Testimonial by Senator John S. McCain

My wife Cindy and I visited Turtle Island in Fiji for the first time in 1982, just after I won the Republican primary in Arizona’s First Congressional District. The election was my first campaign after a career in the U.S. Navy. It was also my first political victory. The general election promised to be much easier in our solidly Republican district, and Cindy and I decided to take a brief vacation after the primary.

We found the perfect refuge on Turtle Island, with its glorious white beaches, its lush green hills, and its miraculously blue lagoon. We also found new friends among the Fijian people, who welcomed us with a caring and disarming hospitality. We quickly developed a deep attachment to the island and its people, and have since returned with our family many times. It is a beautiful, special place.

One of the first people we met was a boisterous fellow who greeted us on the beach as our float plane pulled into shore. “Bula, Senator!” he shouted. “Bula, Mrs. McCain!” I soon learned that this outgoing fellow, in his wild flowered shirt and straw hat, was Richard Evanson, the American businessman who made Turtle Island into the idyllic, world-class holiday resort that it is today.

Richard had come to the South Pacific many years before, searching for purpose and meaning in his life. He had achieved great success in the business world, but felt an emptiness that nothing in his fast-paced life could fill. When he arrived in Fiji, he was looking for an escape. Instead, he found his true calling. He turned Turtle Island into the paradise of his dreams—a paradise he could share with people from around the world.

We soon became friends. I enjoyed our late evening conversations, in which we shared stories about our lives and thoughts about the world. We found that we had much in common, including an independent spirit, and a desire to make our time on earth count for something. Richard and I stayed in touch over the years and renewed our friendship whenever Cindy and I returned to Turtle Island.

Richard’s work has touched the lives of many people, especially the people of Fiji. Not only has he created jobs and economic opportunities in the local tourism industry, but he has also helped establish schools and health clinics in the area. In these pages, you’ll learn how Richard made his dream come true, and how he is teaching others to dream as well. I congratulate him—and I say: “Bula, Richard!”

Senator John S. McCain