July 31, 2022
Bula one final time from Fiji! The group has safely touched down in their connection to LA and are preparing to depart on their final flights home. This trip flew by faster than the blink of an eye, but we have countless memories and lessons to take home with us and to store in our hearts forever. Before we say goodbye for good, here is one final update to how the trip concluded. On our fourth day in Pacific Harbour, we were blessed with sunshine smiling down at us. To take advantage of this opportunity and the morning downtime, the group decided to walk down the road to spend the first half of the day at the beach. For the next few hours, we swam, walked along the beach, and enjoyed the beautiful scenery of the clear, warm water and surrounding islands. Chris tried to invent a game of rugby mixed with football, while the girls tanned and drew art murals in the sand. After the beach, everybody found a tall bridge to jump off of. At once, the whole group jumped in together and smiled the whole way down. After some more tanning by the pool, it was already time for lunch! After lunch, since it was almost everybody’s first dive since being certified, the dive masters surprised the kids with a shark dive! So, we geared up and headed to the dive site, which they call the “Bistro” because of the large amount of meat/chum consumption that happens there. Once we got to the bottom, the dive masters lined us up against a man-made wall of coral. At first, we couldn’t see much. Then, all of a sudden, dozens of sharks began to appear, ranging from white-tip reef sharks to lemon sharks to bull sharks and more! We also got to spot a massive grouper and an electric eel, which Sky spotted, as a bonus. The kids had so much fun spotting the sharks and swimming around. Eli couldn’t hide his excitement and started flipping in circles under water! After the dive, we headed back to shore to catch the sunset. By the time the sun had set, it was time for dinner, so we headed back to Grace Foods Kitchen for another delicious meal filled with sushi, noodles, and fried rice. After dinner, the kids gathered up for moonup, then went to bed dreaming of friendly sharks and eels. On the last day of scuba diving, we were once again gifted with plenty of sunshine. So, to start the morning off right, we strolled out of bed, had breakfast, and suited up for our final two dives. That day, we explored some beautiful coral reefs. During our dives, we saw grouper, sea snakes, and anemone. In addition, Lucy was the first to point out a pair of white-tip reef sharks! On the boat ride back, Margaret and Anna DJed while everybody danced to songs like American Pie and Mr. Brightside. After lunch, the group walked down to the Arts Village to do some more shopping. Hasler and Harper did some thrift shopping while the girls tried the infamous iced coffees one last time. We made it home just in time to catch the beautiful sun setting over the horizon and emitting all shades of red, purple, and yellow. The group had our last dinner in Pacific Harbour, and of course it didn’t end without an impromptu dance party. The kids were singing and dancing to “Wop” and “low” as spectators watched with interest. That night, the group layed in the Emos as we watched the stars and did moonup. Early the next morning, the crew packed their bags and rushed out the door to board the shuttle to our next and final destination: Nadi. After a long car ride listening to a wide assortment of songs, we finally arrived at our hotel. Quickly upon arrival, we threw on our bathing suits and got into another van to Port Deanarau where we boarded our catamaran sailboat. For the next four hours, we cruised around the Mamanuca islands as we enjoyed sunshine and the beautiful scenery of picturesque islands and crystal clear water. Halfway through the ride, we anchored by a nearby island to do some snorkeling. The group swam around the reefs and caught site of beautiful blue star fish and even some white-tip reef sharks. Georgia showed off her underwater breathing skills by swimming through the tunnels and into caves for the perfect photo shoot opportunities. The rest of the girls worked on their aerobics with Molly as they practiced their treading above water. After snorkeling, the group enjoyed a delicious lunch filled with sandwiches, wraps, masala, and banana bread. To work off our filled bellies, everybody jumped back into the water and onto the floating water mat. We quickly discovered that the mat could’ve comfortably fit all 14 of us, so the mat brawls began. Ultimately, Ben came out victorious and was the last one remaining on the mat. After our mat battle, we headed back to the port and returned home. Once again, we quickly turned ourselves around and got ready for our banquet dinner. We arrived to our dinner, which was on the beach, just in time to catch the sun setting below the horizon. The kids were thrilled to finally see a full sunset after spending most of the trip on the south coast. For dinner, we laughed and reminisced on everybody’s favorite and funniest memories. From crashing bamboo rafts to climbing up a steep mountain, the group had plenty of great memories to reflect on. Following dinner, we headed back home for moonup and bedtime. Everybody was tired and looked forward to our last day with bittersweet feelings. On our last day in Fiji, the group embarked on another lovely sailboat ride around the beautiful Fijian islands. This time, everybody grabbed a line with a hook and started casting. While we didn’t have much luck, Chris reeled in the one and only catch like an expert. Meanwhile, those that were finished fishing hopped back on the water mat to catch some free sunshine. Leah was the first to begin the second mat brawl of the trip when she tried to get Jake off of the mat. To her and the rest of the group’s demise, none were successful. After the boat ride, the group returned back to our hotel to pack our bags and prepare to say one final goodbye to Fiji. Together, everybody went to the airport and boarded the flight to LAX. The air was full of bittersweet feelings: happy because of the new, lasting friendships formed and life changing experiences and sad because our two-week chapter was finally coming to an end. Once we landed in LA, the group finally said all of their goodbyes before parting ways. Eve and sky were the first to let loose a tear, but the rest of the group quickly followed. While the trip flew by fast, it was nothing short of amazing. The group grew close and grew together in ways Molly and I never could have even imagined, and we are so excited to see how they all shine in their next chapter of life.
So, for our very last time, we would like to say vinaka (thank you), Moce (goodbye), and sotatale (see you again)!
-Molly and Jake
July 26, 2022
Bula! We have thoroughly enjoyed our hostel on the beach, with lots of water activities and hair braiding. On Friday, the kids were able to sleep in and enjoy the quietness of no crowing roosters. Chris spent his morning on the beach, watching the sunrise from the tree swing. We enjoyed lots of delicious bacon and egg breakfast sandwiches and toast. The rest of the morning was spent by the pool, kayaking the reef break, and getting our hair braided by two local women. Lucy finally got her braids she’s been looking forward to getting, with pink and blue beads on the end. Harper and Hassy got matching small braids to match all the girls and Jake. We surfed at high tide around noon and everyone was so eager to get out on the water. Leah and Georgia showed off their skills and caught some of the first waves. The group followed them and rode party waves all together. After our surf, we came in and devoured our lunch by the ocean. The group went swimming and played football with their new Kiwi friends in the afternoon. We watched the sunset from the hammocks on the sand and reflected on our sunny and calming day.
Saturday was a fun filled day, as we took a day trip to the island of Yanuca. Eve and sky took one for the team and sat in the spray zone on our bumpy ride. We jammed to our guide, John’s bumping playlist, with our favorite song Mistletoe by Justin Bieber. It felt like Christmas in July! When we arrived to the beach we set out on our short climb to the lookout on the highest peak of the island. From the top, everyone was in awe of the crystal blue water and endless miles of water. We headed back down and enjoyed our lunch, consisting of BBQ chicken, potatoes, pineapple, and papaya. The group was ecstatic to see sodas in the cooler after their hot trek. Eli tried the sparkling orange mango soda, which was surprisingly delicious! After, we let our food digest as we laid on the beach and listened to the crashing waves. On the boat ride back took a pit stop at Bird Island, which is a tiny sand island in the middle of the ocean. There we snorkeled and Ben was able to point out a white tip shark that was swimming right under us! We also were lucky enough to catch a tuna off the end of the boat. The group came back and showered before admiring our last sunset on the beach and dinner at the hostel. We got a good nights sleep before our transfer to the scuba center to start our scuba diving certifications.
Our first day of scuba involved the first 3 sessions of pool dives. While one group was completing their skills, the others and Molly took a trip to the local shopping village to enjoy iced chocolates and coffees. On the way back, they sang along to the Teen Beach Movie sound track for everyone to hear. The group gathered back together for our lunch of wraps and pizzas before the second group headed into the pool. Molly and some of the girls took another walk to the shops, to help buy snacks for the sick kids and Jake. Margaret and Anna also picked out some fun new bracelets and Eve found the perfect beach bag for our boating adventures. In the late afternoon, we Enoed and challenged each other to BS. The group walked across the street for dinner to feast one of the best fried chicken sandwiches on the island. After, we listened to music while watching the rain softly fall from the sky before heading to bed.
On Monday, the kids munched on banana pancakes while meeting one of the cameramen from Survivor, who was staying at our hotel. Ben got all job information and very interested in becoming a helicopter pilot now. After bombarding the man with questions and trying to convince him to send his young son on Moondance in the future, everyone hopped in the pool to finish off there last 2 pool dives. The kids powered through, even though the rain was tempting them to get in sweatpants and play cards. Lunch followed the dives and then everyone suited up and got on the boat to begin the open water dives. Their two dives went well and the instructor said they were the fastest group to finish their skills! Georgia and Chris exchanged alternate air sources like pros and also pointed out a baby starfish to the group. When we got back to land, we rinsed off and rode to dinner. Everyone was elated to flip through the 8 page menu, which consisted of everything you could imagine. Sushi was the fan favorite for the group and was topped off with bubble waffle desserts. We circled up for Moon up by the river and rested up for our last certification dives in the morning.
Today 9 students completed their PADI open water certifications! We finished the last 2 dives around the colorful coral and were surrounded by hundreds of fish. Sky and Eve, the dynamic duo, found a giant sea slug that they named Carl. Everyone had the biggest smiles on their face as they rose up from underwater and were so proud of their newest accomplishment. We were welcomed back to land with another yummy lunch and hot showers. The afternoon consisted of rest hour and hammock talks. We walked to dinner in the local shopping center and throughly enjoyed fried rice, crumbled chicken, and chicken burgers. Anna got everyone hooked on the game “snaps” and stumped Hasler and Eli. We all went to bed excited for tomorrow’s soft coral dives and another beautiful day in Fiji.
Bye for now!
Molly and Jake
Eve- Thank you momma and dadda for sending me to Fiji. It has been so much and I have made so many new friends and memories! Love you!
Sky- thanks mom and dad for giving me one of the best experiences of my life I’ve learned so much and have had so much fun! I miss y’all and can’t wait to tell you about my trip love you!
Margaret- thank you mom and dad for giving me the opportunity to be in Fiji with an amazing group of people. I can’t wait to tell all about the craziness and fun! Love you lots!!
Leah- Thank you so much mom and dad for letting me have such a great experience here! I have so many stories to tell y’all! Love you so much!!
Lucy- thank you so much mom and dad for giving me so many opportunities including coming to Fiji. I’ve had an amazing time and can’t wait to tell y’all. Your support means so much to me and I can’t wait to see you guys soon. Love you!
Georgia – Thank you Mom and Dad for everything you’ve done to let me come here. It’s absolutely beautiful here and I can’t wait for y’all to come see it. I’ve had the best time but I miss you so much. Love you!!
Hasler-hey mom and dad. Kemuni na ma kei na ta, au kila ni’u a cudru taumada, ia vinaka vakalevu na nomuni talai au mai eke. Sa yaco mai vei au na gauna ni noqu bula kau na vakalougatataki me’u cakava tale e dua na ilakolako ena yabaki mai oqo. Au lomani kemuni vakalevu. Love Hasler❤️
Eli-Hey mom and dad thank you so much for sending me on this trip to Fiji I have had so much fun in the villages. And now I am just getting started with my advanced scuba diving certification. And the people are so nice on my trip. Love Eli
Chris- Hi Mom, Dad, and Katherine. Fiji has been the experience of a lifetime. I’ve grown so much in the short amount of time I’ve been on this trip and I know these memories will stick with me forever. Also sorry mom I lost your water bottle on the trip that’s my bad. Can you guys also bring the dog when you pick me up. Thank you guys so much for sending me here see you soon love you.
Ben- Bula Mom, Dad, and Shep! Fiji has been such a great experience, and I have matured so much. I just wanted to thank you guys for giving me this opportunity! I have gotten all 3 of you gifts that are specific to this trip! I’m excited to see all of you! Love y’all.
Harper- Hey Mom, Dad and Juj, I am having an absolute blast in Fiji! I am so so grateful for this awesome experience you guys have sent me on. I have made so many new friends and memories that are so awesome. I’m so excited to see you all soon. -love Harper
Anna- Hey mom and dad! Fiji has been absolutely amazing and so fun. Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to experience a whole different world from Atlanta. I feel like I have learned so much and grown as a person during these past 2 weeks with all these people. I can’t wait to share the memories I’ve made that will last a lifetime and I can’t want to see y’all when I get home. I love you both- Anna
July 21, 2022
Bula from Fiji group 3B! The crew has just arrived at our second location of the trip, where we will be spending the next few days surfing, sea kayaking, and enjoying the beach. Our service portion of the trip, in which we stayed in Nabukelevu village and Wainadiro village, was nothing short of an eye-opening experience and an amazing immersion opportunity.
The day following the kids’ arrival to Fiji, the group woke up early to begin the journey inland towards Nabukelevu Village. After arriving, we filed straight into a traditional Fijian church service. The group was shocked at the sound of the choir singing wonderful gospel music in harmony. After church, we enjoyed a delicious lunch consisting of ground chicken wraps, then we went to the Chief’s house to participate in the traditional Kava Welcoming ceremony. At the ceremony, the village chief welcomed the group and accepted us as members of the village. Following the ceremony, we wondered down to the river, where Harper encouraged everybody to get in, despite the rain. For the next hour, the group swam up and down the river in the rain with some of the village children. After drying off, the kids drifted over to the nearby community center to watch rugby and play with the village children. I walked into the building to find Leah singing “Riptide” on the Ukulele to a large group of Fijian children. Not long after, I looked over my shoulder to see Eli getting his hair braided by a flock of local girls. For hours, the group played music and games, danced, and laughed with the village children. Following the fun, everybody feasted on a fancy dinner with beef, mashed potatoes, and asparagus. The group ate until there was nothing left. After dinner, we had moonup and played card games until fatigue from the long day eventually settled in.
The next day, the group woke up early to the sounds of the roosters singing. Shortly after breakfast, we all got ready to go on a hike to retrieve resources for our “lovo,” which is a traditional, man-man, Fijian oven. During our hike, the group split up into two teams. The first group tested their worthiness by seeing who could pull out the cassava roots from the dirt. The other group trekked deeper into the jungle to gather taro leaves for building the lovo. To display their toughness, Georgia and Eve painted mud on their faces. They looked like they were ready to face any challenge. Following our mission, the group returned home to go for a swim. Until lunch, everybody swam in the river with the village children. The group was jumping off of rocks, painting faces with clay, and Lucy and Sky even floated down the lazy river with a crowd of Fijian children. After lunch, we gathered around the lovo to prepare our food. Hasler learned a new skill: how to shave a coconut to make coconut milk. While taking turns, some of the group prepared the food while the others played games like “duck-duck goose” and “big booty” with the local children on the lawn. After the meal was prepared, the group all went back down to the river to swim some more with the kids. Margaret, along with some of the other group-members, tried guava for the first time! After swimming, we rushed back to change, and then we ran up a hill to catch the sunset. For the next thirty minutes, the group watched the sun setting over the horizon and took lots of pictures. Chris even rode a horse, which made for a very majestical photo. Soon after, we returned just in time for the lovo dinner. That night, we ate chicken, taro leaves, and taro. It was delicious! After dinner, the group attended a fundraising ceremony where our kids donated some money to help fund some of the village children to go to school. While there, everybody got to try Kava for the first time, which is a root used to make a ceremonial drink. After dinner, we had moonup where we contemplated the meaning of life…literally. Not long after moonup, the crew headed to bed, grateful for their time in the village and sad to be leaving the next day.
In our last day in the village, we woke up once again to the welcomed sound of the roosters crowing. After a quick plan change, the group hiked up the river to a remote spot where we swam, tanned, and learned how to build bamboo rafts for our ride. After the bamboo rafts were complete, we came aboard and began our journey down the stream. As we floated down, we came across some rapids and one of the groups encountered a rock. By the time they recognized it, it was too late. The raft hit the rock and the impact shattered it to pieces. Sky, Margaret, and Anna, who had their backs turned to the rock, were thrown off into the water from the impact. The group floated down the rest of the river laughing and retelling the events of what happened. After lunch, the kids walked up to the school to play volleyball and touch rugby with the village children. Chris’s volleyball team with the school kids went undefeated, and Ben learned how to play touch rugby! After all of the games, the group returned to the river to bathe and play some more with the villagers as the sun went down. Once cleaned, everybody enjoyed our last meal at the village and went to our goodbye ceremony. While at the ceremony, the kids danced, played music, and enjoyed their last moments with the villagers. Once the ceremony was complete, we loaded up the bus and left to go to our campsite for the night. It was a sad moment for the kids to leave the village behind after three days of building friendships and sharing new experiences with the people of Nabukelevu. I am confident after our moonup conversation that night that the group is going home with a fresh, new perspective on life.
After a good night’s sleep at our campsite on the bamboo jungle, the group got up early and ready to raft. Before rafting down the Upper Navua River, however, we walked down to a swimming hole where the kids went cliff jumping and swam under a waterfall. Following the cliff jumping, we suited up and walked down to the river for our long day of rafting. For the entire day on the river, we were blessed with clear skies and a bright-beaming sun. As a result, the kids got hot, and once the kids got hot, the raft wars begin. Left and right, people from the different rafts were throwing each other in; nobody was safe. Although there was no clear winner, Eli managed to stay in while throwing several people out of their rafts. Eve, on the other hand, couldn’t stay on the boat for the life of her. After lunch, Jake took over raft guide duties for his boat as he controlled the oars from the back. He only managed to get his boat stuck a couple of times. Overall, the rafting was a blast. We were blown away by the constant towering canyons on both sides of the narrow river. The group also enjoyed the jokes, songs, and stories that never seemed to cease throughout the day. Once we made it to Wainadiro village, which would be our final stop for the night, the boys enjoyed some touch rugby with the villagers, while the girls sang some camp songs by the river. Once the sun had set, the crew had a big dinner consisting of rice, pasta, and veggies, then they went to attend the village welcoming ceremony. During the ceremony, we danced, sang songs on the ukulele, and shared stories with the villagers. To end the night, we had moonup by the river, under the stars, and then we joined some of the village children for an impromptu bonfire before heading to bed after the long day.
Our last day on the river did not disappoint. Right after breakfast, we geared up and boarded our individual inflatable kayaks or “duckies.” For the first half of the day, we floated down the river, laughing, swimming, and singing songs. Eve, once again, struggled to stay on her boat while Ben impressed everybody with his kayaking skills. The highlight of the day was before lunch, when we pulled ashore to do a short hike to an epic waterfall. The kids ran under the waterfall and took pictures. Hasler even found a natural waterslide to drift down. After the waterfall hike, we got back in Tour duckies for a short paddle to our next mode of transportation: motorboats. These motorboats, however, were not the ones that a person from the United States would imagine. They were long, wooden, and narrow, and they guided us down rapids as we were greeted by jungle and heavenly waterfalls sparkling down mountains on either side. For an hour, we cruised down the river in the motorboats, speechless as we gazed at the surrounding scenery. After the boat ride, we shuttled back to civilization and stopped at an ice cream spot. Harper tried passion fruit and mango ice cream, and the group reflected on the long, yet fulfilling day. Shortly after, we drove to our next location where we will be surfing for the next 2 days. Later that night, we enjoyed a moonup on the beach, under the bright, night sky where we stargazed for hours. Our time on the Upper Navua humbled the group with beauty the likes none of us had ever seen. We are so grateful for having this opportunity to start the trip, and we are excited for the many adventures yet to come. Before we say goodbye, however, here are a few shoutouts from the kids:
Until next time,
Molly and Jake
Anna – Hey mom, dad, Dailey, cooper, and Grace! Fiji is so much fun and I have met a lot of cool and fun people. It is beautiful here and can’t wait to tell you all about it. I hope all is well at home. Give the dogs a hug for me. Love y’all!
Leah – Hi mom and dad! I’m having so much fun in Fiji. Can’t wait to see y’all and tell Anders I say hi! Love y’all and miss you!
Sky – hi mom and dad I love and miss y’all having a blast in Fiji I made friends! Hey Bruno!
Eve – Hey momma and dadda miss you guys and love you! Made some cool friends! Hey pogo!
Margaret – Hey mom and dad miss y’all lots also happy late bday Tad miss you so much. I’ve made the most amazing friends and I can’t wait to talk all abt it. Love you¡
Georgia – Hey mom and dad I miss you guys so much. I’m having so much fun and I cannot wait for you guys to come here.
Lucy – hey mom, dad, and Molly! Hope you guys are having a great time in Portugal. Can’t wait to hear all about it and tell y’all about all the fun I’m having in Fiji. Love and miss you!
Chris – Hey Mom, Dad, and Katherine! I’m having so much fun in Fiji rn, I’ve made so many friends with the people on my trip and the people in the village. Please give Lexi some pets for me. Love you bye!
Hasler – hey mom, what up dad. I miss y’all but I’m having a pretty good time I’m Fiji. I kinda don’t wanna come home but if y’all insist I will. Tell all the homies I’ll be back soon say what’s up to lil yachty, quavo, takashi, post, drake , 2 chainz, take off , off set , lil baby, lil naz ,moneybag yo, 42 Dugg , mr John ,mr chance and tell ‘em I’m almost out the slammer- love Sler <3
Eli – Hey mom and dad. I am having such a fun time in Fiji. How is your trip to Lake George dad, and how is California mom. When you guys come home tell Pablo I said hi. Love Eli
Harper – Hi mom and dad. I’m having a blast in Fiji! Miss you guys lots can’t wait to see you soon. Mom can you pls wash my bedsheets. -love Harper
Ben – Hi mom and dad! I’m having a great time in Fiji, maybe Better than the USVI’s. Tell Sheppy that I miss him! Love y’all and miss ya!
July 17, 2022
Bula from Fiji 3B!
Everyone landed safely in Nadi and tested negative for their post departure COVID tests. After a nice buffet breakfast, we headed out to our hotel for the night. On the way, we challenged each other in Fiji trivia. Christopher and Anna carried teamed two to victory with their knowledge they learned from their neighbors on the plane. The group took a pit stop at some sand dunes right on our route. Ben somersaulted down the dunes, while everyone ran down to the beach. Eve and Georgia were the first to jump in the ocean and body surf the waves. Soon after, the whole group had followed and enjoyed their first swim in the Pacific Ocean. After, we stopped by a local souvenir shop to buy sulus for the village. Harper, Eli, and Hasler bought their own wooden axes to show their excitement and embrace Fijian history and culture. When we arrived at the hotel, we started our own volleyball tournament before lunch. Lunch consisted of cheeseburgers, chicken sandwiches, and wraps, which were delicious. Then, the group walked to the shopping village down the street and enjoyed iced coffees and chocolates. On the way back, we ran into a weekend bazaar and were welcomed to join the party. Sky and Lucy immediately joined the local children in a game of soccer with the rest of the group. Leah and Margaret, along with some boys, played sword and shield, where they acted out dramatic deaths before being revived by their teammates. We enjoyed our pizza dinner after the sunset, with the fan favorite being Hawaiian. The group packed for our days ahead in Nabukelevu village and headed to bed early after our long first day.
Molly and Jake
July 15, 2022
Hello Fiji 3B Families!
We just heard from our leaders that the group has landed safely in Nadi. The trip is off to a great start, and we cannot wait to hear more stories from their adventure.
Please remember our leaders and students will be unplugged during their trips but we will be posting up to three trip updates throughout the next couple of weeks! This will allow you to follow along with the trip and the students will also give a special shout out mid-way through! You can also follow us on Instagram, @moondanceadventures, to see more of what we are up to this summer!