Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Suva Pictures

Here are some pictures from my short weekend trip to Suva.

This is Mallory and I in the back of the "hell on earth" bus. We were happy here cause we had only been in this van for 10 minutes. Were doing the "Suva Slump" as I called it - the seats sat too high so you couldn't see out the windows unless you got into this really comfortable position.

This was our view for lunch. We had some delicious Chinese food from a hole-in-the-wall restaurant. Suva was overcast all day and it was perfect sight-seeing weather.

Mallory and I after going through the Fiji Museum.

This was an incredible sunset after the all-day rain yesterday. This is just outside our front door. Fiji sunsets are like paintings. They are so picturesque and breathtaking every night!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Rare Occurrence..

It’s the rainy season here in Fiji – and it downpours when it rains. However, its usually warm when it rains or the rain comes after a really hot day making it feel really refreshing. Today is a different story.

It was… cold.

Who would have thought that we would all be sporting long pants and sweatshirts throughout the whole day. The joke around the house today is “I love seeing everyone in new clothes!” hahah. Its nice to see different items of clothing on people and its nice to wear something other than a skirt!

I’ve loved this cold rain though – if a chunk of my time here was spent in the overcast days, I would be content. I love rain and it makes me happy!

However, it makes me want to sit at home and watch a movie – not the best motivational factor to get projects done.

Today I went to Tavua and went and helped out at Gold Foundation. It was delightful – we had great conversations and actually enjoyed our hot Milo (aka hot chocolate) during tea time while the rain pounded on the windows.

Sounds like Utah and Fiji swapped weather for a week! Enjoy the heat while I take a break from it and enjoy the rain.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Random Pictures

Here's some
pictures from this computer I'm on that I found.

Don't mind the funny face, but I'm teaching these kids how to make a duck noise by blowing on a piece of grass at the Family Fun day 2 weeks ago.

The other pictures are of our cozy little flat. Add one another bedroom and a tiny kitchen and you have our house! Going from 25 people to 19 is such a huge breath of fresh air. :)

Suva !

So I'm writing this post from the Temple housing in Suva, Fiji. Last night I made the sudden decision to come with our country directors and 5 other Volunteers to Suva for the weekend. We rented a car and our Director Chuck drove us all the way there. I was at first excited that we were driving our own van and we didn't have to use the slow, uncomfortable buses. Little did I know this ride would be "hell on earth"...

Just picture an 8 passenger van with really high seats so you can't see out the low windows, pot-holed roads the entire way, speed bumps the size of large rocks every couple miles, and a jerky stick shift car. I was sitting in the back of the van and it was a horrible decision. As we were driving and I was trying to get my mind off the fact that I had 3 hours of this ahead of me, I related the drive to some Disneyland rides that you all could relate to.

Imagine this....

Mr. Toads Wild Ride for the windy roads and sharp turns.
Indiana Jones for the bumpy, jerky ride.
Disney Jungle Cruise for the "island" look of the environment.
Star Tours for the car sickness.

aka. worst. ride. ever.

I'm dreading the drive home tomorrow - this trip wasn't long enough...seriously.

Today we went to the Suva Temple and it was such a neat experience to be surrounded by Fijians and Hindu members. The temple is so small but so gorgeous! I love the way the church is the same no matter where you go - especially in buildings!

We went into town and hit up the Flea Markets, ate at a delicious hole in the wall Chinese Restaurant which we sat and ate on the water front, walked around town, went to more Flea Markets, ate at more restaurants and then came back to the Temple Housing and had real chocolate cake for a girl's birthday tomorrow! I love Suva. Especially because this Temple housing has hot water. :) It wasn't the most exciting trip, but I know I'll be coming back here again before I leave. Its been so nice though to just get out of the house and to get out of Ba. When people have asked us where we are "from" in Fiji and we tell them Ba, they respond by saying "Boring Ba", or "Suva's backyard". Its so true. Ba is so sleepy, boring and HOT. It downpoured tonight in Suva and I was loving the rain - Suva's on the "wet" side of the island and Ba is on the "dry" side. Of course. Haha.

Well, that's enough rambling for one post - Thanks for following my blog - I love hearing from those of you who care to read this!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"Forget about yourself, and get to work!"

I made it through my first week here - and, I'm not going to lie, it was HARD. I struggled so much with getting used to the fact that I'm living in poverty for 2 1/2 months. We had 4 girls from the house leave shortly after I got here, which made me want to go home with them, I struggled to accept the fact that I'm eating carbs for almost every, single meal, The house wakes up at 7am every morning, I hate the public transportation here with all the different buses, carriers, taxis, mini buses to figure out, and the weather is insanely hot. All the while remembering back to America and how blessed we are to live there and missing it even more. I also felt like I was useless with the Projects that HELP has or is partnering up with other NGO's here. To sum it all up, I felt lost and unmotivated. And I hated it.

I emailed my mom about this and her response changed my attitude. She reminded me of the phrase President Hinckley's father told him when he was on his mission - "Forget yourself, and go to work!". This has since become my catch phrase and I tell this to myself every morning as I head off the a project.

Forget yourself Lauren, and go to work helping the Fijian people. That is why you are here.

My outlook has changed 360 degrees. I'm loving it here. I find joy in the beautiful scenery as I take the rickety bus home everyday. I just accept the fact that the food lacks protein and that staying clean and cool is not an option. I've also gotten involved in a program here that involves helping with a town Carnival. This is right up my alley and I finally feel direction.

So, heres to forgetting myself and getting to work!

Monday, June 20, 2011

A day in Paradise

I had my first "real" weekend in Fiji this last week and Friday we just relaxed, watched a movie and enjoyed being together - all 18 of us. Saturday, 8 of us went north up to RakiRaki to go snorkeling. Fiji has some of the worlds best reefs and that is very well deserved. I've never been snorkeling before and it was quite the experience! I loved it. Having those flippers on, breathing under water and watching "Finding Nemo" in real life was so incredible and it made my childhood dream of being a mermaid more realistic!

After snorkeling in a reef in the middle of the ocean, our guide - a retired Peace Corps officer who retired to Fiji - took us to a nearby island. The tide was so low that we had to snorkel onto the shore - scariest experience snorkeling 1 foot above coral, fish and sea creatures. We all hyperventilated a little bit until we got to land.
The beach was gorgeous. I felt like I had been dropped right onto "The Pirates of the Caribbean" movie set. We stayed on the beach for a few hours to wait out the low tide. We ventured into the jungle that bordered the island where we found coconuts and were taught how to open them by using rocks, or a sharp tree branch. Very informative if I'm ever stranded on an island. :) We treated our guide to dinner at the VoliVoli Resort nearby and I got a hamburger to satisfy my craving for beef! Its impossible to find beef here in Fiji because the cow is considered sacred to all the Hindu's here. So we walked away from the day, tanned (some sunburned), satisfied with a coke and hamburger and the experience of a lifetime! This truly is paradise.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Geigerrig in Fiji!

So my sister-in-law and her dad are partners in the making of this cool bag called Geigerrig - its like a Camelback but it sprays! They were kind enough to give me one of these as a graduation present. I was excited to try this bag out in Fiji - the kids here are OBSESSED with it. Everywhere I go, they come up and ask about the bag and want me to squirt water into their mouths. Here are some picts from the "Family Fun Day" that the ward had on Monday. I love their "Peace" signs they throw up in every picture!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


The internet is SO slow - I only got one photo uploaded. Not cool. I'll keep trying. :)


The internet is SO slow - I only got one photo uploaded. Not cool. I'll keep trying. :)


First day in Fiji - my view from my lawnchair at the Sheraton in Denarau. This is the "fake" Fiji where all the tourists go. This is not what Fiji looks like in Ba where I'm living. It was a relaxing and beautiful area. With the time difference though, we were so confused with the sun setting in the East. What we felt was like 4 or 5 o'clock was actually 9am. SUCH a long day!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Some things getting used to...

I've been in Fiji now for 4 days now and as I was riding the bus into Lautoka today, I thought about some things that I definitely have to get used to now that I'm not in America....

A car. The transportation system here is CRAZY. There are buses, carriers, taxis and express buses. Trying to figure out which one goes where, how much each cost to ride and when they run is a pain but I'm trying my best to figure it out.

Protein. The Fijian diet is very starchy and consists of a lot of white breads, rice and potatoes. If any of you know me, you'll know how much I hate eating that stuff. So as much as I resent it, I've bought a white loaf of bread and white crackers for breakfast. Its times like this where I just want a protein shake.... I can push through though!

Personal Space. Right now, the HELP house has 26 volunteers living under one roof. 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom. Mind you, these aren't big rooms, and their not the most comfortable bathrooms so its a challenge when you come home and the only place to sit in the family room is the filthy floor. :) We have lots of fans in the house and card games and movies to keep us entertained every night so I can't complain - its all worth the experience and I'm loving it.

Hot showers, cold drinks. The showers are always ice cold - but after non-stop sweating all day, a cold shower is all you want. The water here is always cold - they don't have ice cubes so drinking warm water is becoming I'm getting used to. But I was introduced to "Sugar and Ice" - a smoothie shop here in Lautoka today. First cold thing I've had since I've gotten into Fiji - I downed it. :)

So the next time you think, 'life is hard' out there in the great US of A, just remember this list and realize how great you have it and how fortunate you are to live there!

I love America!

p.s. I'll try and post some pictures when I'm able to get internet on my own computer - right now I'm in a hot internet cafe sweating my brains out. Fun image, right?! Stay tuned for pictures!

Friday, June 10, 2011


I'm sitting here in the Sheraton in Denarau and I'm still in shock that I'm in Fiji! It is absolutely gorgeous here - even the ugly parts have some beauty to them!

We had a greuling 10 hour and 40 minute flight last night into this morning. I got hardly any sleep but was awoken at 2:30am with a "good morning" call from the flight crew followed by a breakfast of eggs, fruit, yogurt and muffin. Not a bad start to a day, but still pretty early.

We went into Nadi town today and I rode in my first open air bus, ate some "breakfast crackers" and was greeted with "bula!" from many strangers on the street. The people here are SO friendly! Even when we got off the plane, there was a 3 man Fijian band playing for us visitors and yelling out "Bula!" as we passed. Such a loving culture!

We spent the day today at the beach enjoying our first Saturday here. Oh the ocean water is wonderful!

Were just about to go to Ba where our tiny, humble abode is to unpack, meet other voluteers and eat our first Fijian dinner!


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Directionally Challenged...

Honestly, when I first said the phrase, "I want to go to Fiji", I didn't quite know where it was located. Here are some maps for those of you, like me, who have/had no clue where Fiji is.In some maps, Fiji is split in two - some of the country is shown on the right side of the map, and some on the left side. It gets pretty confusing sometimes when you only see half the country...
Here's Fiji! I'll be on the bigger of the two islands - Viti Levu - in the city of Ba which is on the Northwest side of the island. I'll fly from SLC to Los Angeles and then onto Nadi, Fiji and then follow that already long trip with a couple hours bus ride to Ba. Thats a long 2 days...

Oh yeah, and I'll skip the day of Friday, June 10th because of the time change. Let me know how it goes, ok? Thanks.

Wish me luck!

2 days!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Pink House!

This is what I'll call "home" for 2 1/2 months. Its got such style...AND its pink. :)

I still can't comprehend how 27 of us will be living there for the first 5 days I'm there.... oh hey personal space, nice knowin' ya.

See ya in 4!