October 23, 2011
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Fiji Day Eight & Nine, Oct 23 & 24. Holding off on picture uploads, hotel internet service in Nandi a bit higher and charged by the Mb. None the less, the hospitality continues in abundance. Weather is 31 degrees and dry. More like California summer weather
Yesterday, Sunday, saw me preaching in Viseisei at Wesley Chapel Methodist Church. A huge honor as this village is the historical site of the “First Landfall” of the Fijian ancestors. Sunday morning schedule in Fiji is a little different. First we gathered and I met all the church leaders, Talatala, Vakatawa, Tiu rara, the District Superintendent, and some young adults who will facilitate various parts of the worship. A welcome is offered and returned in a time of conversation and prayer. Now we are ready for worship. The service is a traditional Wesley liturgy and you would recognize many parts of it. We even had announcements! A formal welcoming speech is made and the guest (in this case, me) makes a responding speech receiving the welcome in the context of God’s blessings of the day. They were good sports and lived through my sermon. The choir and/or congregation sang between just about every movement of the liturgy. The traditional end of service song is “God Be With You Till We Meet Again” (in Fijian of course). Afterward we retired to the parsonage porch for some more welcoming, this time in the form of the kava ceremony. After kava, the only thing left to do in a Methodist Church is to eat. So I enjoyed a feast (a “light lunch” they keep calling it) of fish and chicken and kasava and watermelon and pineapple and salad and …. you get the idea. Coconut ice cream topped with crushed fruit relish and I was ready for my nap! But now it’s time to leave so we have the ceremony of parting. Gifts were brought out and we prayed for one another.
And so, you can understand why I might say that although I am very eager to get home to my beautiful family; my darling Dolly and amazing Samuel, I am bring a piece of Fiji home with me in my heart. See you all soon. For the privilege of representing FUMCPA and the Cal/Nev conference here in Fiji with my colleagues, vinaka vaka levu, thank you very much.
October 11, 2011
Theology by the Cup will be on the road this Thursday and next (October 13 & 20). I am preparing for my time in mission and service with the Bishop’s delegation to the Fijian Methodist Church. I hope that if you are one of our many members in the Redwood City area, you might keep the fellowship time in my absence. It’s from 7 to 8pm at Peet’s Coffee in Redwood City (corner of Broadway and Perry). The conversation is lively, the people are great and it will be a good addition to your week.
October 6, 2011
Next Thursday, October 13, Lepani Verebasaga and I will be heading to Fiji on a mission trip. I have to admit that for a moment we weren’t certain if this mission was going to be possible. But God is paving a way and as I write, we are confident that all which needs to be set will be taken care of. I give thanks to the church for its support of my expenses through my pastoral expenses account and a generous grant from Outreach that supplied the cost of my airfare. We and about 25 other missioners from Cal/Nev Conference will depart with Bishop Warner Brown, Jr. and his delegation. We are bound for Fiji to meet with the head of the Fijian Methodist Church so that we may foster greater communication and cooperation in our global shared ministry. We will return on October 25.
While there we’ll tour Suva and Nadi, two main cities in Fiji, converse with leadership of the Fijian Methodist Church, meet with the Prime Minister and President, celebrate worship and travel to places in the countryside.
For our part, Lepani and I hope to make our way to Nausori, where we will visit the Lotu Bible School which is operated by the Bao Division (akin to UMC Districts) of the Methodist Church. At this school 100 students earn their diplomas in divinity. They are prepared to become Vaka Tawa, Local Lay Preachers. We understand that they need computers and copy machines, so a part of our visit will be to ascertain what support we might be able to suggest when we return to the States. I hope that you will keep this school in prayer that God may be making a path for us to be yoked in ministry across the miles. This could be the beginning of a missional connection for us at First Church.
We will take each of you with us in spirit and prayer. If you have any greetings you would like us to convey to the people of Fiji, please share them with me before we depart and I will be happy to carry them to Fiji with me.
October 4, 2011
Jesus was teaching his disciples about the reliability and grace of God and he said, “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.” (Matthew 6:28,29) In what way have you received God’s blessing this week? In the midst of adversity, God is tending to us, so we can sustain the challenges. Even in the midst of a fairly regular week, God is tending to us, so that we might be alert to surprise opportunities to reflect God’s grace, in the same way the splendor of flowers reflect God’s artistry and glory. We have all, in some way received mercy, freely given by God who loves us. We are given new beginnings every day so that we might share mercy with others as our testimony of thanksgiving. I encourage you to claim those gifts; both the one received and the commission to share it. Know that every mercy you can share reaches someone who has as great a need as you had when you first received it yourself.
See you in church,