I turned around and we had more little helpers carrying some of Brad & Trevors things as other kids were dangling from them like a jungle jim! Our house is probably one of the nicer ones in the village, and I couldn’t believe the simplicity of it. The shower head is a literal pipe coming out of the wall with no option of warm water, electricity only from 6-9pm at night, a sink where everything is hand washed, with a closeline on the back patio. There are no screens on the windows, so there is a mosquito net that drapes over each bed (which I am so thankful for, because there are creatures everywhere!). We were all brushing our teeth as a huge frog casually hopped own the hallway. Haha! And I used the toiler as some geckos were mating on the ceiling directly above me! Ah! I kept thinking “Please don’t fall on me, please don’t fall on me!” Hahah! The preacher who’s house we are staying in, passed away a few months ago. His wife went into town, and her boy stayed with a friend in the village so that there was space for us to stay in their home (once again, SO incredibly selfless and kind of them.) After playing with kids all day, they all sat on our back patio respectfully as we got ready for bed. Brad went out back to talk a little more and wish them goodnight. He asked them all where they lived etc. and this boy names Melly responded “This is my house.” Brad was like “Oh my gosh, come inside!” – We couldn’t believe how he sat outside of his own home, for us. We told him he was always welcome to come inside, even when we were there! I’m so glad we made that connection, because it was so special having him there with us so often.
We opened up a humanitarian service trip here on my blog, to see if anyone would like to join us in Fiji — the tour filled in 48 hours! It didn’t seem real, until we got to the airport. We were walking to our gate and this cute girl ran up to us and said “Hey! I’m coming on the trip with you guys!”. We then walked over to our gate, and it was the most surreal moment. We locked eye contact with our group, and we were all squealing with excitement! It was almost overwhelming to meet everyone, but it was so cool. I’m pretty sure we caused a scene at the airport – haha! Some lady was like “Are you guys some sort of team?” and I just responded yes. Hahah it was too complicated to explain! It may sound stupid but it was really rad to put these instagram handles to actual faces! Every single girl was seriously beautiful inside out, I could tell from the moment we met. I was flattered that they wanted to come on this trip! The smiles were contagious and the energy of the group was so positive & silly. Everyone totally clicked! I could tell that we were in for a great week. We were so chit-chatty and giddy as we stood in line to board the plane, and we got yelled at for not paying attention.. Haha oops. We landed in Fiji and it was pitch black. You could barely see the outline of the mountain tops and there were sounds of birds everywhere! We were all in such a daze and kept saying “I feel like I’m in a dream!”
^^ Trevor & Brad ^^
We pulled up to our hotel and it was a pretty funny experience (Watch the first vlog) We then washed up, and went out to find some Sulu’s (Traditional skirts worn in Fiji). I’m not used to traveling with such a big group – it was hilarious walking the streets in a herd and watching all the locals reactions to seeing us. Everyone was saying “Bula!” to us. My brother Trevor was walking in front of the pack, and some guy literally laughed in his face with a toothless smile — Was he making fun of us!? – We got to the flea market and I’m pretty sure we bought that place out. 😉 We then went to “The greatest carnival in the pacific” and it was FILLED with mud! We had to balance on wood planks to get anywhere in there… I think the deep mud would eat your shoes alive! There were tons of ferris wheels that were going SO FAST. We dared each other to ride, and it was a baaaaad idea (for me) – we hopped on and at first it was really fun. We were putting our hands up screaming with smiles… And then as the pace picked up the screams turned into sheer terror! Haha!! I was honestly about to throw up! Everytime we spun down by the workers we yelled “Stoppp!” and I swear they would ignore us!? We were laughing every time we yelled “Stop!” and after five times passing by, my voice started to get all shaky like I was going to cry! The last thing I wanted, was to puke in front of my new friends. The workers finally stopped the ride and were all weirded out, like “What happened!?” – I had to have been as white as a sheet. I was all shaky responding “Sorry, I got really sick…” I swear the workers were laughing and thinking “Yeah, we’ll give these americans a RIDE!” haha jerks. 😉 I was seriously so close to losing it with all of the smells and balancing on those wooden beams — I honestly don’t know how I didn’t pass out, face first into the mud. Everyone got off the ride, and was just staring at me and I was stumbling over my words trying to be a good trip hostess: “Umm you guys can play a game or…” Hahahha!
The next morning we hopped on the bus to start our journey to the village! Everyone was sharing embarrassing moments, and I went to peek my head out the window when BAM – my forehead hit the glass! I couldn’t tell the window was closed hahahah speaking of embarrassing moments. It was perfect timing. Then my brother Trev was walking off the bus and ran right into a pole haha!! We were all so delirious. We got off the bus to watch the sunrise from the shore while we waited for the ferry, and it was incredible! Little trees were poking up like little broccolis straight out of the ocean. We hopped on the fairy and kept ourselves busy playing games for four hours. I almost wet my pants from laughing so hard! The boat pulled up to the island and you could see all of the locals dressed so colorful!
We hopped onto these huge ‘Indiana Jones’ trucks [it was a very long day of travel] and started our adventure up a very bumpy trail. The views kept getting more and more spectacular of the coastline! We saw a giant pig cross the road, and some boys casually washing their horse in a river.. We went around in a circle sharing what we wanted to get out of the trip and things got emotional. Everyone was so excited to have a softened heart, and forget themselves here. It was such a cool experience to have a heart-to-heart right before we got to the village. All the kids on the side of the road ran up to the trucks as they passed, so say BULA!
We pulled into the village, and little kids quickly swarmed the trucks to greet us, and it was so hard to hold back tears after our conversations on the truck. Brad and I jumped out of the back in our sulu’s (Brad looked way cute in a skirt haha) and we started introducing ourselves alongside all the other volunteers! The first thing I noticed was how genuinely happy the Fijians were, with their toothless smiles and contagious belly laughs – I have never met a more warm and welcoming culture in my life! The kids were hanging on us, and their instant trust and friendship was unreal. Some of the tiniest kids helped us bring our bags down to the village — I couldn’t believe how strong they were! I just stood there in awe thinking of how I wanted to remember how I felt in that moment, forever. I have never felt like I have done something so right, in my life. Those Fijians really did leave and instant impression in my heart. There was the cutest guy named Don (my “name share”. I’m Hailey Dawn!). I told him that we left our baby at home, and he acted all mad that we didn’t bring her! He said, “You better bring her next time, or we bring Fiji to you.” – it was so sweet. I couldn’t help but imagine Lucy running around amidst the chaos of all the kids! She would have been in heaven. We then sat down, passed around the Kava root (its tradition for the chief to grant foreigners into the village), and Don said “The direct translation is that you are all Fijian now” – I got the chills when he said that.. I just really couldn’t believe how quickly they made us family. It was incredible.
Then the chaos really started. Kids were EVERYWHERE and I couldn’t keep up with enough polaroid film! My cheeks started to hurt from smiling and my brain was frying, trying to remember so many little Fijian names. Everyone had at least 5 kids hanging on them, I swear! It was such a treat to watch all the volunteers interact with the Fijian children – it truly was a beautiful sight seeing a room filled with so much happiness and laughter. We then took our things to our separate houses in the village. These 2 young girls insisted on carrying my huge suitcase all the way up to ‘The Pastor’s House’ where we are staying (it is the furthest away). The girls were beaming with excitement to help me… I seriously couldn’t believe how selfless they were. Isn’t it true that we are our happiest when we are serving others? It was such a good reminder for me.
|| Backpack: Jototes ||