School and hostels are running well, with no damages to speak of from Cyclone Winston, thankfully. Two of our students from Savusavu, the next largest island, lost their homes, and one student from Ba, on this island, also lost his home. Families of two of our students from Taviuni Island had their farms completely wiped out. But help came quickly from Australia, the USA, the Fiji government, and the Fijian people themselves. (Fijians are such a generously giving people!) We’ll be preparing boxes of food at school to send to families of our students. We’ve also arranged for a new fence to be put up at the main hostel, and are having a new replacement sign made for the school. Those were our only losses here in Suva. We enjoyed a Saturday morning prayer breakfast at Suva St Chapel, praying for those who suffered losses in Cyclone Winston, and also for the deaf ministry and chapel concerns.
Students are now approaching the end of first term, and preparing for Easter Camp, which will be held at the school over the long Easter weekend. On Palm Sunday, also known as Children’s Sunday in Fiji, the children all wear white to church, and perform ‘mimes’ and songs, and recite Bible verses they have learned. Here are a few of our students all dressed up for Palm Sunday at church.
More to come later----
As Jim and I head back to Fiji in just a couple of weeks, we thought we’d give you a brief update on the new school year.
Several of our students completed their programs in November, and have returned to their islands, all with good qualifications for work. Although jobs are scarce, even for the hearing, we trust that these young deaf men and women will soon find work placements. We may make a trip to Kiribati (formerly the Gilbert Islands) later in the year, to help in that effort.
Elena, who will turn 4 in April, is from Ra, a province in the north of Viti Levu. Her mom heard about the school, and contacted her sister in Suva to check it
out. Elena now lives in the main hostel, and though only 3, she is quickly learning sign language and loves school.
Lavenia will be 13 in April. This is her very first year in any school. Because she is shy, and not yet comfortable going into her classroom, her teacher allows her to watch from outside the door, until she feels safe enough to come inside. Lavenia lost her mom 3 years ago, and is being raised by her maternal grandparents. She lives at home, and her dad brings her back and forth to school each day. Lavenia was referred to us by an organization called “Project Heaven”, that tested her hearing in the village and diagnosed her deafness.
At one point we had decided not to take older students, because we felt it was late to give them an education. But we’ve changed our minds on that; we CAN give them a communication system and a community, and teach them about the Gospel, along with some basic reading and math.
We also lost two of our GSD staff members this year. Mere Masi, a veteran teacher, and Donald Reece, our computer teacher and Assistant Head Teacher, have both decided to leave teaching to take interpreting jobs in the high school this year. We wish them well, and are thankful for their years of service at GSD.
Despite the recent devastation by Cyclone Winston in Fiji, we are thankful that all in our school and hostels were kept safe, and damages to buildings and grounds were minimal. Please pray for those who have suffered great loss on the island. We are presently looking into ways to help. Many thanks to all who have contacted us with offers of prayer, concern, and help.
We are grateful for a good start to the new school year, and for the new students who have joined us. Please pray for these students as they adjust to life at school, away from their families. Many of our students as yet have no sponsors. If you are interested in sponsoring a child, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, check our website www.fijideaf.net for information and updates.
Jim and Marilyn
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