Fiji Suva Mission

Fiji Suva Mission

Monday, May 25, 2015

6 Months or 6 Minutes? (Tavua Area, Week 19)

 I'm not sure what just happened - didn't I just give my Dad one last hug as I entered the Missionary Training
Center? Last Wednesday, I hit my 6 month mark - 6 months from the day I began my mission on December 3, 2014. But honestly it has flown by faster than my sister texting at top speed.

This week was the best. Nina got baptized! She's so happy, and her uncle, who happens to be the bishop, performed the ordinance! It was really special. We had a pretty good turnout, too - mostly youth and kids, but her family got to come to support her.  On Sunday, I had the privilege of laying my hands on her head and, through the power and authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood which I bear, I confirmed her a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and gave her the Gift of the Holy Ghost. The Gift of the Holy Ghost is special, and only obtained through the laying on of hands of one holding the proper Priesthood authority. When one receives this gift, they are blessed with the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, to guide, help, warn, and testify to that person the truth of all things (see Moroni 10:5).
It's getting chilly - in Fiji! 
(in like the 50s Fahrenheit)
I did not consent to this
We had some other cool experiences this week, too.  On Saturday, we went to a Koro we'd never been to in the bush area of Vatukoula. We rode the bus to Korowere, then walked for about an hour and a half to find Lololevu. We kept asking for directions, and this one Fijian was like, "Oh, just come this way! You can cut through my farm! It's a shortcut!"
By shortcut he meant climbing this giant hill and winding through rows of Cassava plants and mango trees. On our return trip, it took less than half an hour to walk from Lololevu to Korowere, as opposed to an hour and a half. We went to Lololevu to try to find someone who we were told wanted to learn more about the Church. We found the house, only to discover that he wasn't home. But the lady that was, Litia, she surprised us by saying she was a member. She hadn't been to church in over 2 years, but she still had a testimony of it's truthfulness and the happiness it brought her. She asked us to come back and reteach her the missionary lessons, so that she could feel the Spirit again and return to church.
My district - 
but transfers were last week, so it's changed again!

We didn't know that there were any members out in Lololevu. In fact, this lady wasn't even on our list of members in the Tavua area boundaries. But the Lord knew her, and he sent us to find her. It was just another testimony to me that when He says that He knows His sheep, He really means it. It's what you would call a "tender mercy" of the Lord. I'm so happy to know that He knows me, loves me, and suffered all things for me, specifically. And for you, specifically (see Alma 7:11-13).

Keep on keeping on. Love you all.
Elda Barnaby

This is how we cook in Tavua.
Went to a birthday party this week! Fun fact: my first Sunday in Fiji, 
I went to this Mikaeli's sister's birthday. His cake was better though.
We on another adventure in the bush-side of Tavua 
and found a vent from the Vatukoula mines.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Lord's Storm Will Come in the Lord's Time (Tavua Area, Week 18)

I've learned a lot this week - and I mean a lot! That's probably the wonderful secret of missionary work - the harder you work, the more you give, the more you serve and help and invite other to come unto Christ, the more you get in return. I think Elder Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency of the Church said it best: "You can't give the Lord a crust without getting a loaf in return."

Last week, my companion and I set up many lessons. We prepared for the week we thought would be "The Storm". But, halfway through this week, Elder Carlson made a very apt observation: We weren't getting the Storm of Success we hoped for because we thought that we controlled the weather. This isn't our Storm; it's the Lord's. We're just the weathermen (hence the reason our prediction was wrong). The Lord will prepare people here in Tavua and everywhere where his servants are, and sometimes there's a hurricane of lessons and baptisms, and sometimes there seems to be a drought. But it's all up to the Lord and His own timing.

That doesn't mean we're not supposed to work hard. In a time of drought, sitting around is a good way to get killed. We worked as hard as we could - maybe there was more we could have done, but we did try. The Lord blessed us with success - not quite the storm that we had hoped for, but that's not the point. The worth of souls is great in the sight of God (see Doctrine and Covenants 18:10) and even if we had just one lesson this week - we helped one person draw closer to the Savior of the World. As long as we're doing our best and giving our all, the Lord will make up the difference. The best advice I've gotten from my wonderful mother is to give what I can and ask the Lord to make up the difference. And He does, every time.

But it was still an awesome week. We're helping Nina to prepare for baptism - which, by the way, is THIS WEEK! I'm so excited for her. This baptism is special to me - I started teaching her, and she's getting baptized. George's baptism was wonderful, but I was just the tail end of the process. I didn't really teach him anything he didn't know, he was just waiting for his baptism day to come. Nina, though, I had the privilege of teaching from beginning to end - from Lesson 1 to Baptism. I'm so happy for her - and she is too! Transfers are this week, and I'll be finding out if I'm leaving Tavua or not tomorrow. I hope I stay long enough to see Nina get baptized this week. If I don't, my joy will still be full.
Riding on the bus back from the Special Stake Conference 
with my buddies - Neumi and Solomone!

We also got "Bible Bashed" this week. For anyone that doesn't know what that means, basically this guy tried to prove the Church and the things we teach wrong using Bible verses. The natural response is to defend what you believe - pull out counter-verses and questions (which are abundant, since this is the true Church of Jesus Christ). But what my companion taught me in how he responded was very touching. He simply shared his testimony that he knew it was true - only when he shared his testimony did the Spirit enter the room. The contention was over. No one can argue a heartfelt and Spirit-assisted testimony, especially from a humble young boy of 20 years. By the time we left, the man agreed to hear us out and accepted a copy of the Book of Mormon.

Our purpose as missionaries is to invite. To invite others to draw closer to Jesus Christ by accepting our message, the wonderful message of the Restoration of the true and complete Gospel of Jesus Christ. Not every person will accept it (see 3 Nephi 22:9-10), but I know it's true, with all my heart. And I will testify that it is true every day of my life. That's why I'm here. To help people come not only to the knowledge we possess but also the wonder and happiness, too.

Loloma levu,
Elda Barnaby

(a.k.a. Ratu Pinapew, or "Chief Pineapple")

I joined Elder Mong-Yen in Ba on Wednesday for a companion exchange
 (just a one-day change, then I went back to Tavua).

Elder Mong-Yen from Tahiti! 
He's way funny and one of a kind!

Kinda freaky - teaching a lesson at the chapel and then we look up and see the mountains on fire. 
Apparently, someone's house caught fire that day.
 I don't know if you can see, but it spread pretty far. 
It's way far from town, though, and even farther from our house, so we're all safe.
Cool shot of Vatukoula - Emperor's Gold Mine! 
From a distance, of course - we only visit the surrounding settlements.

The Obsession Continues...
Elder Carlson is obsessed with this one goat, Simoko. Like. Obsessed. 
To the point where he wants a goat when he gets home.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

I'm Taking the Lead to Heaven (a.k.a. The Calm Before the Storm) (Tavua Area, Week 17)

Tevita Tora
Boy, this has been the best worst week of my mission thus far. We had a total of 6 lessons - literally everyone fell-through this week. It was really frustrating, walking literally miles every day without anything to show for it. It was extremely disappointing.

But I'm not disappointed in myself. We worked our very hardest this week, despite our setbacks, and the week flew by. I know that only good things are looking up for next week. According to my companion, this is the "calm before the storm" - and this next week will be the storm. I'm excited!

Also, cool panorama from the roof of his house.
George, our recent convert, is the man. On Wednesday when we visited him we invited him to invite his family to church. He says he does every week - and they make up some excuse. In reply, George says, "Well, I'm taking the lead to heaven." That's right George, you are.

Love you all - sorry for the short email, I get to Skype home today!!!

Elder Barnaby

This is a baby cow. His name is Rewa. 
The name of the biggest dairy business in Fiji is Rewa. 
My companion is obsessed with him.

Elder Carlson loves animals. They don't love him.
We saw a bit of a rugby game and 
thought these fans were kinda funny.


Max was here!  Okay it was only on a computer screen, but it was the best Mother's Day present I could have ever wished for.  He has such joy in his eyes and in his voice.  I know that he is exactly where he needs to be.  He sends his love and gratitude for all your love, support, and prayers.  He has been richly blessed because of you.  As much as he has grown and tanned, he is still Max - goofy, wonderful, thoughtful and full of love for his Savior.  Now I just have to get through 7 more months and we will get to Skype with him again!

Now that is the Max we know and love!!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Finding My Inner Bula (Tavua Area, Week 16)

 Hail, all you people that read these things.

This week was a tough week, to say the least. It was the first of a two-week school vacation, and most of our investigators were gone to Suva and elsewhere. The rest of our investigators were busy with parties and weddings and such. We did a lot of just walking around this week - not super fun, and a little discouraging at times.

But! It was still a wonderful week! Lots of fun things happened! For one, on Saturday we ran into a missionary who used to serve in Tavua area - Elder Grotepas. He finished his mission the day I got to Fiji. He even gave us a ride (which, for two guys who mostly walk everywhere, was really nice). The pictures on the blog this week show the fun parts of the week for me and my companion. There's this Australian white lady staying somewhere in Tavua, and we've seen her a few times but never said more than hello. Then, one day, she was riding by in a truck, taking a video, and as she passed us she said, "Bula!" and we replied "Bula!" While speculating what she was really doing in Tavua (because no one in their right mind would come here on vacation), we determined she was "looking for her inner bula".

We found our 'inner bula' when our District went on a hike last week.  It was way fun, but at the top we started wading through a field of spiny grass. I'm still finding the spines all over my clothes!

Alright, I guess I'll share just one great experience from this week: We went to go visit Viliame Vauvau in Nabuna Koro. Viliame is 18 years old and he's been a member for 3 years. But he hasn't been to church in well over a year. We visit him almost every week, and he knows the church is true and that he needs to go to church, but he just doesn't do it. He's probably the person that annoys me the most here, just because he has a strong testimony but doesn't act on it. We sat down with him and instead of pointing out where he could improve, we took a different approach: We asked Viliame to think about his own life and his goals and ask himself if he's remembering the Savior in them. Elder Carlson asked me what I'd do if Viliame went to church. I told him I'd cry. And I almost did. He came to church, and I was back up on Cloud Nine. I'm now convinced Cloud Nine is the closest cloud to Heaven.
This is Sister Naua, her granddaughter, and I. 
She's the sweetest lady.

"Bula" is used as a common greeting in the Fijian language, but it's actual meaning is "life". John 17:3, "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." That's the inner bula I'm finding, and the one that I'm sharing with the people of Fiji.

Me sa tiko ga vei kemuni,

Elda Barnaby

I found my feminine side during Service Day this week. 
Elder Carlson found his barbarian side.

The next Fiji water model!!

Apparently they have scouting in Fiji.