posted Nov 24th
Arriving at Savusavu after the overnight ferry ride, we checked into our miracle hotel & then went straight to the Education Ministry office to try to make a workable plan as to how to distribute the 39 boxes of library books we had sent there, (plus another 41 boxes to their office in Labasa).
Unfortunately, the district education officer was away for a conference in Nadi, & he had taken with him the only government vehicle available. Using public taxis & carriers would be very expensive for the long trips we would be making, so the best alternative seemed to be to approach a church that had been recommended to us, & to ask if they could organise a vehicle where we would just pay for the petrol cost.
Sure enough, some phone calls were made & a driver named Sevo arrived with a smart-looking, new pick-up truck. We explained that we are missionaries living by faith & how transport, accommodation & other aspects of our trip had all been donated. We showed our list of schools & made a plan of which ones we would visit during the 3 days we would spend in Savusavu. The schools were scattered over a big distance, (about 500 kms total), & so we had to choose a different direction for each day.
We put in some petrol money, but after the first day we began to notice that we were putting in quite a lot more money than was being used for our trips. After each trip, we noted the mileage but then saw on the following day that the driver had evidently used our petrol money for a lot of other trips!
We didn’t say anything though, as we figured that Sevo was donating his time to help us reach these schools, so we shouldn’t begrudge him a little extra petrol. However, things continued to unravel as he then wanted bigger amounts for petrol & extra money for food, (which we gave him).
All the time, we tried to keep the peace. To be kind, we also included him in all the school presentations, so he would benefit in case there were snacks or lunch provided. In addition, we made sure to thank him publicly at each school for donating his time to help us transport all these library books.
Despite our trying to include Sevo, he often didn’t want to be included, & come to think of it, we couldn’t get him to smile for photos either! He couldn’t seem to get into the joy of helping to reach village schools….a joy that was so obvious among the students & teachers!
Finally on the last evening, having already given an excessive amount of petrol money, plus food money, he then expected to be paid (???) Despite our surprise, we remained calm & again explained that this is a non-profit mission project & if he was expecting additional payment, he should have told us this at the beginning & not right at the end!! We would have straightaway found someone else that understands the value of our project & that would be happy to spend a few days to reach their own people!
Sevo seemed determined to finish on a bad note & actually threatened to go to the police & to take us to court if we didn’t give him more money!! We told him that we were sad that he’d chosen to end our time together in such a negative way, but that he was welcome to take any action that he wanted.
In closing the story, we must emphasize that in all our years of doing charity & missionary work around the world, we have met very few people like Sevo. Fijians especially are usually extremely helpful & hospitable & we’re very thankful to all those that have been such great examples of cheerful givers!
‘Every man, according as he purposes in his heart, so let him give, not grudgingly or of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver.’ (2 Corinthians 9:7)