Golden Oldies –our Final Reflections

"Its ok Muriel!" Golden Oldies being honoured with a traditional Kava ceremony in a village

“Its ok Muriel!” Golden Oldies being honoured with a traditional Kava ceremony in a village

“What an eye-opener”
“I feel I have gained more than I have given”
“There was so much variety and contrasts each day”
Helen experiences 'real coconut milk' freshly offered by a squatter village we were visiting

Helen experiences ‘real coconut milk’ freshly offered by a squatter village we were visiting


“Its like being on a Senior’s Bible Class Camp”
“Out of their poverty, the Fijians are so generous and friendly”
Local Village men have built a house for this widow and her grand children, but she cannot afford to buy a water tank

Local Village men have built a house for this widow and her grand children, but she cannot afford to buy a water tank


As the sun sets on this Golden Oldies Mission, our conversations and partnership with the Fijian Churches, people and villages have continued to evolve.
Here is a Summary of some of the Mission highlights:
• Collecting and taking with us 5 sewing machines, medical equipment, 200+ children’s story books, a set of Tyndale Theological Bible Study books, science curriculum books and teacher materials, stationery, and craft materials. Much of these items donated by the wider supporters of the group.
• Provide week-long biblical studies to students and ministers at the Bible College
• Being offered the privilege to preach in several churches
Our Rev John preached and supported Sigatoka's Rev Daniel at their Sunday Service

Our Rev John preached and supported Sigatoka’s Rev Daniel at their Sunday Service


• To sew and complete the first Fijian uniforms for the children at the orphanage
• Teaching crafts from ladies who travelled from throughout Fiji so the skills learnt could be used to start their own small businesses back in their own villages
• Serving and offering nursing training at a community Health Centre
Church AAW members volunteer their help at the local maternity hospital which our team learn about

Church AAW members volunteer their help at the local maternity hospital which our team learn about


• Visit and encourage prisoners at a Suva Prison
• Be invited guests at the NZ High Commission and talk about the mission work being carried out in Fiji
Helen and Elaine teach the ladies making the embroidered crosses at the woman's workshop

Helen and Elaine teach the ladies making the embroidered crosses at the woman’s workshop


• To offer pastoral support to clergy and people coming to the Suva Anglican Cathedral
• Teaching science curriculum to high school students during their holidays; and providing teaching support to their teachers
• Visit villages, churches, old peoples home, hospital, high school and squatter settlements to learn about their lives, and encourage them through songs, testimonies, prayer, and conversations with them
"I read the bible everyday", Mary discusses a scripture with the resident at the Senior Citizen's Home

“I read the bible everyday”, Mary discusses a scripture with the resident at the Senior Citizen’s Home


Providing financial partnership from the team and supporters fundraising and personal gifts to:
• A small town church to start a prison ministry after the team had pioneered a visit to the Suva prison near their church; and support their church ladies who volunteer at the local maternity hospital, next to where our Nurse Adele was serving
• To support Baden College specialising in second-chance education for students predominately from the surrounding squatter settlements in achieving an education qualification
• Helping two widows in a squatter settlement with the purchase for a water tank for her and her two grandchildren she cares for; and paying for the reconnection of power after the last cyclone to a another widow who is also raising her grandchildren
The team learns about the devastation a cyclone has, and this a widow in their village cant afford the price to reconnect her power

The team learns about the devastation a cyclone has, and this a widow in their village cant afford the price to reconnect her power


• Covering the transportation costs to allow the woman to travel to Suva for the craft workshop. Some leaving at 4.30am to attend the day’s sessions
• To provide the first ever commercial washing machine for the Bible College. Washing 30-sets of sheets after we left, as well as all the kitchen and bathroom linen, has up till now all been done by hand, every time guests stay there.
• Support a young lady who volunteers at the College to travel overseas for the first time ever to a youth leadership conference in Tonga in December
So now as the sun sets on this mission, an overriding theme has been, a heartfelt thanks to the people we have met, the level of scarcity of resources they have, and the encouragement we have been able to bring to the people we have visited throughout this mission.
Being hosted at the NZ High Commission is being enjoyed by Projects Leader Joe, Bible College Leader George, and team member 'Musical Mike'

Being hosted at the NZ High Commission is being enjoyed by Projects Leader Joe, Bible College Leader George, and team member ‘Musical Mike’


“For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile [Fijian and Kiwi]
–the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for,
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in?
And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?
And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?
As it is written:
“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
Romans 10 v.12-15
Our 'Lady Elizabeth' who oversaw the sewing project enjoys seeing the final girls uniforms being paraded by the girls at the orphanage

Our ‘Lady Elizabeth’ who oversaw the sewing project enjoys seeing the final girls uniforms being paraded by the girls at the orphanage


On behalf of our 24-member team, aged mainly between 60-80+ years
a big vinaka vitalevu to you all, and thanks be to God.
Vinaka! from the 2014 Golden Oldies Mission team

Vinaka! from the 2014 Golden Oldies Mission team


‘Keep the enthusiasm of your youth
and mix it with the wisdom of your old age’
Graeme and Jane Mitchell
Golden Oldies Mission Leaders

The Prison was SCARY!

The team visit the residents at the Senior Citizens home. This is part of a ward.

The team visit the residents at the Senior Citizens home. This is part of a ward.

Visiting a Senior Citizens Home in ex WW2 Army Barracks looked a sad prospect from outside the security gate. Yet the warm welcome from Senior Nurse, Sister Neelam, reflected the feeling throughout this peaceful place. Comprising of 51 residents of which 20 have psychiatric disabilities, along with others with dementia, it was surprising to see the harmony within this place for ‘elderly orphans’.
Golden Oldie Norma chats to one of the residents

Golden Oldie Norma chats to one of the residents

“They come here because they have no family or village able to care for them. Some have been here 30-years” Sister Neelam tells us.
Nurse Adele talks to counterpart Nurse, Sister Neelam

Nurse Adele talks to counterpart Nurse, Sister Neelam

“They may have challenging conditions and residents but I am very impressed with the quality and level of care provided by all the nursing staff” were words commented by Golden Oldies Nurse Adele.
Isabel at her sewing machine. She even started sewing at 6.30am one morning

Isabel at her sewing machine. She even started sewing at 6.30am one morning

Graduation day for our sewing ladies at the orphanage. The first bula sulu’s and shirts were completed and proudly paraded by some of the girls.
The girls in their beautiful bula sulu's and blouses, with the Golden oldies sewing team with them

The girls in their beautiful bula sulu’s and blouses, with the Golden oldies sewing team with them

Elizabeth’s committed group comprising of Jill, Avila, Isabel, and Sisi work tirelessly to achieve these beautiful garments.
Jill and Norma can still smile as they go about their work

Jill and Norma can still smile as they go about their work

The team spent time with the children and even responded to their singing with a song performed by the Golden Oldies Internationally acclaimed choir as well!
The Suva Prison ministry appointment was next on the trip and caused some nervousness amongst team members.
Nervousness was the feeling of the team as they approached the prison

Nervousness was the feeling of the team as they approached the prison

It even looked scary as we drove up. We observed all the men in their orange jumpsuits being marched into the meeting room for our presentation. It actually turned out OK! Our singing, message, and a final prayer by our ‘Golden-Golden Oldie’, Helen were well received by the men. A further outcome has been, that this pioneering trip to this prison has opened the door for the local Anglican Church to now start a prison ministry amongst these lovely men, aged 17-80 years old.
A fascinating trip to be guests at the NZ High Commission was next. We heard about the changes in Fiji over the last years and importance of the forthcoming first general elections in 8-years about to take place. They were also willing to help us in our endeavours to try and freight a second hand x-ray machine to Fiji for the hospital Adele has been working at all week.
Muriel and Jane sit Fiji-style with the ladies

Muriel and Jane sit Fiji-style with the ladies

Today has been the much awaited ladies craft workshop with woman travelling from all over the island to attend. “We awoke at 4.30am this morning to travel to this event” shows the level of commitment to learn about craft making as a new form of small business for the churches.
Sylvia and Isabel sharing with the ladies

Sylvia and Isabel sharing with the ladies

The large number of ladies attending meant the Golden Oldie ladies had to organise themselves into 3 groups just to ensure everyone had a chance to learn the skills.
Avila and Mary on the 'cards' craft team

Avila and Mary on the ‘cards’ craft team

“Now I can take this craft back to my village and I can sell these crafts for Church funds. I am very happy about that” said a lady from a group that had come on a charter bus sponsored by the Golden Oldies to attend this workshop.
Elizabeth assisting with a lady and her baby with the embroidery of the crosses

Elizabeth assisting with a lady and her baby with the embroidery of the crosses


From an old people’s home, to the orphanage, the prison, then the NZ High Commission, and now a craft workshop, it has been a busy few days for everyone, but very rewarding too. And now a team are setting off to a remote squatter village by taxi to present a sewing machine to the ladies there.

It rains outside AND in the inside

St Lawrence Church is the oldest surviving building on Fiji’s main island. Standing in the middle of a small town, it is the beacon of Christian hope to this predominately Fiji-Indian community.

Golden Oldie and Building Contractor Merv inspects the state of this historic church

Golden Oldie and Building Contractor Merv inspects the state of this historic church


But its days are numbered as every time it rains outside, it rains inside -straight through the ceiling! The team witness a rousing prayer of grace, before a meal, in Hindu with shrieks of passion and heartfelt yearning for God’s blessing.
Sharing together in the 'open-air' St Lawrence Church

Sharing together in the ‘open-air’ St Lawrence Church

Its not till afterwards that we learn her prayer was one of thanksgiving for the Golden Oldies taking the time to come and partner with them in their humble surrounding. “They are angels sent by God” was her mantra, another truly humbling encounter.
Trekking through downtown Nasouri

Trekking through downtown Nasouri

Walking through the main street of Nasouri we are led to where Archer’s Nurse Manager, Adele, has been serving all week at this busy small local Medical Centre.
Waiting Room at the Medical Centre

Waiting Room at the Medical Centre


Adele shares some of her experiences. People start arriving at 6.30am for medical attention, after the triage nurse has given out the first 100 numbers she cancels any more admissions until the first 100 are seen. HOURS later the next allocation are given, with people waiting all day for an appointment.
The newly established Accident and Emergency ward where Adele has been working

The newly established Accident and Emergency ward where Adele has been working

Meanwhile staff are rushing around doing double shifts, starting at 6.30am and finishing at 10pm, often 10-days in a row. Medicines run out and even the scissors to cut gauze are so blunt Adele says it takes so much time even just to prepare dressings in a style she remembers doing 30-years ago. Medical students are the consulting doctors, and while we are there late morning, the afternoon medical student doctor was being called in early due to the hundreds awaiting attention.
Adele donates the medical equipment and linen on behalf of the Golden Oldies

Adele donates the medical equipment and linen on behalf of the Golden Oldies


While all this is happening for the ‘Golden Oldies Interns’, some of our sewing and craft ‘Golden Oldies Graduates’ have been busy sewing the first-ever bula dresses for the orphan girls;
Golden Oldie Jill hard at it sewing the bula dresses for the girls

Golden Oldie Jill hard at it sewing the bula dresses for the girls

and Elizabeth has also been preparing her crosses craft project for the ladies workshop on Friday. Woman have heard about it and are coming from throughout the island to learn from our ladies;
Our ladies 'Chief WalaWala" Elizabeth preparing the craft crosses for the woman's workshop

Our ladies ‘Chief WalaWala” Elizabeth preparing the craft crosses for the woman’s workshop

and John and Ryan have had increasing numbers of minister attending their highly valued training sessions throughout the week at the Bible College.
Bible teacher 'Rev John' imparts his biblical wisdom to students and ministers at the Bible College

Bible teacher ‘Rev John’ imparts his biblical wisdom to students and ministers at the Bible College

Men row 40km out to sea to fish

Our 'Golden-Golden' Oldies 83-year old Helen meets a lady about to be evicted off her land

Our ‘Golden-Golden’ Oldies 83-year old Helen meets a lady about to be evicted off her land

Our family were born here, this has been our home our community, but we are only squatters. We have to dismantle our home, cart all the materials to another site, then rebuild our home again.
Projects Leader, Joe, shows the team where a vibrant community existed a year ago

Projects Leader, Joe, shows the team where a vibrant community existed a year ago


Joe, our Mission Projects Leader, tells the team how this land housed a vibrant community a year ago, now most people have left. The Church, through the Anglican Missions Board, are supporting some families here to buy land for them. Land that will give them a hope and a future.
The family about to be evicted from their home

The family about to be evicted from their home


We met a 55-year old man who 8-months ago dismantled his house, and with his 15 family members, carted their house material to a ‘transitional’ piece of land, then he rebuilt his family house.
I am 55-years old and have just finished rebuilding my house for my 15 family members

I am 55-years old and have just finished rebuilding my house for my 15 family members

Now he is using the pathways to grow crops. He is waiting for this church land to be finally purchased so he can then dismantle his house again, cart the materials to this new place, and start again.
Any land is used for growing crops for his family

Any land is used for growing crops for his family


But he worries, for the future, where will he be able to grow his crops to feed his family there.
The team then walked through plantations, past small squatter villages to another village by a mangrove stream.
A remote squatter village tell their stories of living here, while team members drink fresh coconut milk

A remote squatter village tell their stories of living here, while team members drink fresh coconut milk

They hear about the structured roles of men and woman. The men are fisherman and row 40km out to sea, fish all day and night, then row home of the high tide; meanwhile the woman walk through the mangrove swamps for half a day searching for a bundle of firewood.
Our ladies hear about daily living from a woman's persepctive

Our ladies hear about daily living from a woman’s persepctive


While children walk daily to the Anglican school an hour away. Just normal daily living for these families. It made life in NZ feel embarrassingly surreal and it left an unsettling feeling among team members about their lifestyles as we departed the warmth and hospitality of this little community.
Merv listens to the village chief as he talks about rowing 40km out to sea to catch fish for the village and any extra is sold for village funds

Merv listens to the village chief as he talks about rowing 40km out to sea to catch fish for the village and any extra is sold for village funds

Their smiles are a joy to behold

The team's first devotions, as they prepare for the days mission.

The team’s first devotions, as they prepare for the days mission.

Leaving Nadi for Suva, the Golden Oldies team first stop is to be welcomed by the Churches of Sigatoka.
Jill, one of our Golden Oldies, being welcomed at Sigatoka

Jill, one of our Golden Oldies, being welcomed at Sigatoka

The Church of the Good Shepherd is one of three parishes in this small community. Two of these Church groups from up the Sigatoka Valley had been collected on buses at 8am to journey along the road-tracks, down the fruit-bowl valley of Fiji, to the small rural settlement of Sigatoka.
Our team are hosted by Rev Daniel and his wife Catherine, and contribute in song, preaching, and prayers to a Service full of wonderful Fijian singing and song. A delicious array of Fijian foods follow of local fish, mussels, chicken, salads and tropical fruits. Much of the food having been transported down in the valley earlier in the bus.
Our Rev John and Sigatoka's Rev Daniel lead the service

Our Rev John and Sigatoka’s Rev Daniel lead the service


As usual, Fiji time begins and we depart late to visit a small Melanesian Church community in a village along the way to Suva.
Father Demesi welcomes the team to his village church

Father Demesi welcomes the team to his village church

An impromptu thanksgiving service by Father Demesi occurs and our musical Mike leads the village children in some hilarity with his children’s songs. The smile on their faces a joy to be hold.
Fiji hospitality, with delicious tropical fruits always on the menu

Fiji hospitality, with delicious tropical fruits always on the menu


Fiji time, we depart even more behind schedule for the oasis of the Bible College in Suva.

“I know what you’re up to!”

How do you get an excess baggage of 140kg on board our flight to Nadi from Christchurch?

How do we get an excess baggage of 140kg on to the flight???

How do we get an excess baggage of 140kg on to the flight???

Freight consisting of donations of children’s storybooks and school readers, biblical textbooks, clothing material, medical equipment, stationery, and five sewing machines, all boxed up, ready for dispatch.
Now to ‘somehow’ get these 11 boxes through check-in.
“I know what you’re doing. I know what you’re up to” were the words from the check-in lady as she eyed us up.
“I’m not religious myself, but there are missionaries in our family. And, my Aunty is a really good Christian, she would be so proud of me if I helped you out”.
A miracle! All 11 boxes arrived with us in Fiji on our flight

A miracle! All 11 boxes arrived with us in Fiji on our flight

45-minutes later, somehow, miraculously, ALL, yes all 11 boxes, 140kg of excess baggage were assigned and dispatched for our flight to Fiji.
No charge.

Paddock to Playground

The Sigatoka Church sited in a paddock -2 years ago

The Sigatoka Church sited in a paddock -2 years ago

That’s the dream. To convert a small church in Sigatoka in a paddock to a bustling pre-school.
Rev Daniel and his wife Catherine want to share Gods love with the Sigatoka community. The dream is to open a pre-school/ kindergarten, but they were told they can’t.
Fundraising started with the purchase of fence posts

Fundraising started with the purchase of fence posts


An open paddock is too dangerous for little children to run around on. You must build a boundary fence around your church first.
Rev Daniel and his son Samson have spent many hours building the fence

Rev Daniel and his son Samson have spent many hours building the fence

That was 2-years ago. Now today, with the Youth, Golden Oldies, a Nelson Sunday School group, and individuals, all together fundraising to partner in this project, the fence is finished.
Slowly but surely the fence continues to take shape

Slowly but surely the fence continues to take shape


Recently the Youth Mission team saw the final result of the fence completed. And now the Golden Oldies 2014 team are spending a day here sharing in a church service celebration with the local Sigatoka parish. Next year the kindergarten will commence with up to 50-children a day having the thrill of pre-school education from a Christian perspective.
Through the partnership of fundraising and Church members work, the recent Youth Mission saw the final boundary fence now completed!

Through the partnership of fundraising and Church members work, the recent Youth Mission saw the final boundary fence now completed!