Archive › November, 2010

NZ2010 Update | Lisa McCoy

21 November 2010

We’ve been staying at Homes of Hope since we arrived at Fiji four days ago. Despite the lack of wealth and comfort in so many people’s homes and villages, our accommodations have been much better than I anticipated. With running water, flushing toilets, hot showers, mattresses, and consistent access to wonderful Fijian food… We have been quite happy. Today that portion of our trip comes to an end. It’s crazy to think that we are so close to the end of our time together. I think we are all ready to get back home – for a while anyways – but it will be strange and sad to be away from this ‘family’ that we have formed. But I’m not going to dwell on the close. We still have three more days! After everything was packed and we had all finished breakfast, the girls, women and children of Homes of Hope came down to sing us their special goodbye song. We have seen songs a lot in the culture, in the homes we have been privileged to visit, and there are lots of talented singers and musicians.  We each said goodbye and vanuka (thank you) to the woman/children before we had to pile in the bus and head into Suva where we attended church. That was a really interesting experience. I personally had never attended a different race’s church. It was awesome and encouraging how enthusiastic the whole congregation is in their worship. The sermon just happened to be on a similar subject as a tough discussion we had last night. Amazing how God does that.

Last night was really hard for everybody in the group – including the leaders. They have been talking during our whole time here that they wanted us to get to an edge, and to run the race. Some people had already come to places that will cause them to look at life completely differently, and hopefully yearn to do impacting things with it. However, this trip would not have been worth anything to these leaders if we go back to the states thinking, believing, and living in the same way that we always have. They want it to change our lives – in incredible ways.

And so, yesterday we visited the squatter villages – where the people do not own the land, their houses cannot be permanent because it floods to often. They are often not welcome in the community and have very little. Last night they emphasized how much more we have, simply as Americans, than anybody in standard living of Fiji. How much the cost of one lens, one camera, let alone all that is in our shooting kid was worth and what that money could do to help people in other countries. The leaders were not telling us to go home, sell our equipment, and live like the villagers. But they did want us to stop long enough to think about that, and simply realize that we have all been incredibly blessed. And ask the question: what are we going to do to bless and impact others when we get home?

It was a hard lesson, but sometimes it takes a lot to pull somebody out of a comfort level. To push them to an edge. The leaders wanted us to get to an edge. Whatever it was. Because once we are there, on the verge of some serious emotion, you can’t simply stay there teetering. You can either step back and shrink into normal life again, or you can make a leap – which we would not be alone in doing. Our leaders would be right beside us the whole time. They simply wanted us to make a move. God would rather us be hot or cold. He doesn’t want us sitting on a fence of indecision. So the question is: What are we going to do about it?

I’ll come back to today now. However, that discussion (if that’s what you want to call it) was a large part of today too, cause everybody is still piecing things together and it was largely on their hearts and minds. After church, we all loaded back into our bus and got on the road. The drive was supposed to be about four hours nonstop. We expected to stop for lunch, and then for a few scenic photos along the way. Our lunch spot was beautiful. We stopped at the little shelter and porch that overlooked a two-part waterfall surrounded by greenery and flowers. The place looked like it belonged in a magazine. We did not plan on hitting road construction. And not just a little, but the type of thing that would have been completely closed off if it was going on in New Zealand or the US. It was very muddy, which the rain didn’t help. And since busses are not made for off roading, it took us significantly longer to get to our destination.

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There was a lot of sleeping, several conversations, and a lot of ‘chill’ and relax time on the bus ride over – time that I think we all needed. We went over a couple of ‘bridges’ that we weren’t sure would hold up the bus, saw some cool rafts, and passed some neat looking villages. If I were to ask everyone though, they would probably say that the highlight of the trip was pulling over to take some pictures, Jocelyn seeing a Mango tree, pleading with Naca to get her one, and him (with his friend) doing just that for not only Jocelyn, but everybody.
The Mango tree was huge, and filled with ripe fruit. Even I, who can be a very picky eater and don’t usually like Mangos (even the one I had already tried in Fiji) was thrilled with the taste. I don’t want to think about how many Mangos were eaten by 18 people in the short amount of time we were stopped, but I think everybody had at least two.
From the tree the rest of our drive was short, and who knows how many hours later, we arrived at our destination of Compassion For Fiji Children, where we were welcomed and soon served a tasty, special dinner of Duck Curry.

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Tomorrow we will photograph the nearby village for a while before heading back towards an airport. The 23rd is our free day – our fun day in Fiji – before boarding a plane that evening and bringing our trip to a close, and our journey and challenges back home to a start.

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NZ2010 Update | Jasmine Moravec

20 November 2010

Here we are in Fiji! It’s crazy to think that the trip is coming to an end in just a few short days, but exciting to think of all the growth God can still bring about in those days. This morning we split up into groups to do various assignments in different villages around the city of Suva. My group went to a squatter’s village- basically where people have set up a village of sorts on condemned land that isn’t safe to build on due to flooding.

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Going into this assignment I had mixed feelings- on one hand I was excited for another diverse shooting opportunity. On the other hand I felt intrusive and presumptuous going into this village and expecting the people to be ok with me walking around taking pictures of them. But despite my misgivings, I learned that God can surprise me with blessings in a place I don’t expect to find them. Even while I was trying to push through my feelings of being an imposition, one of the women from the village took the time to pray for me and one of my teammates. Here we are- two girls from another country that she hadn’t met, and will never see again, and she took the time to open her home and bless us with her hospitality and the gift of her prayer over us. Wow!

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I learned that it doesn’t matter if I feel a little uncomfortable- if I have an chance to invest in people, I need to take it. And photographically speaking, I learned that low light shooting situations make for either beautiful or frustrating pictures! So various lessons learned, lots of stretching, lots of growing and taking things to the next level- It’s something that just keeps happening on this trip, and so far, it’s been making me stronger.  

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NZ2010 Update | Jonathan Sloat

19 November 2010

So Today I had the opportunity to go to both a AOG Bible College and a special needs school. The Bible college, South Pacific Bible College, was a really cool environment to shoot. They have students coming from multiple countries to study for the ministry there, and as you watch the interactions between the students and the faculty  you can see the passion each has for impacting others for Christ.

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The special needs school was quite a different environment to shoot. They have children coming between the ages of about 6 or 7 to as old as roughly 16. The students needs range from deafness to walking disabilities, and the teachers have a genuine love for the work they do there.

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At the school it was quite amazing, we took a formal portrait of each of the children and you could see an amazing joy in each of the children’s smiles. None of them were letting their disabilities get in the way of their happiness and it was really inspiring to see this. God was truly at work in both those places.

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NZ2010 Update | Toni Maisano

18 November 2010

Today was our first full day experiencing Fiji.  Last night, we were divided into three teams to go photograph various different places and ministries, and so for the majority of the day we were spread out over Suva and the surrounding areas.  I’ve been blown away by the friendliness and hospitality of our Fijian hosts and everyone I’ve met here.  Every time I walk by someone, I’m greeted with shouts of “Bula!”, the Fijian version of hello.  Everyone is happy to have a conversation with me.  We’ve been told that in Fiji relationship is everything, and that’s exactly what I’ve experienced so far.

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This afternoon, I had the pleasure of walking around Homes of Hope with my team, learning more about the ministry they have here to single women and their children.  We are greeted with smiles and hear the laughter of the children everywhere.  It’s so precious to see and hear, especially when you understand where these women have come from.

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We’ve only been here for a little over a day, and I can already tell that this entire part of our trip will force each of us out of our comfort zone.  For me personally, today was a day where I was forced to push through, even when didn’t feel like it mentally and physically.  We were all exhausted from our full day of travel yesterday, and most of us weren’t feeling all that great.  But we had a job to do, and so by the grace of God, we did.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” –Philippians 4:13

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NZ2010 Update | Matt Derrit

17 November 2010

Today is the transitional day of our trip. The one where we leave New Zealand and travel to Fiji. We leave behind a place that we have become very fond of. it’s a place where we have all seen change happen in our lives. During are time here we were challenged to find out just who we are in Christ. I think that many of us found our purpose for being on this trip right here in NZ. This was very evident in what everyone shared last night after supper during team devotions. Each one of us had our own unique story of how God took the expectations we had for this trip and completely turned them around showing us that we only knew a small part of why we were here which for some of us, myself included, was probably a good thing. We are Definitely not the same people who arrived here and I am thankful to God for that.

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So New Zealand has kind of been our training ground for Fiji. It has prepared us in many ways for what we are about to experience. Fiji is going to stretch us in more ways than we can imagine. It is totally different culturally and climate wise. I was quickly reminded of this as soon as I stepped off the Jet in Nadi to be greeted by some of the most hot and humid air I have ever felt . Which is far different from the cool dry weather we had in NZ. Culturally it is far from anything I have ever  experienced anywhere else. During are four hour bus ride from the airport to Homes of Hope, the place we’re staying at, we were constantly being greeted by local’s alongside the road shouting “Bula” (which means hello) and waving their hands. I’m totally blown away by how friendly the Fijian people are. Once we arrived at Homes of Hope we were introduced to Peter, who is a missionary, and he gave us a briefing on what is planned for tomorrow. it’s going to be an early start for me and some others, like a 3:30AM start, so I’m going to head for bed now and try to get some sleep.

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This is definitely going to be a different experience for me. I hope that it will build on what’s already  happened in our lives these last couple weeks. One thing that I’m thankful for is that the group has bonded together very nicely and we work well with each other.  I’m not totally sure what God has planned for us here but I think we’re excited to find out.

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