The Fijian Way


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Love! (Our Time In Fiji)

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When you look at the world it’s hard to believe that God exists, for death surrounds us.  From unpreventable diseases to preventable diseases, to the killing and poverty fields of Africa to the war fields of the Middle East.  To the greed on Wall Street, to the decaying American dream on main street, death surrounds us. The rich aren’t getting richer, their just saving less. The poor aren’t getting poorer, their dying. We give thanks to God for our food, while millions die because they have no food. Church budgets are fading, yet the rest of the world seems to be fading into depression, death surrounds us.

God are you there? The Church are you there? Humanity do you care?

When I look back at our time in Fiji what have I seen?

God is here with us, the Church is doing something, humanity does care!

I saw over 60 deaf children away from their islands and families being given an education, a chance to learn about a loving God, and a chance to see that people care for them when others didn’t know what to do with them. I saw a women starting this deaf school many years ago because she believed that the deaf should know about God, the deaf should be given an opportunity to have an education, the deaf should be able to communicate with one another, the deaf should be able to have friends, be able to sing, dance, and know that they are loved. 

I saw a retired couple who hasn’t found the word retirement in scripture or in the supposed gospel of the American dream. A beautiful couple who have dedicated their last 8 years to these children as the head teacher, administrator, parents, and friends to all.  A couple not toasting to their 401k’s but a couple humbly smiling to the rich rewards of serving. 

I saw a Fijian staff pour their hearts, their souls, their minds, and their strength into these children every single day. They work for little but give everything they have. Short on stocks, yet rich in love. Kitchens aren’t stocked but with each meal their gratitude grows, while self righteousness is absent through the visibility of their righteous service. Service and love that never ceased but humbly increased through the strength of the God that they are learning to follow.

I saw a church body, a gathering eucharist in Rhode Island that continues to partner with the Gospel School For The Deaf. Some coming to Fiji to serve with their hands and feet, and others serving through their consistent prayers and hard earned money.

I saw the love of my life being awakened to the beauty of the Fijians and to the powerful mystery of God’s Spirit. I saw a nurse become Jesus to the children that needed her care the most. I saw a daughter of a loving mother and father become a mother to these children. I saw tears of sadness and tears of joy, tears that stream rampant when pierced by the love and gratitude that burned in the eyes of each child. I saw smiles of awe and wonder, I saw hugs and more hugs and more hugs. A new family, one new humanity.

What we both saw is that when serving the deaf in Fiji, love not only knows no language it doesn’t need to be spoken.  Love doesn’t just win, it unites, it saves, it serves, it smiles, it laughs, it cries, it celebrates, and it will never die. We’re leaving Fiji to report; that God isn’t dead, hope is alive, and the Kingdom of God is celebrating into the night.

When we look back at our months with the deaf in Fiji – what have we seen?

Love!

With more work to be done…

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Lindsay At Work (serving Mosese Waqa)

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Lindsay and Mosese – By: Marilyn Cooney

This is Lindsay at work!  Little Mosese Waqa had a fall last week, when he tripped going down the stairs at school.  He ruptured his ear drum and was taken to the hospital, where Lindsay sat with him for several hours as he was examined and later released.  Several days later, his eye began to swell, and we noticed that when he smiled, only one side of his face smiled, while the other side drooped.  We took him to the hospital again on Sunday, and this time he was admitted.  Lindsay again sat with him for the long wait to see a doctor.  She was there for 10 hours!  The next morning she was back again, at 7 AM, caring for him. 

It seems that Lindsay has a lot more medical knowledge than the doctors who are treating him.  She requested blood tests and a brain scan.  The blood tests were done, and showed nothing wrong.  But the scan was put on hold,  as no one was there who could do it.  We do not have a diagnosis as yet.  Mosese is being treated with antibiotics at the moment, in case he has an infection.  We had his ear checked by our school ENT, and all there is healing fine, with no infection.  Keep Mosese in your prayers.  Lindsay put Mosese to sleep last night with her traditional family “arm rub” relaxation technique!!   

We are thankful to God for Lindsay and her wonderful work here!


The Nurse On The Other Side (Fiji medical stories)

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Suli, is a 15 year old deaf boy at the Gospel School for the Deaf. During the school’s track competitions he collapsed from heat stroke after running a 400m race. It was a hot day and 400m is a tough race, so when Suli and the other runners in his heat fell to the ground after crossing the finish line we didn’t think much of it. I was busy preparing my stop watch for the next heat of runners when after about 5 minutes I  noticed that Suli was still lying on the ground with his face down and his eyes closed. At that point I grabbed Stephen and we went over to congratulate Suli on finishing the race. Because he’s deaf and won’t respond to our voice we tapped his arm a few times to wake him but he didn’t open his eyes, just moaned a bit. Stephen continued to shake his arm but he wouldn’t wake up. I assumed he was just embarrassed because he finished last place, so I told Stephen to leave him alone for a bit, “maybe he’s shy” I said. Stephen ignored me, he turned Suli over onto his back and proceeded to pour water on Suli’s face. Suli didn’t open his eyes, didn’t move, and didn’t show any signs of arousal. “OK”, I thought, maybe Suli’s not just being shy, perhaps there’s something more going on here. I started shaking Suli harder, he didn’t wake up. I pinched his arm, he didn’t wake, slapped his face around, tickled his feet, gave him the deep sternal rub, still no arousal.  His pulse and respirations were within normal limits.  I lifted up his arm and there was no strength or resistance, his arm just fell back to the ground, limp. I asked for someone to grab a chair from one of the classrooms so we could raise his legs. “Alright Suli, lets wake up!” I proceeded to pinch his skin really hard, I was leaving welts but at this point I didn’t care because he still wasn’t waking up! This was now going on for 10+ minutes, Suli was still unconscious so I asked for someone to please call the rescue. Whether this was a result of low blood sugar, dehydration, or some thing else we didn’t know; having no medical history on these children left many possibilities. In Fiji fashion the rescue took longer than it would in America, no flashing lights or sirens. Stephen and I jumped in the ambulance with the EMT’s and rushed Suli to the public community hospital. Now with more resources we were able to see that Suli’s body temperature was within normal limits, but I was concerned because his blood pressure was lllloooooowwww 75/50, I kept re-checking hoping that it was wrong. When we arrived at the hospital the EMT’s left Suli’s stretcher in the hallway and went around the desk, to then hand me a clip board of paper work. “Paperwork, you have to be kidding me, I don’t even know Suli’s full name, never mind his last name or DOB.  We need to get him IV fluids and check his blood sugar NOW, we can do the paper work later”, I said. When I grabbed the stretcher the two EMT’s looked at each other and led me into the observation room.  Things were still snail slow in the observation room; I asked where the nurse or doctor was and at that point one of the EMT’s ran off to fetch them. Meanwhile, the other EMT whips out his note paper and pen, “I’m planning to be over in America next month, can you write down where you live?”. I looked at Stephen and laughed (is this man really asking me for my address as Suli lay unconscious on the stretcher)? 

In nursing school I learned the “Good Samartain” rule – therefore it made my requesting of STAT IV fluids, blood work, EKG, and vital sign monitoring less like I was overstepping my boundaries and more that I was acting in the good nature as Suli’s advocate. After the two hour mark passed and Suli was still unconscious with the doctor not giving me much reassurance, I began getting worried. At this point all kinds of things are going through my head; without knowing Suli’s past medical history, who knew if this was a result of a congenital heart defect or something serious?  Two and a half hours and 2Liters of IV fluids later Suli finally came back to us and of course I shed my tears. Even though I had only been at the school for less then two months and didn’t know Suli as well as I had come to know some of the kids, I was so concerned for him and when he woke up, I was overjoyed!  Even though I’ve progressed a little in learning more sign language there still exists a large barrier in my communication with Suli, I am not able to fully share the story with him of what happened that day. Even if I were to share this writing with him he would probably struggle to read and understand some of the words. Although I may never be able to fully share with Suli what happened that day, with being a new nurse I have gained so much from this experience. This was a good lesson for me. Being a young nurse and having to be on the “other side of things”, in a hopsital that I had little control over was hard. I love Suli like I love all the children at the GSFTD but one day someone that is closer to me and someone that I love even more, may lay on that stretcher and from this experience I can say I’ve learned what it is like to be “on the other side”. 

As I continue my career as a nurse I will value this experience, I will value how critical it is for me to remember what it’s like for the people on the “other side”.


The Cheetah’s (who needs running shoes?)

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The Cheetah’s  (By: Lindsay)

Its been awhile since our last posts, not because we have little to say but because we’ve been busy.

On Friday March 6th the students and staff of the Gospel School for the Deaf were decked out in their bright orange apparel. On this day we (the Gospel School for the Deaf) represented the Cheetah’s, as we competed in track and field against the students from the hearing school. We had about 20 athletes compete on March 6th, seven of them will compete in the final competitions on April 3rd. One of them took first place in the 200m and 400m, several others taking second and third.  What a joy it has been to help coach these young athletes. Not only do I love the sport of running but these kids remind me of young olympic competitors (Jamaica in 2008 olympics). These girls have defined arm muscles and can out run most boys I know.  I love running so on the first day of practice I thought I’d train with the kids that lasted only a day. I preferred not embarrassing myself as these 13 and 14 year old girls “smoked me”– “left me in the dust“- I’m jumping over wet mud puddles and they’re trudging right through them.  That was the end of that! I then became assistant coach to Jim Cooney. 

Our Cheetahs may not be able to hear the starting gun go off  but that doesn’t put them at a disadvantage because they can run like the wind. They don’t hear their opponent closing in on them- so they just GO- with the finish line the only thing in mind. They’re not concerned that they don’t have brightly colored running shoes or Nike running apparel, they’re just concerned about winning. They run barefoot, in whatever clean clothes they have and sometimes it may mean jean shorts.  Bring them to America and they’d put our youth runners to shame- barefoot for that matter. My only wish for them was that they could hear us cheering for them! 


Lindsay’s Collection of Observations…..

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A Mother’s Love 

Like Stephen and I, Pedero is new here at the Gospel School for the Deaf. He arrived at the hostel only a few days after us.  Right off the bat the three of us had something in common;  it was the fact that we were all adjusting to new surroundings,  a new bed at night and new faces.  It was on that first night that Pedero tossed in his bed unable to sleep due to a pestering cough. Being the nurse on-site, I grabbed some of my child liquid cough medicine and rubbed his back until he drifted to sleep. As I sat there tucked under the mosquito net with Pedero, I  looked at him and realized just how small this child is. He must be five years old, if that. His small little body should be cradled in his mothers arms, read a story, and tucked under the sheets before bed at night.  I thought about Pedero’s parents, I wondered if he even had parents? Wondering how it must of felt for them  to drop off their five year old son at a school, with what are for the most part (trusting) “strangers”.  Isn’t that what parents do when their child is 18 and goes off to college? Although Pedero’s parents can visit him, they won’t be able to help him learn his numbers, his colors, teach him how to swim, ride a bike, let him lick the spoon of the brownie mix, or wipe his tears when he scraps his knee. If Pedero is like most kids here at the Gospel School for the Deaf, he’ll remain a student all through grade school, middle and into high school.  He’ll visit home during Christmas and holiday breaks but for the most part he’ll call the GSFTD hostel his home. Again,  like most of the kids living here, Pedero’s parents realized that GSFTD is not only their son’s opportunity at education but it’s a place where he’s not an outsider, where he is taught how to communicate and where he is given the same opportunities as the other children. 

Last week it was Pedero’s sixth Birthday. His mother and little sister traveled four hours by bus to visit him. I was thrilled to meet Pedero’s mother. I went on and on about how much I adored her son, how well behaved he is, how well he gets along with the other children, and how well he’s adjusting. This was the first time Pedero and his mother had seen one another since she dropped him off for his first night here. Pedero’s mother brought him a small bag of cookies as a treat for his birthday. My heart was smiling as I sat from a distance and watched Pedero sit side by side with his mother enjoying his birthday cookies. I knew this precious moment wouldn’t last for long, Pedero’s mother would at some point have to leave. That moment  came all too soon. Pedero grabbed onto his mother’s skirt, crying, shaking his head. This was just like a child being dropped off at pre-school or kindergarten for their first day, except Pedero’ s mother isn’t able to tell her son she’ll see him in a few hours, or that she’ll make him dinner later, or take him to the play ground after school. This is all sad in itself, but to take it to the next level, Pedero’s mother cannot even comfort him with words, because Pedero is deaf. I watch her as she speaks Fijian to him but both her and I know he cant hear her- yet at the same time its her innate thing to do, as it would be mine as well. All of the other deaf children and hostel staff tried to distract Pedero, bringing out games, grabbing his hand, but all Pedero wanted was his mother. After several attempts at leaving, Pedero’s mother finally had to get on her way. As I walked her out to the front gate,  we could both hear Pedero crying, it was an awful moment.  As we looked back we could see his face up against the window, his hand reaching out for his mother. I stood there literally stuck between the two of them, his mother began to cry and I comforted her as best I could but there was no way I could feel her pain.  I could only imagine how difficult it must be to leave your child behind, and what strength it takes to in some way sacrifice your life with your child for the betterment of his own future. I’m not a mother but being apart of this experience gave me a glimpse into how deep a mother’s love for her child runs.


Lindsay’s Collection of Observations

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Tuesday February 17, 2009

> One of the things I’ve enjoyed most while here in Fiji has been playing soccer with the kids.  It’s been awhile since I’ve kicked the soccer ball around;  soccer  was a sport I played throughout my childhood and  up until I was the captain my senior year of high school.  Since then, I’ve missed playing.  These Fijian kids play soccer a little different. Where in America, we gear up with shin guards, socks, and cleats, these children play barefoot and boy are they fearless! I don’t hesitate to kick off my shoes and play but do  admit that at times I can’t help but feel like a bit of a wimp. These kids come full force and I’m afraid for my bare- toes. Kids in America may like to run barefoot on the beach but you’d never see them playing soccer barefoot. 

>  My main duty here at the Gospel School for the Deaf has been providing the medical care to the children and staff. It’s been quite a learning experience. I rise each morning at 6:35am in time to remove my wet pajamas from sweating all night, hop in for a cold refreshing shower, by 7am I have my various sized band aids, ointments, and medical tray assembled table, with a line of children eager for attention. I say attention because, many mornings that’s exactly the medical care I give- a little TLC. Four year old Pedero sees me every single morning. I can usually expect him to be third in line. As he approaches me he signs “Good Morning”, then proceeds to twists his arm around to show me his elbow to reveal an old scar.  For me that means no such treatment is required, other than a dab of vasoline (all for the fact that he is expecting something) a blow of a kiss, a high five and then he’s off to school. Next in line might be fifteen year old Koleta. She lifts her leg up onto the table to reveal two large quarter sized boils that originate deep beneath the skin; Koleta’s boils are infected. She complains of pain throughout the night and when she wakes in the morning. If the boils multiple or if the infection can not be treated with topical antibiotic ointments, I will take her to the doctor.  I get a kick-out of it when the kids tell me that their leg is “broken”, it is most certainly not broken, perhaps they pulled a muscle or they’re sore from tennis lessons with Stephen. 

I’ve found that for many of the staff workers here, lack of knowledge is the biggest deficit. Many of them speak of these old “wives tales”- I find them to be pretty far out there. For example one woman stated that the reason she is infertile is because she “sat in the cold river water for too long when she was a child”, others believe that when a bone is broken the best remedy is to massage it (ahhh….NO!), or that “if you stand in the doorway with your arm up and someone walks under you that you could get a boil in your arm pit”- I find all of these to be rather odd yet interesting. I noticed that at the local hospital all of the windows are ajar- you’d NEVER see that in USA. In the USA there is such strict regulations on air quality these institutions are sterile environments. More to come on the medical stuff later….

> I have so much to say but I’ll finish with a cute story: The other night I had retreated back to my room in the girls hostel (remember I live with about 15 other girls). I had just said “good night” to them and I  was getting ready for bed when I realized I had left my book in Stephen’s bag.  I quickly ran out of my room closing the door behind me hoping to grab him before they closed up the boys hostel for the night. Upon arriving back to my room I was startled to see two girls peeking through my door. I have a shuttle -like door, you know the ones you can see into if you look through, at the correct angle? They hadn’t realized that I left the room so when I tapped them on the shoulder  they both jumped about 2 feet off the ground and scurried off to their room with beat red embarrassed faces. I chuckled under my breath and later was thinking that they must be curious about this American girl living in their hostel. What am I like, what kinds of things do I have in my big brown suite case, what book am I reading, what is that foreign white object (ipod) that’s attached to the headphone I place in my ears? As you can imagine iPods are not common among the deaf children. It reminded me of when my family hosted a student from France for two summers in a row, her name was Isabel.  I remember bring so interested by all of her French “things” and her French “ways”- made me think of what these girls may be thinking of me- this American girl. 

to be continued………..


Restoring the Earth (one piece of trash at a time)

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Sitting on a bench in Fiji, gazing out at the breathless pacific water and evergreen mountains isn’t a bad way to celebrate Valentines Day. Picture perfect would be a good description for our view. A view that in it’s origins was perfect. Perfection created through the evolving imagination of a good God through His good creation. God has His will, humanity has it’s own.

Earthly beauty is soothing to our souls. We seek after summer sunsets, walks by the ocean, hikes up mountains, camping in the woods, gardens in our backyards, picnics in local parks, and flowers surrounding in our homes. It literally takes our breath away. As living creatures we yearn to see, smell, be surrounded, grow, and participate with living creations. Our nature desires to connect with earth’s nature. Yet earthly beauty, can be deceptive. It leads us to forget that pollution, toxic chemicals, oil spills, and trash have become interconnected with our earth. It seems easier to ignore forms of violence against nature then to acknowledge it. Nobody wants to breath dirty air, but we make factories and automobiles that pollute the air. Nobody wants dirty toxic water, but ocean liners empty oil into the seas. Nobody wants to see trash, but people empty their trash on the pacific seashore. When we acknowledge the forms of violence against nature we do so because of it’s original nature – good, beautiful, perfect.

We need to stop and see the beauty that is in front of us. Beauty that is for humanity to share and enjoy. Pollution doesn’t stop us from discovering new ways to clean up our air. A toxic oil spill doesn’t stop us from cleaning our waters. Trash on a pacific seashore doesn’t stop us from picking it up. It doesn’t stop us from enjoying natures beauty, but it calls on us collectively to do something about it, even when the same opportunity exists to ignore it.

Leaving our bench to walk along the pacific shoreline, my fiance and I knew we were witnessing beauty in it’s most perfect form. The sun was setting over the mountains and aqua blue seas as we continued to walk in awe and wonder. Sitting on the oceans wall, we paused for the climax of the settling sun. The moment and the sights were breathtaking. All was good, beautiful, and perfect.

The sun had now settled in front of us, yet I quickly became unsettled by seeing loads of trash along the shore. Empty plastic and glass bottles, food boxes, plastic wrappers, and random containers. In a moments time we noticed two kids running on the shore. Still soaking in all the beauty of Fiji, I noticed out of the corner of my eye, a plastic bottle fly up into the air and land into the ocean. I looked over to my fiance and said “Oh God, I didn’t just see that.” I despise trash and seeing trash floating in the water irks me. I tell Lindsay it’s because when I was younger I would finish a candy bar or a can of soda and throw it out of the car window when my parents weren’t looking. The boys continued to kick the bottles into the ocean but I stayed silent.

In the next moment I see the boy’s friend kicking another bottle into the water, “stop kicking the trash into the water,” I yelled from about twenty feet away. “Stephen, what good is it in trying to get their attention, they’re just boys,” Lindsay remarked. “Boys who need to be taught about not kicking trash into the ocean” I responded back. The boys heard me and smiled innocently as they ran past us and kicked two more bottles into the water. “Stephen, don’t do anything,” Lindsay said instantaneously. At the sight of the fourth plastic bottle dropping into the ocean, I jumped from the sitting wall and ran to greet my two friends, “don’t kick the trash into the water, we all share this water.” I gently said to them, as they looked at me as if I was speaking in a new language. I then walked into the water an grabbed the trash and turned back to the boys and said, “isn’t the ocean more beautiful when there’s no trash floating in it?” They shook their heads in agreement and smiled. “Look here brothers, when all the trash is picked up you can run faster without any obstacles.” I ran back to where I was sitting to grab a plastic bag and began picking up the rest of the bottles. As I was walking away, I looked at the couple who were sitting beside us on the wall and said “It’s much better to look at when there’s no trash!” They agreed but then the man said “you have some helpers too.” Dumbfounded by his comment I looked to my left and saw the two boys with plastic bags picking up trash. “Yes!” I shouted, as I ran towards them to bump fists. They were smiling even brighter now as we walked up to the dumpster to throw away our collected trash. We parted ways and I kept saying to myself, “people can change, yes, yes! we don’t have to have trash on the shore and kids don’t have to kick it around.” I grabbed our backpack and Lindsay and I were off.

As I was walking away from the the wall a man who attended the same service as my new young friends, walked with two older boys in front of us, all of them with their bibles by their side. They said hello and looked at us, as if they had just seen what occurred. Still inspired by the moment, I spontaneously blurted out “sometimes we need to close our bibles and pick up trash.” Surprised by the boldness of my comment, they shook their heads in awkward agreement, as if to say “who are you?” “We need to restore the earth” I continued to say, “we read about creation being good but we don’t do anything in the clarity that everything isn’t good.” They said yes and went on their way, as I kept on whispering to myself “close your bibles and pick up trash.”

I share this story not to receive an earth day award, as my supervisor jokingly teased on hearing the story. I share this story because often when we notice that something isn’t right, we give in to the belief that says, this is just the way that it is. Or at least our actions reflect this belief. We give in to the lie that says people and the earth are in-changeable, unable to be restored. We see trash on a shore and boys kicking it into the water and view it as an insignificant act. When truthfully it speaks to how we view the earth and our relation with it. We know that the earth is good and beautiful, yet we forget to acknowledge that it’s been vandalized. When we forget this, we forget that we can be apart of restoring it.

Restoring the earth, one piece of trash at a time.


One Humanity (the story of Roslyn)

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This is the story of Roslyn, a story that speaks to the collective goodness of our humanity. A story about people of all races, religions, and republics coming together during Roslyn’s moment of direr need.

It was 1:45 in Fiji, Lindsay and I were walking our usual route on a tormentingly hot and humid Friday to find a taxi. Our experiences with taxi’s and the drivers have stood out during our first month. Most destinations take a few minutes and are relatively inexpensive. The cars bring us through a time warp to the early 1990’s and the drivers are always willing to talk to you, especially with two young Americans. A country and a people that fijians seem to love. I also enjoy the conversations with our drivers and the stories that are shared. When the drivers ask us “why are you in Fiji? So far away from America.” We explain that we’re in Fiji to help our friends and the Fijian children who are deaf and that the children are housed and educated at a local deaf school. Most of the drivers are surprised to know that the deaf exist but seem intrigued by our service. Most days the driver drops us back at our hostel and we hand over a two dollar Fijian bill and our separate lives move on. On this friday, our taxi experience changed.

Before we reached our usual taxi pick up point, we looked to our left and heard a man in a taxi ask us if we needed his service. We were close enough to the top of the street so we jumped in. From the moment I placed my umbrella against the seat he told us that he was tired. We barely heard him or just didn’t expect to hear these words, so we asked him to say it again. “I’m tired, I went to bed at three and woke up at six.” I’m looking at this middle aged man thinking to myself, ‘must of been a great night drinking.’ Speaking out loud I asked him why he was up so late. “I was in the hospital with my daughter, she has a brain tumor.” Our eyes hit the ceiling, stunned with the man’s heartbreaking honesty, and with the pain that stained his every word. ‘Brain tumor!’ we replied, so sorry, we’re so sorry. Lindsay quickly told our driver that she is a nurse and hears his pain. At a loss for words, I told him I’ll be praying for him and his daughter. ‘What’s her name sir?’ “Roslyn” as he drove around anther corner, closer to our destination. ‘Your name?’ “Babu.” ‘How old is your daughter?’ Lindsay asked, “she is seven.” At this point our eyes had gone beyond the ceiling, still stung by the moment. “She has been everywhere” he uttered urgently. “On television, in the newspapers, everyone knows about her. We’re sending her to Australia to have surgery. I’ve already raised thirty-six thousand dollars.” ‘How much is the surgery?’ we asked. “Thirty-eight thousand, I’ve already sold my car, my house, everything I own. Local businesses are working together with the local papers and have set up an account for my daughter, people have been giving for the last week. The catholic church paid for the plane tickets and have been to the hospital everyday to pray with her. My wife is catholic and I’m muslim, both religions have been so helpful. People have even been giving off the street after reading about my daughter in the papers and watching her on the news.” ‘Are tumors rare in Fiji?” Lindsay asked. “Yes very much so, not many tumors in Fiji” Babu replied as his voice trembled in desperation for Roslyn’s direr need. “Everyone is poor, everyone isn’t rich you know.” Our stop was now in front of us and we were rummaging through our wallet to pay him for the ride. As I was looking through our money, his toned changed and he told us that she’ll be okay. “We’re going to raise the money and she’ll be healed of this tumor.” I gave him the amount for the ride and the few dollars we had left over for Roslyn. We put our hands on his shoulder and said we will pray for you. As I was shutting the door I looked at him and said “trust in God.” As the door slammed shut and he drove around the corner, I looked back from a distance and muttered to myself, ‘may he trust in the God that he believes in.’ The truth is it seemed that he was not only trusting a God, he was trusting in the goodness of people to help his daughter. Our eyes still wide open, overwhelmed by the power of Roslyn’s unfolding story, we walked on around are own corner. Yet after this taxi experience something had changed. Neither the driver or Lindsay and I were moving on to our own separate lives. The truth had been spoken.

Nothing is our own, we’re intrinsically linked with one another. Babu is a muslim man, his wife is catholic. The surgery is in Australia, the money has come from business men, poor families, perfect strangers, and even a few dollars from an american couple. The news of Roslyn came from both competing newspapers, television reports and word of mouth spread throughout the city and tribal lines in the villages of Fiji. Everyone was coming together to help Roslyn in her time of need.

I’m learning many things during this season in Fiji, what I learned today is a truism for the world. Our tribal, socioeconomic, country, and religious lines of discord and division, vanish when we’re confronted with a story like Roslyn’s. There’s a place for debate and civil discussion when it comes to our ideas, and spiritual understandings, but it can’t divide us. Many of the powers that be, especially those within religion, are at work to remind us of all that we’re not. Reminding us of how different we are, of our divided history, and of the wrongs that have been done to us or to our friends and family. A unifying movement is finding it’s roots in the world that I’m seeing. Through the dividing lines, tribal wars, and common misunderstandings, deep within our bones there’s a collective goodness that binds our humanity together. It’s in these moments that I’m awakened to this reality often unseen.

Reminding ourselves of our intrinsic unity is our continued challenge. A challenge that can start with a seven year old girl who has a brain tumor and continue with erasing poverty or the lack of clean drinking water. It goes beyond ourselves and into our communities and the world surrounding us. This is true not because of where we come from or because of our religiosity. We come together to help one another because it reflects our one humanity.

It took Babu and his love and willingness to share the unfolding story of Roslyn, to remind me of this original and eternal truth.


Lindsay’s Collection of Observations cont….

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Some more of my observations:

> I have come to love clothes lines…. outside every Fijian home is a clothing line where they dry their clothes. At home in America I often throw my clothes in the dryer before I put them on to warm ’em up a bit, but there is something neat about taking your clothes off the line after they’ve been drying outside all day. I just love them! 

> The other night three of the deaf students asked me to help them with their homework. I fearlessly accepted, I’ve always loved teaching. I took a glance to see if I was even familiar with the material in which I was going to be helping them with. Come to find out they needed  help with their long division.  No problem, long division is a piece of cake, I thought! Then I realized ohhh wait….. I’m about to each long division to deaf children, they won’t be able to hear me explain and I still only know a little sign language. For an hour we lay sprawled out on the floor (a floor that I always avoid  sitting on it never mind lying on it) but I was so determined to each these girls long division that the floor did not even phase me. After lots of sweating, repositioning myself on the cement floor,  stretching my mind and thinking of various ways to explain this concept to the children it was a success! Later that night I lay in bed amazed at the fact that I (with little sign language)  just taught three deaf kids long division!  Now let me tell you,  this is NOT an easy task! Just try and go about teaching someone without speaking. Ohhh and some of them could not read, when I tried writing instructions to them. I look forward to doing some after school tutoring.

> In regards to our sign language. We’re most certainly picking it up as we go, and that is the best way to do it. The kids are SO helpful. Although there have been occasions where the sign I use means something completely different. They look at you in confusion trying to grasp what you’re trying to say and then they start laughing. Its quite a humbling feeling I must say.  For example, the other day I wanted to tell a girl that her hair looked “pretty” well I used the sign “niece” instead of “pretty”, she laughed. For three days I  signed  “good night”   to the kids first thing in the morning, I had my good night and good morning mixed up! hahaha, we’re forever learning

> One thing Stephen likes to do is strike up a conversation with every taxi driver we have. At first I would get  a little annoyed because he would say to all of them “ohhh yes we’re american, we’re new to Fiji” and i felt as though it put us in a vulnerable position- leading the taxi driver to think he could take us the “long way” or over charge us Americans. I must say, I have learned so much from hearing these taxi drivers stories. I now look forward to hearing what they have to say.  (Thanks Stephen)

to be continued………

 


Lindsay’s Collection of Observations

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A collection of my observations:

> The Fijian people are beautiful. They have such pretty skin. They are far less consumed by their appearance than other countries. Their priority is not in fashion, the size of their waist lines or the latest cosmetic alterations.  The average Fijian woman is about a size 16 which is considered “plus size” in America. They don’t follow low carb diets rather their diets are high in carbs (rice, bread and dalo), they don’t rise early in the morning in time for their pilates class rather they rise early to get their home made breads in the oven and scrub their clothes by hand before the hot Fijian sun sets in. Their priority is in loving their family (many small 20×20 homes house 12-15 ppl), loving God, loving Fiji and loving other people (even Americans). The Fijians are ohhh so loving. They always have a smile on their face. Smiles and happiness just seems like the Fijian way. I may get home sick, but that doesn’t mean I have not felt overwhelmingly welcomed by the people of this culture. 

> I live in a hostel with ~ 15 deaf girls and family of five who run the hostel.  My single person bedroom is about 5 feet wide. I have a  window ( one of my favorite parts of the day is drawing back the sheet hangs as my curtain to reveal the blue Fijian morning sky and green palm trees). I live out of my two suite cases that are placed on the floor.  I have to remember to make sure that my suite case is fully zipped when finished. I learned this the hard way; when one evening I returned to my room to find my suite case infested with bugs ( they must have smelt the dark chocolate bar my Mom snuck in there for my cravings). I have a white bug net over my bed, during the day it looks pretty old and ugly but at night in the dark, you feel as though you’re laying under a lace canopy.

> The girls that I live with awake up at 5:30am Mon-Fri. They each have rotating duties. One sweeps the floor, one makes breakfast (porridge or break & butter), one packs the lunches for their school day, one dusts the windows, one cleans the bathroom floor. They come see me for any medical care between 7a-7:45a and then head to school by 8am. They all walk to school. I admire the structure these children have, they have better structure and discipline than many grown adults. 

The children are polite always “signing” – excuse me , please , thank you.  

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> Within my first 12 hours of being in Fiji i noticed that both bathrooms I went into had no toilet paper, and no hand soap at the sink? I was quite caught off guard and had to conjure up creative ways to make use, before going to the super market and picking up my own stock. This goes for the hostel, the school, and the public places in town.  I’m one of those people who even likes to wash their hands twice or perhaps for 1 whole minute, having no soap was unheard of to me. Since then, its just assumed that i always carry a roll of toilet paper and a bottle of hand sanitizer in my bag. One day I was walking home with one of the students (a hearing student). I asked her what she learned about at school that day and she replied “we learned about the different types of toilets” I figured this was my opportunity to ask about the toilet paper. Her response was that many Fijians hide their toilet paper and keep it for themselves so no one steals it. Well that explained it for me! From now on I bring my own.

> If in Fiji I would advise you to always carry an umbrella with you.  The skies open up and Fiji experiences the some of the hardest rains- but they don’t last long. 

> If you order an iced coffee be prepared to get something that looks like a coffee shake. I’ve often craved a nice cold ice coffee on a hot day here, but i did not crave the calories they add to their version of iced coffee. They add ice cream, chocolate, cream….. looks tasty but perhaps for dessert.  

>  We’re located in Suva, which is the capitol of Fiji, its a city like feel. You rarely see Fijians driving in their car. They either walk, take taxi’s, or buses. To do their grocery shopping they hop in a cab and go to town, no convenient SUV’s here.

> In Fiji Diet Coke is called “Coke Cola Light”.

>To be continued…!