News Release

Twice Blessed By Service

"God blessed us with this project"

Saturdays at the Raiwaqa Health Clinic in Suva, Fiji have been busier than usual since members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were asked to give it a facelift.

Volunteers wearing yellow Helping Hands vests have been arriving at the clinic on most Saturdays since September at 9:00 am—on foot, by taxi, bus or car, ready to donate their time to serve the Lord on what is normally their day off.

For five months, they have been diligently labouring to renovate the small community clinic, some days working until sunset.

The project was started each Saturday morning with a hymn and a prayer to invite a sacred feeling to prevail as the men worked together to serve their community.

It was that same feeling that initially inspired the clean-up project. The Fiji Suva Stake women’s organisation, the Relief Society, organized a health and welfare activity that included Zumba instruction and wellness check-ups for congregation members and their friends. Dr. Iran of the Raiwaqa Health Clinic kindly volunteered to conduct the check-ups at the activity.

When Dr. Iran arrived at the church building, she was immediately struck by the goodness there. To her, it felt clean and bright. Panapasa Ratuvukivuki, a local Latter-day Saint leader, showed the doctor around the building.

He said, “The moment she came into the building she was astonished by how clean the chapel was. I walked with her two times around the building so she could admire it. She asked me if it would be possible for us to help make the clinic as clean as the chapel. Then she asked if they could just have the chapel for a hospital!”

Panapasa Ratuvukvuki (left) serves with other volunteers to paint the clinic. Suva, Fiji 2022.2023 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Ratuvukivuki took the question to other local leaders, Kamoe Varea and Jese Kama. “Could they help make the clinic as clean as the chapel?”

The Suva Fiji Stake had participated in many service projects before. At least twice a year they had served the community by doing clean-ups or painting for a blind society. And they had gardened and painted at a school for children with disabilities. But when President Varea went to survey the health clinic, he realized that the scope of the clean-up would be unlike anything else they had undertaken before.

President Varea noted that the clinic would require extensive cleaning and repair work before the entire building would be painted, inside and out. Also, the clinic management had asked them to pour a foundation and construct a small addition that would serve as a new storage area.

Stake President Kamoe Varea (R) surveys the progress of the clinic refurbishing. Suva, Fiji 2022.2023 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

The Latter-day Saint leaders consulted with others, and, together, they knew that surely “the Lord had endorsed this project and would bless them for it.”

Thus, plans were made and the work began. Most Saturdays, a group of hard-working volunteers arrived at the clinic, sacrificing their day to pour cement, build walls, power wash, repair or replace parts of the leaky roof and rusted facia, replace gutters, make structural repairs as well as to paint the entire clinic. Often, the skills of the volunteers were perfectly matched to the challenges at hand. President Kama, as a professional contractor, was invaluable in directing the project.

Jese Kama (front) helped direct the project. Suva, Fiji 2022.2023 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

For several of the Saturdays, the doctors moved their practice and patient care to a tent in the parking lot or to an off-site location so that the Latter-day Saint volunteers could apply coats of paint to both the interior and exterior of the clinic. When the nurses came back the following Mondays, they were grateful and excited to see the improvements, as were the patients.

President Ratuvukivuki said, “We see the patients coming to the clinic and when they see what is done, their faces brighten. When the patients don’t have to move because of the water from the leaking roof, we see the light in their eyes.”

An elderly woman living near the clinic was so touched by the act of love and service that she brought the volunteers hot water and biscuits from her limited cupboard to serve them in return. She, too, gave what she could.

Although the clinic is small, the eight doctors who practice there each see up to 40 patients per day. It is a busy and well-loved place. The repaired clinic will uplift many lives in the community that it serves.

Kindness and good deeds always have a way of giving twice—both the givers and the receivers are blessed. The local Latter-day Saint leaders noted the sacred nature of service and how their members had also been strengthened.

“It was good for the men to be there,”Panapasa Ratuvukvuki pointed out. “The spirit that radiated within the group touched many hearts… there was a spirit of camaraderie there.”

Prior to the fresh coat of paint, much of the roof and gutter were replaced by volunteers from the Suva Fiji Stake. Suva, Fiji 20222023 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

They were gratified that several members who hadn’t attended church meetings for some time also joined the project—which has now inspired them to return to Sunday worship services. Newly baptised members also joined in and felt a brotherhood with the other volunteers.

President Varea noted gratefully, “God blessed us with this project.” 

The renovation, which began 10 September, 2022 was completed 28 January, 2023.

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