Lesson From FIJI

Bula!!  (That’s Hello in Fijiian)

This Thursday my heart is bursting with gratitude for so many things!!  I’ve been in Fiji since June 26th and it was truly life changing.  It is difficult to put into words such an incredible experience.  No description will ever truly do justice to the powerful emotions, moments and relationships gained in the beautiful island of Fiji.

I was blessed with the opportunity to speak to the villagers and my team during the closing ceremonies of our time together in the village of Narikoso, Fiji.  I prayed so hard the night before that I would receive inspiration and direction as to what to say.  My heart was full and I knew there was a message I needed to share with the villagers and my team.  I woke up the next morning knowing exactly what that message was.  I jumped out of bed and started writing.  

The following is the speech I delivered at the closing ceremonies.  It is an expression of my deep gratitude for the phenomenal people I met in the special village, Narikoso/Mataso:

Before I do anything important in my life, (and this work here in your village is one of the most important things I’ve ever done in my life), I like to be very intentional about what I hope will happen.  I know that as I set an intention about how I want things to go, and envision things playing out according to my hopes, this is a powerful way to create beautiful moments, powerful experiences and a meaningful life.

My one word intention for this trip was “Hearts”.  My goal was for hearts to connect and transform.  I wanted my team to connect their hearts with yours and that through this work we would all feel more love for eachother and for God. I was hoping hearts would be open and softened.  I prayed that we would touch your hearts and that you would touch ours.  I was hoping hearts on all sides would be healed, elevated, empowered, liberated and enlightened.  This intention has become the reality of our experience and I couldn’t be more grateful!!

Together we have accomplished so much!!  In the past 2 weeks of working side by side we’ve: planted over 500 trees; began construction and completed the foundations for 8 bathroom/shower facilities; taught 42 lessons in your school and helped present at your assembly to say NO to drugs; restocked your medical depository; taught the smart and skilled women of your village 6 new patterns to sew; got electricity to your community center; and set into motion the expansion of the community center by providing all the materials so there will be a designated room for the sewing machines to permanently stay, enabling anyone from the community to use them.  

That is all awesome… but more important than the physical, tangible things that occured over the past 2 weeks, is the change that has happened in our hearts.  On Sunday, the Pastor talked about how in the Bible it says “it is better to give that to receive.”  He then went on to say that you have nothing to give us.  I want to tell you that actually, you have given us far more than we could have ever given you.  

You have given us a new home halfway across the earth.  You have opened your hearts to us with unconditional love and acceptance, the likes of which we have never known before.  You’ve taught us more about love and family in the last 10 days than we’ve learned in our lifetimes.

You have given us a stronger connection to God.  You’ve opened our eyes to the power of song, prayer, grace, love, generosity and FAITH.  We are going to go home with a new understanding about how to include God in ALL that we do in a more sincere and genuine way.

You have given us new insights on what it looks like to be a good neighbor and what it means to truly love and take care of eachother.  We are going to go home and actually meet and interact with our neighbors, following your example of loving your neighbors wholeheartedly.

You’ve given us a new appreciation for our own families.  We are going home with a new resolve to be better sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers…Thank you for showing us through your clear and beautiful example what “family” and “having each other’s back” really means.

You’ve given us new perspective on what REALLY matters in life.  Material things don’t truly bring any lasting happiness.  You’ve shown us a better way which is what Joji referred to as “The 2 F’s: Faith and Family”.  You taught us that it’s genuine relationships, connection, love, contribution, and serving each other which brings true happiness.  You are collectively the happiest group people I have ever met in my life.  We will go home striving to be more like you, the people of Narikoso village in Fiji!!

You’ve given us a new song that will remind us of you and help us feel God’s love every time we sing it. (“Isn’t the love of God so very wonderful”)

You’ve given us friendships we will never forget.

You’ve given us once in a lifetime experiences in the Jungle which we will cherish and relive when we are back in the dry deserts of Utah.  

You touched our hearts as you cleared a path through the jungle with your machetes and helped us navigate the steep, slippery and occasionally rocky hike to show us your village’s most sacred place- where Christ appeared to your ancestors.  Wow- Thank you.

You gave us an understanding of your culture, welcoming us with the special Kava ceremony and teaching us of your ways in your homes.  You served us coconuts and “Fijiian Powerade”, oranges, sugar cane… Noni even let me pick the most perfect little pineapple I’ve ever seen. 

You gave us permission to slow down and appreciate life.  “Fiji Time”, truly being present, and the attitude of “no worries” is something we’ve all promised to take home with us.  Thank you for these new perspectives.

Truly you’ve given us so much.  Our hearts are overflowing with gratitude.  

We love you. 

Thank you. 

We will never forget you!!

I am so grateful for this experience of a lifetime. 

What is an experience that has changed your perspective or touched your heart in such a way that you will endeavor to live better?  I’d love to hear about it!

Rooting for you always,
Candice Noss

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