Friday, May 25, 2012

TimTam Slamming With the World Health Organization

Well, I'm obviously not posting as much as I was originally planning to. I need to be much much better than that.

Saturday was a day of surprises! We took a boat out on a day trip to one of the islands off the coast of Fiji for some snorkeling and sun. We had been out on the water for about 20 minutes when we realized that the dark clouds overhead weren't going anywhere and we probably wouldn't be getting any sun... it's a good thing no one checked the weather forecast before we booked the trip! Also, I must have some sort of curse because at one point on the boat ride I turned to the left, and right in my face was the butt of one of the New Zealander's on the trip. Just a face full of tush, with a pretty excessive amount of crackage hanging out the top, too. Yum. After about 30 minutes on the island, it started to rain pretty heavily which was a little sad, but it's hard to care about the rain when you're snorkeling and enjoying the water so that's what we did to pass the time! The tour docked on the island for about 3 hours (even though the brochure promised 5), and then headed back to the main island. On the way back it poured for the second half of the boat ride, and I was cold for the first time since landing in Fiji! It was great.

On Sunday we went to church and relaxed at home for the afternoon, there isn't too much to say about that. I've been trying to track down Talen Tremea, who is serving his mission here. I asked the ward missionaries about him and they said if he was on this side of the island they would meet him that night--- I'm really excited to hear about it on Sunday and see what they know! I have to find him.

In other news, we did a training with the World Health Organization this week! Tuesday and Wednesday were spent on another part of the island called RakiRaki, which supposedly has some of the best snorkeling on the island. We had the opportunity to work with the different principals and teachers in the area to address specific problems that they are having and find ways to improve them. It was a pretty eye opening experience. Hilary and I were with three men and we were supposed to discuss the topic of alcohol abuse. Although the legal age for buying alcohol is 18 here, they were telling us that literally anyone can go into the store and buy it if they say it's for their parents or friends or whoever they want! They have issues with children aged 13 drinking.. unbelievable. And on top of that, the black market is a huge thing here! Apparently every single taxi driver knows where there are black market stations so that you can buy alcohol all the time. I realized how grateful I am to live in a place where although there are issues, there are usually people working hard to ensure the safety of the nation, especially the youth. It's heartbreaking to see these kids struggle with issues that they should still be ignorant of.

Wednesday night we decided to take advantage of being in RakiRaki and stayed at the VoliVoli Beach Resort. They had some backpacker rooms that were only $15 USD a night and fit 8 people in a room, so it was perfect! Wednesday was also Tacy's birthday so we had dinner at the resort and then had the staff make a cake by stacking TimTams. Obviously we sang happy birthday to her on loop while one of the waiters danced with her.... everyone was so casual about it so I'm guessing that Fijian birthday protocol. A few of the leaders from the World Health Organization were at dinner with us, so they joined in on the TimTam slamming for dessert, which was hilarious. I feel like very few people can say they did TimTam Slams with the Fiji Leaders of the WHO. After dinner we walked out to the ocean to enjoy the rest of the evening. I have never seen so many stars in my entire life. I had a few minutes to myself and it was amazing to look out at the stars and the ocean and the incredible deep purples of the sunset and realize how happy I am, and not just a fleeting happiness, but a deep, to my core happiness. On Thursday we passed the time lounging by a gorgeous beach and pool and relaxing til our bus ride home. It was sooooooooooo nice.

Today we spent a lot more time working on project proposals and preparing for next week so that we can start getting involved with our specific projects. I'm anxious because one of my projects is helping improve the literacy at a local special education schools, but I feel very underprepared. I don't know how to teach kids to read, let alone those who require more attention than others. Hopefully I'll be able to find out more about it and follow the learning curve to figure things out! This might be a crazy week.

I am so grateful for the chance I have to be here. I was worried that it was going to be a long hard adjustment, but after the first week things are starting to be comfortable. We're always so proud of ourselves when we know where we are and where we're supposed to walk. Simple joys, right? I really have the feeling that I will be able to do something honestly life changing while I am here.

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