You see, digital wasn't a thing back in 1992. I did take photos but they are in Tasmania in mum's shed! I loved my trip but it was so very hard in lots of ways.
In Fiji everyone says "Bula Vinaka". Simply Bula means hello. It also means welcome. "Ni sa Bula Vinaka" a very warm welcome to you, is the full sentence but it's simplified to Bula or Bula Vinaka. It's said as punctuation, as greeting, as a blessing. Bula Vinaka is ALWAYS said with a smile! A Fiji smile.
In Fiji time goes backwards. It's not a unique concept, Greece and Italy do the same. The past, heritage, your ancestors are more important than what is now or what is to come. It's really hard to get used to. I remember my dear friend Amos saying "I have applied for a job in Fiji! I found out whether I have it or not on Friday". I replied "which one". He sounded confused "well this coming one of course" I smiled wryly. He found out he didn't get it, on a Friday, some weeks afterwards.
I wouldn't have had the courage to go to Fiji without Amos' encouragement, prayers and let's face it, money. I cleaned his house, sold his junk in a garage sale, cleaned his car. He admonished me for the poor job I did with his tyres. Funny the things you remember.
In Fiji I went with a group of students to do missions work. I will share more of Fiji in later posts but here is the point of Bula Vinaka.
When I was in hospital recently in the psychiatric unit I longed for activities. Admitted on a Friday night I was dismayed to find out that there were no activities were scheduled til the Monday. The first activity was craft! Hooray. I went with my pens and the lovely OT assistant S said "no you have to do our activities!" I smiled and said "what is it today?" And the reply was glueing and sticking. I rolled my eyes and said "you mean decoupage?" S asked "what is decoupage?" The nurse in the room said "posh word for glueing and sticking". I growled "adult word".
Anyway I really enjoyed the activity and the banter. S explained she had been to Australia once as she had been home. "Where is home?" I asked. "Fiji" she replied. Her dad is Fijian.
"Ah Bula! Bula Vinaka!" I thought she was going to faint. "Tulo" I gasped quickly. It means "I'm sorry or excuse me. You must never touch a Fijian's hair. Fijian children you can if you have to but you must say "Tulo"
Then I said "senga na lenga" which means all sots. "No worries" "It will be alright" "chill out man" "it's ok".
S said no one ever speaks Fijian to her except her dad and uncle and certainly not a patient.
I felt so honoured to have this photographic memory. Although it's an aural one rather than visual sadly.
Joseph has it too.
What a gift.
So I say to you this Sunday "Bula Vinaka" "Senga na lenga"
Once you hear this as Fiji there is no going back.