July 13, 2018
Folks back home,
We are writing this final update with extremely heavy hearts. We cannot believe our time in Fiji has come to an end, and before we go any further we want to thank you all so much for sharing your incredible children with us. We cannot put into words what amazing young men and women they are, and how proud we are of them for the incredible two weeks they fostered within our small family. Each and every one of them is beautiful inside and out, and we could not be more thankful for our short two weeks we spent with them. Being able to wake up on the beach for the last three mornings of our trip was the perfect way to end.
After all of our hard work at the Wainadiro village, it was time to kick back, relax, and enjoy every last moment with each other. During our first day of surfing, it was evident that Layton was in her happy place. She didn’t hesitate to let us know that this was the best day of her life and how incredible she thought it was. And man, was she right! We were surrounded by clear skies, rugged green mountains, and surfed into the sunset (literally). It was truly incredible. Jacqueline and Millie impressed us all with their surfing skills as they rode some waves alllll the way in to the shore. We weren’t surprised though – their athletic ability has continued to shine through the entire trip!
The next day and our final full day of the trip was action-packed. We started the morning off right with a super early surf sesh, which set the tone for how amazing this day was. Collier stole the show and our surfing instructors ended up pulling him aside, trying to teach him how to carve the bigger waves as they noticed he was a natural.
After the gnarly surf pushed us all ashore, we quickly packed our day bags and hopped on a boat headed for an tropical island excursion! Let me tell you guys- we could not have had a more beautiful day for this adventure. During our long and scenic boat ride, you could find Hayden and MK taking charge at the front, singing at the top of their lungs. And with Hayden in charge, you know there was some Harry Styles involved! We shared so many laughs on the way there our stomachs hurt. Once we reached our island destination, we couldn’t believe how lucky we were to be able to spend our last day there. Trust us on this one, you’ll see the pictures. Blue skies, white sand, and coral reefs right off shore – we were basically on the set of a Fiji water commercial.
After we laid in the sun, played some volleyball, and ate a quick snack, the group took off on a quick hike to the top of the island. Thomas led the charge on this one, fearlessly taking our group up the trail and helping us all through some tough steep spots along the way. We don’t know where we would be without his great attitude and kind heart! Anora (as always) kept us laughing the entire day, and we aren’t exaggerating on this one. She has truly been our group comedian and has added so much spice and life to our family. Even despite her slight sunburn, she kept her contagious smile on until we hit the hay that night.
Our final Moonup was a special one. We all let each other in just a little more on our lives, discussing a turning point in our lives that we felt changed us in one way or another. It was so amazing to see how close our group has gotten over these short two weeks – these kids love and care for each other so much, and it was so refreshing to see their organic relationships form during our time together. We then spent the rest of our Moonup talking and laughing about the amazing memories and funny/favorite parts of the trip. The three of us wanted to stay in that moment forever.
We cannot believe we are heading to the airport to get on our flight to LA, but we do believe the saying that “time flies when you’re having fun”. We lived every minute of this trip to the fullest, squeezed Fiji for all that it was worth, and are heading home feeling incredibly grateful for the time we spent with your kids. Again, thank you again for sharing them with us. We would do anything to do it all over again.
Virginia, Brit, and Michael
Collier: the trip was amazing and couldn’t have been better. Thank you so much for sending me. See y’all soon. Love y’all!
Thomas: thank you for this amazing opportunity. this trip was sooo much fun! Love y’all! See you soon.
Jacqueline: I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to go on this trip. I love you guys and thank you so much for giving me this opportunity! See you when I get home!
MK: thank you for everything! Y’all are the best! This trip has been the best trip ever – I loved every second of it. I stayed curious and learned a lot! 3LW MK
Layton: thank you so much for sending me on this trip. I had an amazing time! I am so grateful! Miss Davis the most!
Hayden: Mom and Dad, I miss you guys so much. Trane too. Thank you so much for everything I can’t wait to give you big hugs and tell you everything!
Millie: thanks mom and dad for sending me to Fiji and for paying for this amazing trip. I had the best time and am so thankful for both of you and all you do for me. I love y’all so much and can’t wait to see y’all soon!!
Anora: thanks for sending me to Fiji. I love you guys and I’ll see you soon. We can have chat time at Panera.
July 10, 2018
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Mahatma Gandhi
WOW. We have had the most incredible time in Wainadiro village the past four nights. From rafting down the Navua to making friends in the village, we have accomplished so much.
Rafting was an absolute blast. The river was running high, so we absolutely zoomed through the upper section of this trip. The River of Eden is a jaw dropping sight. (Definitely worth a google) Encapsulated by huge rocks on both sides, you sort of feel like you are traveling in time. Thomas broke the ice by initiating friendly splash wars among our boats. Hayden’s paddling skills really impressed us all on the river as she was sitting in the front leading the pace of the boat with Sue-Sue helping command the group as well. After a chilly section paddling, we pulled over and soaked up the sun on a huge rock while eating lunch. As we continued down the river, Jacqueline kept her raft entertained by telling us about her favorite books as well as a description of her own novel. The river was flowing very fast, so we made record time on getting to Wainadiro.
We were welcomed into the village with open arms and a beautiful ceremony at the Chief’s house. It was wonderful feeling so accepted by a community and getting to experience their culture. After a full day, we headed back to our mosquito nets for some well deserved rest.
Our first hike to the Wapongo Wainadiro Primary School was very hot, but Layton and MK kept the group hydrated and energized. Three Moondance groups came before us and all helped in the process of building a new infirmary which made the finishing project even more special to see. Groups have brought wood, dug holes for pilings, and added windows. Our group put the finishing touches on this building by sanding each wall down and adding a fresh coat of primer and paint. Millie jumped right in and was a huge help in the project as a whole, going around making sure each crevasse in the wood was not looked over and finished to look perfect. Millie is always looking for ways to help the group and we are so thankful for that. After our long and fulfilling day of work, we headed back to the village just in time for a well deserved swim in the river where Anora was the first to jump in and start the fun. Anora’s adventurous personality is so contagious and critical for the group and we adore her brave nature. Through our many days of packed lunches with rafting and service, we luckily had Collier to start the chicken, Pringle, and veggies all in one sandwich trend during this relaxing break and everyone now wants to be the first to make this new “Fiji sandwich.” Jack was quick to try his first and has found a new favorite food.
Our last day of service was tearful yet very rewarding. We are so proud of each and every student for their hard work, dedication, and love they put into the kids of the Wainadiro Village and at the Primary School. We all had the opportunity to give out our donations that were well received. Being able to see the children’s faces light up with joy was an absolute blessing to us all.
These past couple of days spending time with each one of your kids in the village of Wainadiro has been extremely humbling. They did an incredible job of radiating light and positivity around the community and being able to watch them grow through this experience was something that will never be forgotten. As we head into our final leg of our Fiji adventure to get our surf on, we are feeling bittersweet. We cannot wait to cherish these last couple of days and see our little family grow closer and closer every day. Thank you once again for sending your precious humans with us!!!
“If you want happiness for an hour take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help someone else.” Anonymous
Virginia, Michael, and Brit
July 5, 2018
Hello again, Fiji Families!
We are writing this with very happy hearts to report that we now have 10 newly PADI certified open water divers! We have had an absolute blast these past few days on the water and can’t wait to tell you all about it.
Our first full day scuba diving was spent celebrating our very own birthday girl, Millie! After waking up to a dance party full of birthday songs, we feasted on a big breakfast before breaking up into groups and completing our pool skills for scuba. Lunch was incredible (per usual), but this day was extra special, as our lunch was followed by a surprise birthday cake complete with 16 candles and funfetti icing.
We needed a minute to let that food digest, and before getting on the boat we got the news from our dive masters that the wind was too strong for us to safely dive that afternoon. But of course, that didn’t stop us from having fun and making the most of our afternoon! We quickly split up into teams, painted our faces, and played an incredibly competitive game of kickball in a nearby field. Thomas took the lead in home runs as he made his way around the bases waaaay more than once and wowed us all with his incredible catches. The blue team would’ve been lost without their fearless pitcher Jack serving up a storm!
After an intense last inning, the blue team ended up taking home the gold with a score of 14-13. What a game. The red team still had a great attitude of taking their “punishment” of losing that day, which was cleaning up after we made dinner. Jacqueline and Hayden took the lead in the kitchen for the next two nights and amazed us with their cooking skills! Sue-Sue was the master of the skillet as she whipped up some delicious roti bread for the entire group to feast on. We were so grateful to have chefs like them amongst our amazing group of individuals. They make our lives easier!
The next few days were filled with sunshine and nonstop scuba, and we were so grateful for it. Collier could easily become Fiji’s next dive master as he was always in the first one in and last one out of the water. We can’t wait to see his GoPro footage – he never missed a single fish! Layton kept every single one of us doubled over with laugher with her “Miley buns” and always admittedly wetting her wetsuit. It’s safe to say our days are a whole lot brighter with her constant jokes and great attitude! Speaking of good attitudes, Anora and Thomas always kept their eyes on the prize while we were diving into the ocean. They were champs and pushed through any problems they had equalizing, and by the end were taking every dive in with ease.
We were so lucky to be able to celebrate the 4th of July in this amazing city known as Pacific Harbour. After a long day of diving, we celebrated with an incredible Fijian buffet, complete with slow roasted barbecue, live music, and plenty of face tattoos, festive sunglasses, and glow sticks. I don’t know where we would be without MK and her amazing photography skills – she kept us laughing as she took hundreds of candid pictures during the festivities, many of which caught us at our wackiest moments.
Our last day of diving was spent exploring an incredible wreck not too far off shore. We were all mind blown at all the different sea life and coral that now inhabited the ship we were swimming through. We even saw a decent handful of sharks – all at a safe distance – and it was easily one of the coolest experiences most of us have ever had underwater. We are so sad to leave our home by the sea but are so excited to hop on the river tomorrow and head into the village after some well-deserved rest. Community service marks the half way point of our trip, and we cannot believe how fast it has flown!
Sota tale (see you soon!)
Virginia, Brit, and Michael
MK- hey y’all hope all is well!! Make sure midge is good. Hope baseball is killing it! Staying curious love MK
Collier- This place is SWEET! Love y’all.
Hayden- Miss you guys! Everything is going great. I am annoying my group with harry styles and am loving getting scuba certified! YAY! See you soon
Thomas- Fiji is sick!!! Hope all is ecstatic back in the USA. love y’all!!
Jack- you guys are tubular!! Fiji is so dope!!!
Sue-Sue- hey guys! I’m having a blast. Fiji is amazing and so is my group. Remind teddy of our deal! Love you so much. Xoxo
Anora- Hey! I’m doing great and my lungs didn’t burst while scuba diving! Pet the cat for me and tell Quinn I miss him. Love you guys!!
Jacqueline- hey y’all!! The trip is so much fun and scuba diving was awesome! Love you guys so much and see you when I get back!
Layton- I miss Davis so so much, love all of y’all I am having so much fun I’m taking y’all here soon!! 🙂 <3
Millie- hey family, miss you guys so much! Hope y’all are having a fun time at the beach without me 🙁 love y’all and can’t wait to see y’all soon! Tell Jane and Emma I love them and miss them as well. My bday was AWESOME but I missed y’all! Thanks for all the notes! Much love
June 30, 2018
We are so glad to finally be on this beautiful island with all of your wonderful kids. After getting everyone together at LAX and hopping on a quick 10 hour flight, we were so happy to arrive at our new home in paradise for the next two weeks. Arriving in Fiji at 5:30 AM really gave us an advantage to seize the day!!
After putting our bags down and eating a quick breakfast, Layton did not waste any time as she was the first one to jump into the pool at our hotel, while Thomas and Collier started a round of “pickle ball” on some nearby tennis courts. We were so grateful to get some well deserved rest and relaxation after such a long flight! We soaked up some sun before heading to our first activity of the trip – a catamaran ride filled with fresh fruit, Fijian music, snorkeling and sunshine, and lots of laughs.
Hayden led the pack with the snorkeling and did not hesitate to jump in with her mask and fins and we all followed suit. After following our amazing Fijian snorkel guide Tika, he led us to an incredible cave that we could dive down and swim through. Jack and Jacqueline impressed us all by going through it with ease! It was so incredible to see everyone dive in (quite literally) to these activities after getting off a flight at 5 AM. Nothing was stopping them!
After getting on the boat, we all wanted to test MK’s braiding skills to get our salty hair in order. We even talked about the possibility of her giving the boys cornrows – stay tuned for an update on that! We finished our amazing boat ride with incredible sandwiches and relaxing in the sunshine. We even had a dance party on the front of the boat as we pulled into the harbor.
At dinner tonight, Millie and Anora kept us laughing with their hilarious sense of humor and quick wit. With a mix of big laughs and full stomachs, they were the cherry on top of our night! During our first Moonup, we all went around and shared why we were here and what we wanted to get out of the trip. Afterwards, we followed up with our “nug jug” (a time to give appreciation to members of our group for acts of kindness throughout the day) and Sue-Sue was easily the star – she received endless compliments for sharing her kindness, love, and endless amounts of sunscreen throughout the day today.
It’s safe to say we’ve got a great group with us here for the next two weeks! We cannot wait to see what our next adventure holds. Tomorrow, we SCUBA!
Virginia, Brit, and Michael