Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Farewell to Fiji

Once upon a time, I went to Fiji. I stayed there for 2 1/2 weeks and had many an adventure during that time. Unfortunately, even 2 1/2 weeks comes to an end, and the time came to say goodbye.

On our last day at the village, we worked for a couple of hours. Some groups got to actually see their toilets flush, which was really cool. I didn't actually get to, the plumber guy hadn't gotten to our site yet.

After working, we had a final dance party, and we gave the women a garbage bag full of clothes that we wanted to leave behind for them. I left my old trainers behind for them, and they were so excited to get my "canvas shoes," and we took a ton of pictures.

After pictures, we went to the community hall for the goodbye celebration they had prepared for us. They presented each of us with a lei, sulu and t-shirt. And I got a piece of plywood that had the names of everyone in my group on it.

I know it's crooked, I apologize

The kids danced for us, and some of the adults too. They also had a couple of planned parts where they just wanted us to all come up and dance with them, which was crazy fun. I can't seem to get the video to upload, no matter how hard I try. So, sadly, you don't get a video of our dancing.

After the dancing, the chief talked to us for a little bit. He was thanking us and started crying as he did. Pretty soon the entire village was all teary-eyed. After talking to us, the villagers sang us a goodbye song. I love them. Their singing is so beautiful - it reminded me of when the islanders sing on The Other Side of Heaven.

And, as much as I didn't want to, the tears got going then and they never really stopped. We took some final pictures, gave away our "lollies" to the kids and made our way down to the bus for the last time.

Just as I was about to board the bus, I heard someone calling my name. I turned around and saw Nasoni and Eddie standing and calling me back. During the last couple of days, groups had started to lay the cement that would be the lids to the septic tanks. Our group hadn't done it yet because we were waiting for the supplies that we needed to hold the cement in the right shape. The groups that had been laying the cement were putting their names and hand prints in the lid like so:

I had been bugging Nasoni about laying the cement because I wanted to do this too. He kept saying that we would get to it tomorrow and eventually we ran out of time. Not a huge deal, but a little disappointing. But when Nasoni called me back, he said something that I will never forget. "When we lay the cement for the lid, I will write your names in it so that it will always be there. We will never forget you, Dani." That was when it really hit me that I had the opportunity to make a bigger difference than I realized. I knew that I would be making a difference in their lifestyles by providing them with a bathroom that they were not able to have before, but I had never thought about the possibility of making a difference to the people themselves...if that makes any sense. I guess I just never expected to hear the words "we will never forget you." If I had to pick a favorite moment of the entire trip, that would be it.

We boarded the bus, yelled "mothe" as they yelled "bye" as we drove down Mau Village Rd. For most of the ride back home, I had "Go Ye Now in Peace" playing in my head.

Go ye now in peace
and know that the love of God will guide you
feel His presence here beside you
showing you the way.

In your time of trouble,
when hurt and despair are there to grieve you,
know that the Lord will never leave you.
He will bring you courage.

Know that the God who sent His Son
to die that you might live
will never leave you lost and alone
in His beloved world.

Go ye now in peace.
Go ye now in peace.

It was a bittersweet moment. I was so grateful to have had the opportunity to spend those weeks with such amazing and wonderful people, and it was hard to leave. But at the same time, I was ready to come back home.

The next morning, we all hopped on a bus that would take us to a resort to swim for half a day, then to the airport. This bus was a definite improvement. It almost resembled the charter buses we take on school trips!

Lots of space. It was heaven on earth.

The airport was interesting, to say the least. As we explored the gift shops to kill time, we came across some interesting labels on the merchandise.

Towers upon towers of these. Hey, at least they can't say they weren't warned!

We all sat around in the airport for a very long while. We played games, and took pictures, and talked in attempts to keep ourselves occupied. In the end, we all boarded the plane singing Neil Diamond's "America." 10 hours later, we landed in Los Angeles and immediately broke out singing, "Hopped off the plane at LAX..." We made our way to baggage claim, got through security, fought the urge to say "bula" to everyone we saw, and went our separate ways. I was saved from a 5-hour layover in Vegas by a very kind lady, and eventually I made it to the SLC airport and back home.

Fiji was an absolutely incredible experience. I took over a summer to try and write about this, and I haven't even covered everything. I am so grateful to have had this opportunity to experience the culture of Fiji and grow to truly love the people. As Nasoni said to me, I will never forget them.

No comments:

Post a Comment