Nathaniel’s Story

My first-ever mission: FIJI!!!

Nathaniel, getting ready for the mission... working to pay his way!

Nathaniel, getting ready for the mission… working to pay his way!

Hi I’m Nathaniel Leigh. I live in Christchurch, come from a family of six and I’m the oldest at 18-years old. I left school when I was 16 as I wasn’t enjoying it and I was lucky enough to get a part-part-part! time job at Countdown. I’ve probably been that typical teenager around home, not being that helpful, probably more of a pain in the neck really. And now? Well maybe I’m a squeak better!
So as for this mission trip? I heard about it last year but couldn’t go on it, and regretted that. I listened to them when they got back and saw how much they enjoyed it. From my disappointment of not going, I jumped at the chance to go this year. The biggest thing so far is learning to save, do my first budget, and find some more work. I never realised that by reducing my spending I could save so much.
I was really excited when my first-ever passport arrived, as I’ve never been overseas and have no idea what it will be like in Fiji. I heard its really different to NZ, whatever that means. I’m so excited about going and looking forward to going to the villages, seeing how they live, and talking to them.
But, I’m totally nervous at the same time.
I was thinking about where Moses was up against it at the Red Sea with the grumpy crowd and the Egyptians coming to get ‘em. Moses had nowhere to go and his only hope was in God. I think I will be in that situation heaps of times on this mission, not doing the Moses thing, but a bit anxious and desperate about what’s happening, and I will have to learn to trust that God will sort it out for me, and the team, and the leaders!
Now as it gets closer I’m trying to get more work, and been thinking about where I am with God. We haven’t been that close as I’ve been trying to sort out my life myself, but I think this is a really good chance to let God in, and together we can make a go of it. I just wish the next few weeks can zoom by as its going to be such an amazing experience. And I really want to do something good for God on the mission.

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Fiji Team 2014

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Youth Team 2014

Youth Team 2014

Bristling with enthusiasm and excitement, but at the same time nervous about what is around the corner, would be the feelings amongst the 25 team members preparing to travel to Fiji.
“I’ve never been out of NZ” and “I’ve never been on a ‘Mission’ experience trip” are common phrases heard amongst the predominately youthful team aged mainly between 15-21 years old.
The team has been earning their way with part time jobs, receiving support from families and friends, and their local Church St Stephens in Christchurch, has been offering support too.
The team will be visiting mission projects with support from the Anglican Diocese of Polynesia, and offering their help where they can with a Christian servanthood approach to their mission encounters.
Not long to go, the team are counting the sleeps down

Crusader Ken’s action sums up the Mission for us all

OK, we admit we did have a little R&R at the end of the Mission!!

OK, we admit we did have a little R&R at the end of the Mission!!


Ken, was in all honesty a little reluctant to coming on the mission, but the family were coming, so he thought he better tag along. His actions on the last morning at a final ‘thanksgiving service’ possibly sum up the NZCMS Mission trip for us all.
His, and ours, view of mission from the experiences throughout the week, have been life changing. Visiting the remote villages to view their ‘homes’ and lifestyles; Fijian ceremonies welcoming us as honoured guests; interacting with students at sparsely resourced schools; walking and communing in squatter settlements; playing with the orphan children till after dark on their field; and feeling the warmth and hospitality of the St John’s Bible College family and Bible students; are all just a snapshot of this mission.
Ken's actions summed up how we all felt

Ken’s actions summed up how we all felt

And it culminated at the conclusion of this thanksgiving service when Ken, suddenly standing up, taking off his treasured Crusaders rugby jersey, and placing it on one of the Bible College students. It was an act of deep appreciation and thankfulness to the way this student (as well as the other students) had cared for the team, and the children, during this inaugural mission. At that moment we all shared Ken’s expression of love to God and our hosts.
So this mission has come to an end, has it been fruitful?
Each person will have to decide that for themselves, but lets look at some of the ‘fruit’.
A dream to build toilets for 55-years in a remote village, is about to become a reality. With support from the Golden Oldies and this Families Mission, they hope to be completed within the next month.
A small church trying to connect with its community had a vision to start a kindergarten. For nearly two-years they have fundraised to build a fence around their church for the children’s protection. They have wanted to open it next year, but needed the final $$$ to finish. This team has made that vision become a reality. Pre-school children will now get the chance to get Christian pre-school education in this town from 2014.
A donation given to the Anglican College is being used to start a Scholarship Fund to help village students continue their studies at College level.
The children delivered many of the 450 children’s story books we brought with us to schools and villages.
A brokerage role occurred with laptops -designed specifically for developing countries, and using e-learning styled education has started between the University of the South Pacific and the Anglican Church for their schools.
The confidence gained by the Bible College students who took daily children’s devotions were enjoyed immensely by them.
And the heart-warming friendships that have developed between team members and Fijians from each mission site visit will continue to blossom over time.
To sum it all up?
Inspiring with a sense of gratefulness. The generosity, warmth and friendship from our Fijian brothers and sisters will remain with us indefinitely.
Now to start applying what we have learnt. Learning daily to take the ‘shirts’ off our own backs to help others in Christian love, grace and humility.
That final 'family' photo "Bula!!!"

That final ‘family’ photo
“Bula!!!”


The big finale.
The Team and St John’s family final ‘team’ photo before departure back to NZ.
Thanks to team members, Amanda Robinson and Thomas Mitchell, who took the photos on our behalf!

On behalf of the entire team,
here endeth the blogs.

VINAKA

Graeme Mitchell
Team Leader
NZ CMS Families-Youth Mission
13-22 July 2013

Developing countries adopt stunning new laptop technology

A specially designed laptop for young students in developing countries around the world

A specially designed laptop for young students in developing countries around the world

In the morning, Chief Jone came to the Bible College and spoke at devotions about his vision for his remote poor village. For his village to grow in faith, and for their children to get the best education they can (and PS they desperately need them to learn and use computers, because our school has none).
In the evening, we met a man as we walked out of a church who is in charge of e-learning at the Fiji University. His vision? To take a specifically designed ‘junior laptop’ for developing countries and transform the way students will learn. Equiping them with skills to contribute to a growing global knowledge economy. These stunning laptops are robust, with no moving parts, sealed electronics, use minimal power, water resistant, have no fan to collect dust/sand and sea spray, and have wifi antennas for connectivity to a localised server established in the school. This server has much of the global information needed for learning.
These laptops are transforming remote villages and their ability to train their students to participate in the knowledge economy of tomorrow with startling success.
They are introducing the ‘flipped classroom’ model which is a new concept that may revolutionise education as we know it in the future. Simply, students learn ‘content’ from tutorials on their laptops as their homework; and teachers in the classroom instead of teaching ‘content’, will teach them how to analyse content, inquire, and work collaboratively in groups to find solutions to problems based on the content they have learned from their laptops.
The Fiji ‘Government’ has recently set a national goal that All villages in Fiji will have computers and internet within 5-years. How? That’s where the Anglican Church could take a lead and become a leader in the roll-out of this vision for its schools and villages. This Mission team has been a catalyst in raising this opportunity and potential it offers to the students of Fiji.
Team members with Ian from the University of the South Pacific and Chief Jone displaying the new laptop

Team members with Ian from the University of the South Pacific and Chief Jone displaying the new laptop

Remote Village Toilets becoming a reality

True Partnership to complete a local 'toilet project'. Chief Jone receives the cheque from the Team

True Partnership to complete a local ‘toilet project’. Chief Jone receives the cheque from the Team

An historical moment in partnership that shows one value of these short-term mission trips. Last year the Golden Oldies heard the cry form Chief Jone that his village desperately needed new toilets. For 55-years nothing has happened. Then in faith and hope, last year the Golden Oldies team said they would like to work in partnership to see the building of these toilets. This village miraculously raised $6,000 started construction and awaited the final $6,000 to be raised to finish them.
Today, with support from the Golden Oldies and this NZCMS Families Mission Team, a cheque was presented to Chief Jone for $6,000. A tearful and emotional Jone thanked everyone, and now his desire is to have them ready for opening when the Golden Oldies arrive next month.

Fishing for existence

Fiji Projects Coordinator Joe, (and Timothy) lead the way down into the valley where the fishing village is

Fiji Projects Coordinator Joe, (and Timothy) lead the way down into the valley where the fishing village is

Walking down a very steep uneven road we enter a remote fishing village. Our hosts for tonight’s festivities. It’s an ecumenical village where different Christian faiths live alongside one another in harmony. There was a tranquil peace about the village, as people lived in community sharing their resources with no boundaries and restrictions. They seemed very happy and content with their lifestyle.
"its Ok Bethany, it tastes really nice!"

“its Ok Bethany, it tastes really nice!”

Children and those with employment walk up the steep incline daily to catch buses into Suva, men go out through the mangroves as the tide comes in their billy-billies (extended boat-canoes with outboards) to fish, and the mothers go about their chores and run a kindergarten. Compared to the city of Suva where the individual houses are all barb-wire fenced and windows all have grills for security. Raises questions about who has the richer lifestyle?
The children's stick dance has been very popular everywhere we have gone

The children’s stick dance has been very popular everywhere we have gone

Their Church, half completed, is where we are hosted, with fish caught and cooked in a lovu (Fijian-styled hangi oven, above ground), tasting absolutely divine. We exchange songs and our children perform their stick dance to great applause. We then leave our new friends, trampling up the steep hill in monsoon rain! Another heart-warming visit, to a village community that live on land they don’t own. Squatters facing an unknown future. Fortunately again, the Anglican Church is looking at seeing if they can assist with land tenure for their future well-being.

Schools educate kids from the slums

Our students present the children's story books and sports equipment we brought to their Fijian friends

Our students present the children’s story books and sports equipment we brought to their Fijian friends

One of the Anglican schools in Suva specialises in teaching students from the slums and squatter settlements. Bishop Kempthorne Primary School and Basten College is the home for 500 students. The team visited the school, and as mentioned were serenaded for lunch. Actually I think the boys were really trying to catch the eye of our lovely girls!!
NZCMS National Director, Steve Maina, shares Gods word, and does a little Kenyan dance to great applause

NZCMS National Director, Steve Maina, shares Gods word, and does a little Kenyan dance to great applause

Then we split up into two groups, with our younger children visiting the Primary School. They presented children’s story books we had brought with us, stationery and sports equipment which is desperately needed too. I saw students at lunchtime using a 1.25l fizz drink bottle as their rugby ball, so the balls will be appreciated.
The older students were welcomed into the College and hosted with prayers, devotion, music, dance, and speeches. Our Steve showed some of his Kenyan dance moves which brought shrieks of laughter from all the girls, and no one could match that! The exchange of schooling experiences were enjoyed by everyone. One of our team commented: “…they start school at 8am and have only 30-minutes for lunch, Wow! They work a lot harder than us!!!”

Its ‘bogi walu’ weather

The boys enjoy serenading our girls at lunch time!

The boys enjoy serenading our girls at lunch time!

In the Fiji Newspaper today:
The very cold conditions being experienced were from very deep southerly winds coming from NZ to Fiji. The old meteorologists call it the bogi walu (eight nights) of winds from the south. Yesterday it got down to 19.5C in Suva!
Bus Fires
All visitors coming to Fiji need to be informed of this important message, “don’t forget your fire extinguisher when you board a bus in Fiji”.

Thursday in brief
Yesterday was another smorgasbord of wonderful experiences. The team, while visiting the Anglican Primary and Secondary School for 500 students who come primarily from the slum areas and squatter settlements were serenaded during lunch… we met a man who is involved with introducing purpose-designed ‘toddler laptops’ for developing countries… we had an impromptu ceremony at the Bible College to present Chief Jone for the funds needed to complete his village toilets… and last night were hosted by a remote fishing village that had never in its history hosted a ‘white’ group for a ceremony and feast.
However due to shortness of time in preparing to travel to the coastal beach resort for tonight, these stories will be filed later in the weekend. Vinaka.

The Tin Cathedral

the 'Tin Cathedral'

the ‘Tin Cathedral’


Two years ago the Archbishop told a local Melanesian elder that he could continue to run church services in his house lounge for the village. His lounge was too small! So the Archbishop ordained him as a new Minister for the Anglican Church and told he had to built a new church before the following Sunday for his village to worship in!
A week later the tin shack was completed, and last year the Golden Oldies renamed it the Tin Cathedral! A name that has stuck and now they are very proud of.
What a joy to worship God as 'one people'

What a joy to worship God as ‘one people’

The team were hosted for lunch in the ‘Cathedral’ followed with speeches and joyous songs of praise that crossed that divide of culture and race. With a warmth of spirit that prevailed, the children then presented children’s story books we had brought from NZ to their head kindergarten teacher for their children. A lovely finally gesture of partnership that has been forming from these trips. “Thank you for coming to visit us and our Cathedral” was their cry as we departed, with our ‘bula vinakas’ and headed back into the congestion of Suva with its hotspotch of religions, cultures and open-windowed buses with their diesel fumes!

Raining Coconuts

Fresh fresh fresh coconuts to drink and eat. Yummy!

Fresh fresh fresh coconuts to drink and eat. Yummy!


As a young village girl ‘walks’ up a palm tree, then using her feet she kicks and dislodges the coconuts, with them coming raining down to the ground with a ‘thud’. A village elder with his machete slashes the tops off and passes them around for the team to drink the freshesh of fresh coconut milk and its silky-soft flesh.
The children were in awe as they drank from the shells, “it tastes like L&P”, “it never like dat at ome”.
We had walked through the plantations, past small squatter villages to reach this remote small fishing village which is supported by the Anglican Church of Polynesia and Anglican Missions Board in NZ.
ummmmm delicious!

ummmmm delicious!

This village of Nadawa exist on land they don’t own.
They live by the crops they grow around them and the fish they catch in the sea. Their children walk daily through the plantation to catch a bus to attend the Anglican School an hour away. Last year a girl from this squatter settlement was the School Dux.
And they are happy.
Life is tranquil, they have enough to live on (most of the time), they have family and community, and their village chief – a young man is a Christian man teaching and preaching weekly in their own church. He commutes weekly to Suva, another hour away, for weekly Christian training at the St John’s Bible College, where the team is staying.
Their only concern is lack of land ownership. Now in partnership with these Anglican agencies mentioned, and key support staff like Joe, money is being raised to secure this 3.5acre village site for them. The Christian faith in action.