Fiji Suva Mission

Fiji Suva Mission

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Even Weddings Don't Stop Us Now (Matei/Qeleni Area, Week 7)

Wow! This week has been just crazy! It's been tough, but for some reason, it's also been one of my favorites. This week, I've learned to adopt a positive attitude of not worrying, just going with it and having fun. In addition, I learned this week what hard work coupled with faith in the Lord can truly do.

I smell the Truth in those sandals
Elder Carter is...special to man and beast
On Monday, we had a Family Home Evening planned (family scripture study/activity night) with
some members who live nearby our house, but they all of a sudden cancelled on us. Tuesday was rather unsuccessful as well, though we did have a very enjoyable District Meeting. On Wednesday and Thursday, we went on exchanges - Elder Carter went down to Vuna area (on the other side of Taveuni) and Elder Noble, our District Leader, came up to Matei. Elder Carter was especially excited because he started his mission down in Vuna, and he got to go back (which doesn't happen too often).

Exchanges with Elder Noble - 
he really enjoyed this ice cream
Elder Noble and I had a ton of fun - there were no more lessons on Wednesday, but on Thursday we had some very effective lessons. That was most impressive, because Thursday was when the weddings happened. That's right, the weddings. Two weddings, on the same day. One was the wedding of the Naselesele village chief's daughter, so it was big. EVERYONE was gone. We had to work really, really hard just to get a few lessons this week. The thing with Fijian weddings is that everyone goes (except for us - no one invited us) and they last for days afterward.
This is Koroi - he's hilarious.

The funnest days, though, were Saturday and
Sunday. We saw some great families on Saturday, and they all had way funny little kids. The Tuvasu and Qumi families - some of my favorite families here in Taveuni. We also saw Sikeli, my favorite. He's getting really excited for his baptism - he's started telling everyone about it! Since we started seeing him last month, he's read all the way to 3 Nephi in the Book of Mormon - it's way awesome! I love the guy, hopefully he'll be able to be baptized in the next few weeks. He's the man himself.

Members - Brother Tuvasu and Brother Qumi and child
Sunday, though. Sunday was crazy good. Church was good, there wasn't great church attendance - only about 17 people came to church, but one of them was Sikeli and a few less-actives as well. We were very happy for that. After church, we reviewed our week and saw that we'd only seen 11 families and individuals this week. In the past, we've been able to see 20+ people per week - that's what we refer to as "Standards of Excellence" here in Fiji Suva Mission. 20 lessons a week is having really effective and productive weeks. Elder Carter and I set a goal to have 20+ lessons every week this transfer, so we decided to work as hard as we could on Sunday. We were literally carried from lesson to lesson - the Lord aided us in His work. We flew from lesson to lesson and village to village, and at the end of the day, we'd seen 6 families and individuals and traveled a good 5 miles by foot. It was amazing to see the Lord in His work, helping His people through us. This was the best.

I love the Lord, I love these people, I love you all, and I love being me. Because me is who I am, and I am changing into who God wants me to be. 

-Elder Barnaby

Can Elder Carter outsmart this Fijian child...
The essence of Elders Noble and Carter
Helped move someone before emails..
Work before the reward!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

I Testify that Murphy's Law is Real (Matei Area, Week 6)

I walked into a pole. I was not pleased.
Disclaimer: I'm not being negative! This week just exemplified Murphy's Law: "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong, and at the worst possible time". That's not to say that absolutely everything went wrong, there were some fantastic things that happened this week - some that came because of Murphy's Law. Allow me to elaborate.

Suffice to say it Rained on Saturday
First of all, Elder Carter POPPED MY BUBBLE and informed my that I'd been spelling my nickname wrong my whole mission - it's Painapiu, not Pinapew. It's the little things that get me.

Elder Carter and Brother Lagi, the Ward Clerk, 
who was going visiting with us on Saturday. Poor guy.
Monday, we missed the bus (surprise! every week!) so we started walking to Matei, and we caught a ride after about an hour of walking. As we started walking to an appointment, we stopped to say hello to a less-active. This man is the son of the Matei Group Leader, and he's always gone. Elder Carter has been here for 3 months and has never sat down with him. But he was there, and we were able to sit down and talk to him. He told us a little about his conversion story, and the Spirit took the lesson in an entirely different direction than we were expecting. It was amazing, and the discussion led to my favorite book of scripture in the Book of Mormon - Enos! (Fijian: Inosi). It was a bomb lesson. But that was the only lesson on Monday.
Pot of gold after the storm (the aftermath of the rain!)

On Tuesday we made pancakes for some of the members - REAL pancakes, not the fried Fijian batter things. We just made them to show appreciation to some of the members of the unit that really help us out - and later on this week, they all started requesting the recipe! Our Group Leader, Brother Celua, thought it was a time bomb...uhh...anyway, we had some fantastic less-active lessons this week, though. It was a tough week for investigators, but it was getting better throughout the week.

Now, back to Murphy's Law. Friday, our dinner appointment fell through. Saturday, we planned to go on splits with the members, and the whole day's plans were messed up when one of them didn't show up. Saturday, it rained for a long time - and we were interior visiting less-actives, up in the hills, so that was an enjoyable walk. Saturday, Elder Carter left his bag in a truck that gave us a ride (we did end up finding it). Sunday, 27 people came to church! And over half of them left right after Sacrament Meeting, and the rest after Sunday School. That was a little bit frustrating, but the most important thing is that they're coming to Sacrament Meeting. Also, we're hitting large roadblocks with our investigators and the less-actives we're helping to return to church. It's just an exciting time here in Matei - I'm not mad, it's just difficult at times.

 Tuvasu kids!
I will tell you what I learned this week: I read President Thomas S. Monson's talks from last conference, and thought about how old he is now. I thought to myself, "What if these were his last talks - is this what's most important to him, the Prophet of God?" The first was titled, "The Priesthood - A Sacred Gift" and the second "The Blessings of the Temple". These two things intertwine so nicely and are so eternally important that I couldn't help but feel that he is a true Prophet, living today. It was amazing. As I read them, I gained a realization that I wish I'd gained a long time ago: being worthy and clean spiritually isn't just about getting to heaven - it's about pleasing my Heavenly Father, and being able to bless other people. That's the point of the Priesthood, the power and authority to act in God's name, given by Christ Himself to His Apostles and restored to Joseph Smith in these the last days. That's the point of the Temple, the House of the Lord, wherein we can find the crowning ordinances, including sealing a family together for time and all eternity. This is the point: to bless others. I have this newfound excitement and drive to be more worthy, so that I may be an "instrument in the hands of God...and this is my joy" (Alma 29:9)

Elder Carter made Pumpkin Curry and a chutney 
(which is like a sweet side dish of tomatoes and onions - kind of like a sauce or topping). 
Way tasty!

Au lomani kemuni kece sara,

Elda Painapiu (not Pinapew)
Frogs get hit all the time here. But this...this takes the cake.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

"What's born of water?" "Fish." (Matei Area, Week 5)

Totoka (beautiful)
(Yet another title to explain: We were talking about baptisms for the dead in Sunday School, and we read John 3:5 and asked, "What's born of water?" and one of the youth answered "Fish". Which is correct.)

These weeks are just the best. I'm exhausted, frustrated, overjoyed, excited, anxious, and everything else all at the same time. I love it. It's crazy feeling all this at once, but thankfully, the over-arching feeling is happiness. I'm just so happy.

On Monday, we got stuck in Somosomo because we missed the bus home. So, instead, we got to go to Elder Painter's farewell party at Somosomo Branch. So many people were there, and they were all appreciative of his service to the Branch! Very nice! Also, there was food. Tuesday was a fantastic District Meeting, and it was a good start to the week.

Wednesday was great, we had some great lessons, especially with Sikeli, who is so excited to be baptized at the end of the month. He needs to come to church two more times, so he might be baptized next month, but he's the man. He loves sitting down with us, he's just so excited it's contagious! Phoebe, however, isn't even back from vacation, so we have to change her baptismal date. That's okay, she's still excited for it.

At the Handover Ceremony - the kids did a Meke! (Fijian dance!)

Thursday, we went back to Somosomo to bid farewell to Elder Painter (who took the boat) and attend a "Handover Ceremony" of school furniture donated by the Church to the Somosomo District School. The ceremony was to officially handover the donation. It was a nice ceremony, there were a few chiefs there too (which was a little nerve-wracking for us who understand the culture), and then President Maiwiriwiri, the District President, spoke in behalf of the Church. Way cool ceremony, and afterwards, the school kids performed a "meke" - a Fijian cultural dance. Super cool day.
Elder Painter's last farewell! 
He's finished his 2 years! Good guy!

Sunday was a little disappointing, we only had 20 people at church, but lots of people were either gone or sick this week. Brother Celua, our Group Leader here in Matei, got home from an 18-hour boat ride from Suva Saturday night at 10pm, and came to church the next morning. He's so strong, he's the man.

We've hit a lot of obstacles in this week, but we're still aiming high. In fact, because of our setbacks, we're trying to shoot even higher - because if we just coast, or let back a little bit, that's it. It's gone, and it will be very difficult to regain the momentum of hard, effective work that we have now. So there's no giving up.

I love it.

Elder Barnaby

We were having a discussion about whose robes are cooler in this picture of Peter, James and John giving the Priesthood (the power and authority to act in God's name) to the Prophet Joseph Smith

I don't know what this Tiki is doing in Fiji...

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Star Wards, Episode 4 3/4: The Missionaries Strike Back (Matei Area, Week 4)

(Explanation of title: We walked over an hour in the rain on Sunday after church to get to the Branch President's house and were coming up with a Mormon parody of Star Wars)


Boy! Great week! I'm just getting happier and happier, especially when I hear of successes my old companions are having! Elder Vole is doing wonders in Tavua, and Elder Po'ona just baptized our investigator in Suva 4th! For a little bit, I was upset that I wasn't able to have that kind of success when I was there, but I know that I planted some of those seeds, and I can only feel joy when I hear about their success!

As for Matei, the work is just picking up like crazy! This week, one of our investigators excitedly accepted a baptismal date - his name is Sikeli, he's the man. He's really loving the lessons and keeps all his commitments to read the Book of Mormon and pray about the things we talk about. He told us that he tried to come to church this past Sunday, but the member he was going to walk with went early to church. When his family and friends told him just to go to church just with some other denomination, he said, "No - I'm going to LDS now." He's the man! Hopefully, he'll be baptized at the end of this month!

Cool looking crab - that is not my hand, by the way.
Tabua and Amarina are so fun to teach - this past week, a couple from the States who own a house here came back to visit and the Brother helped us teach Tabua and Amarina. We watched the Restoration video with them, and something changed in them afterwards. All of a sudden, there was a sincere desire to know. It was amazing. I love them a lot. Also, that couple from America fed us dinner - chicken enchiladas, AH MAN you have NO idea how happy I was to eat Mexican food. No idea.

We had Zone Training Meeting on Tuesday, and I've had one of those a month since the beginning of my mission, but this was easily the best. The trainings were great. It was just a great spirit there too - it really inspired me to do my best the rest of the week. On Friday and Saturday, I was with our District Leader, Elder Painter, and he is one good missionary. He was an Assistant to the President, which is basically the highest leadership position you can have as a missionary. You only get there if you're good - really good. And Elder Painter is really good. It was a great learning experience.
Zone Training Meeting - with just our District 
and the Zone Leaders 'cause we're on an island!

Honestly, I'm so happy. So happy. I can't describe it - I'm just so full of joy and love I can't even handle it! This is the best place for me to be, right here and right now. Trust me. Something I read this morning in the Book of Mormon just really got me going: "And it came to pass that the Lord did visit them with his Spirit, and said unto them: Be comforted. And they were comforted. And the Lord said unto them also: Go forth among the Lamanites, thy brethren, and establish my word; yet ye shall be patient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls." (Alma 17:10-11)
There was a big bug. I went into Hero Mode.

The people of Fiji, these are my brethren and sisters - and even though it's hard sometimes, I know why I'm here. This is my joy.

Elder Barnaby

We interrupt this blog with an special message from 
Elder Carter (Max's companion)

This is Elder Carter, I'm Elder Barnaby's companion at the moment. We were walking along the other day and all of a sudden, Elder Barnaby says, "Look, horses in the ocean...IT'S A SEA-HORSE!!!" We were dying laughing and thought that our families might appreciate our bad jokes.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

"Where were we before we were born?" "Fiji!" (Matei Area, Week 3)

Elder Barnaby practices a flight pose.
**pictures and captions - thanks to Elder and Sister Vermeeren, and LDS couple serving a mission in Fiji**

This week was another wonderful miracle in my life. I was able to see the Lord's marvelous work progress in a way that I was a part of, but obviously no more than a instrument in the Master's hands. (Sorry, my English is all messed up)
Elder Carter and Elder Barnaby with investigators
On Monday, we went to see some Tabua and Amarina, but they were gone, so we decided to say hi to Phoebe, a little girl who we're teaching. She should be getting baptized this month. We walked up to her house and her family invited us in. While inside, we saw Sister Koroi - one of the Matei Unit members - and she was holding a combined Family Home Evening with Phoebe's family. She said, "Elders, we were waiting for you." We had not been invited to this activity, but it turned out great - obviously the Lord knows His children. We're also teaching Phoebe's grandmother, Pasimaca, who is a very nice lady, but she's a little slow. We were teaching her about the Plan of Salvation and asked her, "Before we came to this earth, where were we?" and she enthusiastically replied, "Fiji!" So that's my slogan for the week - I'm now convinced that we lived with our Heavenly Father before we came to Earth - in Fiji.

Elder Barnaby and Elder Carter
with President Bautarua ( Qeleni Branch)
Wednesday was a cool day - after walking forever from an appointment (usually someone picks us up, but I guess everyone was busy today), we stopped by one investigators house - the one we had planned on seeing Monday evening. Tabua and Amarina weren't home, but Amarina's mother was. We talked with her for a little bit and all of a sudden, Tabua and Amarina showed up at home in a truck full of buckets of fresh water. They have no running water, so every few days they have to collect fresh water from a spring nearby. We were able to be there to help them unload the water. They were extremely grateful and made us "panikeke" - Fijian pancakes, which are actually just fried flour, sugar, and water. They taste a little like fried dough, but less sweet. Just as tasty, though. After sharing with Tabua, he expressed that they weren't interested in changing churches. In most areas in the world, that's a red flag to missionaries that means "Oh - no hope, move on". But in Fiji, that's just a test of our faith. We asked if they'd prayed to know if the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the true church - and they said they hadn't. I definitely don't want to give up on that family - they're way awesome. And I know that Heavenly Father can reveal to them that this is His church.

On Saturday, we got to sit down with Isei, who we were able to find last week under miraculous circumstances. He's really interested in finding the "place where the Lord can lead me home", but he's not sure if he wants to be part of a church. His parents are actually LDS, they live in Suva. He's the man, he really wants to know. I'm really excited to teach him about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Top off the week with 80 people at church, including two of our investigators. It was wonderful. I've had a great week - it wasn't easy, but it was fun. I love serving the Lord.

Elder Barnaby