I’ve been putting together a trip to New Zealand for awhile… almost 3 years actually. When I was finally nailing down the plans and felt like it was the right time to go, I decided I would throw in a couple days in Fiji on my way there. I had some connections to a hospital project in Fiji that I was maybe going to hook up with that but that didn’t end up working out. I was in Africa for a month solid right before my trip and honestly, I had very little time for any planning whatsoever.
So the bottom line is… I showed up at the airport in with absolutely no plan. I talked to some people on the plane on the way there, but that’s about it. I arrived in the Nadi airport in Fiji morning at about 5:30AM… I then found the ‘local’ car rental place, where I was able to bargain a little bit and get a steal on a 4WD vehicle… as a fotog, I gladly put the $$ into transportation way before accommodation, as having the right vehicle can get you places for more unique shots.
I left the airport in my sweet Hyundai Tucson, more focusing on the driving cause its on the left side of the road, than where I was going. After awhile I got my bearing and realized I wanted to go the other way (even though I had no real destination.) I turned around, heading toward the bay that I heard on the plane was really pretty.
I drove and drove and finally got off the main road and started tearing through dirt trail along the ocean coast. It was beautiful and I was having a blast… I passed through a small village or two and then finally looked ahead and saw a big group of school kids standing around.
It turns out the water was crazier than usual and the tide had come in earlier than expected, creating a sort of water barrier… I pulled up, got out and took some pictures and then went back to my car and there was an older man there. He looked at me and said “Wow! You look strong!” I shook his hand and said back to him “Jesus makes me strong!” and he said “Praise the LORD!”
We were immediately friends. His name was Philemon…
He was carrying something in a plastic bag but I couldn’t really tell what it was… after awhile I realized it was Bible. It turns out God changed his life in 2007 and since then he has been walking from village to village (mostly idol worshippers or Hindus) sharing the love of Jesus Christ ever since. Philemon was also stuck on that side of water, but had hoped to make it across to visit a certain village that morning. The water was going in and out and I offered to take Philemon across.
I popped it into 4WD and got across no problem. We then went out to the village, where we visited huts and shared the Gospel. Philemon later told me that he felt he had faith in God’s power, and like Moses, God parted the Red Sea for him and got him across the water in my car. This was a very real statement. He had faith he was supposed to get to the village that morning… and through a completely lost, exploring American, God provided that passage.
Mid-morning it started down pouring rain… that’s when I figured out why he wraps the Bible in the plastic bag. Every morning he walks to villages, every morning it rains… and every morning he carries that Bible, protected inside a worn down plastic bag.
After our time in the other villages, he invited me into his home… we went back to his village where his wife and 4 kids were… he knocked down some coconuts from the tree and cut them open with a machete… next thing I knew we were sitting there in his bungalow, sipping on coconut milk together.
His wife Sarew made us a fantastic meal and we had a great time together. Interestingly, because of the large Indian settlement years back, our meal had was very similar to indigenous food I’ve eaten while in India, quite tasty.
After lunch, they asked me if I would do them the “honor” of staying w/ them in their home during my 2 night stay in Fiji. I decided to take them up on it, and the honor was most definitely mine. I was super blessed by this family and was so thankful for how God provided a place for me to stay through a family that is serving him in the middle of nowhere in Fiji.
I didn’t do a whole lot in Fiji other than rest on the beach and just kind of catch up on some rest… I did however take an afternoon to do a little snorkeling and spearfishing… After about 10 tries, I finally did nail a little guy… we went back to the beach and BBQ’d them for lunch…no doubt the freshest fish I’ve ever had!
I’m now in Queenstown, New Zealand… I flew into Christchurch where I spent a couple of nights, and then went on to camp in Twizel, Lake Tekapo, and Lake Wanaka… and now I’m gearing up for some trekking around Milford Sound and all through Fiordland… will post some images from NZ soon.