Her hands gripped my shirt as she cried without restraint. My sleeve became wet from the old woman's tears. Her husband had unexpectedly passed away a few days before, and now Pastor Taniela and I had come to comfort her.
I had never been so close to a widow's pain as I was that day. We sat on the floor of a dark Fijian hut as a torrent of emotions poured out. I didn't speak a word. I just hugged her in my arms while she cried out in between gasps of breath, "vava...ooo vavaaa...", meaning "daddy... oooo daddy...".
Sweat gathered on her forehead from the humid tropical air, then was smeared against my cheek. Then my face was buried in her thick black hair and it smelled like a wet towel. It was hot but I didn't care. My heart swelled with a sense of overwhelming grief as I allowed myself to connect with her pain. I began to cry.
The woman and her husband had become dear friends of mine over the last two years. I called them "Tai" (A gender neutral term for Grandma and Grandpa). Tai often invited my brother and I to spend the weekend at their small tin house. Their home was next to a beautiful river and had become a type of refuge to me.
Above is a photo with Tai that same day.
After sharing that time with Tai in the hut I walked outside to one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen.
The light and colors in the sky seemed to wash away the heavy weight that was in my heart. Beauty has a way of healing things.
Feeling the pain as I sat with "Tai" created a new empathy in my heart. I began to look at the other widows in my village in a deeper way. It was like there was more color.
I feel like God gave me a gift and I had a new sense of motivation to serve our Fiji moms. I had experienced a small portion of their pain with them.
Then in an unexpected way, I realized this also brought a deeper sense of joy and connection to them.
"When suffering digs our cup,
there is more room
for joy to fill it."
I think this phrase adequately describes my experience in a sense. Thank you so much to everyone who sacrificed so that we could come alongside the mothers and widows of the village and lift them up. They were truly grateful. I hope this newsletter can communicate a small picture of how we are serving in Fiji.
Jesus is truly worthy,
Seth and the Mission Fiji Family
Shower and Toilet for Three Mothers.
A bunch of the boys from the village helped us get to work and design a new toilet and shower for household of two single mothers, and one elderly widow who looked after five young boys.
Nene Nalu, who is a well respected widow in the village, is so thankful for the Christmas gift. All the families of the village were expressing to me how "she is the right one to bless" and they are so happy that Nene Nalu is one of the women being helped.
We designed the the structure so she doesn't need to leave her house when she needs to use the bathroom. This is a big blessing as she is getting older and we are in the midst of hurricane season.
Nene Nalu and baby Lua.
All the boys unloading the hardware materials. Things starting to get rollin'.
Nene Nono (on the right), who also lives in the house was cooking lunch for all the boys who were helping with the building project.
Picture of the finished structure from the back.
yeah buddy:) Stoked.
Happy Birthday Dawson!
Happy 26th to my brotha Dawson!
Here are the boys celebrating with some B-day cake in the morning:)
Dawson is my college roommate from Multnomah University and is serving with me for a four month term in Fiji. It has been such a blast to have one of my best friends out in the Mission Field with me. We used to talk about doing something like this back when we were in classes and studying. Now we get to live it out. Its awesome. Happy Birthday my brotha. It's been a wild few months.
The Dudes: Pastor Dan, Construction Leader Mika, Dawson, "Crazy Joe", and Pastor Kode.
Dawson sharing with the village mothers.
Please pray for us as we disciple young men in the village during the construction projects, and continue to live with some of the younger boys as they stay with us through the holidays. Pray that we can be examples of Jesus love and light.
Please pray for unity among our ministry team as we reach out to the surrounding community, serve the village, and move toward the future direction of ministry.
As we speak into peoples lives and share the word of God, please pray that we would speak out of love, truth, and the divine guidance of the Holy Spirit.
4. Power to proclaim the gospel.
Pray that as we are given opportunities to teach the Word of God in homes, preach in churches, and share with individuals on the bus or in town, that God would anoint our lips with boldness and power as we share the "Good News" of Jesus life, death, and resurrection.
Please pray that God will continue to shape His heart in us as we follow Jesus and love those who are around us.