Bula for Life

Lauren - Kirkwood, Missouri
Entered on May 7, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
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Bula for Life

Bula! This is the phrase I heard and spoke daily in Fiji. It goes past the effortless hello, though, to incorporate spirit and literally means “life”. I believe in Bula! I believe in one love, one world and a joyful life.

In the summer of my senior year in High School I experienced a wonderful opportunity to leap out of my comfort zone for one month. I traveled 6,850 miles to the Fiji islands with a group of 12 strangers my age. Our mission was to reach out to the poor villages through construction work on the schools, soccer games with the kids, labor in the fields and interactions with the families. Who would have guessed what an impact 24 American hands could make in a Fijian village.

We spent our days in the village of Rewasa, barefoot, mixing cement, painting cracked walls, tiling dirt floors and fixing broken desks for the schools. Later in the day, my 11 new friends and I enjoyed losing hard fought soccer matches to grade school aged Fijian children. In the evenings, we relished our baths in the rivers, appreciated freshly caught and cooked eel, savored kisava and honey, and enjoyed conversation with the Fijians over bowls of kava.

Life without cell phones, Internet, electricity and English was humbling. Instead of staring at a plasma TV screen, my eyes feasted on indescribable colors in nature, mountain top views and mesmerizing canopies of stars. Instead of hearing the sounds of friends on the other line or busy city streets, my ears captured the sounds of exotic birds, a beautiful Fijian language and laidback Fijian music. My senses were exposed to a new way to live, a healthy and inexpressible lifestyle.

My Fijian family had next to nothing in material terms. Their humble abode was made of tin and sticks, their kitchen floor was dirt and their dining table was a sheet on the ground. They took me in like I was one of their own. My Fijian father spent his entire Saturday catching a rare eel for my dinner. My brother Patti and sister Leena showered me with hugs. And my mother, Saara, spent her time teaching me how to cook Fijian meals. I never felt any discrimination because of my skin color, never felt unwanted and always noticed a sense of love, comfort and appreciation. Although the families in Rewasa did not have many physical or material belongings, they have more than I could ever imagine. They are rich in love, wealthy in happiness and filled with beautiful hearts. They love the Lord with their whole life. They live each day giving of themselves for each other and for their one God in heaven.

Through the new friends I made, new foods I ate, new customs and language I learned and new love I felt, my view and perception of life will never be the same. I believe in a world without discrimination. I believe in living a life of simplicity and joy. I believe in giving thanks and praise to the Lord in everything that I do. I believe in a life with faith and one love. I believe in finding happiness in each other and in ourselves. I believe in putting God and others before myself. I believe I am third. Bula; live life with a spirit of joy. This I believe.