Back in the USA felt good, Being able to get back to work and earn some cash was really nice. However its tough when your best friend is halfway across the world. Can’t wait till papers are finalized for her to come to the States.
Back to video calls for a while! not as good as in being together but its nice to see your dearests face vs the old fashioned phone call.
Enduring the distance, cant wait to be together again.
It was a precious time from June to October that I was able to spend with my gal spanning 3 countries, from Taiwan, to Fiji, then Tuvalu. But work was calling and and much as I hated to be apart from my wife I needed to get back to prepare things.
Sunset in Funafuti, Tuvalu
Me, Nancy, Mom, Dad and various cousins and grandkids. We took a ride up and down the island.
Last minute Selfie.
Many different family members each gave me a shell necklace to remember them by.
Till we meet again!
Flying out of Funafuti, you can see the thin atoll home to about 4500 people.
When you suddenly realize that your experiences have changed you. New cultures, people friendships, and memories.
Flying into Suva en route to USA.
Getting a burger in Nadi International Airport while waiting for flight to Los Angles.
While we were on the island a local couple got married and we were able to see and participate in the whole process. First stage of events was for the couple to go to court, bring witnesses and answer a few questions from the judges. After that they were given a marriage certificate.
Some tough questions but also some laughs as well.
After the the questions and marriage certificate given some food was brought out and the people present had some lunch including the judges.
The next morning there was early preparation for the wedding. All the chicken and pork fish and other foodstuff was prepared the lunch.
Preparing chicken and slicing up the pig for the fire.
Coconut husks make a hot fire, then overlaid with coral rocks. the pig meat, chicken, fish, and breadfruit is all piled on and then they cover with banana leaves and mats and the meat is cooked for several hours.
Scraping coconut meat out of the shells, after several big white piles of shredded coconut meat were made it was the squeezed to separate the coconut milk.
Squeezing the milk out of the scraped coconut meat. Very rich milk you could not drink more than a little. The added sugar and boiled it down to make a sweet milky coconut cream that was added over top fish and pulaka.
Hand compressing the grated coconut meat to get separate the milk.
Ladies preparing dishes.
Dishes ready to be distributed.
Traditional Dancing at the wedding.
And picture with the happy couple, congratulations on your new life together.
After embarking on the Tuvalu Island of Niutao, we set about getting into the routine of of life for a few weeks, Island Style! The main house with living room and toilet and bedroom and storage area. Water Collection from the roof flows into a water tank.
Then beside the main house is a outdoor kitchen and another building with raised floor for taking naps and sleeping in the cool outdoor air. The main house was made of concrete and took awhile to cool down after a hot day, but the buildings outside allowed the cool night air to flow through them and brought cooling down results much more quickly. You can see the coconut husks stacked under the building, those are used for fires.
Hanging out with Mom and Dad and having a good time. Mom was getting ready to fry some fresh tuna.
Mom enjoying a moment reading.
Dad giving Mom a massage at end of day while she reads the Bible.
After enjoying our wedding and time in Suva Fiji with many friends and family, we headed north, to experience the small country of Tuvalu. I was excited o meet many more family members from my wife’s family. A small Turbo Prop plane made a 3x a week flight from Suva Fiji to Funafuti Tuvalu. This small country, a series of 9 islands spread across the remote pacific formerly called Ellice Islands, a protectorate of the British empire before gaining independence. This beautiful and remote country was where my wife grew up before going to boarding school in Fiji as a teenager for 4 years and then University in Taiwan for 4 years after that. Despite being away for much of the last 8 years this was her home and birthplace, Timeless Tuvalu.
After a two and a half hour flight cruising over blue water at about 18,000 ft the capital and main atoll island was in sight, Funafuti. The pilots must have been having a lot of fun because we descended quite rapidly, to where your stomach felt like it was floating inside your chest as the plane dropped from the sky and headed towards the airport strip. I had never been on a commercial flight that dropped so quickly through the sky! Even though we flew 2.5 hours north it was actually hotter in Funafuti Tuvalu because it was closer to the equator.
Here is a Youtube video that shows the decent into Funafuti.
Landing in Tuvalu Airport
Taking off in Tuvalu airport.
After landing in Funafuti, a kind relative of my wife paid for us to stay 3 days in the Viaku Langi Hotel in Funafuti. We enjoyed that and took our time to go around the capital and ride our loaned motorbike up and down the atoll and visit her friends and relatives.
After a couple days in the capital we headed to another one of the small islands that make up Tuvalu, Niutao.
Finally the big day came, several months of preparation and we were ready. In Fiji only Court weddings are recognized, so everyone who wants to get married has to go to the Justice of the Peace. Also if your from a different country you have to bring a notarized apostilled Single Status Certificate or Certificate of No Impediment from your country. As long as you have that document its really fairly straightforward to getting married in Fiji and many couples, especially from New Zealand choose Fiji as a wedding destination.
You go to the court and they enter all your information into their system and then schedule you to come back the next day to bring at least two witnesses, stand in front of the very nice officer, say vows, sign papers and then you get a lovely marriage certificate!
Going to the court was the very first thing we did that day, about 10:00 AM. Nancy wore a dress with a traditional decorative necklace and I wore a Bula shirt with a traditional Sulu garment. After that stage was finished we went and got some bubble tea in the MHCC mall in Suva.
After we got bubble tea and some food it was nap time until later in the day when the other events started. We had rented a restaurant and hall for the evening and decided to do a short ceremony of blessing / devotional from a pastor and repeat our vows and exchange rings again before the audience before launching into the food and festivities for the 100 or so people who had blessed us with their presence.
So after the vows, rings, and blessing by the pastor, the food was brought out and the feast began. They has prepared a stage and we sat traditional island style cross leg while the various dishes were brought out before us. Very tasty food and some new dishes I had never had before. We wore one set of wedding cloths and then when it was time to dance we put on the traditional Tuvaluan costumes. Now I’m not versed in traditional pacific dancing but my wife is, she is very talented and knows multiple styles, She she was the dancing star and I just tried to make some decent artistic moves and look enthusiastic. Its ok, as long as you look happy and dance they realize you appreciate their culture and forgive you for any dance blunders. After dancing there was a time of giving gifts and many of the dear people gave us gifts and cards.
It was a blessed day and went well, and were were blessed by others serving us and hopefully were a blessing to others as well as we committed to starting a life officially together!
“We have to go to the showcase!” at least that’s what Nancy’s small friends thought. People were flocking in from the surrounding area to go for the rides, food and goods for sale, and it was just matter of fact that we were going as well. It was after all a nice break from the daily routine and something to look forward to. We headed to the showcase later that day, (the equivalent of a small county fair,) paid the entry tickets and were admitted inside.
Next thing you know we were surrounded by throngs of people, booths of food, and different rides that had been set up across the grounds. With many rides to choose from we decided we would do two rides and then go explore the food court. The most prominent ride was the small Ferris wheel that was set up. We got in line and and had time to watch a couple of groups of riders enjoy the wheel ride before we did.
After a few minutes it was our turn to board, we got on our seat and were rotating slowly up while they disembarked the previous riders. Once they had it fully loaded with new people there was about 5 minutes of the wheel going full speed. It didn’t look very fast from the ground, but once you were up on it it felt higher and faster than you originally thought!!
After the Ferris wheel we walked around the grounds and went to the food vendor area section and looked and things got some ice cream and BBQ plates. The food court where chairs and tables were set up were 100% full so we went and found some stairs to sit on the nearby Vodafone arena and sat down to enjoy our food. All in all we had a good time and enjoyed being at the event, especially because the younger ones were obviously enjoying it, very carefree, all they had to do was ask for money from Nancy and they would get it for rides and food all night!! imagine that! It is simply fun being around a lot of people in a energized event, and with food and rides it made it even more fun for all of us. Mission Accomplished!
It’s amazing that when you meet someone at any stage of life your only getting a tiny snapshot of who they are. Everything that has made them who they are up to that brief point in time when you cross there path.
When you meet a person, especially a young person, you may see a smiling child, or a awkward teenager or young adult struggling to find their sense of purpose. But beyond those immediate realities, don’t forget that your also looking at someone with boundless potential!
Nancy came from humble beginnings, she was born in the small Pacific nation of Tuvalu. She went to school in the early days barefeet, and with a small lunch tin and improtu home made water bottle.
Everything is cool!
Here at secondary boarding school, she was away from home for nearly 4 years at boarding school without a single trip home to visit her parents, usually just a phone call with a blessing and a prayer once a month was the only communication home.
That’s when it’s especially nice to have cousins sisters along for company.
This is a older picture but shows a wonderful habit that has been cultivated over the years. Its especially nice being around Nancy because you don’t have to be in her presence for long before her face will light up with a big smile and laughter that spreads warmth and good feelings through the room.
Pictured above Dad, (Maeaga) Mom, (Falelogo) Brother (Temotu) Sister (Gutu) and Galoto / Nancy. Her name Galoto sounds like Naloto when pronounced, so that’s where Naloto morphed into Nancy as comfortable name to go by that everyone can pronounce correctly at first reading.
Here in the early days of University in Taipei Taiwan, basically as soon as she finished high school (secondary school as they call it) she applied to several scholarships and got accepted by Taiwan into a International Healthcare and Nursing Management program.
Lots of hard work and many classes and assignments later, nearly 4 years later and what a relief to have graduation right around the corner, as in days away!!
Here is a striking picture below,
I love the pic because it says so many things, the forward motion of life, growing in beauty, growing in maturity and grace. Accomplishing and achieving potential that have made her family and community proud. Her prayers, determination, and tenacity to do her best has been remarkable.
Starting a blog is a big decision. You may think you don’t have enough to share, that your story, or your writing doesn’t matter, that you aren’t enough of a tech guru, or that its much work to do a blog to record your experiences, or that it will cost to much to have your own website.
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