We had planned on leaving today but that was not what ended up happening. It seems wherever we go we meet incredible people and have a hard time picking up anchor and heading out. As I helped to get our boat ready to pull out by settling all of our bills and filling our tanks with water, Kirsten and Alyssa went to the village of Savusavu to have a friend sign our boat guest book as they didn’t fill it out when they visited us for desert two days ago. While they were there, Alyssa just happened to run into some young adults that were close to her age. One was even preparing to depart as a missionary in a month, just as Alyssa awaits the surprise to where she will be called to serve as a missionary in January. It seems they hit it off as the best of friends in no time at all. And then more and more friends surfaced from the woodwork.
For some reason as we prepare to leave a port, there are new friends made that make it difficult to leave. It only took a few minutes after making new friends for my kids to ask me the same question they ask after visiting every other island. Can we stay a little bit longer.
For them the interest is not in visiting new coral reefs or snorkeling in blue lagoons (although this is a big part of the trip). But for them it is in the new friendships and acquaintances that they forge as they come to a strange new village and meet incredible people from all walks of life.
I guess the same should be said for the attraction that each islands is for every member of our family. It’s not the destination and the attractions as much as it is the people and their kind hearts that have us longing to stay just a little bit longer.
As we were waiting for Alyssa and Kirsten to finish saying goodbye and grabbing a few last things from the market, Jaeden, Dailin and I set off to fill our water tanks with water. We dutifully filled up the two empty water tanks which took at least 45 minutes with the small hose that required a fitting adaptor to fit our hose. After filling our tanks we filled up a few buckets that we use for washing decks and laundry when necessary. To our horror we noticed that the water was not as clear as we were accustomed to seeing it. Instead it was a murky brown colour. When questioning a local resident he told us, oh, it gets like that after a big rainfall like last night. It’s still good water to drink. Another person from the marina said, it’s OK for us but you may not want to drink it… too bad we were not told that prior to putting it into our tanks! It looks like we will need to flush out every one of our water tanks as soon as the water settles in the next day or two.
This evening our teenagers invited over 5 local kids from Savusavu and the island of Vanua Levu to enjoy an evening of games, refreshments and fun onboard out sailboat. This is the fourth night of four in Savusavu where we have had people or a family on our boat to enjoy their company. While Kirsten and I were enjoying a dinner out, the kids were having a great time making new friends from the island. As I came back to the boat after dinner I was happy to see the kids playing and laughing in the cockpit of our boat. Our kids don’t have any problems at all meeting new people and making new friends. I guess it is a bit of a refresher for them every once in a while to associate with someone other than their siblings or Mom and Dad.
Reflecting on our Voyage
Tonight my wife and I had an incredible opportunity to go out for dinner with another like minded couple. We had a wonderful 3 hour dinner conversation that gave me an opportunity to do something I have not had a chance to do since embarking on our year long journey. We had a chance to not only hear their adventure story of travelling with a cute little four year old but also to reflect back on our own journey that has unfolded like a miracle over the past year.
As we were talking together over dinner, I realized more and more how incredible our family’s adventure really is and how the goals and purposes for which we set out on this journey are being realized. We set off wanting a family adventure that would bring us closer together. We also set off wanting an experience that would help each one of us to have our hearts changed from the people miraculously and divinely placed in our paths.
Hearing this couples experiences and sharing our own helped me to realize that we have over and over again had our hearts and lives changed by the incredible people of the Pacific Islands. From a couple who lost their only child, a father of 7 children struggling to provide for his family with odd jobs, a friend who adopts and look after a community of kids, missionaries giving of their time throughout the islands, to the beautiful gifts of food, carvings, friendship and love. Each of these experiences have touched the lives of my wife and I along with each of our children. We will never be the same again thanks to how our lives have crossed paths with so many sincere and loving people in the islands. We treasure the book that we have collected on our boat with words and greetings from many of these gracious people we have come in contact with. It will be a lasting memento of this incredible experience that has already achieved our purposes and exceeded our expectations.
We still have just over a month left on this incredible sailing experience with many more miles to cover. I’m excited to see what additional experiences God has in store for our family and only hope that we are ready for not only the easy but also the challenging experiences ahead.