Posted in News on Sep 07, 2017
The 2017 team consisted of 17 members. This included 11 students Year 10: Bronwyn Standing, Ryan Yates, Connor Pobjie and Brittany Pinder. Year 11: Katie Branham, Georgia Morris, Georgia McGrath, Aimee Gillard, Estelle Leishman, Oliver Cracroft-Wilson. Year 12: Nateasha Hall 5 Staff members : Gavin Carter, Melissa Collins, Natalie Creed, Caitlin Sneddon and Steve Taylor and 1 staff helper Lydia Taylor
Students, staff and parents met at 6:30am on 6 July at Hunter Christian School, ready to drive down to Sydney Airport (the Team was driven by Mr Brad O’Sullivan). The Team was set to fly out with Fiji Airways early in the afternoon, heading for Nadi, which is on the island of Viti Levu, the main island of Fiji. Usually, when on Mission, the Team stays the night in Nadi and sets out for Rakiraki by bus the next day.
Due to severe damage to the Rakiraki Hotel by Cyclone Winston in February 2016, the local (and only) hotel was not able to accommodate our Team this year. The female staff and students stayed at the two “House on The Rock” (HOTR) houses and the male staff and students stayed at the local Community Hall approximately, 500 metres from HOTR. We purchased new mattresses, sheets and a blanket for each team member. These were left in Rakiraki at the completion of our trip to be used by the HOTR residents, as well as our HOTR neighbours, who were previously sleeping on a mat on the floor.
The majority of our lunches and dinners were catered for by Nakauvadra High School Catering Team. One dinner was in the local Community Hall and one dinner was catered for us by the teachers at Rakiraki District (Primary) School (RRDS). We catered for our own breakfasts at HOTR.
Each night our team met together for a debrief session and devotions led by staff members. This year the team worked through the book of James.
Staff and students worked hard on three main projects, which included: • Building an Extension to Lot 10 (an additional 2 bedrooms, 2 showers and 2 toilets), including mixing and pouring the slab by hand. This will allow for an additional 6 HOTR residents. We employed 2 local builders and 1 local labourer to help with the construction of this project. • Simple renovations to the local Community Hall (cleaned inside and out, painted the kitchen, and created 5 big art works to represent the 5 tribes in the area with liaison with the local Village Elder). • Facilitating art-based lessons at both Nakauvadra High School (NHS) and RRDS. Students led lessons at both the Primary and High school and engaged informally with the Fijian students. - Melissa Collins
Student Testimonies – Fiji Mission 2017
Aimee Gillard (Year 11) “This trip has helped me grow in my faith, because it has taught me to appreciate what God has given me. Even though the Fijians do not have many worldly possessions, they have a love for God which showed in their daily lives, which encouraged me to trust God in my walk with Him”.
Connor Pobjie (Year 10) “I had some of my best memories happen while I was over there. I can’t express in words how good it was and how much I would want anyone who was thinking about going, to go. It was not easy and it was not a holiday. But the special memories and moments far outweighed the hard work that I did. Something that helped me make the decision to go was “why not?” Give it a go.”
Bronwyn Standing (Year 10) “We went down to Rakiraki District School for some of week 1 and did craft with Years 3 and 4, coloured in and played a game with Kindergarten. We also played soccer, netball and other games with others during their breaks. For some of the second week, we went to Nakauvadra High School and did string art with Year 9 and dancing with Year 11.”
Oliver Cracroft-Wilson (Year 11) “I learned about the language and how to act over there. I learned how to mix concrete, about the people and their names. I even learned how to wash clothes by hand.”
Nateasha Hall (Year 12) “What I found most challenging in Fiji is how much they don’t actually have, yet, whatever little they do have, they give it to us because we are “Hunters” and part of the family. We often think that we do not have anything to wear, when we have an entire wardrobe of clothes…The Fijians learn to live what they do have and are so loving and caring.”
Estelle Leishman (Year 11) “During my stay in Fiji, I’ve learned how to live with others in a team environment and put the needs of others first. I made friendships, despite cultural and language barriers and embraced differences. I stepped out of my comfort zone and because of this, discovered more about myself, others and God (I also learned how to make toast without a toaster).”
Brittany Pinder (Year 10) “The Fiji Mission trip for me was definitely a time in my faith where God led me and gave me a special purpose to interact with each of the beautiful people I encountered. I experienced things I would never thought I would get out of this trip that surprised me – like little memories of my mother (who died earlier this year). Elenoa, our Fijian mother, especially, was just the kindest, most gentle lady, like my Mum – always filling our stomachs. I strongly encourage all students to go on a Fiji Mission, no matter what your home circumstances are or what things are going on in your life. God always has a plan and personally, it was a good time of distractions from everyday life, exposing memories of my Mum and family. God had it all planned out for me and I’m forever a changed woman.”
Katie Branham (Year 11) “When looking back on what the best thing about my trip was, it is hard to pick one thing, in particular. I loved the beautiful country, itself, along with the wonderful weather, but I’d have to say it’s the Fijian people that really made this Mission Trip worthwhile. They are so full of love and a joy that’s contagious. Seeing their ability to be so happy when they are living in poverty, just astounds me. They are the living testaments to the statement, “Money can’t buy you happiness”.