On Good Friday morning my alarm sounded at 4 am, eventually waking me from my slumber. Today the “Vinaka Fiji” team would be travelling to Kese village on Naviti to attend a 5 am church service.
As I finally came to, I listened to the wind and rain which disturbed the otherwise silent Bure 9 (shared accomodation). Maybe we wouldn’t be going today. Maybe the weather would keep us in our beds. Part of me hoped this was true as I struggled to find my sulu.
My roommates and fellow volunteers stirred as I tried to organise myself in the darkness. A short exchange of words later and I realised I would be the only one of us going on this early morning adventure.
In the Main Bure I found the three other volunteers looking as tired as I felt. Soon we were also joined by one of our faithful boat captains, Semmi who was from Kese. Half an hour later we were boarding the long boat in the still pitch blackness.
Elle, operations manager of “Vinaka Fiji”, and Tema, the education team leader, joined us on the boat. Looks like we would be going. Slightly less tired now, I grew a bit more enthusiastic after Tema told me that this was the first time they had taken the boat out in the dark.
The boat didn’t take long to get up to speed and we cruised through the darkness, a slight bump every now and then the only reminder that we were out to sea. On our way to Kese we passed the “Fijian Princess”, a cruse ship we had visited and given a talk to the day before.
About 45 minutes after leaving we arrived at Kese as the rain began to come on heavy again. We winded our way through the village to the church located at the back of Kese, passing the orginal church building. A structure which was a shocking reminder of Cyclone Winston (January 2016) which had totally blown it’d roof off.
Eventually we found the church. By this point it was around 6 am, meaning we had missed the first half of the service. However, we were of course welcomed in and chairs were quickly organised for us.
We watched as the congregation of 30 participated in song and prayer, being led by a Pastor who stood at the front of the church. At some points during the service Elle would stand up and address the congregation, talking about “Vinaka Fiji” and our role in the community as volunteers.
This must have lasted for around half an hour and when the service came to an end each church goer came up and shook our hands. This was quite touching and a lovely gesture.
Following this we re-entered the rain for a short while, walking to the Pastor’s house to have a bite to eat. Breakfast was a huge collection of yummy cakes, toast and scrambled egg. This did the job as I think our stomachs were all rumbling.
Breakfast was served with tea and coffee, and after our plates had been cleared, we sat and talked untill 8 am when we left for base. Fijian hospitality had again proved it was a world beater and the church visit had been a great experience. An experience that the average visitor to this part of the would be unlikely to have.