I started my holiday celebration by eating lunch at Mango's with some of the other senior missionaries: Elder and Sister Wells, Elder and Sister Tennis (and their son, daughter and her family), Elder and Sister Hogge, and my companion Sister Limburg. It is Saturday, August 24, 2013. This is a great bunch of people except for one fact: they have all gone home except for me and Sister Limburg.
I had great fun this day even if it did start out poorly with my lunch not being served until everyone had eaten (and it was cold!) and ended with my wallet being stolen in the crowds after the parade. The "rest of the story" is that my wallet was found by a kind taxi driver named Michael and he matched up the Angel Moroni on my temple recommend with the one found on top of the Fiji Suva Temple and then found his way to the mission office. Everything was in the wallet (credit cards, temple recommend, driver license) except the money--not a great loss. Since I had no money to reward him with, I gave him something far more valuable--a Book of Mormon!
I thought this woven Fijian wall decor and carved screen were very pretty at the restaurant.
Every parade should begin with a big brass band and this one sounded great. The uniforms are spectacular. I love the crisp white sulus with the pointed edges. Keep in mind that it is a very hot sunny day and these men aren't breaking a sweat even with long sleeves and white gloves.
Half of Suva was in the parade and the other half was watching it. I like the sentiment on the sign:
"Let's Educate Children and Give Them Hope."
These girls are so cute and they know how to march. Again they are wearing sweaters and gloves. It is August which would be like the Northern Hemisphere's February, so it is winter in Fiji and the people are cold! But truthfully, it is HOT! The design on their shorts is patterned after the stenciled masa or tapa cloth that is created so beautifully here in Fiji.
Every parade also has to have beautiful queen contestants.
And their sponsors . . .
And fresh flowers in their hair . . .
And larger than life floats.
And colorful balloons.
And adorable little children marching.
And singers and dancers--this cute little guy really had the dance moves.
And more dancers--Fijians with an Indian heritage. These women are wearing
Salwar (pants) Kaneez (dress) and Duppata (scarf).
And a theme float--Hibiscus flower float for the Hibiscus Parade
And the Grand Finale--the cleanest garbage truck you ever saw--with a great message.
Our day ended on a spiritual note when we had the opportunity to attend the baptism of three Johnson children who were baptized by their father. Aren't they beautiful all dressed in white. They continue to be a strong family and will soon be able to be sealed as a family in the Fiji Suva Temple. Their missionaries were Sister Fanene and Sister Lavatai of Western and American Samoa. These were our wonderful leader trainer missionaries. I miss them and hope they are doing well in their homelands. Our mission president's wife, Sister Klingler, introduced them to the gospel in Kadavu island at the restaurant they managed before moving to Suva. Then the elders there walked two hours to deliver the Book of Mormon she promised them. What a story! This is a strong family who will bless many lives by their leadership and loving example.
The next day, Sunday, we had the opportunity to meet the parents of our Fijian language teacher, Brother and Sister Vuikadavu. They are such a strength to the church here in Fiji.