• Arrived in Fiji and were warmly welcomed by the Bickley’s and some of their ministry partners.
• We spent some time relaxing at the Bickley’s house.
• We drove to our apartments in Latouka.
• One of the cars got pulled over.
• Grabbed Inidan food at a restaurant in Latouka.
• Enjoyed the produce market.
• We met some new friends of the Bickley for dinner.
Wheels down! We made it to Fiji.
Our flight was delayed in San Fransisco so we spent our extra airport time walking around in anticipation of not being able to do so for the next 11+ hours. Most slept the majority of the flight.
Landing in Fiji brought fresh energy to the team. We were greeted by flowers, island songs, heat and humidity. It felt great!
After gathering our luggage we met the David Bickley at the entrance of the airport. He held a sign for us like an airport limo driver and made a big, loud commotion when he saw us. The other people at the airport got a kick out of it and so did we!
Outside the airport we met the other Bickleys (Danielle, Allison (8), Clara (6)). Our team with luggage was two big to fit into their Land Cruiser so they brought Andrew, a ministry partner and good friend. Andrew is Fijian and patiently spent a lot of time answering our questions about Fiji. He is a young (23 years old), passionate follower of Jesus who is excited to see the church in Fiji thrive.
Wisely, David scheduled our first activity as relaxing at his house. The Bickley’s are wonderful hosts. Danielle provided fresh fruit and banana bread to eat (as I write this, the team is now complaining that I’m offering too many silly details. Whatever! They can write their own blog entry if they don’t like it.). We spent some time exchanging gifts with the Bickley. We brought over 10 pounds of Jelly Belly jelly beans (David’s favorite candy), Reeses Peanut Butter Cups (American chocolate and peanut butter for Danielle), and some candy and toys for the girls.
After sitting on the airplane for so many hours, sitting and relaxing at the house was something we could only do for so long. Cami and Shelbi spent some time working out (they packed a set of 5lb dumbbells. When the rest of the team found out, they were teased for a good little bit, and then throughout the day) The rest of the team went on a walk in the Bickley’s neighborhood.
After the walk, we drove to the place where our team would be staying—about 30 minutes away in Latouka. On the way, the team was split between two vehicles and one was pulled over by the police. My car laughed and drove away to buy coconuts from a guy on the side of the road. We were able to buy the coconuts because we had extra time…you know, because the other car was with the police.
Andrew got a ticket for driving while talking on his cellphone. Bummer.
Because of Fiji’s history as a British colony, they do the driving thing all wrong. The steering wheel is on the wrong side of the car, the car drives on the wrong side of the road. It’s bananas. I want to drive! I’m trying to convince David to let me (we brought him 10lbs of Jelly Bellys for goodness sake!).
After getting settled at our apartment, it was time for lunch. We drove to downtown Latouka then walked to a place called Food Plaza where we ate Indian food. There is a lot of indian food in Fiji. 40% of Fijians are of Indian decent. The food is great!
The next stop was the Latouka market—a large produce market. We got very good at saying, Bula—the Fijian way of saying, hello. This was a highlight for us today. We bought fruit and vegetables for us to have for breakfast, all while getting to enjoy the incredible culture and people of Fiji.
Side note: I kind of got pressured into buying a wooden sword. A guy named, Fiji (That can’t possibly be his real name, right? After he told me his name, I told him my name was, America before telling him my real name.) He carved my name (incorrectly! He wrote, “Dave.” I do not like being called Dave. All due respect to all the Daves out there) into the sword and told me to give him $10. He was a great salesman so I was ready to buy it. Then I remembered I don’t even have money. He let me off the hook with a smile and then went to sand my name off his sword and sell it to the next guy.
Before dinner we spent some time getting settled in our apartments. I’m told everyone played a game (Codenames), but I wouldn’t know because I took a nap.
David picked us up to head to the mall in Latouka where we ate Italian Pizza, made by Koreans in Fiji. It was delicious! At dinner we met Ronnie, Rebecca and their two children. They are friends and ministry partners of the Bickleys. It was very fun getting to hear stories from everyone! By the time we left, we had been talking for three hours. We are learning Fijians value conversation and time together! So do we!
We are now back at our apartments and the team is not happy with how long it is taking me to write this blog. This is understandable since I’ve been pecking away at the keyboard for the last two hours. I keep getting distracted. This team is so fun! Goodnight!