Griffith's Seventh-Day Adventist Church was packed to the brim on Thursday morning, as friends and family of Isikeli Naivunivuni gathered to remember the laughter and kindness he spread over the course of his life.
Since arriving in Griffith from Fiji in 1996, Isikeli touched the hearts of all he met - showcasing unrivalled honesty, kindness and compassion in every conversation.
Isikeli quickly integrated himself into the community, joining up with the Seventh-Day Adventist Church and putting his hands to use in the local poultry industry.
Despite his fun-loving and cheerful attitude, both at the church and at work Isikeli was known for being reliable. Whether it was catching chickens or setting the church up for Sabbath, no task was too big or too hard for Isikeli.
He'd take orders with a smile and crack a joke out of it - but at the end of the day he'd get the job done.
For many in Griffith, and no doubt back home in Fiji as well, Isikeli was the smile at the end of a hard day - the moment of calm in a storm of chaos.
His sense of humour had no off-switch, and at times jokes flowed out of him like water down a river.
But at the same time, he mastered the art of mixing fun with integrity, as his jokes found themselves intertwined with honest and heartfelt pieces of advice.
No group of people benefitted more from Isikeli's guidance than the young people of Griffith.
Like moths to a lightbulb, children flocked to Isikeli wherever he went. And this attention was always returned with a toothy smile and a coarse but sincere handshake.
Across Griffith's playgrounds, schools and workplaces, there are hundreds of children and young adults who have had their days brightened by Isikeli - and even dozens whose lives have been shaped by decisions they made off the back of his famous advice.
Isikeli would never directly tell someone to do something, that would be far too basic. Instead, he would sit them down for a story or an analogy. The next thing you know you're suddenly doing what he wants you to do - and more often than not it would turn out well.
Despite his age, Isikeli was one of the youngsters. Children, teenagers and young adults all saw him as one of their own.
With other adults these children would pull on their masks and be on their best behaviour, but with Isikeli they quickly realised they could be themselves.
It would be remiss to discuss Isikeli without mentioning perhaps his strongest, most defining feature - in his undying faith and devotion to Jesus Christ.
From the moment he set foot in Griffith, he searched for the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, within which he found a community and a family that shared his deep connection with his religion.
But Isikeli's faith was not restricted to Sabbath on Saturdays and instead it was something he brought with him wherever he went.
For Isikeli, church was every single minute of every single day, as he spread his religion and outlook on life in each interaction.
This was strengethened by his innate ability to tell stories and his undeniable leadership, however Isikeli never sought power or control. Instead, he chose to be a servant and to dedicate his life to helping others.
When asked what he wanted to get out of life, Isikeli would simply say that his goal each week is to help someone else. If he went a week without a kind act of generosity, it would be a week wasted.
This attitude and outlook on life turned Isikeli from a normal friendly man to one who grew a great reputation as a beacon of inspiration for the Griffith community.
In the groups he circled, it would be a near-impossible task to find someone without some heartwarming story of an interaction they'd had with Isikeli. A joke he'd told, a piece of advice he'd shared or an act of kindness he'd performed.
On Thursday morning, Griffith residents gathered to share their stories of Isikeli and to laugh at all the amazing memories this Fijian man had forged within this Griffith town.
As a friend, father, uncle and mentor, Isikeli was something unique and memorable, whose absense will leave a big hole in those he leaves behind.
Isikeli passed away on June 7, 2021 at the age of 65.
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