Freight Miracle

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Arriving at Christchurch Airport with the 21 boxes of donated goods

Many people have sponsored all the equipment, books, carpentry, bibles and much more. But there was a sense of nervousness whether we could actually get what finally totalled of 21 boxes of freight from Christchurch to Suva. So the miracle began.

Christchurch check-in finally accepted the entire 21 boxes. Great start.
But getting through Nadi customs was going to bring us to a crashing halt!

No customs clearance, tax to pay, no documentation completed. The first box was opened…children’s story books. “how much is each book valued at?”, and the questioning began, yet we only had 40-minutes before we would be boarding our next flight to Suva. More questions, more calculations, then suddenly he said, “oh, just take them all through, no charge, welcome to Fiji’

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Loading the boxes into a car at Nadi Airport carpark

Unbelievable! Rushing through the terminal we located our courier contact, loaded the boxes into his car, and we both departed. The courier driving through the night to Suva, and us to catch our plane.

And just before midnight, 12-hours after leaving Christchurch the full 21 boxes arrived on site at the Bible College in Suva!

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All the freight arrives safely before midnight in Suva!

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Fiji Airways -Vinaka!!

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Archer residents proudly display medical equipment purchased for Fiji

Fiji Airways have taken a personal interest in the work the Golden Oldies Mission teams are offering to Fijian people.

Each year the team has taken valuable supplies of medical equipment, children’s books, teaching manuals for teachers in schools, calculators, sewing machines, and now even carpentry tools.

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The Archer Craft Group fund raise annually to support the mission

These supplies have come from residents of Archer’s Homes and Villages, the Archer Memorial Baptist Home Trust’s Kingdom Ministries Fund, the Archer Craft Group, Cubro, Hit-IT, Golden Oldies team members from previous years, and other supporters who have fund-raised, provided individual donations and/or materials or equipment.

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Archer Nurses are donating laptops to the Nurses at an Old People’s Home in Suva

The Golden Oldies acknowledge all these people, and thank Fiji Airways for their support in sponsoring additional freight space, so these donated goods can be distributed to the villages, schools, hospitals, old people’s home and orphanage in Fiji that the team partner with.

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Prayer is a key to fulfill God’s plans and reveal his love to people. The Archer Prayer Team members have copies of the teams itinerary so they can support them daily in prayer. 

And finally, time to pack it all up, ready for the trip. All 19 boxes!!

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Peter and Wendy, proudly display some of the boxes ready to be freighted to Fiji with the Golden Oldies Team from Christchurch. With special appreciation to Fiji Airways who have sponsored the space to make it all happen

Carpentry Equipment for Mud Brick Project

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Golden Oldie Jim donates carpentry tools to the Hope Homes project

Previous team members, Jim and Margaret, had an excess supply of high-quality hand-carpentry tools available. Unknowingly, last year we discovered a man called Alfred in Fiji who has a vision called ‘Hope Homes’.

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Golden Oldie leader Graeme (left end), with Roger and Alfred (in the middle), along with Maniava Village people show the mud brick that can be used to build affordable, cyclone-proof mud brick houses in Fiji and the Pacific region

‘Hope Homes’ vision is to train young men in constructing cyclone-proof, affordable houses, using mud bricks as the main material. But he needed hand tools to start this project. And this year these tools are on the plane with the team for this project.

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Another remote village the Golden Oldies Mission team members visit that would benefit from the Hope Homes vision

On this mission, Golden Oldie Roger, hopes to use his years of expertise to encourage Alfred to help establish and develop this Hope Homes vision for Fiji.

Final Preparations

This year’s team comprises of 23-‘Golden Oldies’ from around NZ.

Our oldest this year is a 89-years young Elsa from Nelson! She is so excited as she prepares for the mission.

Our seniors bring so much knowledge, wisdom from their own life experiences, and the friendships that are created along the way are inspiring to everyone involved.

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Golden Oldies team members 2017

The team has spent time in training and preparing for the mission. It is a partnership in Fiji with the St John’s Bible College, Churches, and villages. The mission aims to help people improve the quality of their lives and share Gods love to all that the team have the privilege of meeting.

Mission finale

‘Our little can really make a big difference’ was how one Golden Oldie summarised this mission to Fiji. Returning annually over the past 5-years to build on established relationships continues to strengthen the Fiji Churches-Golden Oldies mission partnership.

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Village visits and cultural experiences were a team highlight

Here is a snapshot of some of the contributions this team, and friends from NZ, have assisted to contribute to God’s Kingdom and people of Fiji.

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Nurses Adele and Heather present the much needed Nebulisers to the Senior Nurse

A Fijian Senior Nurse sat in despair at the urgent request for 2 nebulisers urgently needed for the crowded Heath Centre. Unbeknown to Adele, the Golden Oldies Nurse, she was about to present 2 nebulisers to her on behalf of the team and many supporters from NZ.

The team prayed for people with a variety of needs, from the ministry for ‘the Chicken Boy’, to sick children in villages, to teaching needs at Schools, and development of a new church project, and much more.

Visiting an Old People’s Home, and asked to meet with Government officials to talk of ways of partnering with the Fijian Government about the future delivery of Aged-care in Fiji.

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Buying grass brooms from the ladies in a remote squatter village

To learn about the struggles for land ownership and for Fijians of Melanesian descent. This was alarmingly evident with new subdivisions encroaching on their ‘ancestral land’ and the uncertainty of villages like Nadawa. It was great to be able to support their micro-business and buy their grass booms as well.

Be inspired by St Luke’s Men’s Ministry to uphold the woman of their church with a celebrationary dinner in their honour. Then establish a practical DIY ministry for the woman and widows in their local community. The Golden Oldies have offered to provide the tools for this handyman ministry.

Visiting a prison has re-opened the doors for a prison ministry to commence again. ‘Taking ice cream and cones for the men today was a treat like Christmas day for the men’ commented the Prison Major as he thanked the team for their encouraging visit.

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Teaching Crafts at the Workshop Day gives new ideas for micro-business products

Preaching Biblical truths to Ministers, Christian studies for families, trauma counselling from the impact of recent Cyclone Winston, small business start-ups, micro-business crafts, and offering health wellness checks.

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Wellness Checks at the Workshop are very much appreciated

Giving donations of children’s story books, bibles, clothing for newly born babies and first-time mothers, toothbrushes for children, swimming equipment for water safety training, a guitar, an electronic keyboard, a smokeless cooker, blood pressure and other medical supplies, school stationery, and clothing to churches, schools, hospitals, villages, and individuals.

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A smokeless cooker is presented by Rev Dawn as a gift from the Awatere Parish in Marlborough

Providing the first ever Rugby 7’s team jerseys to a Village so their youth can enter the provincial rugby competition.

Officially launching the Village ladies fishing boat to provide a safer way to catch fish and provide more funding for the children of their Village.

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The new ladies fishing boat is officially launched

Establish a partnership between Maniava Village, the Church and Golden Oldies, to use local clay to build the first ever mud-brick home in Fiji for a 85-year old widow in their Village, as a Demo Home. The success of this house could lead to the redevelopment of the 33/37 homes destroyed in this Village from the recent cyclone.

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A partnership was established to build the first mud-brick house in Fiji for an elderly widow at Maniava

To share in the joy and celebrations of Fiji winning the first Gold Medal of any small Pacific Island nation at an Olympics. The Champion Fiji 7’s team have brought much pride and joy to these beautiful islands with their rugby passionate people.

Finally, to God be the Glory, as together in partnership between the Fijian Churches and Golden Oldies, we strive to further the Kingdom of God in the Pacific.
Vinaka vakalevu.

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The Golden Oldies Team 2016 at the Sigatoka church and kindergaten

Fishing boat surprise

The woman from a squatter village fish 6-days a week, 7am to 7pm.

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The team and Village people pray over the new fishing boat

Either by standing in the surf and casting their lines, or standing on a bridge and dropping their hand lines into a river below.
That was till the Golden Oldies learnt more about their hardships during their on-going partnership with this village. Now having received fundraising from many current and past team members, a new boat was commissioned to be built for them.

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Roger and the ladies in front of ‘the Jolly Roger’

Not quite completed, the team and fisher ladies travelled to a remote boat workshop to see progress on the boat. It was heart-warming to think these ladies will soon have a safer way of catching fish. Furthermore, by being able to row out into deeper water, they will be able to catch bigger and more fish. That means more fish to sell and money for their children’s education and improved health.

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It was a shock for Roger to discover the name of the new fishing boat!

We asked a supporter and Golden Oldie Roger to officially commission the launch of the boat and announce its name. Unbeknown to him, we thought ‘the Jolly Roger’ was quite apt, and was received with great hilarity.

Maniava

Walking into Maniava Village

Walking into Maniava Village

God has led the Golden Oldies team, to this remote village, at this time, for a specific purpose, could not be doubted.

Maniava was one of the most devastated villages from Cyclone Winston in early 2016. 33/37 houses were destroyed. One man was lifted off the ground and tossed into the surrounding bush during the 5-hour cyclone with its jet-engine intensity noise, torrential rain, freezing temperatures, pitch darkness, and with no-where to run and hide. The Village searched for this lost man after the winds receded, finding him an hour later. They have given him a new name. He is called ‘the pilot’, who crashed landed!

Almost every family, still live in tents

Almost every family, still live in tents

Today, 6-months on they remain living in tents, and the children walk 2-hours daily each way to school. Golden Oldie Avila heard that toothbrushes are seen as a delicacy and brought enough for each child to receive their own toothbrush.

Toothbrushes are highly prized by the children

Toothbrushes are highly prized by the children

The Mothers were overwhelmed with appreciation, and the excitement of the children said it all.

Last week we had never met Alfred.
A father with 5-children had lost his wife. A building engineer by profession and running his own business, suddenly circumstances changed and life dealt him some harsh times. He ended up on the streets until he decided to give God another chance. Now he is involved in an Anglican church in Suva. Throughout this time, Alfred had a vision. To train unemployed people to build mud-brick homes for rural villages. That vision has burned away in him for 6-years, but he had no idea where and how to bring it into being.

Roger, a ‘Graduate’ Golden Oldie returning to offer his business and financial expertise, on his first day travelled to the Suva Cathedral. Just being available to meet with people who had a business idea. Enter Alfred. He came to talk to Roger about possible projects for the Cathedral. But, his heart held his vision as well. At the last moment he revealed his mud brick housing dream.

Golden Oldies, the Church and Village Elders, meet to discuss the housing project

Golden Oldies, the Church and Village Elders, meet to discuss the housing project

Events have moved quickly. The team invited Alfred to join them on their day trip to the predominantly Anglican village of Manianva. A meeting with the Village Chief and Elders debated the idea of making mud bricks. Then it moved to using them to build a ‘demo’ 2-bedroom house for an 85-year old widow in the village.
The ‘mud’ at Maniava is high quality red clay that has been tested by NZ scientists and the mud bricks are 4-times stronger than ordinary concrete bricks! The village is literally walking on a goldmine of mud! Mud that can rebuild their 33 houses, and be used to make and sell bricks in a country with a desperate shortage of building materials. After hours the meeting concluded with a commitment to trial the mud brick home construction –the first to be built in Fiji.

Graeme and Roger meet the elderly widow whom, the first house is being built for

Graeme and Roger meet the elderly widow whom, the first house is being built for

Alfred’s 6-year vision giving new hope to people with training, employment and homes called ‘Hope Homes’ was suddenly becoming a reality. A partnership between the Village (doing the work), the Church (providing the technical and pastoral oversight) and the Golden Oldies (providing the full funding) was established. But not quite.

The men and children celebrate the decision to build a demo home

The men and children celebrate the decision to build a demo home

One last initial hurdle to overcome. We needed to present this proposal to the Archbishop of Polynesia for his consideration, approval and blessing. To ensure this was acceptable to the overall Church. A man who travels constantly and has an over-booked diary of commitments and daily duties to attend, makes it virtually impossible to meet at short notice.

We returned from the 3-hour bus trip to the Orphanage early evening, and within 5-minutes of arriving back, a phone call was received from Principal Amy. The Archbishop has asked to meet the Golden Oldies tomorrow morning at 10am. We had been summoned! The 30-minute meeting lasted an hour and a half! The visionary and spiritual leader of Polynesia graciously shared his ‘Moana Anglican’ vision, the establishment of a new Polynesian Bible College and desires to see a fresh, spirit-filled move of God throughout the Pacific. The team shared their learnings and the ‘Hope Homes’ vision, with Alfred in attendance with the team at the meeting.

Archbishop Winston and Roger celebrate the beginning of the 'Hope Homes' vision

Archbishop Winston and Roger celebrate the beginning of the ‘Hope Homes’ vision

The Archbishop of Polynesia, The Most Rev. Dr Winston Halapua then stood and decreed the following:
‘I declare ‘Hope Homes’ as a new development in rural areas in Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, and throughout the Pacific. Life begins through the earth, the miracle of the earth becomes the image of Christ. The houses of Maniava collapsed to the earth, and now this new gift from the earth will bring new life in partnership with the Golden Oldies. It is a gift from God.’

This demo ‘Hope Home’ plans to be completed, and officially opened before Christmas, as the dawn of hope awakens on this serene, remote village recovering from the trauma of experiencing the worst cyclone in living history.