Denise

"Our house and family have no future here, but our hope is in God alone" Denise.

“Our house and family have no future here, but our hope is in God alone” Denise.

‘Denise’ lives with her 5-boys in a dying squatter village. In 2-months time the Chinese contractors will start excavating her land for new houses.
“Where are you going to move to?” Wendy asks, and Denise replies,
“we don’t know, maybe the Housing Authority will help us, but our real hope is in God above”
and after encouraging her we then get to talk about the Crusaders! Its interesting but in both villages we visited yesterday, the Crusaders were key discussion points, they love them.
Can’t work out why, what’s wrong with the Hurricanes!

Our 'wisest Golden Oldie' Pauline tries out the fresh coconut juice

Our ‘wisest Golden Oldie’ Pauline tries out the fresh coconut juice

The next squatter settlement, Nadawa, we reach by walking through the plantations, and they welcome us with coconuts freshly dropped out of a palm tree by a boy ‘running’ up the tree to kick them down to us. As we talked with their young Village Chief, Rev Wami, we ask how they survive here.
“We go out in our long boats through the mangroves when the tide comes in, fish for 8-hours and then come back in on the in-coming tide.” If they’re lucky they will catch enough to pay for 2-days food. “And schooling?” “After faith, education is the goal for our children. We don’t want them to live like we do.” The children walk through the plantations daily to go to the Anglican School, an hour away. Last year a girl from this remote impoverished slum village was Head Girl of Basden College, the Anglican High School. They are proud of that, and this year she has a Scholarship to attend Forestry School.

‘The children look happy and healthy, and they have nothing compared to us’ was the continual reflection being heard in the bus as we rattled along to the Tin Cathedral for lunch.

Welcome to our 'Tin Cathedral!'

Welcome to our ‘Tin Cathedral!’

The Melanesian Fijians are the poorest of the poor in Fiji, with no claim to land and few chances for prosperity, prosperity as we know it. Yet here at the Tin Cathedral, built in a week, because the congregation had over-crowded the Minister’s lounge, is an inspiration. This Melanesian village have a dream. To build a church/community centre on the adjacent site for their people. Architectural plans were presented to us, and with little employment, it is compensated with great faith, “we look forward to hosting you in our new Cathedral soon” Astonishingly, they have just received a gift of Fj$160,000 towards Stage One of this project.
Another example of our miracle acting God being revealed in our presence.

Our Projects team, Allan, Grant and Tim, had a great first day in the village, training the village people in plumbing skills as they prepare to complete this toilet project for their official opening this coming Sunday. They had 10 men and students working alongside them, connecting pipes, hanging doors, drilling holes through masonry, extending block walls, and gathering a list of other materials they need to buy this am. Today they’re off early, and excited about their role, even if they do have a few mosquito bite wounds from the overnight attack in the hostel bedroom!

Some of our AAW members, Carlene and Elizabeth, together with Fijian members at the Tin Cathedral

Some of our AAW members, Carlene and Elizabeth, together with Fijian members at the Tin Cathedral


Meanwhile the team today are being hosted by the Anglican Schools that help educate the children from these squatter settlements. After that they’re off to the University of the South Pacific where they are viewing these specially design laptops for children in developing countries throughout the world. ‘E-learning’ using laptops and inquiry-styled learning is being developed to give children in remote areas the best chance for their future employment. While tonight a squatter village is hosting the team with a Fijian cultural experience and a kava ceremony.
But I want enlighten the team about the kava until afterwards!

Mission begins with Shocking Disappointment

Delayed. Its 'hurry up and WAIT!' for Allan!!!

Delayed. Its ‘hurry up and WAIT!’ for Allan!!!

Travelling to Christchurch airport with the grey drizzle outside for our 1pm departure my phone suddenly rings. “Mitch, the plane is delayed 2-hours, we’re now leaving at 3pm” Quickly I calculated that that still gave us a margin of an hour in transit in Nadi before we need to catch our connecting flight to Suva. ‘Should be Ok’, I ponder as we meet up with everyone else at check-in, “we’ll have to tough it out and hope the plane arrives on time, came my soothing words of fading leader confidence!”
But I spoke too soon.
Further delayed. The responses of Junior vs Senior Golden Oldies!!

Further delayed. The responses of Junior vs Senior Golden Oldies!!


3pm departure loomed closer, only to be dashed with the revelation that departure was now delayed till 4.30pm; and fog was descending around the airport. Would our plane actually land?
Shocked and disappointed, the mission had been grounded before it had taken off!
Now, if the in-bound plane arrives, its too late to connect with a flight to Suva. Looks like 17 Golden Oldies stranded in Nadi at 9pm on a Sunday night was the new scenario.
Not sure where God is in all this!
Furthermore, we have our oldest member meeting us in Nadi, having travelled from Auckland, and she will be stranded there on her own! Its all going a bit pear-shaped. How can we turn this around? Plan B is becoming replaced with about Plan D for Disaster!!
Made it to Nadi - 'Lukee' and Pamela

Made it to Nadi – ‘Lukee’ and Pamela

Slowly the fog lifts, we secure beds in a hotel overnight in Nadi, reschedule our Nadi-Suva flight for 6.00am today!, our wonderful Fijian family arrange to get our ‘stranded Nadi Golden Oldie’ arrange to get her on the plane, and then our Fiji Airlines planes lands to joyous rapture. We depart ‘on-time’ at 4.30pm and arrive to a warm 26C in Nadi at 8.30pm, with another shock imminent.
An announcement over the public speaker system sends us into confusion.
The Nadi-Suva domestic flight has been delayed to await the arrival of the Golden Oldies from Christchurch! Suddenly the team are herded through customs to the domestic terminal with the plane is waiting on the tarmac for the team. We discover later this flight was delayed 1.5 hours, and Suva airport was directed to remain open beyond closing time by Air Traffic control for this flight to be able to proceed. Even experienced Fijian Air ground staff are surprised.
10.00pm.
The 17 Golden Oldies touchdown miraculously in Suva, including our other ‘stranded’ Nadi member. Unbelievable! How did that happen? Maybe there is a God out there that still does miracles and is in control of everything. Amazed and in awe of what has suddenly occurred we board our bus, still dumbfounded! And in response, impromptu songs of praise of thanksgiving begin as the bus shakes and rattles its way to the Bible College.
hat a joy to be back in this beautiful country amongst the warmth of the Fijian people.
Suva!! How did that happen? Amazing miracle!!!

Suva!! How did that happen? Amazing miracle!!!


Today the Golden Oldies are off to walk through squatter and slum settlement, viewing housing projects, and are guests for lunch at the ‘Tin Cathedral’.

Supporters Unite

This morning, Jill, a Golden Oldie graduate from last year drove an hour from Ashburton to Christchurch to deliver more books to take to Fiji.
“I’m so envious of the group going this year, they will have such a wonderful experience” Jill says as another box of books is delivered for dispatch for the Fiji children.

Geoffrey and Jordan, reflecting the inter-generational support for Golden Oldies

Geoffrey and Jordan, reflecting the inter-generational support for Golden Oldies

While this afternoon at the final Christchurch-based Golden Oldies training, Geoffrey, who resides at Archer Care, came to support the team, and pray for God’s blessings on the mission.
Then, not to be out done, Jordan came along as a special guest. Jordan has just returned from the NZCMS Families Mission to Fiji, and came to offer his insights and advice to this team, heading to Fiji for the first time.
“its really humid when you get off the plane, and take time to talk to everyone you meet. They are such lovely, warm and friendly people. And don’t forget to say ‘bula’ when you meet them.”
How great it is to see newly returned ‘short-term missionaries’ are already keen to inspire the next group to go and experience the enriching time they had. Thanks Geoffrey and Jordan.

Its a ‘McDonalds Combo’ Mission

After 55-years this toilet block at a remote village are about to be completed

After 55-years this toilet block at a remote village are about to be completed

Originally the Golden Oldies Mission was comprised only those wanting to come and learn about the mission projects.
But now its become a Combo Mission.
Yes, some of our team members from last year are returning to further assist in the mission projects. From their years of knowledge, experience and skills they are coming back to ‘tutor the tutors’ and run practical workshops to students on maintenance and plumbing.
Tim, Grant, and Allan, showing the new toilets 'could' look like after their training support to complete the technical side of completing the toilets

Tim, Grant, and Allan, showing the new toilets ‘could’ look like after their training support to complete the technical side of completing the toilets

Grant Taylor, Allan Hussey and his son Tim, will have their work cut out for them too. One of the training projects is to train a village group the technical skills of plumbing in the toilets for the new toilet block in the Wailoku Village.
The toilets project was a dream that started 55-years ago, and is now scheduled to be officially opened at the end of this week, with the Golden Oldies present at the ceremony.
Plus they have training workshops booked for the Anglican High School and another session at the Bible College.
Its becoming a ministry partnership with skills and knowledge transfer. People learning to look after and take ownership of their own facilities, and not rely on others to do it for them.
And I doubt if the boys will even have time to get to McDonalds while they are there!

Golden Oldies Mission –what’s the point?

Some of the Children's story books, theological books, and prayer books donated from the Nelson Diocese, being packed for team members to take in their bags to Fiji

Some of the Children’s story books, theological books, and prayer books being packed for team members to take in their bags to Fiji

Is there any value of going on a Golden Oldies short term mission?
Let the proof be in the fruit of what is unfolding.
Since the first Golden Oldies Mission, those team members, and others such as the Archer residents, the NZCMS Families-Youth members, and friends, have all contributed to make a difference to the people and projects we have visited.
The Singatoka Church the Golden Oldies and NZCMS Failies mission are supporting with a new fence so a kindergarten can be run starting 2014

The Singatoka Church the Golden Oldies and NZCMS Failies mission are supporting with a new fence so a kindergarten can be run starting 2014

Together we have helped to raise over $15,000 towards development projects, donated 450 children’s storybooks that have been distributed to schools and villages, established an education scholarship fund, supported a new kindergarten in a small town to open in 2014, started connecting key people to get laptops and e-learning for rural schools, and after 55-years a rural village is going to officially open a new toilet block for its 300-children school and local church.
The fruit of short term missions in one year!
Not to mention the warmth of friendships that have been established and nurtured.
In such a short time it has been an absolute privilege to be involved in these missions, something that has enriched everyone who has become involved.

Introducing the 2013 team…

Finally we are about to ‘hit the road’, well actually, ‘Go on Mission’!

Our team comprises of 17 people from Christchurch, Nelson and Hamilton, with our most mature ‘Oldie’ being the wisest at 84-years old. Fantastic!

The team based in Christchurch have had several training sessions, and some of them are in this photo.

Some of our 2013 Golden Oldies Team. Our oldest this year is a young 84-year old!

Some of our 2013 Golden Oldies Team. Our oldest this year is a young 84-year old!

In this photo (L. to R.)are: Luke Mitchell, Thomas Mitchell (Back), Rev. Wendy Robinson, Peter Robinson(B), Tim Hussey, Grant Taylor (B), Allan Hussey, Elizabeth Risk (B), Isabel Lucas, Graeme Mitchell (B), Jane Mitchell, Adele Bishop (B), Carlene Sykes, and Suzanne Winter (B). Absent, but still very much part of the team are: Andrea Mitchell, Pamela Petherbridge and Pauline Way.

This team will be building on the partnerships that have been developing with the Fijian churches, schools, orphanage, and remote villages since last year’s inaugural Golden Oldies Mission team, and more recently with the NZCMS Families-Youth Mission team.

And to assist with the mission the order has gone out to the team.

“Pack lightly, with everyone asked to ‘donate 5kg’ of baggage space!”  Why?

To take a range of items with us as part of our project support. Items currently include: children’s story books, Anglican Prayer books, baby clothing, educational supplies, and medical equipment including stethoscopes and blood pressure monitors.

Now to get through customs!!