Weird and Wonderful
At this point, it has been a personal tradition for me to point out how weird this and previous years have been. But what feels even weirder at this moment is the lack of necessity for me to say so. Sure, there have been ups and downs and a bunch of frustrating moments since my last update; however, at this point, it’s just how life is and is fairly standard. Ironically, now that I’m taking things in stride and fully adjusted/accustomed to things, my time in Fiji is coming to an end. Looking back at the past two Februarys when I was heading to Fiji, it is a break in the pattern to leave soon. Now with that out of the way, let’s start again from the top – possibly for the last time. I’m working in Fiji with the Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC), and while I started here working mostly on desk reviews and assisting with events and workshops, nowadays, I have been focused on organizing and cataloging a resource center at the office for the publications and documents that have built up over the years.
One event that stands out from my daily routine would be the end-of-the-year retreat that was held just before the end of our 2021 program year. This was a week-long event that acted as both a break and a planning and evaluation period for where we’ve been both as an organization and in our programs while also creating a plan for 2022. It helped with locating areas for improvement, collecting information for donors on what their funding went into, updates for partners, and other similar functions. On top of all that, there was even an opportunity for a continuation of our training session with UNWomen on Transformational Leadership – a program that has been running since September and ends at the beginning of March. At the retreat, there was a great deal of discussion on program work over the past year and where it would be going over the next year with the formation of a rough outline and aligning related dates and holidays for boosting relevance and attention. Honestly, as I’m thinking back on it, many ideas sounded simple and made perfect sense but had never crossed my mind until that moment. The sheer amount of things accomplished over the year, despite the disruptive quarantines and lockdowns, once again bring my admiration for everyone at PCC to new heights.
On the topic of ongoing programs, I would be remiss not to look back at the eco-farm PCC launched last year. It is multipurpose in providing supplemental income for the organization, eventually acting as an operation area, a community program, and an interaction site, and becoming a carbon offset location for when travel occurs, such as when partners visit or when PCC staff travel as they did for COP 26.
There was one program workshop that had been touched on in a previous newsletter that does deserve mention, and that would be the Transformational Masculinity and Femininity in the Pacific workshop in November. The workshop had an extra effect as the Fijian participants built a more direct relationship through interactions with PCC – such as attendance at an event in solidarity with West Papua’s struggle for independence. The workshop was a hybrid arrangement with several Pacific Islands represented by their youth online and holding discussions alongside shared keynotes and programming examining the concepts in an interdisciplinary fashion.
What was initially a one-year experience has grown to encompass nearly a two-year period that has lasted an eternity and seems to have passed almost immediately. As confusing as that may have sounded, I am glad that I had the opportunity to experience this, and hope that there is continued support for the wondrous things happening through the Pacific Conference of Churches and Global Ministries.
Robert Howard serves with the Pacific Christian Council, Fiji. His appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund, Our Church’s Wider Mission, WOC, and your special gifts.