February Report - Tobey and Kathy Huff

February 2008
Dear Brethren, Friends and family!

Greetings and grace from Fiji.

Bula Vinaka!

We have continued to have heavy rains in Lautoka with over 22 inches of rain since our last report. This means that there is an overwhelming odor of rotting vegetation in the air and a layer of mildew and mold on anything that is just sitting around. This included and is not limited to all leather products such as shoes, wooden items, backpacks, hats, furniture. You name it the mildew and mold was on most everything because the humidity never got below 90%. However the last couple of weeks we have seen drier weather with thunderstorms in the afternoon only. We even had a few days without any rain with lower humidity but higher temperatures. When it was raining the temperatures even got down into the high 70's.

I drove Kathy and Anna to the Ladies' Saturday workshop in Suva the last weekend in January. Friday afternoon we were able to go shopping at Cost-U-Less and bought stuff we can't get in Lautoka. (Coffee mate, Pretzels, Frosted Mini Wheat cereal (giant bag), Chex cereal, grape jelly). We also went to a real live book shop. While the Ladies were at the meetings I shopped around town. On Sunday we stayed and worshiped with the house church which Bemlish works with in Suva then drove home in the afternoon.

Then on Monday January 28th we had our third cyclone of the season. It was called Gene. It developed very quickly on the Northern Island of Vanua Levu. It then made a bee line straight Southwest across our island and right through our area. We had driving winds and heavy downpours for 5 days. We were without power several times including one day for 6 hours and another days for 8 hours. Basically all we could do was hunker down in the house and mop up puddles of water where the rain was being blown in the louver windows. Thankfully it was only a category 1 storm when it came through. It also kept us from going to Friday night singing/Devotional as well as Sunday services. The associated system following the cyclone lingered in the area for another week of rain and diminishing winds. After the cyclone left out shores it brushed the Southern island of Tanna in Vanuatu. There was a lot of damage to roads and bridges and a lot of the vegetable gardens and sugar cane was flooded and or flattened. A number of the less better built houses were destroyed as well.

Brother Bola from Sabeto called Josua to tell him to tell me that I needed to come look at the container as they had sustained flooding in the Sabeto area. A river had overflowed down from their house and the water was running 2 feet high through their property and around the container. I did go out once the roads were re-opened and found that the door seals had done their work and there was no water in the container. Bola had a wrong phone number for me in his cell phone thus he could not call and talk with me.

It was during the night when it was still raining the week following the cyclone that thieves cut through the chain link fence were we live. The landlord's dog had a fit of barking about 2 in the morning and since he is known for barking with other dogs and when he sees the neighbor's cat Kathy and I just told him to shut up and the landlord told him the same thing. The water system here in Lautoka is not very good. In fact it is downright lousy. Many times we don't have water coming through the pipes from the street so the landlord has a water tank that he keeps filled up and a water pump, like a well pump, which supplies pressured water as required. That morning when I got up and turned on the water to fill up the coffee maker I found that there was no water coming so I went out to see if the pump was working. The pump had been worked on the previous weekend because the bearing were going out on the motor. The landlord was down on his veranda and informed me that thieves had made off with the water pump in the early morning hours, $1800 to replace. It had been bolted to the floor and the thieves had shut the water off at the tank and then unbolted the pump and the water lines and made out through the hole in the fence to an awaiting van on the road (so the police found out later). I checked to see if everything was in place up on our veranda and found that the thieves had indeed been upstairs also and they had taken a Black & Decker 110 volt hand sander and a pair of flip flops. I would love to see their face when they plug the sander in and try it. We have 240 volts power supply here! I had to use a stepdown transformer when I used the sander. The landlord is more trusting of his dog barking now and we are putting motion sensors on all the verandas. Thievery is on the rise here due to high unemployment and high prices, drinking and drugs. We have heavy grates on all the windows and doors so whatever is left outside is the only things they can take.

Kathy caught a chest cough due to the cooler and rainy weather and has been trying to cough her toes up. She said it is not pleasant having a fever and hot flashes when it is so hot and humid!!! She was not able to attend services at Sabeto when the rains finally let up. In fact Josua and Anna and their family did not travel out either because of muddy conditions where they live. I went but there was no communion because Anna and Josua usually bring it with them. If I had known they were not coming I could have taken some. There is a reason it is brought instead of left. In the past the children of the house have drunk the juice and eaten the bread. I have since talked with Bola, whose house we meet in, and explained why his children should not eat what we leave for the communion. The bread we use is a common bread used by the Indo-Fijians called "Roti". It looks and tastes like a Burrito shell. However grape juice is imported and not always available so I try to buy it when it is in stock and ration it out when the stores are out.

I finally started a community Bible class on Sunday afternoons in the Public housing area. Initially we had thought to have classes Sunday and Monday nights from 5-7 pm. We have since dropped the Monday night session and only teach Sunday nights. The first Sunday night was sparse but last night was our third week and we had about 30 in attendance. I am teaching Old Testament History and Geography. I am also still teaching on Sunday mornings.

With the less frequency of the rains the insects have come out. In a climate where it never freezes cockroaches and ants never are thinned out. (Even though we have plague-like-proportions of frogs around our house which sit under the outside lights at night and feed on the buffet.) We have lived in these climates for over 30 years and should know better but they got us. We were not vigilant and the ants got us. After a shower one morning I took my towel off the hooks where it was hanging on the wall and dried myself off. After I put my clothes on I kept scratching thinking I had not gotten all the soap off. However there was not a soap rash but whelps. Kathy then came in with whelps and said there were ants crawling in the bathroom, from the window above the toilet along a ledge and behind and on the towel I had hanging there as well as the towel she used. Those whelps itch!!!!!!!!! I took my Biblical command to "subdue the critters" seriously and sprayed the whole marching line and the area they were coming from. We are more vigilant for ants and thieves now!!!!!! The cockroaches are the 2-3 inch variety and usually are attracted to the lights on the veranda and then they try to sneak under the door into the house. That size they don't sneak very well so when they open the door to come in they get sprayed or smashed with a handy shoe. It not unusual to have them try to take the shoe away from us but in the end we always win! Gurrrrrrrrrrrrr!
We are still waiting for a letter from the finance department regarding the printing equipment. A Christian brother in Suva is working on it.
Proposed Christian Institute of Biblical Studies here in Fiji
We are still praying for the needs of the proposed Christian Institute of Biblical Studies here in Fiji. We are still working toward securing leased property and building facilities.

For some time now we have talked about the need for a Basic English-Speaking Bible School in the Oceania region. These discussions have been with the brethren in Fiji, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu. It is recognized that there is a Pidgin English Bible school in PNG and a very good English school in Tauranga, New Zealand but the consensus is that the English level is too difficult for most island English speakers. The cultural stress has been extreme for some of those coming from a more temperate climate and the more mature Christians with families are handicapped from attending the school in New Zealand due to higher costs. So here is the proposal: we would like to have a Basic English-Speaking Bible school in the temperate zone of the Island region; we would like to have an intake of 10-15 students per year with a total enrollment of 25 boarding students; we would like to build the facilities to accommodate these students and at least three teachers and their families.

We have talked with a contractor who will build a 2 bedroom house for $12,200 and a 3 bedroom house for $16,700. Another contractor submitted a bid of $72,000 to build the classroom office block, staff housing (1 x 2bd, 1 x 3 bd) and student housing (1 x 2 bd duplex). So with land to cost up to $30,000 (27 acres) and building costs we are in the neighborhood of a minimum of $100,000. Realistically we need $150,000. Please continue to pray earnestly for this need. The sooner we can get the land and facilities in place the sooner we can get to teaching and training fulltime the workers who will indeed take the gospel to the ends of the Oceania region.

One of the main reasons this school is so important is that we need to be training local Christians in their own cultural settings to evangelize their own people language groups. Even though the country of Fiji is English speaking a lot of the communication is done in Fijian or in Hindi among the Indo-Fijian people. The Fijian people are the indigenous people of Fiji. The Indo-Fijian people are decedents of the people from India who were brought to Fiji in the late 1880's to work the sugar cane for the British. They now make up about 39% of the population and most of them where born and raised here so they are Fiji citizens. Many Indo-Fijians follow the Hindu faith and almost all speak in Hindi. Kathy and I have picked up a smattering of Fijian and can sing most of the songs we have in the printed songbook we helped prepare. However we don't know what the words mean in the songs! When the brethren get together most of the conversation is done in Fijian. We understand this and don't want them to think they have to speak English all the time we are around them but it does make us feel a bit shut out. One Sunday night last year we attended services at the Lautoka congregation. They knew we were there but all the communication, singing, preaching etc was done in Fijian without any effort to include us in the service. It was not intentional they just figured we had been here several months and might know Fijian, we didn't and we don't.

Our primary mission for being here in Fiji is the establishment of the Proposed "Christian Institute of Biblical Studies". We did not come here to do the work of evangelizing Fiji which is in the capable hands of the local Fiji brethren. (Though we will do our part in the great commission of "as you go, teach.....") We came here to help equip them to do a better job and to encourage them to continue in the faith. Because of that we didn't come with the thought in mind of having to learn either Hindi or Fijian to accomplish our mission. (I am almost 60 years old and my memory chips are maxed out for languages!) English is one of the official languages in Fiji and we speak that to a large degree. So what we have to do is get this school up and going so we can get about the job we are here to do otherwise we are just existing here.

Just existing does not make Tobey or Kathy happy!

Please pray fervently with us that finances will become available so we can get started on this school. If finances do not come we in fact might have to come back there and shake the bushes (not George) until we get what we need and then come back to Fiji and establish and build the school. So here is what I see is your choice:
(1) You, from there, help us secure a sponsoring church and the support needed to get the school started
(2) We will have to come back there and stay with you until we can find the support we need to get the school started. Your choice - your prayers! I hate to resort to blackmail but......................:>) ;-)

Please pray and consider the following needs we still have: (feel free to copy and send this email to any and everyone you know for their consideration)

1. Personal support: we have about $2900 monthly. The budget we have proposed we need an additional $600 plus $800 monthly for work fund expenses. We have been able to cope up until now on what we are getting but will need to get additional funds especially as we get more involved in the work here.

2. Printing Equipment: Customs charged wavered and the storage charges not too high.

3. "The Christian Institute of Biblical Studies - Fiji"
>Immediate funds of $50,000 to buy land and build basic facilities (URGENT!)
>Additional funds to update facilities: classroom, office, student & faculty housing $75,000-$125,000
>Monthly funds of $3,600 for 5 years or until the school can be self supporting from planted cash crops

Funds can be send to our sponsor:

Mt Hope church of Christ
2830 Mt Hope Road
Webb City MO 64870
or you can contact my son about helping or even buying my truck

Again we thank you who have emailed us this past month and sent letters and care packages of encouragement.

In Christian Service and because of the Cross of Jesus Christ

Tobey & Kathy
Dr Tobey & Kathy Huff
PO Box 4615
Lautoka, Fiji Islands

Home (679) 664-5808
Mobile (679) 938-2808
web Site: http://cibs-fiji.fiji.com/CIBS-Fiji/Index.html