Noa'ia 'e mauri!
It is good to have this opportunity to say hello to our kainagas all over the world who will be reading our hanuju. And I believe that after reading our story, you may be interested in getting in touch with us in Suva, Fiji. Our contact person is Moto, C/o Post Fiji Ltd, Suva, Fiji.
Before I start, I want to put on record our appreciation and thankfulness to ö'hon ta Sarote ma ö'fa ta Jioje Konrote. Thank you very much ö'rua 'i Jioje ma Sarote for inviting us to visit and to see the Holy Land and also especially to sharing your home and your lives with us during our short stay with you. It is rare for people of high status as you are to open your homes for others but you have. You have shown Christ to us. All VIP treatment has been extended to us because we are your guests. Because of your kindness and goodness, it is our prayer that God will bless you and your family exceedingly abundantly in everything. Noa'ia 'e hanhanisi se amisa.
To touch a little on our backgrounds, Leona and I (Fanny) are first cousins, our fathers are brothers and first counsins to Marieta, and Moto is our close relative. We are good friends especially the bond in Christ Jesus. You see we have lots in common but the most outstanding bond is our love towards God. This is the binding force that concreted our love towards one another.
Back to the trip: We left Nadi Airport on Tuesday 7th Sept at 10 p.m. Our stops before Tel Aviv were L.A. and Heathrow. We finally landed at Tel Aviv early morning of Thursday 9.9.99, 3.30 a.m. By 4 a.m. we were on the road for a 2 hour drive to Naquora, Lebanon.
We reached the Villa where Force Commander of UNIFIL, Jioje Konrote and his wife Sarote resides, we were shown to our rooms, refreshed, had breakfast, updated each other with news and then rested. The Villa ovelooks the Mediterranean Sea and is situated very close to the sea--about 30 meters. The view is beautiful.
I will briefly state each day's visitation as there will be contribution to this hanuju from everyone.
By Fanny: Amongst all biblical sites, the garden of Gethsamane touched me greatly. When I thought of Jesus, on his own, praying, asking His Father to remove this cup and and yet also letting His Father know that not his will but his father's will be done. That morning the Holy Spirit reaffirmed God's love to me of how much and how great God's love is for everyone.
The other sites were good. To be able to see and to know the significance of what it stands for and the history of how the Church is built.
I am also amazed at how much ground Jesus covered during his 3 years ministry. God blessed him with strength and I pondered on it too. I also came to the conclusion that since his time is short (only 3 years to train his disciples and to spread Gods Word) he had to give his all.
But it's Israel and her people of today that I am interested in. I am amazed at how Israel is able to produce great orchard plantations especially in a place so dry and with a weather of 6/6 months dry/wet. To also hear and read about her civil wars. The security they provide within Israel and along borders. I don't know how high is their technology in communication, computerisation etc. but I can imagine that it is of high quality and standard. They are so blessed and yet they don't believe that Jesus Christ is their long-awaited Messiah. I paused to wonder, what if Israel believed in Jesus and for Holy Spirit to move freely? WOW!! How great this nation will be amongst all other nations.
I also wondered what is my part towards the spiritual restoration of Israel. Israel needs more intercessors. I believe I am called in this area. And just as it was the Jews who were first Christians and who took the Word starting from Jerusalem, all Judea and Samaria and to all parts of the world, I felt that, my part in Israel's spiritual restoration is to help bring in the Word into Israel and by praying.
By Leona: Te'is 'otou rogrog het la hanuj'akof. Gou, Leona Elizabeth Titifanue leum 'e Fiti ma 'otou sasiag he folu se Lepanoni ma noh 'e utut UNIFIL ta mata' sin, 'e mal 'on ö'rua, Sarote ma Jioje Konrote.
Gou inea ne 'e te' ne ut ne 'amis la' vahia sin, ma alalum ne 'amis agtau vah, po ma 'e Aitu 'on varvar se ouou ne 'os temamfua ne mosearis. Lelei la 'is la rae te (ko 'is fup te'is is kaka' ne garue fup'ak te 'on Aitu) famori.
I am Malhaha bred & born so over the years my close affinity to my homeland Rotuma has deepened and stretched to Fiji. I am proud to be a Rotuman woman priviledged to have my legend told.
During this short stay of 18 days with MC and his honourable wife, the VIP treatment and honour in accordance to the status of Force Commander of the UNIFIL was extended to us. I must admit that in Leona's 31 years, 4 months and 7 days that I have been blessed with my lot. I have never witnessed, read, nor heard of the likes as such. I believe that the kind of loyalty Kind David of old inspired in his troops is earned, not payed for, and I am blessed to witness this ancient virtue today.
Such is a man of the People who shared and touched the wounded but most of all is able to encourage himself in the Lord!. I've spent some deep soul searching moments and I've come to the conclusion that God is putting a name beside an unplaced dot--Rotuma-- on the world map through some choice (people who will stand up for God's Truth). Praise God!
Escorted in vehicles by armed personnel and flown in a UNIFIL helicopter to Beirut, slept in 3 different Hotels, invited to a military parade are among the many honours as guests we experienced--were a thousand tongues be pages for me to write on and thank the Almighty for such a big heart which I fit in among many others, is my prayer and priviledge.
I will tell you of one thing that means so much to me while in Israel. Indeed Jerusalem among other places and holy sites is beautiful but the geographical scope of the land and the hills and mountains of Zion and around its borders is my no. 1 preference.
According to the Psalmist, "I will lift mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven & earth" just about sums up my experience.
The aloof and rugged Judean mountain range greatly moved my heart. I kept exclaiming, Awesome! Beautiful! along our way to the Dead Sea. These ancient hills that were once fortresses and have been a refuge for generations past (Masada Fortress, etc); they held my attention throughout.
Jesus our Lord walked this barren land and climbed high places such as the Mt. of Temptation (A Greek Monastry stands to remind us of God's Glory is his to give).
That the very sight I'm seeing was beheld by Jesus is just stunning to the simple mind.
Likewise approaching Jerusalem is breathtaking. A city built on a hill, compact in its surroundings--skyscrappers and kibutzes surrounding the hillside is like an ancient treasure waiting to be discovered. It's a wonder how Moses felt when God descended on Mt. Nebo and showed him the promise land he'll never set foot on.
Next is the Golan Heights from a tourist spot looking down into Lebanon, then on a hill on the roadside viewing both Syria & Lebanon, was quite a moment for me. The very fact that I stand on soil that lives were lost to gain the Golan for Israel is heartfelt. These are people who from olden days until today have had to fight for land and are in such a state with her neighbours.
Lastly is the Israeli children. When we came across the border I saw armed escorts showing occupied Lebanon's border with Israel to a bus load of school children. I'm amazed to see youths 16 year olds I'm told having to join the army for 3 years before continuing with civilian life. Moreover, giving lifts to soldiers on the road is a courtesy extended to Israel's military. Amazing!
I've seen a small country with its borders and observer posts; with its jet fighters and warships patrolling the Mediteranean Sea, yet they manage to enjoy laughter and holidays with their families. It's a small wonder that the psalmist is so sure of his God answering him when he lifts his eyes up to the very many hills and mountains in Israel & around her borders.
I'm convinced that UNIFIL and other observer forces that surround Israel are our God-given moments of blessings. Once these neutral observer troops leave, I believe our stand whether for Israel or against is the basis of Gods Judgement of our Nations.
Ps. 122: 6. 9 "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls and prosperity within thy palaces. For my brethren & companion's sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee. Because of the house of the Lord our God I will seek thy good."
"Alalum iris ne a'hele'ua haia'leleiga ne tala he' iris la lelea' 'on Aitu" Matt 5:9.
By Marieta:'Aitu noa'ia. It is a privilege to share with you all, our friends in Christ and fellow Rotumans all over this world about our trip to the Holy Land, Israel.
I thank God for the opportunity given to us, Fanny, Motofaga, Leona & I (Marieta) to visit Israel. This opportunity came through an invitation by Mr & Mrs Jioje Konrote to visit them in Naqoura, Lebanon before his term as UNIFIL Force Commander expires at the end of Sept 1999. We owe our heartfelt thanks and gratitude to God for blessing us through this blessed couple Jioje & Sarote Konrote.
After our individual confirmations from God to go, we started our spiritual preparations for this trip. This followed weeks of fasting and prayer as we need to know what God's purposes for us are when we reach the Holy Land. I thank God for our Tabernacle Prayer Group, MYF sisters & brothers of Churchward, family members and others who prayed for the four of us. Without this prayer cover we would have faced a lot of problems in our preparations for this trip.
For me, interest in going to Israel started last year when I saw an advertisement about a tour Group going to the Feast of Tabernacle. When the opportunity came this year, I earnestly sought God for confirmation to go. I wanted to visit biblical sites/places of significance to Jesus' birth, death and 3 years of ministry on earth. I was interested to meet Jews, people God referred to as His chosen people and the Land of 'Milk & Honey' which God blessed.
As a child I used to think that such places like Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Zion were up in Heaven. At least that was the impression I got from Sunday school teachers and preachers who talk of the Holy Land, Israel. I thank God these places are right here on earth as I no doubt found out later.
Fanny, Moto, Leona and I have been so blessed during this trip. We were able to visit and see so many biblical sites. These included Garden of Gethsemane, Mt of Olives, Sea of Galilee, Church of Beautitudes, Church of the Multiplication of 2 fish & 5 loaves in Tabgha, Mt. Tabor, Mt. Carmel, Mt. of Temptation, River Jordan, Church of Annunciation, Caesarea, Capernaum, Cana and Beirut. There are a lot more places I haven't mentioned but I have enjoyed all places visited.
There are a couple of places which really moved my heart during our visits. One such place was at the Church of all Nations, situated at the Garden of Gethsamane. What really touched my heart there was the enormity of the responsibility placed on Jesus as he went through moments of intense prayer in his preparation for this great task. It was here that his 3 disciples, John, James & Peter fell asleep when they went to pray. Just when he needed them most they weren't with him & he prayed on his own. I feel gratitude and awe at the obedience of Jesus. His death gave us hope for eternal life.
Another place that touched my heart was in the Church of Multiplication of the 2 fish & 5 loaves at Tabgha. It was here that he performed the miracle of feeding the 5,000 men (not including women & children) after hours of preaching to them and healing of the sick. I was touched by his ability to discern the needs of people and his deep compassion for people.
Other places I enjoyed a lot when we visited them were at Mt. of Transfiguration (Mt. Tabor), Golan Heights, and the Mountain of Harissa, Beirut. Here I experienced a feeling of awe and wonder at the beauty of the view down before us.
It was at Harissa that I first set eyes on the cedar trees which we have read so much from the bible. Wood from the cedar trees were used in building the temple of the Lord by King Solomon. I really enjoyed time spent visitng the Sea of Galilee & River Jordan. Our photo sessions here was fun as we had to be on our guard while posing, as one is trying to wet the other. It was an enjoyable day for Fanny, Moto, Leona & I.
I would also like to share the experience we had when we attended the Medal Presentation Ceremony for the 85th Irish Battalion at Camp Shamrock, Tibnin, Lebanon, on 23rd Sept 1999. We were given VIP treatment because we were guests of the Force Commander. We left Naqoura on Thurs morning. Mrs Konrote, Fanny, Moto, Leona & I were escorted by Military Police from Naqoura to the Irish Battalion Camp. For safety purposes we had to wear 'flak jackets' which were quite heavy but essential for our own protection.
At Camp Shamrock we were treated to a display of the National Colours on Parade, the Handover of the Parade to the FC, Inspection of the Troops by the FC and lunch. Mr Konrote's speech on this occasion was quite touching. He took care to acknowledge everyone and spoke words of encouragement to the Irish troops and acknowledged their hard work in Peace keeping duties.
Mr. Konrote is greatly respected by UN troops, UN Mgt Personnel and the countries of Israel and Lebanon. This is not surprising because he is a leader who leads by example. He stands firm in his convictions of the truth, is disciplined yet quite down to earth in approach. He does not suffer fools gladly, yet will pay due respect/honour to those deserving of it. I thank God for Jioje Konrote's life; we have learnt so much from him & Sarote during our short stay with them. What touched my heart most about this great army man was that despite his tough exterior, he fears the Lord. This is the secret of his success, and the source of his blessings. His decisions are based on whether or not it's the Lords will.
He is also a family man and very close to his wife and children. Mrs Sarote Konrote on the other hand is a great wife, mother and friend. She is sincere, dresses modestly and is quite humorous when she's relaxed in your company. She is responsible for raising almost single-handed 2 fine young men (Andrew & Emmanuel) because of Mr Konrote's work commitments. She is someone who encourages family closeness and like Mr Konrote contacts their children daily from Lebanon (to Fiji) to maintain this link & personal commitment. My 3 friends and I have learned a lot from Sarote and wish that others could be blessed by her as we are.
We have been blessed today Fri 24 Sept 99 to meet a lot of our boys from the Fiji Battalion. This visit gave us some understanding on the sacrifices they make for the country in leaving their loved ones back home in Fiji. It is our prayer that more people will pray for our soldiers and other UNIFIL peacekeeping troops here in the Middle East.
Lastly I take this opportunity to thank Sarote & Jioje Konrote for blessing our lives. Freely you have given us of yourselves, freely you shall receive from above. God bless you both and your family and also all our fellow Rotumans all over this world.
Ps 103:1 & 2 "Blessed the Lord O my soul; All that is within me. Bless his holy name. Bless the Lord O my soul, and forget not all his benefits." Indeed I owe it to the Good Lord to make mention of His name for it is He that has enabled a life time dream come true.
Noa'ia 'e mauri te' ne aus oto o'o', hensasiag ma kainag ne tae 'e ut tutu ne ran teis. Nonoj la 'ua'uaak se Jihova 'e reko 'on af'ak ne maur ne 'is famor Rotuma ma 'on alalum'ak ne 'is tapema.
I praise the Lord for his mighty hand of blessing upon Mr. Jioje Konrote (FC, UNIFIL) and Mrs Sarote Konrote for the extension of blessing and good will towards me and my 3 sisters. I thank God for this Godfearing couple because it is through them that we have the experience and the sweet taste of the promised land Israel. The land that has become a marvel to the world and all because it is the land chosen by God to perform all his mighty purposes, past, present and future.
Words alone cannot express my deepest feelings on our immediate arrival on the Holy Land. It was an emotional moment for me as we drove past the breathtaking landscapes on the early hours of morning. The dawn of the rising sun that welcomed us into our first encounter of the promised land brought a smile to my face as I remembered Isaiah 60:1 "Arise, shine for your light has come and the glory of the Lord is risen upon you." The sensational feeling was assurance enough of an exciting 3 weeks of spiritual uplifting and glorious encounters.
Israel is truly a unique and beautiful country and I am always fascinated of the green vegetation all over the land despite the absence of rain for almost a year. The olive trees are found everywhere and it is amazing to see fruits of variety all over the land. No wonder it is called the land of Milk and Honey.
Since we arrived on Thurs Sep 9, not a day was wasted and I was always excited for the new day's plan to see the places we have been blessed to visit. Dinner time was a time well spent as a family as we recall the days experience and acknowledge the goodness of God. I cannot thank God enough for all the historical and biblical sites that we have been blessed to see. For me personally I thank God for our ancestors who believe God and entrusted our foundation on Him so that we, the generation today shall not stumble but firm and sure in our direction of life. This is the time for restoration as God is restoring Israel by bringing his people back to Him and it is my prayer that we Rotumans today will turn back to our God if we have failed to honour and acknowledge Him. Today is the day of salvation.
I have been greatly inspired and encouraged spiritually in all the biblical places that we have visited and it is my prayer that I shall be able to bless not only my family but also those that have the desire to know about the Holy Land.
We resided in Naqoura, a village in Lebanon just close to the border line of Israel. Many times during the quietness of the lovely meal, the peace is shattered by the sound of bomb attacks in close-by areas. Travelling through the Lebanese territory, flak jackets around the breastplates and helmets on are a must for our protection. Movements are very much restricted at checkpoints. I think about the peace and simple life of our island Rotuma and thank God that none of these experiences are found or ever to be found on our peaceful island.
We were blessed to visit our Fiji soldiers at the Fiji Battalion and the lovely lunch prepared for us. Passing through the checkpoints is always a moving experience for me as I shook hands with them knowing too well that their lives are at risk, for anything can happen. Can only silently pray that Jehova Roy shall always be their shepherd night and day. I have never been touched so much in my life towards our soldiers who serve here and I thank God for allowing me to see the need not only for me, but to all of us to stand in the gap as intercessors (Eze 22:30): ("For those who sacrifice their lives for the peace of others").
Our time in the Holy Land is just about over with only a few days left. I feel sad that I will miss this beloved land but I am thankful to God that I have great memories to treasure.
Thank you Mr & Mrs Konrote for making this dream come true in your sacrifice in all the love, kindness and care that you have sincerely bestowed upon us. We witnessed true and god-fearing people in you and I am not surprised by the high respect and honour from the staff in UNIFIL towards you and those who associated with you in high status. May our God who is the Father of lights who is the giver of every good gift and perfect gift bless you mightily and may you move from strength to strength and from glory to glory to the Glory of God.
Jihova la hua' ma kikia ma mata' omus mauri ma alalumakiga la ma aus kainag fakfor, fak Karisto 'e te' ne ava. Fu'omus. From: Motofaga Vamarasi le' 'on Petueli ma Patsia (Lopta & Pepjei/Savlei) Marieta Fonmanu le' on 'Ema ma Faksarfonag (Malhaha & Hapmaka) Leona Titifanue le' 'on Jioje ma Fauoro (Malhaha) Fanny Suliano le' 'on Sokra'a ma Makereta (Malhaha & Losa).