I met him raking coral.
While walking along the beachfront of a resort in Fiji, I noticed the same man raking coral each day. The beach was maybe one mile in length, and 30 feet in width between the rock wall that bordered the grounds of the resort, and the high tide mark.
Every morning, there he was. Starting at one end of the beach, raking one meter wide and 30 feet deep of coral off the sand. The coral would be piled up into a small pile, the small pile would be moved to become a bigger pile, and the big pile would be deposited back into the ocean. He worked from around 7am every morning until 3pm in the afternoon.
I introduced myself, saying “Al Brennan,” with a gentle tap on my chest.
“Erami Wanqa,” he replied, thumping himself forcefully on the heart.
I noticed he was missing at least four of his top, front teeth. “You are a boxer?” I asked.
“A leettle. Though when I was a young man, I did MANY bad things.” That was all the reference I ever heard of his checkered past.
While I was trying to think of how I might ask him, tactfully, what made him resolve to reform his bad ways, he simply turned his rake upside down, walked over to the freshly raked sand, which he had just cleaned of coral, and wrote one word in the sand.
Little did I know that enlightenment, in the form of a deep and resounding faith in The Lord, was about to be revealed. In the most unlikely of places.
In Erami Wanqa’s words, in Erami Wanqa’s mind, and in Erami Wanqa’s heart.
Intrigued by this strange, toothless, middle aged Fijian, who was built like a brick shit house, and was doing work as humble as any I had seen before, or after, I asked him to explain.
“J is for Ji-ova. The one God that rrrules above us all. All of those HERE on dis earth, who believe in Ji-ova, shall be saved.”
I is for Imanuli. The second Son of God, who came down from above to walk among those of us on earth, and offer us the SALvation.
“S is for Sitiko. ‘She Who Walks Among Us.’ She walks among us, who walk upon DIS earth, and fills us with the knowledge of Ji-ova’s second coming.
U is for Uluvatu. The RRROCK! The RRROCK shall come down to DIS earth, at the end of or time OUR time, to DIStroy us all, to DIStroy the peoples, and to DIStroy all that we know. The only people, who shall be saved, are those who are under the ground, and who believed when they walked above. For they believe still. Also, those of us who walk above the ground when Uluvatu comes down to DIStroy dis Earth, we shall also be DIStroyed, but we shall then RRRISE up with Sitiko, with Imanuli, and with Ji-ova.”
I couldn’t really muster a response to this prophecy, so I just nodded my head and tried to process the power with which Erami Wanqa had voiced his convictions.
“Do YOU know…Saddam Hussein?” He asked.
“Yes, I know who Saddam is. Or was.” My reply inevitable came.
“Do you know WHY Saddam Hussein was DIStroyed?”
“I think so?” I replied, thinking “He was silly enough to challenge the military might of the worlds number one superpower, The United States of America.”
“Do you know where Saddam Hussein Lives?” Erami asked another probing question.
“Yes, he lived in Iraq.”
“And do you know what is in Iraq?” Erami asked.
“Yes.” I answered rather smugly, “There was a lot of sand, war and different tribes of Muslims trying of kill each other.”
“No.” Was his emphatic response.
“BABYLON!” He cried, waving his chunky finger in my face.
“BABYLON was in Iraq. And it is because Saddam Hussein tried to RRREBUILD Babylon that the Eagle, Te United States of America, DIStroy Iraq, DIStroy Saddam Hussein, and DIStroy his people.”
“And WHEN Uluvatu shall coime down in FURY, to DIStroy the Eagle, he shall also DIStroy this earth, and DIStroy all of the unbelievers!!!”
Enlightenment, in the form of unshakeable faith, shows up in the most unlikely of places.
It showed up in the man I met raking coral.
It showed up in Erami Wanqa.
Reformed younger man who did many bad things.
Disciple of Jiova.