Firstly, I’d like to thank you all so much for supporting me in this mission trip to Fiji not only financially but also more importantly through prayer. I was and am extremely encouraged by the support my team and I have gotten leading up to, during, and coming back from Fiji.In light of this, I find it appropriate and helpful to tell you and show you about the ways your money and prayers helped us (Youth works Year 13) serve God and the people of Fiji over the course of 28 days.
The first place we went to upon arrival is called Sabeto (pronounced Sambeto) located in the second major city of Nadi ( pronounced Nandi). We had orientation there, staying at a Christian camp site surrounded by cane fields. There, we had our first experiences of Fijian church and youth groups. It was incredibly encouraging to go to a youth group, see how they had so little in terms of resources and money, and yet were so passionate about sharing the gospel to the youth. They were solely relying on the grace and provision of God.

The Fijian people have a genuine desire to serve God and serve people; they are immeasurably generous and selfless. This is a reality that was constant throughout the whole mission trip.
From Sabeto, we moved on to a place called Nasikawa. It was here that we did the majority of our school ministry. The school there, Nasikawa Vision College is dedicated to providing quality teaching with a Christian emphasis. Along with doing school ministry, we were also placed into different homes with a student of the school as part of Homestays. What this meant is that over the three days we were there, we would be at the school for the whole day, preparing and delivering 30-50 minute scripture lessons, and then when school finished we would go home to our host families and spend the night there. This was the hardest part of the trip for me. You may be aware of the fact that Fijian culture is centred on relationships. Which is an excellent way to live, however it meant that family time went late into the night. So it was quite exhausting. However, the family myself and my buddy Jacqui (We had a buddy system for the purpose of keeping track of everyone and also for support during times where we were split up from the rest of the group) were amazing examples of God’s love and generosity to us. They were a very poor family who didn’t have much more than a camp stove to cook on and two thin mattresses. They also had 11 children and basically their whole extended family living in this tiny house. Yet they were unbelievably generous, cooking us mountains of food and giving up their beds for us. It definitely reaffirmed the idea that had been forming in my head that having material possessions doesn’t make you happy or keep you happy. This family were joyous and they had next to nothing.

From Nasikawa, we went to the main city of Suva. There, we engaged with the more western side of Fiji. While there, I tried to liken it to a city in Sydney, and the closest one is probably Liverpool. It’s a large city with wealth but the buildings are quite old and run down. That’s a bit of a side note. There, we went to different churches and youth groups, and the highlight was going to a women’s refuge called Homes of Hope. This refuge supports and trains female victims of sex trafficking and abuse by giving them a safe place to stay and over several years training them in things like cooking and cleaning and teaching them skills like making jewellery so that when they do leave, they have a good chance of having a stable life and not falling back into their old life and habits.
It’s an excellent cause, one that is centred on God and Grace and Love. On the day we went, we were able to serve them by clearing fields so that they could grow more food and become more self-sufficient. We also painted houses and organised their library. This was an incredible experience for me. Because sometimes in ministry its really hard to see if what you are actually doing is making a difference and so by doing this manual labour, you could see that you were helping them and making a difference. It was really satisfying. It really humbled you as well - because what we did there is just as much ministry as doing a sermon or leading a bible study. It really challenged me to see how I can serve people in little and often forgotten ways.
From Suva, we were sent out in our assigned Local Church Mission teams (LCM’s). Which meant that all the students and leaders where split into groups of 13-17 to go to different villages for 10 days and do ministry. My LCM group went to a village called Nakavu. It was a large village with the majority of the villagers attending either the Methodist or Seventh Day Adventist churches within the village. It was challenging, as we covered their entire ministry; school, church, youth and we stayed in homes of people associated with the church. In some ways it was easier than the homestays we did at Nasikawa, as we were there for longer, which meant we could forge better relationships. The home I stayed in had two teenage girls that were 18 and 19 and their mother and grandfather, and the father and son coming home on the weekends. It was a great opportunity for me and my buddy to be able to connect to the two daughters especially, as they were the same age as us, both doing tertiary study and both having grown up in the church. We could relate to them well and had good conversations about God and faith and overall it was an excellent experience just to do life with them, eat what they ate, slept where they slept, and basically we became locals for the week. They were, as a village, extremely welcoming.
For our re- entry training at the end of our trip, we stayed at a resort on the beach near where we stayed earlier at Nasikawa. It was an interesting experience. It was all things Western, which I didn’t enjoy as it was not an authentic perspective of Fijian culture and really was a bit of a shock coming from living in huts and sleeping on thin mattresses or the floor. Here, we had Wi-Fi, a comfortable bed, a pool, and basically every luxury you could want out of a resort. It wasn’t satisfying though, and frankly jarring to feel so uncomfortable with something so familiar. It was similar to Australia and that \made me think I would be comfortable and enjoy it. It really was the opposite though.
So now you’ve read all about what we did and saw. And while I’m obviously still reflecting on the experience, I have learnt things about God and ministry and our world and myself. God is much bigger than Australia. He doesn’t bless everyone in the same way. Ministry is not necessarily fancy or expensive; it can be as simple as talking to someone about his or her life or your life. In the western world there is a danger in over complicating ministry and evangelism. Our world is broken, and having a lot of things does not mean you are happy, and in the same way having next to nothing does not guarantee unhappiness. I’ve had my eyes opened to the needs of the world and the needs of every individual I meet and know, and how Jesus Christ can provide for all of those.

Again, thank you for blessing me with the means to go and grow and serve the people of Fiji. It is an experience that will permeate the rest of my life. I have a great and constant passion to serve and minister to people, and this trip has opened up the possibility of long- term overseas mission.
Yours in Christ,
Emily Tyler