Saying good bye to our Bible College was very sad. They have cared for us with warmth of friendship and incredible hospitality throughout the past 7-days. We are indebted to them.
Golden Oldies and Bible College family share a final Thanksgiving service to God
The Golden Oldies Mission in partnership with St Johns Bible College and the Anglican Church of Polynesia has seen the team learn so much. A sample of these things include learning about life in remote village for squatters communities, education to give students a second change to gain qualifications -even if you’re a young Mother, speak at a prison that has invited a new Christian ministry to continue there, establish partnerships with a small busy maternity hospital delivering an average of 3 babies every day, and the medical centre where Adele and Andrea spent time -being so appreciative of the donated medical equipment supplied by donation s form NZ supporters, to helping to offer further biblical insights to ministers and Sunday School teachers from the workshops run, and others gaining confidence to either expand or start a small business. And more…
The Golden Oldies also launched a Micro-finance programme to offer loans for small business start-ups. There has been 6 expressions of interest already, ranging from a ladies group in a squatter village wanting to buy a wooden row boat for fishing-instead of wading into the water up to their chest, and a mens group wanting to start a pig farm.
Finally. we express our thanks to our friends and supports, residents of Archer, and Golden oldies from previous trips for their prayers and support during this mission.
Nurse Adele thanks 85-year old ‘Aunty’ for helping to cook for us every day
Thomas and Moses doing their ‘penalty’ press-ups!
Nathaniel thanks Junior George for being security guard all week
Jane thanks Principal Amy on behalf of the team
Principal Amy responds with her thanks to the team from the College family
Everyone -Team Photo 2015!!!!
The final final farewell. Vinaka Fiji
Friday and the Golden Oldies team ran a range of life skills training workshops at the Cathedral, and St Johns Bible College sponsored the catering for over a 100 people attending.
Over a 500% increase in numbers attending the workshops this year
Last year was the first year such workshops were run, to offer some skills and knowledge transfer to the Fijian community. Last year 2 craft projects ran. This year with +500% increase in numbers registering 8 workshop topics were run. Some being repeated twice due to demand.
Thomas taught the junior boys some painting skills
Graeme and Roger had over 40 attend 2 sessions on starting a small business
Heather and Bale chat during the lunch break
Luke, ‘our youngest Golden Oldie by a long shot’ having lunch with his painting crew
Jane helping to run the craft workshops that are ever popular
Diabetes is a real issue here with one-in-three contracting diabetes and an amputation every 12-hours occurring! Archer Nurse Adele had arranged for Diabetes Fiji to speak at the workshops and these stats he quoted were very sobering.
A real highlight was the health check clinic, that was mandatory for everyone attending. Blood pressure, heart rates and blood-sugars were tested. Even the Archbishop appreciated the testing and was pleased with his pass results. Several people were advised to seek urgent medical follow-up support.
Archbishop Winston having his health check by Archer nurses Adele and Anita, with Principal Amy watching on
The workshops for life have been one way the Golden Oldies team have been able to give back to the generosity they have received during their week in Fiji.
The WW2 barracks provide home for Fiji’s elderly
Samubula Old People’s Home is a loving environment for ‘elderly orphans’. Many have no family support and rely on the support of volunteers for any luxuries.
Jim shares a scripture with a resident
The Golden Oldies team spent time learning about the residents lives, some having lived here for over 20-years, the oldest being 99 years. Others are here hoping they can get sponsorship for specialist operations like heart by-pass, possibly in Australia.
Jane listens to a lady about her waiting for heart surgery
Diabetes is the biggest issue in Fiji and amputations occurring regularly and this was evident as we walked around the WW2 army barracks where everyone live.
Erena meets a man who has recently had a limb amputated
The over-stretched nurses work long ours with minimal medical equipment and resources, yet the ‘homes’ were happy and peaceful, and it was another humbling experience for the team.
The team talk with a visually impaired lady
Friday, the team are running a range of ‘Workshops for Life’ with over 100 people coming along.
[We also remember and pray for our team member Mel, who after returning to NZ farewells her son this afternoon, Friday. We know the Archer family and many friends are supporting her and the family at this time. Thomas returned the following day, travelling for 18-hours and arrived back 10pm Wednesday night. He was back on the mission trips Thursday morning, much to the delight of the team.]
It was great having lunch with the children at St Christopher’s Orphanage
Returning Golden Oldies, our ‘Graduates’ have been involved in specialist projects, including sewing at St Christopher’s orphanage. The first-timer Golden Oldies the ‘Interns’ visited St Christopher’s today where Norma and Elaine have been staying with the children.
Norma (standing) and Elaine sewing blouses for the girls
With some of the sewing machines donated by the Golden Oldies the ladies have been helping to sew blouses and sulu’s for the girls. “Its been wonderful living here at the orphanage with the sisters and children this week. What a wonderful way to do a Graduate’s programme” says Norma.
Norma, Elaine and Jane (who organised the sewing machines) with the children display their newly sewn blouses and sulu’s
[Tomorrow the team are spending time at an old peoples home, speaking at a prison and attending a village in the evening]
St Lawrence church reaching out into the small town
St Lawrence Church is the oldest Anglican Church on this island over 150-years old, and it looks like it! BUT this small church wants to spread God’s love into a town that has over 50% of its community living below the poverty line.
The team were engaged in many discussions learning about the ministries taking place
Situated in the heart on the main street it is a ‘light of hope’ for the locals that comprise a large number of Hindi faith. A woman’s ministry to new young mothers at the local maternity hospital is one example. Ladies visit weekly and deliver clothing and blankets to the new Mum’s at this bustling hospital that has an average of 3 births/day -on average! The Golden Oldies went and met the nurses and the new Mums with two Mums with one-hour old babies.
Retired nurse ‘Princess’ Diana gives a clothing gift to a new mother with an hour-old baby
This followed to a visit next door where Archer nurse Adele and Junior Golden Oldie Andrea have been working in a 24/7 Health Centre where they attend to 500 patients/day. The medical equipment from Archer residents donations and fundraising was gratefully received and is highly valued. This equipment will increase the number of patients they can see daily and it was heart warming to see how much difference it will make in this community
Some of the donated medical equipment on display with Andrea, Anita and Adele
Basden College has been innovative adapting containers for classrooms
Basden College, specialising in offering second chance education for those who left early and for young mothers welcomed back with their babies to continue their education. Over the years we have visited Baden we have seen it grow from 80 students to now +300 students. Classrooms and technical rooms for IT, wood work, home economics -some built from shipping containers, and this year a brand new 2-storey 4 classroom complex was opened. The blessing of God is definitely on this place.
Janet shares her story with the students
Their inspirational leader, Principal Mika welcome the team and inspired his students and even the Golden Oldies, that no matter what happens in our lives, God is with us, God is in control, God will sustain us. Appropriate and uplifting words for the team as they uphold Mel and her family in prayer at this time.
The senior students were too old to play in the local rugby competition so started a men’s netball team. They succeeded in getting to the national Championship semi-finals!
Roger talks to one of the young mother students
Driving along the pot-holed track as the rain fell and seeing the village huts on the hillside through the mist was the first scene for the Golden Oldies. Tonight we were visiting a squatter village that has built community, knowing that one day they may be forced to leave their land and start again somewhere else.
Village people donated $1.50 per week over many years to build their village church
Walking along the tracks, visiting a church they built with everyone investing $1.50 per week towards the materials to establish their village church, meeting children coming out of their ‘homes’, we finally made it to the meeting house.
Its OK Heather, the kava is delicious!
The evening then included a traditional kava ceremony, speeches, singing and as always much dancing. We were also able to discuss projects that could improve education and employment for their people. Improvements to their meeting house, and a wooden row boat for the woman to use when they go fishing, instead of wading out into the ocean daily and casting their rods onto the surf -as they do now. Some very exciting partnership prospects.
Dancing and ‘business’ around the kava bowl -all happening at the same time
Who was entertaining who?!!
The team travelled to a remote village up in the hills above Suva, in the mist and drizzle to be welcomed into a squatter village. A moving cultural experience, but tragedy was to follow.
On returning to the Bible College a team member, Mel -an Archer Nurse on the trip, received shocking news that one of her children had suddenly passed away that evening. At 4am this morning Mel, and Thomas as a support person, departed to return to Christchurch this afternoon.
The team and Bible College family have been profoundly saddened with the news and have rallied to offer support. We plan to proceed with our programme to walk through plantations to remote squatter villages today. But Mel, her other 3 young-adult children, and Thomas will be ever-constant in our thoughts and prayers.
Mel and Thomas depart for Christchurch early today
Mike, a Golden Oldie from last year, donated a guitar to the College to give to away to someone who would enjoy the use of it. George lives on the other side of the Island and was gifted the guitar to use in his youth group. He was so thrilled, that with school holidays now on in Fiji and the Golden Oldies in Suva, he wanted to express his thanks to them. Travelling on a bus around the island, he arrived and played his guitar at the children’s programme at the Cathedral today, and is now staying at the College for the week with the team.
George Junior, after he had used his guitar to play in to the children at the Cathedral Service
Why? He has offered to be the night time security guard at the College for the week the team are based here. His way of expressing his thanks to Mike and the Golden Oldies.
[Tonight, Monday, the Golden Oldies are travelling to a remote squatter Village up in the hills to experience true village life…]
Heaps! They just keep cramming in for a trip around the city.
Those Golden Oldies got on board ‘two by two’
Several years ago Golden Oldies Jill started the first-day city tour idea, and today led by one of the College students Moses, another trip occurred.
Roger ‘the Mafia man’ and Thomas in the van
Apart from the squeeze, it was fascinating to view the President’s palace, the coastline and reef, local parks and the National rugby stadium. -Roger
Bible College student Moses explains to Luke and Adele about the Fijian reserve they visited