Monday, July 27, 2009

Sopa de Lengua

The Sopa de Cabeza (sheep brain soup) was not available, so the two orphans (street children i semi-adopted for the day) and i settled for Sopa de Lengua (sheep tongue soup). i ate the carrots and potatoes right away because i was truly famished...the potatoes must have been like the freeze-dried ones i saw at the hilltop market (Cuzco, at 1,000+ feet elevation gets super cold at night, and they just leave the potatoes on the ground at night where they freeze, then dry them in the sun during the day.) The potatoes tasted earthy...literally! The sheep tongue was huge and blue-gray...i spooned mine into one of the boy's bowl. Then i discovered that the cook was very generous and put in the jaw of the sheep, with its teeth still on the bone! That got passed on to the other boy. Then i was about to eat the white stuff, thinking in my altitude- befuddled mind that they were pieces of tofu (in Cuzco?! duh!) -- good thing i asked the boys first, "Que son los blancos?" They answered, "la cabeza!" So i slid the whole bowl over to their side of the table...i wasn't as hungry as i thought after all! But the boys enjoyed their meal.

Which bowl of soup was mine? Duh...

Victoria's Secret?

Victoria's Secret langerie, here in the rinky-dink island of Qamea? Naahh, just the usual ladies wanting to be beautiful for their husbands!

Pacific Islands Churches

Traditional Fijian wedding dress for Jasa and Kata as they were married inside the Catholic Church at Naselesele Village--Taveuni, Fiji. The outfits were made from tapa...and, of course, a big feast followed the ceremony, along with the big basins of kava.
The village Methodist Church in Qamea, Fiji. Sitting cross-legged for 1 1/2 hours (maybe a full 2 hours) was very uncomfortable! There was another kavalagi (foreigner) couple other than myself...we were all very warmly welcomed.
i guess all the women had a bad hair day! The little girl's hair was just fine...no need to hide. (Just kidding!) These wonderful ladies belong to the Cook Islands Catholic Church in Atiu, Cook Islands. They invited me to some refreshments after the service--pastries and fruits. It was quite a heartwarming experience mingling with the very friendly locals.
Seventh Day Adventist Church at a village in Qamea, Fiji. Such a transparent church! After the offering was collected, it was counted right then and there at the front and announced to the congregation. No fancy light shows here...just hymns a-capella and the plain Gospel of CHRIST.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Elenoa, Fearless Amidst Coconut-Laden Trees

Elenoa is fearless when it comes to going in and out from beneath those coconut trees laden with many hard hitting coconuts. It gets windy at times (as you could see from the clothes she's hanging) and coconuts do come down unexpectedly and with forceful thuds!

Even in this Taveuni paradise, there lurks danger...but nobody wears hard hats around here, except Nat or J.P. (Paulina's twin boys) during cyclone season. When i lived here, i steered clear of the coconut trees, zigging or zagging this or that way so that i don't walk directly under those skull-crushing missiles. i've heard stories though of people getting slam-dunked with those coconuts and surviving, one just walking away with a moby-sized headache!

Nau Bale, Asleep on a Dish

Nau Bale, caught napping on a dish. Almost looks as comfortable as sleeping on those hard-looking square Japanese pillows!

Nau Bale is nau Tuvi's sister...and she's got quite a sense of humor. She and i always had a good laugh when she'd come over from Qamea (smaller island just next to Taveuni) to visit nau Tuvi and the kids at Naselesele Village. She touched my heart when she quoted the whole 23rd Psalm in Fijian.

She's a Seventh Day Adventist and wouldn't join me in eating the delicious curried soft-shell crabs given to me by Kalera, her neighbor. i felt bad as i feasted in front of her...but her religion forbids her to eat eels and lobster nor drink coffee or tea. So i brought her chocolate powder, along with other basic food items when i stayed with her for a week in Qamea.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Elenoa at Bibi's HideAway

Elenoa, part of the family-owned Bibi's HideAway in Taveuni, Fiji. i made her pose in this shot of the glass door i painted to add interest to the picture. The sun was so intense and the rain so strong during hurricane season that my painting literally got beat up! i came back to it some time later with pieces of paint melted off and 'Noa's sasa broom doing added damage.

Jim Bibi, an elderly Fijian and the owner of this semi-budget resort (where you can eat for free all the fruit and vegetables they grow in their gardens), asked me to paint over the green tape holding up the cracked glass. i incorporated that green tape into the design.

Lesson 1: do not paint on the outside of glass doors...duhhh!
Lesson 2: do not paint according to the colors of the curtains--for they come and go to Laundry Land and other color schemes come into play which may or may not match the painting.
Lesson 3: do not let 'Noa clean painted glass doors with her sasa (coconut tree leaves with the leafy parts shaved off so that only the spine remains; then many are tied into a bundle to create a broom).

Human Flyswatters

Boy! when the flies smell the food, they invite all their friends and neighbors to join in! Hence, these human flyswatters. They look bored because though it's a necessary job, it's not a very exciting one. Yes, there are always many flies in the village--and it takes more than one dedicated flyswatter to really do a good job. So these four ladies volunteered to wave those leaves over and over (and over!) all that delicious looking party food.

Fijians like to eat and party! Like the rest of the world...

Naselesele Village Kids with Nau Tuvi

Here's nau (gran'ma) Tuvi, in front of the Catholic church, with a bunch of kids from Naselesele Village, located in Taveuni, Fiji. i remember Pete with Francesca in his arms, nau Tuvi with little Jo, young Beni standing with his Fijian "skirt" (formal wear for church), Seleima in the back carrying little May, with Luisa beside her, and Mersiana in a black dress, sitting by nau Tuvi. The names of the rest escape my mind...there were so many children in the village. Funny, they all knew me, and i knew their familiar faces, but it was a challenge at times coming up with their names.

And when they called me, it sounded like "moih-len." So sometimes i would just introduce myself in Fijian..."merelina."

P.S. i am again raising funds for the Naselesele Village school children in Taveuni, Fiji. Your charitable donation of any amount is deeply and heartfully appreciated! GOD bless your loving heart!



LIFE -- A Balancing Act


Life is a balancing act at times...we do our best with what we've got. And sometimes we get tired of balancing family and job and finances and obligations and a multitude of other important activities. Finally in exhaustion, we just let go, and fall into soothing waters. The tricky part is letting go of the balancing act, letting go of control and surrendering to the Living Water that heals.

Full of Fun OR Full of Fear

Life can be viewed in different ways, depending on one's attitude. Looking at this picture, one can interpret whitewater as exciting, or overwhelming. One will see this as a great ride, filled with wet thrills and extreme dunking; while another will see this same picture as too scary and dangerous to even contemplate doing. Our attitude about life or Life! depends on our belief system--Solomon wrote, "For as he thinks in his heart, so is he."

(That's me in the very front, almost totally inundated with whitewater. It was an exciting, thrilling, and extremely wet dunking!)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Fijian Feast

No, this is no Chinese buffet! But the way the Fijians feast, it's as if there were no tomorrow in sight. When one sits down to this kind of feast (usually during weddings or funerals or some other village celebration), one can eat to their hearts content...the food just keeps coming! The food usually includes dalo (taro) baked in a lovo (underground "oven"), all sorts of meats and fish, even the Chinese chop suey, although Fijian style (with ramen noodles and less vegetables). When you've had your fill, you just say "vinaka vaka levu" and roll on out so that another can take your seat.

No Glue, No Mortar...Just Patience!

Balancing rocks on their ends is an art...kind of like life. Just when i think i've got all components of my earthly life flowing in a balanced tune, GOD's Spirit comes by with an ever so subtle puff of wind and down comes what i imagined was a balanced act, reminding me who's really in control!

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

This was taken when i was in Cusco, Peru, for a couple weeks to do the Machu Pichu hike. i didn't ask her if the sheep was her pet or if she was taking it to the market to sell. But the saying "got a monkey on your back" certainly didn't apply here!