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Arriving in Fiji

February 22, 2011

Life can be full of spontaneity. I touched down in Nadi, Fiji at 5:30 am on Sunday, January 16th. Inside of the Nadi International Airport I was greeted by one of my eventual co-workers. A four-hour cab ride was employed in order to arrive in Suva.

I was absolutely exhausted from the flying but was energy by the novel and breathtaking scenery. The intensity of the greenery and the rolling hills mixed with the clear blue-sky reminded me of scene out of Jurassic Park. As it was, the landscape wasn’t the only new-fangled sight; I was astonished (and alarmed at times) to be driving (or, in my case, riding) on the left side of the street. My mind was slightly warped from the images of the unfamiliar.

But, I arrived safely in Suva after long, long journey. I was dropped off at my new home on the campus of the Pacific Theological College (PTC). I tried to settle myself by unpacking my belongings. All along I was hoping that a sudden bout of narcolepsy would overtake me. But, my sleep came to no avail. Slumber came later on that night around eleven o’clock pm.

The next morning I woke up with the sun and decided to go for a walk. What began as an embryonic hike turned into a fully-grown adult of a journey as I found myself in the middle of downtown, which is a 35-minute walk from PTC.

After my return to campus I was informed about a staff retreat for the Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC), which is the organization with whom I work. In a perfect world I would have had time to gather myself, but not so in this case. The fact of the matter was that the bus was leaving in 15 minutes. Wow! Yes, this was my reaction as well.

So, I was hurried off to a staff retreat in Nadave, Fiji about 45-minutes away from Suva. I quickly became acquainted with my co-workers, the new interns, and the General Secretary. This retreat lasted five days and was beneficial for building trust and comradely and tackling the criteria for the upcoming year.

It has been decided that my title is a “Researcher for Climate Change and Resettlement”. But, after a private discussion with the General Secretary it has been agreed upon that my emphasis will be “Sustainability” and “Green Churches”. To date, I have contributed on a report of the Carteret’s Islands that will be presented to Bread for the World. This report highlights rising sea levels and the reality of resettlement. Also, I helped write a paper on “Climate Change and Religion” in the Pacific to be presented to the World Council of Churches. And, I have recently helped construct an environmental policy for PCC. This policy seeks to the implementation of environmentally ethical practices in the workforce. 

It has been a non-stop adventure thus far. I am thankful for the opportunity that Global Ministries has provided through the generous donations of Disciples of Christ and United Church of Christ congregations. This is my moment to serve in the world and to be a Critical Presence in the South Pacific. It is my hope that the sustainability practices that I seek to implement will be an example to the Pacific region and abroad.  

Aaron Wiggins

Aaron Wiggins serves with the Pacific Christian Council located in Suva, Fiji.  Aaron will serve as a program associate working with advocacy and justice issues related to global warming, nuclear testing, etc.  Also, Aaron will assist in the education of members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ in understanding the environmental challenges and critical needs of people in the Pacific.

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