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The official languages of Fiji are English, Fijian, and Fiji Hindi. The population is primarily a mix of indigenous fijians and those of Indian descent, who live mainly in urban areas. About 58% of Fiji’s population is Christian, with the Methodist church being the largest denomination. About 33% of the population is Hindu, while another 7% is Muslim. Traditional Fijian culture places great emphasis on the importance of family and the village. The Meke is a traditional dance that is often performed during festivals or before sporting events. Folk music often uses the guitar, ukulele and lali drums, though modern pop music and Indian-influenced music are also heard in Fiji. The traditional sulu clothing (a garment similar to a skirt) is still worn by both men and women. Rugby is the most popular sport in Fiji, though soccer is also popular and traditional recreational activities such as wrestling and boat racing are still practiced as well. Fijian cuisine relies heavily on fish and seafood dishes, which are often eaten with rice, sweet potatoes, or cassava. Indo-Fijian culture has brought influences from Indian cooking, such as spices and curries to Fiji as well. Coconut is also used in cooking many dishes, and tropical fruits such as mangoes, bananas, and guava are readily available.
Snapshot of Tuvalu (part of the Fiji Suva Mission)
The official languages of Tuvalu are Tuvaluan and English, though English is not commonly spoken in daily life. About 97% of Tuvalu’s population belongs to the Church of Tuvalu, though other religious groups are also present. Traditional Tuvaluan culture includes the fakanau, fatele, and oga dances, which are still performed at community events and other celebrations. Community ties are very important in Tuvaluan culture, with many families having their own assigned role within the village. Most villages have their own meeting hall which is used for important meetings, weddings, and dances and other cultural events. Soccer, rugby, and volleyball are popular sports in Tuvalu, as well as kilikiti, a traditional sport that is similar to cricket. Fish and seafood make up most Tuvaluan dishes, and coconut is used in many dishes. Other common foods include breadfruit, pulaka, taro, and seabirds. Pork is generally eaten at larger celebrations.
*Wallis and Futuna are also assigned to the Fiji Suva mission, but there is no church presence in these countries at this time*
Roti and curry
Rice and curry
Rou rou (mashed up leaves in coconut milk), roots from plants (dalo, cassava), fish, pig at special occasions (funeral and weddings), lovo (earth ovens with chicken, pig, or a cow for special occasions), bat (delicacy), pig brain, sea turtles (although illegal), octopus, shark, most things are prepared in coconut milk
In the city, missionaries get bikes. In the country, usually on foot or in a truck. Everything is spread out in the bush. To travel between islands, either take an airplane (usually) or sometimes a boat (unusual because of safety reasons). Missionaries use taxis and open-air buses a lot as well.
There’s a no-gun policy, even among the police so Fiji is pretty safe. Hurricanes do happen, but there are specific government instructions to follow. There are no tsunamis because the coral reef makes it impossible for them to come through. The driving can be a little scary because of muddy roads. Service can include using machetes.
The Fijians are very laid back. Most of them are Christian and extremely friendly. Missionaries do not go door-to-door contact because everyone lets them in and always wants to feed them. They love you and want to listen to the gospel, but because of their laidback nature, it’s hard for them to act on the gospel. They are very kind and have an easy humor. The Indians are also kind, but very busy. They are the industrious of the two and own all the shops. Most all are Muslim or Hindu–they believe in Hindu gods and also Jesus.
A lot of the items you would need, mosquito repellent or sunscreen, you don’t end up using because you just get used to the climate. Bring anti-itch cream, however. Fiji is a very minimalist place. Most everything you need you can find there. Only bring one or two pairs of slacks. As missionaries, you will be wearing a sulu (skirt) your entire mission. They are comfortable (made out of the same material as slacks) and come about mid calf. Bring durable sandals, preferable more than two pairs.
Mailing and shipping: Letters can be sent normally. If a package has expensive items, disguise them. Mail workers are prone to steal things. When in doubt, put a cross or a picture of Jesus on the package. Mail workers are less likely to open them.
GPO Box 215
While I was there, a minister from another church prophesied that on June 23rd at exactly 2:30 pm, there would be tsunami that would wipe out all of Fiji. This caused a lot of worry and anxiety for Fiji. I was a little bit nervous when I first heard it, then came to my senses and felt at peace knowing this prophesy is from a random minister and not from President Thomas S. Monson, a man truly called of God. Knowing this strengthened my testimony of prophets and revelation, and helped me to share this knowledge and peace with members and investigators. June 23rd arrived and the water and skies were calm. The next day the minister was arrested for causing so much civil unrest in the country. And in the long run this experience helped us in our lessons!
Straight from the Fiji Suva Mission:
*What items were hard to get or not available?
“Most american products-like macaroni and cheese, kool-aid”
*What did you eat the most of?
“Roti, and curry”
“rice, sweet and sour pork, chicken, shrimp”
“chicken and rice”
*What is the craziest thing you ate?
“roussette (large bat)”
*What was most surprising about the culture?
“How much traditional tribes still had an effect on modern life.”
*What advice would you give to someone going to the Fiji Suva Mission?
“Always leave an area better than when you found it.”
“Be patient. Don’t expect a million baptisms. Some sow, some water and some reap.”
*What do you wish you had known before you served?
“How awesome New Caledonia was.”
**Did you serve in the Fiji Suva Mission? If so we would love to hear your advice and your stories! Please contact us at email@example.com**