Last week was PST 2 (pre-service training), which is a week long training and check in with staff. All the volunteers were together again, our first time together since November! It was so nice seeing everyone and catching up with them.
We lived the life of the Americans during this week; we swam in the pool, did laundry, went out to eat and went out dancing on the weekend.
I got back to the village on Saturday and felt a nice warm welcome from everyone. I was slightly worried nobody would notice I was gone, so I was happy to hear many “long time, no see. Le ve?”
When I got back to the village I found out I have a yaca (pronounced ya-tha, meaning namesake)!! Her full name is Olivia Timaima Tinai, but we’ve been calling her Oli lei lei (Little Liv). I feel so honored and happy about this! Many people are named after someone else in the Fijian culture, similar to Sr and Jr’s in America except much more common and not always a blood relative. The mom of Oli lei lei told me that they wanted to name her after me so that they will always remember me after I’m gone. I feel the love!
My yaca is only 2 weeks old and she stole my heart already, she is so cute and smiley; I only heard her cry when she had a stinky diaper or when she’s hungry.
So far this week I’ve been spending most of my time at my yaca’s family’s house. I’ve been coloring with the three older kids (3, 7, & 9 years old), painting nails with them, and making friendship bracelets. Even Oli lei lei is wearing a friendship bracelet!
Monday was the women’s group, I was so happy to get back to it! Before the meeting, I went to a friends house to make parilai (tastes/looks like a pancake) to eat with tea during the meeting. It was my first time making it and it turned out pretty nice. We caught up on things I missed while I was gone, then we did yoga, and then crafts. A few women were making a sasa (broom), out of the stems of leaves. It’s very nice, I think I’ll write a whole post on what they were making and go into more detail. Another group of women were making an envelope holder by weaving dried leaves together. And another group were scraping coconuts to make grog bilo (cups). I have the coconuts soaking in water right now to finish making the bilo for them! … Those crafts might not make sense now, but just wait a week and I’ll explain them all into more detail. These women are so impressive with how resourceful they are!
Tuesday night I was back to working out with the rugby team. They joined me on the uphill sprints, I need to keep practicing those and hopefully will one day be faster than them. Then we walked to someone’s house who has an outdoor gym. We worked out using weights which was super awesome, this was my first time lifting since I’ve been to Fiji. The guys had zero reaction to me lifting, which I think is great. I was half expecting them to think it was strange for a woman to be lifting weights with the boys, but they welcomed me and made me feel part of the group.
I have a busy week ahead of me with international women’s day, a rugby training, and a Take Back the Night march in town! I feel so happy and part of the community right now! They talked about this in training; Having highs and lows of service and I couldn’t agree more. I’m certainly in a high point of my service right now, especially compared to a few weeks ago. Staying humble when high and hopeful when low, just riding the waves that meet the Fiji sand.
With so much love and gratitude,
P.S. I BOUGHT A FRIDGE! GAME CHANGER. It’s a small mini fridge and I couldn’t be happier about it!