Fiji is made up of about 350 islands, but the two largest are Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. Vanua Levu means “long island”, and Viti Levu means “big island”. Suva is located on Viti Levu.
There are branches on the northern island and we have some students up there and have had some problems with their loans and repayments. And so we thought it would be good to go up there and visit the branches and do some training and check out the schools and other facilities in the area so we would know more about things up there.
We planned to fly into Labasa which is on the north side of Vanua Levu, then drive down to Savusavu which is on the south side and then ferry over to Taveuni (called the Garden Island of Fiji) and meet with those three branches. So off we went on Friday the 13th of December – maybe we should have paid more attention to that date.
Everything went well in Labasa and we even got to see some of the missionaries we knew from Suva. Saturday we held an education fireside and met with a young returned missionary to help him get his paper work ready so he could attend school. Saturday was also the day we got a call from the resort on Taveuni that we were supposed to stay in – seems the whole resort had been shut down – supposedly it was a power problem. We called other resorts frantically, but it’s December and everything was filled. So we quickly changed our flights and were forced to skip that part of our trip.
Saturday night I also found myself at the Labasa hospital. I have had bronchitis and was having a hard time breathing. Visiting that hospital has made me more grateful than ever for our medical system at home. Hope it never gets to look like Fiji Care! But they were kind, and after two breathing treatments and some pills we got back to the hotel about 2 am.
Sunday we attended a tiny branch in Seaququ, which is in the middle of the island and with the three of us the total number in attendance was 9. But the spirit was great. The Branch President’s wife fed us a quick lunch – best I’ve had here – and we were on the road again for Savusavu.
This branch was a tad bit bigger and we were very warmly received. Elder and Sister Walker and Elder and Sister Howard were there and were a big help. Foki went with us and the saints there were able to ask her the questions and get the answers in Fijian. We left with lots of ideas of how we can better serve them spinning in our heads. We flew home on Monday.
Vanua Levu is much like Nadi, sugarcane is king. Lots and lots of fields of sugarcane and rice and it’s very beautiful. But it is about 10 degrees warmer than Suva and we felt it. We were able to take lot of pictures and everywhere you look it’s beautiful. We didn’t get to see the “garden island”, maybe that will work into our plans sometime before we leave for home.
But we came home with a much better understanding of the small branches on the northern islands.