We have arrived! The past two weeks has been a whirl wind… here are the highlights! We were sworn in at the Ambassador's residence on Thursday 7/23, spent the night in Suva and then boarded the Sulliven Ferry to Savusavu on Friday. 12 hours later we arrived in Savusavu where we did some shopping – 2 sinks, a mattress, and all the household goodies to tide us over until October! Then we loaded up our stuff into a truck for the 2.5 hour trek down a dirt road until we reached Buca Bay at Natuvu. We then dumped everything into the fiber boat and headed to our island! Once we arrived several young men jumped in the ocean to carry our stuff across the beach and into wheel barrels for the last leg of our journey.
We get to attend both services on Sunday and have been asked to join the church choir! My mom is so proud!! I need someone to send me the Closer to the Start DVD so I can show them our favorite worship services require a sports bra!! The rest of the time we have been unpacking and settling in. Matt installed 2 sinks and we started a garden. I baked cookies for our neighbors – yes BAKED. From scratch, with no measuring utensils, and over an open fire on a gas stove. We don't have an oven, so we made one with a big aluminum pot. It is a PURE miracle they were edible and I think they were either a big hit or our neighbors feel sorry for us because they haven't stopped bringing us food!! Fresh fish, baked bread, plantain pudding, a slaughtered pig, fruit, etc.
The 3 chiefs threw us a traditional welcoming ceremony and we attended a traditional wedding feast. Both were fascinating – filled with dancing, singing, colorful decor and of course copious amounts of food. Just about every day we have gone for a walk along the beach or a hike through the island. I understand how people who have lived on the beach hate living anywhere else. The breeze, the sound of the waves, and the view are some of God's finest! We also have an amazing reef in our backyard – the snorkeling is better than any diving we have done!
We have already started working. I finished 17 letters of appointment for the Prime Minister's office and am working on a 3 year strategic plan for the island. We experienced the first day of water rationing yesterday – so hopefully that will be Matt's first project. ;o) They shut off the water except for a few hours in the morning and a few in the evening and then we have electricity for only a couple hours in the evening. It is pretty exciting when the water comes on and the generator comes on – we hoot and holler and are highly motivated to make good use of the time!
The people are incredibly generous and have adopted us into their family. They are always checking in on us and shouting a hello when they walk by our home. The children still shout "Palangi!" (white person) when we walk past but follow it with a hearty "Talofa!" (hello). We have been in Fiji for 77 days and it finally feels like we are getting settled. Since we have moved apartments every 12 months, living here for 24 months is the longest we've stayed anywhere besides our homes growing up! We know it isn't home, but it is the closest we have come the last 10 weeks.
We miss you terribly and love you very much!
Keli and Mataio