Farwells and Thanksgivings

This has been such a full week.  We had something happening every night for the past 6 nights.  While it has been fun, it has been exhausting!  There is always something to do here in Suva - I've just said no to a champagne tasting and a trivia night because I just cannot keep saying yes to everything!  (That and I already said yes to something else the same night.)  I love having options though...so I am not complaining!

To start with, obviously Thanksgiving last week is an American holiday.   That didn't stop us here in Fiji.  We had three awesome Thanksgiving meals with friends...three days in a row.  There are turkeys imported here....but they cost around $80 USD for a very average sized turkey.  Every meal we had did have turkey, but also supplemented with chicken.  On Wednesday night we ate a delicious meal at Allegra and Joe's house.  On Thursday, we ate dinner with the embassy folks and on Friday night, Tricia and Nicola had us to their house.    Every meal was delicious and special in it's own way.  We had a few opportunities to say what we were grateful for and I just kept coming back to my gratitude for living here and making such good friends.  I loved sharing Thanksgiving with fellow Americans, but also loved sharing it with Fijians, Australians, Italians, Belgians, Canadians - some of them having Thanksgiving dinner (US style) for the first time.   It was really cool.   Our kitchen was a constant flurry of pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake bars, smoked chickens, home-made ice-cream and whipped cream, and mashed potatoes- all brought as side dishes to our three meals.  It felt like Thanksgiving should - crazy cooking and over-eating at it's most extreme - surrounded by love.   I did miss our families and my mom's delicious apple pie - but I think that ache for them will happen more at Christmas time...

Yummy turkey prepared by Allegra

Allegra and her meal!

meal at Tricia's

This time of year is also a big time for farewells around here.  It's the end of the school year (Andie and Zoë will be moving up a grade in January) and many families finish out their contracts at this time.  This Thursday night we have a farewell party for Andie's teacher and her fiancée, the sports teacher.  We have been so so so lucky to have Ms. Lauren as Andie's teacher.  I have worked in schools for at least 15 years and I can definitely say she is one of the best teachers I've worked with.  We will miss her so much as Andie's teacher....but we will also miss her and Joe as colleagues and friends.   I've never been friends with my daughter's teachers before...so this was new for me.  But, I can definitely say we will visit them in Melbourne when we visit Australia.  They are good friends and we were fortunate to have them around for the year they were here.

On Saturday night I went to another farewell party for my friend, Justine.  She knows how to throw a great party!  Everyone was dressed in wedding gowns, bridesmaids dresses or groom wear.  While everyone was dancing and celebrating, everyone was a bit sad too at the departure of such an involved, fun, committed friend.  The diverse crowd there was evidence that Justine reaches out to all types of people.   While I only got to know her in the last few months, her presence will be greatly missed here in Fiji.   She has inspired me to get involved here and jump in head first to my community.  She also has taught me it's ok to be completely me....  There is something about Justine too that makes me miss my friends from home.

On Sunday, we went to Uli and Ken's farewell party.   Like Justine, they are both SO involved!  There was every type of person you can imagine at their house - including the 12 or so Fijians that have lived with them through the years.   She has taken care of so many people during her time here - from getting friends' glasses to having constant Fijian roomies to paying for education for friends-  just so she can help out.  Uli also knows how to throw a good party!   She is this amazing combination of fun and compassionate all in one.  She and Ken are moving to Chaing Mai, Thailand at the end of this week - and we are DEFINITELY going to visit them!  I cannot wait to see them again (and of course see Thailand too)!!!   Basically, she is a beautiful, inspiring person and I am so glad I got to know her.

Justine's farewell

Not a proper party without some Zumba!

Uli at her farewell

Sota Tale- See you later!  (And we will because we will visit Thailand!!!)

It's been funny being a staff member at the school and seeing students, teachers, and parents everywhere.  It is just something I will have to get used to.  I am already getting more and more used to it daily.  I am reminded of my Peace Corps days where everyone knows everyone and you are always recognized no matter where you go. I imagine this is how it must feels in rural America too.

After the party, Warren and I went to the kickoff for break the silence around violence against women, 16 days of activism here in Fiji.  We saw the most touching documentary, I am a Girl.   I truly think every parent and every girl age 10 and above should see this movie.  It is the story of 6 girls growing up around the world.  It's eye opening.

Anyway, only 2 weeks until our friends Allison and Tom and kids get here! So so excited!  Then just a few more weeks after that my parents get here.  We've been doing a lot of planning - hoping they all have a great vacation.  It will be so good to get a dose of home!   Speaking of home- this will be the first Christmas not making the trek to Virginia.  It will be the first Christmas we spend in our own home.  We had fun decorating on Sunday and have loved listening to Christmas music every morning.  It feels funny to be in shorts...sweating around the house with Christmas music...but I wouldn't change a thing!

sweet Zoë

P.S.  Our kids got awards in soccer....