So for the holiday season I decided to spend my Christmas with my host family back in the village and to spend my New Year's with a big group of peace Corps volunteers in Qamea-an island off Taveuni which is a smaller island in Fiji.I knew before hand that Christmas was going to be a very low-key affair but I wasn't prepared for how low key it turned out to be.The only way you could tell it was Christmas was because so many out of town relatives had come back to stay with family in the village and all the shops in town were jampacked with people buying for Christmas dinner- may I say that my Christmas gift to my family was two chickens and some cupcakes.My family along with many others did not have Christmas trees or exchanged gifts, it was more about getting together, seeing people you hadn't for a while and eating lots of good food.The one special Christmas thing they did was have the choir sing Christmas songs to the Chief and Turaga ni Koro (headman). Man those voices were so beautiful, even in Fijian you can recognize the song Silent Night.
Headed home from Christmas Dinner
Village Turaga Ni Koro( head man in red) ready for cutting of the ribbon
Brand spanking new community hall
It was nice having such a low key Christmas, without the pressures to buy the perfect gift for family and not worrying about getting caught up in the pomp and circumstance and missing the true meaning of Christmas.With this low key Christmas I was able to reflect on all that God has provided in my life and be thankful for the wonderful people and opportunities afforded to me.Remember Jesus is the reason for the season.
There were also other big things happening during this time. A local man was getting ready to be married on New Years eve in the village. I had the privilege of participating in a tevutevu. This is the process of bringing gifts to the home of the bride or groom-whomever you're related to and presenting the wedding gift which 9/10 times is one of these things-pillows/pillowcases/mosquito net/blankets.This can happen up to a week before the wedding or even years after the wedding when you are able to afford a gift.Please keep in mind that the gifts are presented to a representative of the one getting married and not the bride/groom.Also the family receiving the gift must host the gift-giver by preparing grog for them.
In addition to the tevutevu there was a death in the neighbouring village-apparntly he was the oldest living man in the village.Most importantly the village's community hall was finally opened to the public officially.It was a real joyous occasion with the Chinese Embassy in attendance to cut the ribbon since they had given a substantial portion in the building of the hall.It's quite large and will soon be used for a kindergarten and library.
For the New Year which has to be hands down the most fun new year I've ever had I was beach-side with a great group of people, dancing and singing the night away. I should have you know that Fiji is one of the first places to ring in the new year.
So with this new year comes new responsibilities, challenges and triumphs and I'm ready-are you?