Mother’s Day…

On Mother’s Day weekend three senior Elder’s surprised their wives with a few days at a resort.  We all went to the Warick Resort along the corral coast.  It is about a two hour ride down the coast and a beautiful ride along the ocean.  We arrived on Friday and left on Sunday (Mother’s Day).  The scenery was beautiful and the people were fun and everyone had a great time.  It was good to get away and relax with our wonderful wives.  Here are a few pictures of the resort and the fun things we did.

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On Sunday morning we got up early and walked along the beach for about a mile and enjoyed the morning breeze, the quiet and picked up many sea shells.  It was truly a wonderful Mother’s Day.

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It was one of those weekend’s that you do not want to forget.

Time is getting short…

Since we are leaving Fiji in August, time is getting short so we decided to walk around central Suva on a Sunday afternoon when there are far fewer people.  These pictures show some of the old English Architecture that this city has as well as some of the modern buildings that have been completed while we have been here.  We also took some pictures along the sea wall that runs about 8 kilometers (approx. 4.8 miles).  That is one of the beautiful rides we take here in Suva. For nine months we were assigned to go to church near central Suva and we drove the sea wall road every Sunday.  It wasn’t the fastest way but it was by far the prettiest.

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On this Sunday, a cruise ship was docked at the harbor.  We think it was from Australia…

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When leaving central Suva and going down the sea wall road, there is beautiful scenery and a beautiful park that many Fijians use during the weekend.

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That is our Sunday afternoon trip in Suva, it is a beautiful place and we have enjoyed the view and the people.  We will miss Suva and the Fijian people when we leave.

Principal’s Conference…

In early March we attended the Area Principal Conference in Auckland, New Zealand.  This is the second year that we attended. The Area South Pacific Church Schools principals attended a week long conference with many speakers.  The countries attending the conference were from Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and Kiribati.  The South Pacific Area Office is in New Zealand so that is why we were in New Zealand.  Most of the time the senior missionaries were in the conference with the principals but then there were times when we separated and had sessions just for the senior ITEP (International Teacher Education Program) couples.  Our sessions centered around what we were doing in each country as well as receiving information from BYU Hawaii.  The ITEP couples are all adjunct professors from BYU Hawaii.  Here are some pictures of out conference…these are principals and church leaders who are responsible for educating the children of the South Pacific church schools.  At the present time there are over 6500 students in the church schools of the South Pacific.

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This year we used one of the days to tour Auckland and see a wonderful museum and had an opportunity to have a cruise around the harbor and surrounding area of Auckland.  It was a wonderful day and evening.  Here are some pictures that we took during our tour and cruise in Auckland.  We were on the boat call the Ted Ashby which provided a great deal of information about what we were seeing.

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These next pictures are of a Russian billionaire’s boat that has been in Auckland for about a month.  It costs the owner about $3000 per month for the boat slip.  The owner flies in from different parts of the world and then takes a cruise.  It must be nice to have that much money to travel the world in a boat like that.  They said that there is a crew of 40 that man’s the boat at all times.

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The boat is so big that it has smaller boats housed within the larger boat so the owners can have their personal boat when they wants to be by themselves.  Must be nice…the owner of the boat owns an oil company in Russia.

The next set of pictures are just scenes as we toured the harbor.

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After we toured the harbor we went to the Auckland Maritime Museum and had a tour mostly of the boat and ship industry.

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After the tour we went to a museum conference room and had a discussion centering around the maritime industry and how it impacted the education pro  gram in South Pacific Schools.  Very interesting how the participants connected what they saw with the theme for the schools this year which was to “Embark.”

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After we concluded our museum tour and discussion, we went for dinner at Elliott Stables.  This was a very unique place.  It was a remodeled horse stable in the middle of Auckland.  It has over twenty different restaurants and a central eating area.  You go to which ever restaurant and order and give them your table number and when your order is ready they will bring it out to you.;  They had an international menu as you can imagine with over twenty restaurants.

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After dinner we walked back to the harbor were we caught a fairy boat that brought us back to the other side of the harbor were we were staying on Takapunta Beach.  We had a wonderful day and a great experience.

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This entry was posted on April 5, 2015. 1 Comment

New Years on Kadavu (Part 2)

In our last post of January, 2015 we did Part 1 of our Kadavu New Years adventure and we told you that we would do Part 2 shortly.  Time flies when you are having fun ( or are busy) so we lost time and hopefully you will forgive us.  With that apology, it is now the end of March and a great deal has happened.  However, let us catch you up with Part 2.

Kadavu is a beautiful island a little southeast of the main island of Viti Levu where we are located.  Part 2 will be a travel log of some of the scenry and experiences that we had. You will see scenery of the island as we traveled with the other senior couple who were stationed on the island for about a month.  This is what we saw…

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This was on the way to a village to see some members of the church.  As missionaries we are to visit members both who are active as well as inactive and see how they are doing.  This is what we experienced.

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As you looked out the door of this home, this is what you saw…

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After visiting these members of the branch, we visited a few more families…

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Traveling back from our visits we saw this…people having a party in the forest as well as seeing people just walking along the road.  One was just sitting along side of the road and husking a coconut.

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When we returned to town we were hungry and tired so we went to our B&B which was the nicest place on the island.  Here are some pictures of where we stayed during our ten days on Kadavu…

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This next picture was our dinning room and some of the food that was fixed for us during our stay…

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This next picture shows where the B&B was located.  It was on top of one of the three stores in this small town.  However, the views were spectacular…

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We wanted to visit a family that was some distance away so we discussed with the other senior couple whether we wanted to walk there which was about a 2 hour hike over a mountain through the jungle (which the natives do all the time) or share the cost a boat to go around the mountain ($40 Fijian, $20 US).  We chose the boat ride.  Here are some pictures of that excursion, on the way there, our visit and our return…

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Once we arrived to were the boat could go no further, we started to walk.  We had to walk a little over a mile in the jungle to get to our distination.

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When we got close, we had to cross a river (small) but thankgoodness the water level was low… there were children having fun while we were crossing and they were making fun of us old people…

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A little ways further we arrived at the home of a member of the church.  They have lived here for over 30 years and have raised six children.  When they go to town they walk the two hours over the mountain.  They said that can make it in 90 minutes if they hurry.

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Two younger missionaries accompanied us on this visit because they had been there before.Thankgoodness they knew where to go.

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Before we left they wanted to know if we wanted some coconut milk and some pineapple, bananas and other fruit they get out of the forest.  We had some and they started on our journey back to town.

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While we were on Kadavu we had an opportunity to have a couple of beach parties.  Since cars are a premium for transportation, most people have a boat or access to one.  Each time we went we brought a picnic lunch and snacks to eat.  Here are some pictures of our beach parties…

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After our couple of beach parties we always returned to our B&B with a little more sunburn and appreciation for the experiences we have had on our mission.

We went to church for two Sundays and took some pictures of the meeting house that church members us for services. These are humble surroundings but their faith and spirit is extremely strong. The first picture is the path we had to travel into the jungle to get to the church.

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Here is church on the island of Kadavu, Fiji…

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Then there is the male and female restrooms…

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The Relief Society Meeting for sister…

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Priesthood meeting for the brothers…

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Sunday School lesson for the youth…

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Primary for the young children…

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Evidently a time-out chair for one of the younger members…

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The Sister Decker and Sister Collins giving a primary lesson during Sunday School.

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The branch president has his home right next to the chapel…

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Well as all good trips come to the end, our boat ride home (should take 6 hours, actually took 12) was somewhat exciting but definitely frustrating…we were on cargo ship that had room for passengers.  This was at the end of Christmas break for families so everyone was trying to get back to the main island.  We think the pictures will tell the story of our adventure.

The first pictures show the local transport boats bring passengers in from the outer islands to catch the boat.  Also on the small boats are products going to the market in Suva to be sold.  The drive pick-ups and trucks right onto the boat to transport them to Suva..

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These next few pictures is the seating for what they say is 1st class…we were amazed that people would purchase a seat ticket and then lay on the floor.  They would bring their own mats and spread out on the floor.  It was one big mess.

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It took us 45 minutes to exit the ship as they had the cars and trucks leave first and then some of the cargo.  There was only one stairway for passengers to leave throgh and the picture will explain our frustration.

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There was no way or were to walk, everyone was sitting shoulder to shoulder.  As you can tell, no one had lifevests and if we would have trouble in the ocean, there would have been many liives lost at sea.  Now I can understand when we see pictures of fairies sinking in the ocean in different parts of the world, I know why.  There are no safety rules or procedures, everyone for themselves.

Outside of the cargo ship experience we had a great time in Kadavu.  We had an opportunity to do some missionary work as well as seeing members of the church who are faithful, strong in spirit and working on doing the Lord’s work.  We hope you have enjoyed the visit to Kadavu, Fiji,

New Years on Kadavu (Part 1)

On Wednesday, December 31, 2014 we flew to the island of Kadavu which is one of the southern islands of the eastern district of Fiji.  Elder and Sister Collins, another senior missionary couple were sent there by the mission president to provide support for the young elders who are serving on the island as well as to assist the branch president with working with inactive members as well as upgrading the chapel and living conditions of the young elders.  It was our intentions to visit the Collins and to help where we could in there efforts to support the branch.

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This was the twin engine airplane that we took for a 35 minute flied from Suva to Vunisea, Kadavu.

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This is a picture of what we were looking at when we were looking straight ahead from our seats.  The next picture is what we saw when we turned around and look at the inside of the airplane.

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The next two pictures are views we saw as we were flying over the ocean to Kadavu.

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As we landed in Vunisea the next several pictures are of the airport the surrounding area of the largest city on Kadavu.

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The main part of Vunisea is right along the ocean…people walking on the road is their mode of transportation.  People walk and walk and walk…many of them for hours at a time to get to their destination.  These people are walking to the market which houses four or five different shops.  These pictures are of the shops at the market.  There is a clothing store, very small grocery store, vegetable stands, a small snack shop, and most of all a place that people just go to talk with one another.DSCF4447

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On New Year’s Eve we went to a small village up in the mountains to visit a member family who had a few small children and we brought some fireworks for them to shoot off.  When we arrived the whole village showed up to see the fireworks. It lasted for about 30 minutes and the children asked their parents when the plalani’s (sp) (white people) could come back so they could see more fireworks.  It was really a special time for the village and for us.

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On New Years Day we toured the island and saw some beautiful scenery…here is some of what we saw.  Well before we show you the pictures of this beautiful island, we needed to get some gas for the car.  Now with the gas prices becoming cheaper in the US and with all the self-serve gas stations, we had to look for gas here and this is what we found and what we had to do.

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As you can see the gas station is very out in the open and not what we are usually looking for when we need gas.  This is a typical gas station, there are only two that we came across where we were staying. We had the only car on the island, the rest are pickup trucks, mostly 4X4’s.

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The gas station attendant had to measure the amount we needed and then pump the gas into a metal container.  After the gas was measured he had to take the container to the car and now you can see what happened…

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After we filled up with close to 50 liters of gasoline, at $2.37 per liter (approx, $10.66 per US gal.), we were on our way to see the sites.

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As we drove around the island, these are the types of roads that we were on, all dirt and rock.  Very few trucks and many people just walking along the side of the road.

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As we drove we stopped from time to time to chat with the locals who were walking along the road, we stopped in some of the villages and received permission to visit.  We had a wonderful time getting to know the real people of Fiji and to feel there compassion for the simple life.  Things do not move to fast in Fiji and that is OK.  Everything works on Fiji time and that means, whenever.  It is definitely something that we have had to get use to.  Nobody, we mean nobody is on time. An example was when we were told that a meeting was going to begin at 7pm, we were 15 minutes late and were the first one’s at the meeting.  The meeting didn’t start until 8:30pm, thats right, 8:30pm.  No one seemed to be concerned at all.  That’s the way it is in Fiji…

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As we had been driving for a few hours on bumpy roads with no gas stations for restrooms for our wives to use, we were encouraged to head back to Vunisea where we were staying.  What a fun, relaxing and enjoyable time seeing and learning about the true life, feelings and spirit of these people. This was very educational, relaxing and spiritual at the same time.

On the way back these are some of what we saw…

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We thought we could make it back but we had to take a break…

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The people we met along the road were really, really friendly and they all like to have their pictures taken. As we met them, most of them were going home after a day in the jungle picking fruits, vegetables, and going in the streams to catch fish, crabs and clams for there evening meals.

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IMG_4664  These along with other fruits and vegetables that grow in the jungle becomes the diet and staples of the Fijian food that maintains their lifestyle.

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After making a few stops to catch glimpses of beautiful scenery, we arrived back in Vunisea, tried, hungry, but very blessed that we had an opportunity to experience such a wonderful country, culture and people of Fiji.

Since we took so many wonderful pictures we will have to continue this travelogue with Part 2. We will put Part 2 together and put it on the blog shortly.  We hope you enjoy Part 1.

This entry was posted on January 13, 2015. 2 Comments

Marine Park and Jungle Hike…

Well we had an opportunity to walk in the Fijian jungle, visit a Fijian village and swim and snorkel in a protected marine park along the coral coast approximately a two hour drive from Suva Fiji.  The Stanfords who are not missionaries but live here in Fiji and work for LDS Charities and are from Canada went with us on this discovery experience.  This guided tour was from a village native and was very informative as to what we saw on our way through the jungle to the Fijian village which was called Namada.  A village of 50 homes and approximately 250 residents.  The following pictures was our jungle hike and arriving at the village.

DSCF4001 DSCF4006 DSCF4005 The first picture is our jungle guide Rosova who lived in the village that we were hiking to.  The other two pictures were taken while we were hiking.  The trees in the jungle are huge and you can see the root systems of the trees.  The jungle was very dense at times and then it was like walking in a open air environment.  We walked about 30 minutes to the village.

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We stopped to pose in front of a huge jungle tree along the way. Here are some other thngs we saw along the way.

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Chestnuts

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Mangos, which come in six or seven varieties.

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These are Plantain or cooking bananas on the left and lady finger bananas on the right. The lady finger bananas are really, really good.  There are three or four varieties of bananas in Fiji.

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Bread Fruit, this is a type of fruit that is found in the South Pacific that is cooked and eaten.  Many people like it but we tried and evidently it is an acquired taste in which we have not acquired, up to this point.

Along the way in the jungle we came across vegetable plants that provide food for the villagers and others in the country.  What ever the village doe not need they send to the market to sell to others.  The people of Fiji are self-reliant and they produce the necessary food to sustain themselves.  Their food items are somewhat limited but it sustains them. The plants reproduce and supplies them with their daily needs.

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This plant is a Cassava plant which produces the vegetable called Cassava.  It is a root plant that is used in many Fijian dishes.  Fiji also produces yams, corn (not Iowa corn), dalo (something like potatoes)  cabbage, carrots, etc. Most of the vegetables taste pretty good but we like the US vegetables better.  We maybe a little bias.

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This is a picture of a leaf on one of the jungle trees and Rosova demonstrated that by crushing the leaf and rolling into a ball and then squeezing it the  juice called “a mile a minute” and is used as an antiseptic for cuts, etc.  A very interesting demonstration of a culture using what is available for surviving in the jungle of Fiji.

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Having fun along the way…

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Arriving at the village…

When we arrived at the Namada village we were greeted by one of the villagers who was cutting up a Jackfruit.  This was another fruit that we had heard of but never tried.  We each had a piece and surprisingly it was really good.

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While in the village we had opportunities to visit with some of the villagers and they all wanted to know where we were from and why we were in Fiji.  These people are so friendly and warm and very, very genuine.

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We had an opportunity to visit one of the village churches.  This is a Methodist church which has approximately 40 or 50 members that come on Sunday’s.  One of the more interesting facts,as explained to us, is that on Sunday’s the children sit on the right front part of the church and the mothers also sit on the right side and the men all sit on the left side.  We think that this is a local custom or tradition as we have not heard of this in other Methodist churches either here in Fiji or in the US.

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One of the things we failed to mention when we arrived in the village is that it is a custom in many villages that their family who passes on before them are buried next to their home or in the center of the village.  It is important for family to be close whether they are alive or not.

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After our jungle and village experience we changed our clothes and went to the protected Marine Park which was next to the village.  The ocean is right next to the village.  The pictures tells the story of our snorkeling experience and the fun we had with the native children.

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When the snorkeling was done, we walked back to where we started and strolled along the beach for about a mile and started our journey back to Suva. Along the way, the women stopped and collected sea shells and talked about the beauty of Fiji and the blessings of being here.

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When the day was done, we had a wonderful experience with our Canadian friends the Stanfords and a great opportunity to take a jungle hike into a truly Fijian village and meet some of the nicest people in the world.  The experience of snorkeling in a protected marine reserve and having fun with the local children was really a treasured experience that we will remember for a long, long time.

This entry was posted on December 29, 2014. 1 Comment

Christmas in Fiji 2014

We have just about concluded our first year in the mission field and our first Christmas in Fiji.  It has been a wonderful experience and one we will never, ever forget.  The culture is so different from what we have experienced in the US but the people are so wonderful, caring,welcoming and sincere,  The Fijian people are not caught up in the commercialism of Christmas but more about celebrating the Birth of Christ.  Everything is at a slower pace as it is throughout the year. There was one large Christmas tree at the Domadar Center(Fijian Shopping Center),

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This was a huge tree with ornaments  but no lights.  This next picture is our Christmas tree that we have in our apartment and the Fijian Nativity that we have on our table near the tree.

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On Christmas Eve we joined the other senior missionaries for dinner and then we all went to the Cinema to watch Annie (the most recent production) and we all enjoyed an evening at the movie, On Christmas Day the senior couples and the mission president and his wife all had breakfast together at Eleder and Sister Terry’s (mission office couple) and enjoyed breakfast and talking for hours.  It started at 9am and was over at Noon.

On Christmas Day afternoon, we were invited by our Bishop and his family to join them for Christmas dinner.  The were having a lovo (earth oven) dinner.  This is a traditional Fijian celebration activity,  We had a wonderful time eating and talking about our families and friends. The next several pictures are taken at the Bishop’s home where he was cooking the lovo and you can see what a lovo sight looks like.  Then what the meal was like and finally Bishop Dulaki, his wife, Bishop’s in-lawa and Elder and Sister Decker.

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We spent two or three hours with them and had a great time.  They have eight children with one serving a mission in the West Indes and they were awaiting a telephone call from him.  That is always a special tme for the families back home.

On the day after Christmas (Fiji time) which was Christmas Day in the US, we Skyped our children and their families and we able to hove all of them online at the same time.  What a special time that was to visit with them and catch up on their Christmas celebration.  We Skyped for over an hour and all of us were sad that we had to close so they could have the rest of the day with their families and friends.

After we concluded Skyping we packed up a picnic lunch and headed down the Coral Coast.  We wanted to find a place on the ocean were we could enjoy the sun and fun of Fiji.  We forgot that the day after Christmas here in Fiji was a celebration called Boxing Day, and old English custom and celebration of employers having bags of food and other things to celebrate the employees working for the company.  So here in Fiji and several other English settled islands continue to celebrate the English tradition of Boxing Day.

The following pictures are what we found on Boxing Day as we traveled the Coral Coast here in Fiji.

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We sent the rest of the day reflecting on what we have experienced and the blessing we have enjoyed since coming on this mission.  The spirit of Christmas is the spirit of Christ, our Savior.  We hope that each of you who visit this blog catches the spirit of Christ so each of you can have the blessing and comfort of our Heavenly Father and His son, Jesus Christ.

Till we blog again, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.