September 2017 - August 2018
What a busy and productive year we have had! June, July and August finds us back in the states to take care of the financial and business end of our mission. Joel goes back to work at Quality Dinning and punches the clock for over 60 hours a week. Terri works on things like tax returns, creating presentations, scheduling church visits, creating the next years budget, and most importantly making sure we have time for friend and family! Our stay in the US seems to be short and going fast. There is so much to try and fit in!
The highlights from the past year
We were blessed with an opportunity to move to a beautiful, tiny, 2 bedroom flat in Lautoka City. The owner of the home lives in New Zealand and only stays in the upstairs flat a few weeks at a time. They were in need of someone to take care of the home and compound in their absence and were willing to rent at a MUCH cheaper rate to have us stay here!
It has a large compound (yard) with so many great things already planted! We also have a carport to pull the truck into for Joel to work on it out of the sun! So much cooler that way! The home is situated on a hill so it has a consistent breeze. What a blessing! A hot day does not feel as hot here. This all comes with a wonderful view of the sunsets also. We have been blessed more than we could have asked for. And I was just hoping for cyclone proof!!!
Completing the building project in Labasa was our largest focus in November and we were able to complete the project within the given budget and time frame! The project was to complete a CTEF extension location and a pastors home. The project was a hearts desire for Gwen Strong and her clan (Max/Barbara Smart, Rod/Marg Smart, Neil/Anette Daniels (all of AUS), Ross/Jilli McLay (NZ), and many local Fijian helpers. Thank you Gwen for letting us help fulfill this mission!
We started December off with our VBS at the college. We had a very exhausting and successful event!! We crammed a 5 day program into 2 1/2 days and last years head count was 95 as our largest daily head count with 130 total children reached. THIS YEAR....we had 90 kids our FIRST DAY!!! Following with 139 on day two and a whopping 160 kids on our final day. Our total head count for children reached??? 204 children reached through CTEF's VBS!!!
Ruel Foundation (Fiji)
On the medical end there has been an exciting opportunity. One of the organizations we came into contact with last year had decided they could no longer stay in Fiji and they approached us to take on their local trust! What this means to us is that when we complete the legal aspects of the acquisition, it will open us up to work in so many different ways. All this with the great reputation and 15 year history that the trust has already established! One big positive is that this trust was established as a Christian organization!
We completed training with Samaritans Purse Disaster Assistance Team. This opportunity will help us share the gospel globally which is exciting! Additionally, we are now contracted Samaritan's Purse Australia/New Zealand - Project Representative in Fiji. We will act on behalf of SPA/NZ in relation to all aspects of project management with projects funded by SPA. This will consist of about 30 days a year working with volunteers from all over the world working with projects like Operation Christmas Child, construction projects, water projects and medical teams.
Joel started his Christmas holiday with a boil on his shin that kept him in bed with fever and achey body. He started a quick round of antibiotics and was able to get it under control. Terri followed up by ending the holiday with a couple boils. One at the end of her baby toe and one nicely placed in the middle of her forehead!! Joel thought it would blend nicely with the local Hindu dots!! (That wasn't nice was it!) We knew more about how to approach it after dealing with Joel's so Terri's were quickly under control.
March found us ill with some type of virus that was going around. This is the first time we have ever both been sick at the same time. Literally bed ridden for 2 solid days and on the couch for at least a week after that. Symptoms that lasted for weeks! Fever, chills, weakness, body aches, headaches and so on!! Joel was really missing his NyQuil!
Repairs & Projects
Joel spends a great deal of his time working to keep the college campus (College of Theology & Evangelism-Fiji) in shape and the working on the current building projects the college is currently pursuing. The Vocation Training Center (VTC) now has lights and outlets, a ceiling and a nice tile floor in the classrooms and workshop. Some of this time is spent teaching the students of the VTC about the trade or project currently in process. The students successfully helped with each of the projects!
This years surgical screenings opened the operating room door to 120 patients who received major surgery. Fifty percent of those came from remote areas of Fiji. Some required two days of travel to arrive at the surgical site! Terri held two screening clinics in villages and regularly spent time with patients one-on-one for screenings and to prepare them for surgery. Teaching nutrition and encouraging diet changes to improve blood pressure and diabetes so they could safely participate.
We look forward to managing patients and their treatments for cleft lips and palates under our Ruel Foundation (Fiji) non-profit and creating and offering a medical outreach for volunteers with Samaritans Purse. So much more to come this next year!
2018 cyclones brought more rain than wind this year. That rain then brought tremendous flooding to much of Fiji! We are high and dry where we are located and not having to worry about our home enabled us to hit the ground as soon as it was safe! Checking in on friends and looking for the hardest hit areas to give relief. We delivered water and food to friends and Sawyer water filters to homes without access to clean water. We partnered with Give Clean Water and introduced them to the college. The CTEF and Give Clean Water now have a working relationship and are able to not just give access to CLEAN water but also share the saving Word of Christ.
Joel also visited the island of Kadavu for some post cyclone relief and delivered tarps under the Samaritans Purse name. Kadavu was one of the islands hardest hit by the two cyclones that hit only a week apart. Adding insult to injury, they were still trying to recover from Winston that hit in 2016.
Helping locals while teaching them mechanical and construction skills, as we work side-by-side; all while sharing the love of Christ.
Witnessing to all those we meet by sharing the love of our Savior..
October 2015, Jan - June 2016
Our current mission has us residing in Lautoka, Fiji. During this past trip we visited and helped in 6 villages and on the island of Taveuni.
Well, we have been here in Fiji now for about 6 weeks. When you are in the moment here, it never feels like anything is getting done. However, looking back and seeing everything we want to tell you...WOW!!! So much has been accomplished! "Keeping busy at a Fijian pace," I say. One of the first phrases that were said to us a year ago was, "slowly, slowly"...and that is exactly the way it ALL happens here...
October 1 2016 - November 12, 2016
Greetings from Fiji! We have completed our first month and a half back in Fiji and we have been busy at a Fijian pace! Fiji always runs just a bit slower but there is always something to do. We spent our first week catching up with the time difference, acclimating to the climate change and catching up with Fijian friends and co-workers. The second week was rainy. Nothing will happen in the rain so work was put off. It was a good thing as we had a lot of work to do on the truck. We knew there would be a lot to do on it, but did not expect it all to happen at once.
The rest of the first month was spent doing some administrative items and organizing the requests we have at hand from the college. The college has given Joel a list of buildings/properties and equipment that he will be in charge of reviewing and maintaining. He visited the properties, made repair lists and maintenance logs, and a schedule to follow so nothing gets forgotten.
Now to introduce to you Tui (pronounced Too-ee)! Tui is a Fijian friend that we met during our time with YWAM. We made quick friends with Tui and he has been a blessing to us since! Tui was one of the men that stayed and watch our home here while we were in the US. Tui is a local missionary and he is currently helping Joel with the projects at hand and helping us to make local connections and build relationships within the local villages. Learning the language and local customs is important to us and Tui has been able to help us make this all an easier transition. In return Tui stays with us and he is learning additional skills in carpentry and mechanical maintenance.
Over the last next two weeks Joel and Tui have been able to roll their sleeves up and get busy within the local villages. First, they went to the Swanevu with Jeremy (Jeremy 'n' Truus Adams) a New Zealand missionary. The Adams family will be heading home and we will try to pick up where they are leaving off and carry on with the villages they have helped. They went to help Jeremy make some roof repairs (still left from cyclone damage) and to finish a library that was built earlier this year. They were able to put in a dozen windows!! What a difference it makes to have light in a library!!!
Next, they helped to start the process of building a home for a local family in Teidamu. Their home was a complete loss in the cyclone. Currently, they are still living in a small tent and they are getting by with the minimum. After arriving at the site they found that they are having to start with breaking up the current foundation and start over from scratch! So they began with sledge hammers and strong backs to clear away what Winston left behind! Material lists were made, supplies ordered, now to wait for the next step.
Lastly, Joel and Tui were asked to help with another family’s home. This home is near the Children's Camp in Matawalu. This family also lost their roof and some of the structure of their home in the cyclone. The boys spent their time framing the structure and covering the roof.
Repairs and rebuilding from the cyclone will be in full swing now. Financial relief is in the hands of the homeowners and the work is beginning! It is very exciting for the families as they have been living in makeshift structures, in tents, or with other family members since February!
Some additional praise we have at the end of our first month. We received a couple new one-time donations and we were able to cover the gas tank repairs on the truck, purchase a used oven from a friend, and buy a used fridge and wardrobe that I can use as a pantry. We also received a gift of a food safe!! Between the wardrobe and food safe we can keep all of our food and dishes away from our rodent and insect friends!! Woo-hoo!!! I am one excited wife!!!
I am currently keeping myself busy with just keeping the home and garden under control. It can take all day to keep this all running smoothly! I am also helping the college to do their FIRST EVER VBS!!! I have been helping as much as I can. I am working with the “Imagination” station and we will be creating the decorations for the set soon. It will be a cave theme and some old VBS material from the states will be our guide. We have hopes for 100 kids to attend. We have our hands full, however I am excited to be part of it.
Joel and I have also been asked to teach at the college’s vocational school. Joel will be teaching electrical and plumbing and I will be teaching computers (starting with a typing class first) to women.
Prayer request would be for continued health and safety, the ability to decide what tasks need attention first and that God continues to reveal Himself in just the day-to-day things. It is a great comfort to see how He works out the things that would be simple in the US but so complex here. Also, some much needed prayer for the VBS project and that we are able to reach (and handle) the children He sends to us.
We want to thank all of you that are following us and keeping us in your prayers!!
February 20, 2016
Among all that we have seen and done in Fiji, the most awe striking moment happened on the 20th of February when we experienced the 2nd largest storm ever recorded in history. Category 5 - Cyclone Winston devastated the country of Fiji. The estimated time before even power can be restored to many areas is a full year. Home owners are still busy digging out and creating temporary structures to live in until relief funding is available for rebuilding.
March - July 2017
Another whirl wind of months behind us and we are back in the US to see family, friends and do do some much needed fund raising for the next year. Over the last few months we made our trip to Vanuatu and sized a job up for 2018, Joel has been to Vanua Levu island to help build a pastors quarters and community center with Samaritans Purse, and we both put some time in on Taveuni Island. Along side of Loloma Foundation Joel wired a primary school classroom to replace a computer lab that was destroyed by Cyclone Winston last year and completed some basic maitainence at the hospital. Terri worked at the hospital with Loloma on a surgical outreach where we saw the years mission wind down to a close. Terri was able to find and vet 22 patients from the Western Division of Fiji that received free transport and treatment! For the total work done by the Loloma Foundation in 2017 go to our Related Links. Loloma's reach in Fiji is amazing!
This years wish list for fund raising is to find more monthly supporters that will allow us to find safer and more adequate housing and to build an emergency account again. One time costs we are hoping to cover is a much needed vehicle for Terri so she can visit patients without taking the bus or hitching rides, some more tools for Joel to help make jobs easier and more time efficient, new glasses for Terri and an updated computer as our laptop is showing its age. At this time we expect to raise about 50% of our one time costs with Joel's monthly income while we are home and we are about 70% self funded on a monthly basis. We have to hopes to find others that are wanting to be part of something more and that have a heart for missions in the South Pacific.
Looking ahead to the up coming year in Fiji we will be continuing to work with Loloma Foundation, Samaritans Purse, Lost Hope Restored, Shriner's Children's Hospital, Ruel Foundation and the College of Theology and Evangelism - Fiji. It looks to be a promising and BUSY year!
Providing assistance with surgical intervention and OR management.
December 2016 - February 2017
WOW!!! The last three months have been a whirl wind of events! We started out December with the FIRST EVER VBS here in Fiji. It was an exciting and exhausting week! In total we shared the gospel with 130 children. A large percentage were children from Hindu families! What a blessing it was to be part of this.
Most of December is considered a month of vacation and holiday. We were able to keep busy with little projects around the college campus when it wasn't busy raining. NOTHING happens here when the rain comes. Shops may close and children stay home from school because of the flash flooding that occurs when the rain waters pour out of the mountains. We were excited to spend Christmas Eve with our South African friends Andre and Diana, then Christmas Day in Vaivai with the Chand family, where we were treated to an authentic lovo (food cooked underground)!
We rang the New Year in watching movies. Fireworks here are used on NYE like they are for the 4th of July in the US. We lay low for fireworks and just enjoyed a night of movies. We hit the ground running in January. Terri spent three weeks working with the Loloma Foundation. One week was used to unpack and organize supplies and equipment that arrived from the US. The next two weeks were spent in the Yasawa Islands doing a medical and dental clinic.
The dental clinic did a wonderful job of serving the villages in the Yasawa Island group and did a record number of extractions, restorations, and "replacement teeth". Full sets of dentures, partials, flippers, and repairs were worked on around the clock. Team members worked late hours and rose early to "bake" the next set of teeth! Terri has a new appreciation for what it takes to fill a smile with teeth!
The medical team saw about 800 patients and finding 10 that we can offer surgical help to. These patients will be sent to Taveuni Hospital to meet with the surgical teams that arrive there in May. It was quite the experience to visit villages via a 20 foot fishing boat every morning. Some islands are surrounded with reefs that caused all equipment to be carried about 1/2 mile in shin deep water to reach dry land. Most villages on these outer islands rely solely on rain water for for cooking, drinking and washing. There is no electric, only occasional solar power units. Due to the lack of common things that most take for granted we saw a lot of effects from dehydration, manual labor (muscle/body pain) and skin disease.
Joel spent time completing jobs. He was able to complete one home in Matawalu that was half destroyed in Cyclone Winston and finish building a school in Vatusekiyasawa that he worked on with Samaritan's Purse. He also began a project building an enclosure for a local farmers pigs, helped cut through the jungle and string new fence for an extended pasture. The Children's camp now has an irrigation system installed and much of the landscaping taking hold and preventing erosion and the students arriving to the college for their next year have much needed improvements to their dorms.
With many projects being caught up at the college we have had some time to do more local outreach during the month of February. We have been blessed to meet a couple from New Zealand that have a heart to give "hand-ups" in the South Pacific, including Fiji. Rob and Lisa Daunton (and of course Ted) have snatched up Joel's talents and have been funding a few projects for local families in need. One home in Nadi had their power points (outlets) increased from one to seven and lights went from three (only one was working) to seven! I would catch mom watching Joel work as she wiped silent little tears from her cheek. One family would need to bear the elements during rain storms as rain would blow in their home, right into their bedrooms, between the roof and walls. Some board for fascia, new shutters and sills on the windows, a secure door that can be locked, caulking holes in the roof, and a small garden makeover was completed.
Looking ahead we have three months left until we return to the US for the summer. During the next three months we will visit the country island of Vanuatu to size up a job that Lisa and Rob want to do in 2018 and we will both be going to Taveuni Island for 6 weeks in April. This is where the surgical teams come in to offer surgical intervention. We have a hand specialist, OB-GYN, plastics, and a general surgical team each sending a week to offer services. We are hoping that Joel will stay busy with rebuilding a computer lab that Winston destroyed at the primary school on the south end of Taveuni. Loloma Foundation applied for a grant through Germany that would be funding the project. Prayers that the funds are granted and that the project can continue would be appreciated!!
Prayers requests would be for save travel, continued funds to complete our second year here in Fiji, good health as it is dengue season we simply "don't have time for that!", and as always prayers that God grants us the ability to distinguish the biggest need and the ability to share His Word when the opportunities arrive.