From Sawana to Israel

Saiosi Fotofili is baptised at the Jordan River. Picture: SUPPLIED

SAIOSI Naka Fotofili was on a rooftop on a hot sunny Wednesday in his village of Sawana, Vanuabalavu in the Lau Group, when a relative rushed in and urged him to get down from the roof to asnwer a phone call from Suva.

Without hesitating the 56-year-old got down hurriedly to answer the call, thinking it was an emergency.

“It was my brother calling to inform me to board the next available flight to Suva as I had been selected to go on a tour of the Holy Land – Israel,” Mr Fotofili said.

Growing up on his island home, Mr Fotofili heard so many stories about Israel — from his parents, village elders and during their Sunday school classes.

From the creation, to the great exile from Egypt and the stories of Jesus performing miracles and carrying his cross to Calvary, Mr Fotofili always enjoyed every story.

It was this experience that generated the desire to one day travel to Israel. Little did he know that his heart’s desires, dreams and prayers would be answered.

“The trip was for the eldest in the family and I was selected after my niece (brother’s eldest daughter), was due to give birth a few days before we left for Israel,” said Mr Fotofili — the youngest in his family.

He was part of the pilgrim tour of devoted Christians from Kinoya, Laucala Beach and Kaudamu Rd in Nasinu that toured the Holy City earlier this month.

“The group raised more than $100,000 for the tour, each member having to give $3500 to cover the cost of travel. I did not have to pay anything because everything had been fundraised for.

“All I had to do was go on the next available flight from Vanuabalavu and head to Suva,” he said. It was a very fine day prior to the scheduled flight on Friday but the adverse weather which developed later caused a delay in the flight thus dampening his spirit. “I lost hope but my brother called me and said not to lose hope, the plane would come and we would be going to Israel.”

Two days later Mr Fotofili jumped on the plane and headed to Suva before enduring the 20-hour flight with 23 other Fijians for the trip of a lifetime less than a week after arriving in the Capital City of Suva.

“I am really blessed to have made the trip to Israel — to actually see the places where Christ once walked. It is really a beautiful feeling and one I will treasure for the rest of my life.”

To culminate the tour, Mr Fotofili had the opportunity to be baptised in the Jordan River, the same river Jesus Christ was baptised in by John the Baptist.