About six weeks before leaving for Fiji via Auckland, New Zealand, Bro Blessing Nice in Nigeria gave me a call. He told me that during their regular overnight prayer meeting a brother in his assembly had received words from the Lord concerning some hinderances to my trip, and that the saints were praying. A few days later came an unpleasant news. I felt the pressure. The week before my departure, on the Feetwashing and Communion Sunday night, was there another unpleasantness.
I was already physically in need of a healing touch from the Lord for my lower back ailment, which has caused me lack of proper sleep every night.
On the morning of Friday, 15th August, I left home to fly to Auckland, NZ. The weather was cool and the wind chilly, especially in the night. Bro Khalid Yaqoob, a Pakistani believer, met me at my arrival. He was to have taken me to his home but due to some unforeseen circumstances he had to put me in the home of a Christian friend. I stayed with the family and had good fellowship with the couple, Bro Charles and Sis Pushpa, over the Word of the Lord for two days. Also, I got to meet with a Roman Catholic Indian man, Nielson Augustine, whose cousin sister in India had informed him that I was in Auckland. He came and we had fellowship around the Word.
Sunday morning, Bro Khalid, wife and son, brought me to fellowship at the church they regularly attended. After the church service, Bro Khalid had to attend a Memorial Service of a Christian friend. For concience, I got a SUBWAY outlet sandwich. Bro Khalid and his wife had their own samosa packed from home. At the SUBWAY outlet, I looked for roasted beef. The meat had colored spots, mainly green. At the time it did not occur to me that it was anything wrong. I asked the young lady behind the counter what the greenish spots were. She said, "It's oxygen."
I retorted, "Oxygen?"
She said, "Yes, I'll show you." She separated the sliced beef pieces with her groved hands to show me that the greenish spots were on every slice. (I wonder where she got that information from.)
My mind told me that's not what it was - oxygen. At that moment it did not enter my mind that it was some sort of mould until I got food poisoning. No, I did not order roast beef sandwich; I ordered a meat balls sandwich. My sandwich must have had been contaminated by the same groved hands that were touching those roasted beef. Maybe the meatballs were also contaminated.
I ate the sandwich in the car while Bro Khalid drove to the church where the Memorial Service was held. In an hour my tummy was not happy and in another hour or so, it was upset. From that time forward, it was a fairly regular visit to the toilet (where one toils away on an oulet in a little room J). I managed to pass through the night. [This was the second time I had food poisoning in all my apostolic trips.]
The following morning I got to the airport for the FJ410 flight to Nadi, Fiji. I took some red wine to try and stamp the diarrhoea. It helped. The plane took off at 1pm. But 15 minutes into the air, the pilot announced that we had to go back to the airport as the fuel gauge showed that there was not enough fuel to reach Nadi. He said that either the gauge was faulty or that there was a fuel leak. So, we returned to the airport. Upon landing the plane taxied to an outskirt area of the tarmac and the passengers were told to stay in the plane as it would only take about 30 minutes for the engineers to come and check the fault. A half hour passed and the pilot announced that the engineers had to do some tests which might take another 30 minutes. In the end the problem was more complicated then initially thought.
The passengers were ferried by buses to the terminal and given a $12 vouchers for food. The monitor showed FJ410 will depart at 3pm...then 4pm...6pm. All this while I suffered the pain in my back and toiled away the discomfort in my tummy. I was feeling the cold. At 8pm, the cabin crew came walking into the airport lounge to have their meal and I asked them about the outcome of the flight. They told me that the flight would be going and that the pilot would be replaced by another as his 12 hours work time was up. They said that the fault was really serious; the fuel pump was not properly pumping the fuel in the fuselage and that the plane would be out of fuel between Auckland and Nadi had the pilot ignored the faulty gauge.
I was able to get another food voucher of $15 for dinner. I got a small glass of wine and a cup of yogurt, a cookie and a banana and an apple. The airport monitor showed FJ410 to depart at 9pm but the replacement came after 9pm. The flight finally took off a few minutes after 10pm, a total delay of 9 hours. I arrived at Nadi at near 1am, on Tuesday.
The flight was the longest short flight I have ever experienced, and at a time which included all these issues. However, I was in the hand of the Lord. I rested as much as possible till near noon on Tuesday. I drank plenty of water with apple cider vinegar, and also electrolytes and yogurt. In the evening, the tummy tide was stamped. (I remember my experience on the plane when I last visited Fiji in 2011.)
Bro Aminiasi Tuidraki had me stayed in a resort hotel near the airport and also near the place of meetings. The hotel was comfortable but as the building was of wood the noise generated by the opening of kitchen drawers and cupboards and even the footsteps of the guests in their rooms could be heard in the room I stayed in. Guests who checked in the late night woke me up. Kids who got up at the first light of dawn to go play in the pool woke me up. I put up with the noise and plugged my ears with earplugs, which slipped off at times.
There were two services everyday, in the morning and in the evening. The weather was pleasant but as it had been weeks without rain, the fields were parched. Fine dust and ashes from burnt sugar cane plantations (after the harvest) hung in the air after being blown about by winds.
For the convention, certain brothers and sisters had to make sure that there was enough food to feed all who came to feast on the Word of God. Besides vegetables, fruits, and different kinds of tubers, they purchased a cow and two pigs. The brothers cooked up a very good beef stew and delicious sweet and sour pork stew. The sisters took care of the other dishes. May God bless them all and all the others who shared in the preparation of the work to make the convention a memorable one.
The Lord had blessed the saints with a good place of fellowship. It was a wooden structure that used to be a "factory" for extracting Noni juice. The Korean who owns it let the saints have the use of it.
As usual I had a wonderful sendoff at the airport on Tuesday morning for my flight to Auckland. What wonderful people! To all the saints in Fiji, God bless, and until we meet again, Moci and Vinaka Vakelevu.
The flight to Auckland was smooth and my stay with Bro Khalid and his family was very pleasant. We had great time together just fellowshipping and walking in the parks. We called the Indian brother, Nelson Augustine, and had him join us in the evening for a little fellowship before I departed the next day, 28th August, for home. Bro Khalid and his family bid me farewell at the airport. I had a very pleasant flight home.