Monday, July 20, 2015

Suva, Fiji - Land of Contrasts

I wanted to give just a bit more detail about our experience in  the capitol city of Fiji.  Suva is a place of tremendous contrasts, modern mixed with ancient, abundance mixed with poverty, tradition mixed with change.  

Our first impression was that this country was similar to Samoa in some ways…the towering mountains, the many bright colored houses, the abundant flowers and lush jungle bush of the countryside.  

However, far more than the other island countries we have been to, Fiji is a land of contrasts.  At first glance Suva appears much more developed with towering commercial buildings and LED billboards like giant TV screens.  Yet when we looked closer we see that right next to modern structures of glass and steel is an open air market where subsistence farmers carry their breadfruit and bananas in wheel barrows.  There is a large, beautifully appointed Carnegie Library on the same street as a crumbling office structure that looks like it was built long before I was born.  

Both Tonga and Samoa are heavily dominated by Christianity.  In Fiji Christian churches intermingle with Islamic Mosques and Hindu temples.  Everywhere there is contrast.
Many  Fijians speak English as well as their native language, so we were able to converse freely with more people, which was a huge benefit.  The leaders and members at the various stakes we visited were very welcoming and eager to learn.  We found most family history consultants have lots of enthusiasm, although many have little technical knowledge of how to use the online familysearch program.  The Internet at the churches is good and the computers are up to date.  They just need some basic training, so we have our work cut out for us.
We have spent much of our time giving hands on training to the consultants, showing them how to sign on as a helper for someone else, how to enter and edit data, how to use the snipping tool to do a screen capture of family pedigree charts and how to merge duplicate records. We would generally select one or two people who seemed the most proficient at using the computer.  We would then give them a crash course in each of these skill sets.  After they show they understand, we watch them teach each one of these things on our checklist to one or two fellow consultants.  We did all we could to lift and encourage these dear people, helping them build confidence in their new found abilities.  Once were confident they would be able to keep spreading this knowledge to others and that they know how to use the live chat feature in the  “get help” section any time they got stuck, then we would move on to the next stake.

Elder Bennett teaching FamilySearch

One of our best blessings here has been our friendship with the Senikuraciris, the couple who are the Area Family History advisors for Fiji. They have been the ones to show us where to go and introduce us to key leaders.  They have been a delight to work with and have become true friends.
Now we are done with our work on this side of the island.  Time to head to Lautoka Stake on the west side of the island to see what we can accomplish there!

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