Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Making Friends in Fiji

One thing that Martin and I have really enjoyed doing while sailing is making great friends.  

For instance, take the Schaffer family.  Martin and I had heard from other cruisers and members of the LDS (mormon) church that there was another "Mormon" family with seven kids that were sailing through the South Pacific at the same time as us.  Problem was, they were always two weeks ahead of us.  

Martin and I arrived at church in Bora Bora and again we heard, "Hey, did you know there is a Mormon family on a boat 'Far and Away' that is sailing like you guys?"  Then when we got to Tonga, we would hear the whole thing all over again.

Finally, one cruiser remembered the Schaffers website and we quickly looked them up to see where they were headed next and to see if we could head them off at the pass.... or something like that.  When we looked though, we read that they were headed up to American Samoa while Martin and I were headed towards Fiji.  We finally decided to let it go, knowing that we weren't going to meet up with them since we were now both going in separate directions.

Then, last Saturday, we were pulling into Savusavu (Fiji) and low and behold, we looked and read on the side of another boat in the harbor, "Far and Away."  We couldn't believe our eyes.  Martin yelled over to them and said, "We know you and would like to come visit!"  Then we started laughing because I think they had the same shock on their faces as well when seeing AMARA.  We later found out that they were getting the same stories on their end about another Mormon family sailing the South Pacific.
Of course, we made friends fast and it was wonderful to be able to spend time with this great family.  Each one of those kids was so polite and capable... even down to little Zakary (A fierce little toddler who keeps his mom very busy!)

Sweet little Teyauna quickly befriended Lily. 
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After the Schaffer family left, we had the opportunity to go to church and meet some dear people from the LDS ward in Savusavu.
Lily is a pied-piper wherever we go.

Everyone loved Lily.  What's new?
After church, we invited one young woman (who we had met on the street the day before) over for dinner that evening on AMARA.  Her name is Emele (pronounced, Emily) and she is leaving at the beginning of November for an LDS mission in Salt Lake City, Temple Square.  Emele's story is incredible for just a 19-year-old woman.  When Emele was 12, her mother could no longer care for her and sent her to a family friend to see if she could live in their home.  From that moment on, although she had guardians, Emele knew that she would never have real parents.  Since her guardians were barely surviving on their own, they didn't have enough money to pay for Emele's schooling.  So, Emele took fate into her own hands and left and went to each school in her area to see if she could somehow be allowed into school without paying her fees.  Finally a dear principle saw her willingness to learn and permitted her into the school on a full scholarship.  Emele just graduated last year.

If her story isn't already humbling enough, four years ago, she got word of a woman who was not able to care for her three-month-old son.  Yep, Emele offered to help pay and care for the baby herself.  For the past four years, Emele has been working a full-time job at a grocery store and as a teacher's aid to pay for the child's care while also saving up for her mission.  He calls her "mama" and she knows that it will be difficult to leave him with her guardians after she leaves for Salt Lake City.  Oh, and she has also come up with the funds to pay for this little boy's care and food the entire time while she is on her mission.  How many of us could say that we lived a life as stoic as Emele's?  I just love this young woman and all that she is doing to make her world and other's worlds a better place to live in. (Emele, we wish you well on your mission!)
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... And then there are the cruisers.  Wow, we have made such wonderful friends on our travels through the South Pacific.  Fabulous people.  Strong and capable people who are making their dreams of sailing the South Pacific a reality.  I have so grown to love these families that we have met along the way.  

As our trip is winding to a close, this will be the hardest part for this leg of our journey.  I have so looked forward to arriving into ports and looking for our friends boats in the harbor.  I get giddy every time we see a familiar face and am so grateful for their friendship.