin for their decision to step out and come, see, and feel the real Fiji, not what you read in the papers and see on the TV. “Come and join our family, letting us learn from each other and, enjoy your voyage of discovery”.A humbling moment for us all.
Welcomed at Nadi
Our Golden Oldies team from Auckland were wonderfully hosted by Father Claude and the St Christophers parishioners in the Nadi airport carpark with drinks and fruit, while the ‘Southern Team’ played catch-up after leaving late from Christchurch. In fact the connecting flight from Nadi to Suva decided they shouldn’t wait for these 15 team members. Then ‘God’ entered the game through Father Claude, who is also the Nadi Airport Chaplain, and a few ‘godly words’ from him held the plane up while we hurriedly transferred to this flight!
The Anglican Projects Coordinator Joe, greeted the team as
A cuppa and water mellon in the Nadi airport carpark
they arrived at Nausori Airport Suva, and Joe then became the baggage boy as he lifted all the suitcase up and through a back window in the bus, as we stacked them over the seats at the rear of the bus.
On arriving at St Johns Bible College the ‘Golden Oldies’ team were warmly welcomed by Principal Amy, her husband George, ‘Aunty’ and Emily, and the families living at the College. The team survived the long day and after a delicious meal were quickly making their retreats to their ‘dorm-setting’ bedrooms for a well-earned sleep. Sleep came easily with the annual week-long Hibuscus festival music at a near-by park waffling through our open windows with the fan wizzing around to keep the night air down to a balmy 20C. And to our disbelief, there at 10pm on the Sunday night at this fair ground on the main stage was a Christian Church service being held with choruses filling the night air!
Packing the bus -Fiji style!
A few rose for this mornings 6am Chapel that over-looks the Suva harbour, with coastal ships navigating their way through the coral reef. An interesting discussion after the service with the College Principal about the new Fijian Constitution that is currently being written. Should it be a ‘Christian’ document? Her view was it should be multi-cultural in design to reflect the different cultures that make up this diverse nation. Christians need to respect and honour the other religions and fellowship with them and pray that God’s love will speak into their lives, not imposed upon them. If Jesus lived today where would he be spending his time?
Today, a team member Lynnette has her 82nd birthday, so with Archbishop Winston coming to officially welcome the team we may ask him to say a special prayer for her. This afternoon we head off to a remote village where the squatters on this land are hosting the team for dinner and music.
Oh I’ve been found out too, there’s only cold showers here for the team to wash in!
The majority of the Christchurch Team at their final training session prior to leaving on Sunday 19 August.
Team is Front: Adele Bishop, Luke Mitchell, Ngaire Good, Grace Curry, Denise Taylor, Jane Mitchell; Back: Graeme Mitchell, Chris Curry, Allan Hussey, John Ward, Grant Taylor, Mary Hussey. Absent: Jill Bennett, Eileen Ward, Andrea Mitchell.
One week before ‘wheels-up’ the Christchurch Team have come together for their final training session. When asking Chris about his feelings towards the trip, he commented “I’d say my feelings are both excitement and intrepedation. Excitement of visiting all the mission projects and living in the real culture of Fiji and not just a hotel/tourism holiday; but also the fear of what will it really be like? How will we cope with the temperature? feel about the poverty? cope health-wise? or will we get enough sleep?!” Yet with the average team member age 75-80 years old, that’s why we are trying to offer an experience that is paced with experiences interspersed with rest times to recharge the batteries.
The team were enriched with NZCMS Youth Mobiliser, Anna Tovey, who has just returned from 7-weeks in Fiji. She gave insights for preparing for the culture shock the team may face during the 9-days. We were all encouraged by her words, “culture shock is ‘healthy and critical’ if we are to gain from the mission experience.” And that “culture shock is normal!” We all left the training session feeling inspired from Anna’s advice.
Now the team are finalising their preparations for departure on Sunday 19 August from Christchurch and Auckland.
The ‘Northern Team’ are rearing to go after a wonderful training day where evryone felt they had known each other for years! Team is Front: Mary Davies, Avila Allsop. Back: Graeme Mitchell, Keith & Lynnette Dobbie, Bruce & Catherine Mackereth. Absent: Peter Jamieson.
The first training gathering of the ‘Northern Team’ for the Golden-Oldies Mission was like a School Reunion! Avila, one of our Auckland team members billeted an out-of-town couple, Keith and Lynnette Dobbie, and along with Mary from down the road, they all had a wonderful dinner and evening together on the Friday night.
By the time Andrea and I arrived from Christchurch on the Saturday morning the ‘school reunion-like atmosphere’ was well under way…and it didn’t stop for the rest of the day.
The team quickly gelled and everyone sensed that God had definitely hand-picked each person to come on this mission. Such was the warmth and bonds of friendship that developed. The team are now even more inspired and excited about the forthcoming mission, believing their collective wisdom and experiences can contribute to mission projects in our Pacific neighbourhood.