BULA VINAKA! I am in the great and mighty land of Fiji! I'm really here, and it's really amazing!
We landed in Nadi, Fiji last Monday at about 6 am. After waiting for two hours for our bags (there was a storm outside) we got on the bus to Suva, Fiji's capital and the home of the Fiji Suva Temple and Mission Home. That bus ride took five hours, and in a full suit it was the most uncomfortable experience of my life. We finally got to Suva and we were brought to the Mission Home, where we met our awesome Mission President and his wife. President and Sister Layton are just the best.
We got to go out with some of the missionaries serving in the Suva area and teach a few people. We ate with members and then stayed at the missionaries' flats. It was wonderful. For those of you who don't know, here in Fiji it's customary to sit on the floor of a person's home. We also eat with our hands here (even soup!). It's the best. You'll hear me say that a lot in this email.
The next day we went shopping for sulu's and other necessities - for those who don't know, a sulu is a man's formal skirt in Fiji. Yes, a skirt. Yes, I'm wearing one right now, and it is the most comfortable thing. I love wearing them, though I need to get mine hemmed, they're a little long. We had some last orientations at the Mission Home and then we were sent off to our individual areas (though I left early Wednesday morning).
I'm serving first in the Tavua area on the main island, Viti Levu. Tavua is a huge area centered by a small town, and we have not vehicles (not even bikes), so we walk a lot! It's awesome! (or, at least, that's what I keep telling myself) My mission trainer is Elder Beilman, who's been out for almost a year and been in Tavua for the past three months. He's way cool and I'm learning a ton from him. We live in a four-room rented flat that's like way different than what I'm used to. The floors are cement covered with like a fabric-like tile, and actually our kitchen and bathroom are way nice. But the windows here are kinda different, they don't really...close, so our neighbors keep us up at night. Just a little. But the beds are nice and the shower works and it's like really a blessing. I hear some areas in Fiji they have to use a "community shower", or worse, bathe in a river or pond.
I've learned so much this past week. I've had some really cool spiritual experiences and had some really hard times. The people are really nice, so that's a plus, but sometimes I don't think they understand our message. As missionaries, we don't just come to a foreign country to visit people's homes and share a nice message with them. Our message is an invitation to change, to act, to follow the example of the Savior and be baptized into this, the true church of Jesus Christ. It's going to take a little more effort than I thought. A little more work, a little more prayer, a little more trust, and a whole lot more of me.
I've come to learn, though, that I can and I will do that. Give it my all. Literally give up my entire self for this work. Because it's true, and people need it. I've also come to know that this is my home for the next two years. It was kind of hard to realize, but it really is. And I'm so excited. Mission life is best life.
"There are lives to brighten. There are hearts to touch. There are souls to save." - Thomas S. Monson