2017 was the year of the UNEXPECTED. As the year kicked off, we thought we had everything sorted as we mapped out our plans on the annual calendar. Maybe this is normal for newly weds… thinking you have it all figured out. I dunno. Anyways, let me describe it like this, it was like looking up at a mountain and seeing the summit.
The summit. That’s where you want to get to. It’s beautiful up there. You see it. You see it in all it’s splendor and you also see it there amongst all the other smaller mountains and hills that make that great mountain… the one you want to conquer. And you know that there’s only one way… Up! You see it but what you don’t see though is what lies behind each hill and smaller mountain… the valleys.
2017 was about finding out that sometimes, behind those hills; life’s getting ready to throw you a curved ball… no wait, an uppercut. [I’m not much of a baseball fan] And it’s not just about trusting God through the valleys but learning to be humble even when you’re on top. Yes, despite all the ups and downs of 2017 – the year of the unexpected, we’re thankful that God is faithful and that He is indeed the God of the hills and valleys. And when things don’t work out the way we want it’s encouraging to know that He’s got a birds eye view of the entire terrain.
Here are just a few highlights of ministry (and life) last year.
It was a busy start to 2017, we had two weeks of theological studies followed our regional staff conference.
On campus, it was still difficult for us to meet with students but God gave us creative strategies to be able to engage students off campus and even at their local churches. Read @judithniumataiwalu ‘s post here.
One of my highlights midway through the first semester was men’s fellowship which the male staff organised at the office. It was really great to see the guys (staff and students) get together and have some fun, enjoy a BBQ and have some time to share, reflect and encourage one another. We ended up having another event in the second semester and named the event B.O.B. which stands for Band of Brothers. Here’s a clip of the guys singing a hymn at the end of one of the meets.
In June we had our first ever Student Life Regional Student Training Conference at the Pearl Resort in Pacific Harbour. Our aim is to be able to equip, encourage and motivate students so that they can become positive change agents in their sphere of influence. The conference theme for 2017 was Voyagers and a special emphasis was put on our identity, our history and future role as Pacific Islanders in missions and across the Pacific and “beyond the reef”.
Infographics of student representation at the conference.
Results from the Witnessing Blitz on the last day of Conference.
Jesus Film Project
Judith and I traveled to Vanuatu mid-July and met with our ministry partners there. We were able to assist a Jesus Film Project team from the States and spent a week ministering to students at the Vanuatu Institute of Teacher Education (VITE).
After sharing the Gospel at the school assembly on Monday, the team spent about an hour each day doing follow-up by taking the students through the Walking with Jesus video studies.
The JF team donated 3 tablets loaded with material. One of which will be available to students at the library.
Free Wifi in Port Vila
Also in Vila, I worked with local volunteers and Bible translators to set up a high-powered antenna at the Scripture Union Vanuatu office that’s able to broadcast a WiFi signal throughout Port Vila.
We loaded it with Jesus Film material using the BibleBox software, so that once someone connects to the network. They are taken straight to the index of available Jesus Film Project videos and audio Bibles.
Theoretically, the unit(s) should have a range of about 2km but we didn’t have enough time to test this out. It does take a bit of time to setup and I really should have done a video for this but I only had a week. I’ll probably post an update when I next visit Vanuatu.
We had initially planned to join the project team to Nadi. However, the Tonga Project needed another staff member (preferably male) to accompany Sai because of the size of the team. It was sort of a bitter sweet experience because you both want to go on a missions project together but you also want to just spend a week building into students and focusing on the task at hand. I’m glad to say it worked out in the end and we both came back refreshed and had some pretty cool stories to share. Read about it here.
God blessed us through with a new (used) car in November. It’s been such a blessing especially with all the rain we’ve been getting in Suva. Special thanks as well to the couple that made this possible.
Also in November; Judith graduated from New Staff training along with Nathan and Yabaki and we began to plan our move to the West.
Judith during staff training:
We’re moving to the West this year! Our main goal is to assist and encourage the student movement in FNU Namaka. We’re excited and hope to transition over between late Jan to early March and right now we’re still looking for a home. [Please pray] If you’d like to know more, read about it here.
Art of Marriage Seminar
Judith and I attended our first Art of Marriage seminar in November. AoM is a one-day seminar run by Family Life Fiji staff, Pita and Mere Nacuva.
Best News of 2017
And finally… we’re having a baby! It’s a boy and he’s coming in May 2018.
Thanks so much for your continued prayers and support. We love and appreciate you all. Our best wishes to you and your family for the new year.
TuMa & Judith