On Wednesday 6 February 2019, after eighteen years of amazing commitment to the Lord and the deaf in Fiji, Jim and Marilyn said farewell to the school staff, hostel staff, children, ex-pupils and friends, and headed back to Rhode Island in the USA for a much-needed rest and some cooler weather. I heard Marilyn saying to someone, this isn’t “good bye”, as we will be back. We wish them well as they are able to spend more time with their children, grandchildren, wider family and friends, and look forward to their return visits to Fiji. Please continue to pray for them as they adjust to this new stage in life.
Our hostels are almost overflowing this year but everyone seems to find a place to lie down at night. Mere, who looks after our younger boys in the main hostel, has fifteen downstairs, where last year she had nine - and that seemed a lot.
Mosese (centre), her youngest at 5 years, is new this year and does not enjoy saying goodbye to his parents when they visit each fortnight. Mere is a wonderful “mother” to her boys and they are pretty well behaved after they have been with her for a few months. She has the ability to give them such a severe look that even I feel scared – she will then turn her head the other way with a huge lovely smile. She is beautiful inside and out.
The children pick up sign language quickly when they are living in the hostel and when they return home for holidays, their parents struggle to learn the new signs, after having developed their own ways of communicating with their children.
The hostel for the older boys is also very full and there are eleven living in a two-bedroom house. Hopefully the new hostel is getting a little closer to becoming a reality!! We certainly need it.
We were expecting Bola and Ruth and their two young daughters from Nigeria to join us at the beginning of February, when they were both going to be teaching at school and also giving some training to the teachers. However, due to some transit visa issues in Brisbane, their arrival was put off until the end of February. It was with great sadness that we learned recently of Ruth’s sudden death and now Bola’s arrival time is uncertain. He will reassess the situation in six months’ time. There will be huge adjustments for them to go through, without coming to a foreign country at this early stage.
Thank you for your prayer support – we have seen many answers. Please continue to pray for the children, that they will learn the value of honesty. There are incidents which occur from time to time, and unfortunately from children you would least expect it from. Also pray for the younger children as they leave their parents and settle into hostel and school life.
We have a very sad story to report. Asena, a deaf teacher aide at GSD last year, and newly married, gave birth on January 22nd to a beautiful baby boy named Robert. After a C-section delivery, Asena was discharged from the hospital, but experienced a lot of pain, and was readmitted. Doctors treated her a few days later for an infection, which by then had spread, and sadly, she passed away on January 30th. She was just 25 years old.
On Saturday morning, when the Christian Fellowship for the Deaf (CFD) held a farewell breakfast for Jim and I at Suva Street Chapel, all were surprised to see Jale (Charlie), Asena’s husband, walk in with his mother and newborn son. They had come to join in farewelling us.
Tomasi led the event, and masterfully combined our farewell with beautiful words of encouragement and comfort for Jale, assuring him of support from his CFD family, and praying for God’s comfort in his time of grief. It was a beautiful time of fellowship, and God’s Spirit was clearly felt as we met together, with both laughter and tears. The funeral will be held on Wednesday in Lami, where Jale will say his final good-bye to Asena, and we will say our good-byes to our wonderful family here in Fiji, as we head back to the states. The folks here have been such a blessing to us, as we’ve shared life together, in both times of joy and sorrow over the past 18 years. We will miss everyone for sure, but hope to be back for occasional visits. Please pray for Jale and his family, especially his newborn son, and the entire deaf community, as they grieve the loss of Asena. Thank you CFD, for a great day, and for your lovely gift. And a special thanks to Tomasi, Tully, and Mesake for your faithful leadership among the adult deaf. Keep up the good work!!
We will always “thank God every time we remember you” (Philippians 1:3), and we pray that you will always love God and choose to follow in His path for your life. Many Blessings!!
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