Fiji Suva Mission

Fiji Suva Mission

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Cabin Fever Unlocked (Matei/Qeleni Area, Week 15)

This was not my choice of title for this week. This was all Elder Jonutz. Though it does kind of describe our week - in several different ways.

-Jese and Taufa think they look like "kai valagi"(white people) after covering themselves with baby powder. Way funny!

This week was a lot better than the past few weeks! We got out and worked hard, it was so uplifting and fun! Tuesday was an extremely disappointing day - our "golden investigators" Tabale and Polonia would hardly let us talk and just preached to us about their beliefs as Pentecostals. That's fine that we can share about our beliefs - questions and discussion invite the Spirit of the Lord. But they just brought everything we said back to the same concept - their belief that God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are one being. I respect those that believe such, but as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I believe that God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three separate beings. As a
missionary, we do our best to avoid confrontation and "bible bashes", and
the beautiful thing about the message of the Restoration is that all those questions and doubts can be answers if one just prays to know if Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God. But Tabale and Polonia weren't really listening to us - as Elder Jonutz and I bore our heartfelt testimonies of the truthfulness of our message, we felt the Spirit, but were still unsure if they would accept the message. I was so disappointed, but just like our Heavenly Father, I will not give up on anyone so quickly. I love them, how could I give up on them?

Elder Vermeeren came to inspect our flat - and we
passed inspection!!
Thursday and Friday were great days - Elder and Sister Vermeeren went visiting with us, but as we went, we passed right by our planned-out lessons. I didn't feel any moving need to go see those people. Instead, I felt prompted to visit two older sisters in the ward, Sister Mari and Sister Rosa. Turns out they needed a good visit, and they needed help getting a constant supply of fresh water, which Elder and Sister Vermeeren were happy to help out with. Every visit we had on Thursday was unplanned, and yet we were guided to the people that needed us the most. I love the Lord and His work.
This is Navakacoa village - a rugby field surrounded by houses. 
It's just up the street from the chapel in Qeleni.

Friday we were in Qeleni and it was way cool -

Elder Jonutz and I went to this little settlement called Pagai (which was originally settled by Tongans), and we were invited into the first house we saw. We had a great visit with some lovely Fijians, and then one of them pointed to the older man present and said, "He's the chief of the village". I almost peed myself, here I was, talking normally to this chief and I didn't even know it! In Fiji, culture is everything - as missionaries, we try to respect it as much as we possibly can, including using extremely proper, respectful Fijian when addressing a chief (known as a "Tui"). But it turned out all good, and they invited us back as we were leaving. Way cool day, we walked away very happy.

We had a picnic on a bridge in Qeleni, 
and we watched some Fijian kids having some fun.
By the end of that day, though, I had a massive headache, and we'd forgotten the ibuprofen at our flat in Matei. On Saturday it turned into a bit of a head-cold, which was then joined on Sunday by another fever. I can't seem to catch a break! But I asked Elder Jonutz for a priesthood blessing, and he said something very interesting as he pronounced the blessing. He felt prompted to bless me that I would
find answers in the scriptures. Afterwards, I read my scriptures. Right now, in addition to reading the Book of Mormon, I'm reading the New Testament. The chapter I read on Sunday was a direct answer to that blessing. Romans 5:3-5 taught me that these tribulations will teach me patience, which will in turn give me experience, and such experiences will give me faith and hope. I've said it before, I'll say it again and again: I love my Heavenly Father and the miracles he pours out on His children every single day. I testify that He and our Savior both live and love us all, so much.

Just as much as I love you all!

Elder Barnaby

***Some pictures provided by Elder and Sister Vermeeren***

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Atonement Covers All Pain (Matei/Qeleni Area, Week 14)

Boy, I'm exhausted this week - not for the same reasons as last week, though. No, this week I spent mostly in bed again! I had a bad virus that took me down from about Wednesday until Sunday. It was way bad - not a fun week.

On Monday and Tuesday, though, we had fantastic lessons with some of our investigators! We saw
Pat and watched the Restoration video with him, and the Spirit was way powerful! I hope he really felt it! Also, after the lesson, his wife, Sister Koroi, gave us this way good chicken chowmein with papaya in it. So double points. Anyway, on Tuesday, Elder Jonutz and I walked in the rain to see Tabale and Polonia, our new investigators. While we were teaching about the Restoration, both of them started asking questions, not out of objection, but out of curiosity and sincerity. Even their kids were attentive. It was amazing. As we left the lesson, I started jumping up and down and saying to Elder Jonutz, "They're gold! They're solid gold!" In missionary-slang, a "golden investigator" is someone who truly and honestly wants to know about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and wants to join the church and come to Christ. Of course, we don't know anything yet, but we felt so good and they showed so much interest, I just can't help but be thankful!

And then I got sick. For days, I got worse, and wondered why it didn't go away, why I didn't get better. I opened up a Church Magazine of General Conference addresses - talks from the leaders of the Church - and I opened up to a talk titled, "The Atonement Covers All Pain". Intrigued, I read more. What was contained in that talk illuminated my understanding as to why I was suffering like this, and what I was to do from there on out. Here is what touched me most:

"Christ chose to experience pains and afflictions in order to understand us. Perhaps we also need to experience the depths of mortality in order to understand Him."

I knew then that the Lord had not left me, but that He had a plan for me and all my experience on this Earth. This was a tough week, but I feel so blessed. I love you all, very much! Thanks for the constant emails and letters to keep me smiling!

Elder Barnaby

P.S. We also went on a little hike today, trying to see Tagimoucia Lake, but we got lost an couldn't find the lake. Next week! Stay tuned!

**Pictures courtesy of Elder and Sister Vermeeren**

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Ceguoca (Exhausted) (Matei/Qeleni Area, Week 13)

This is one of my favorite pictures.

Honestly, just sitting here, I'm so tired it's like not even funny. Well, it's kinda funny. But at least we're exhausted for a good reason! Lots of work went down this week!

Just got back from Labassa
Where do I begin? We started with another trip up to Labasa on Vanua Levu Island - we went up on Monday, came back on Tuesday evening, got CHICKEN ALFREDO in Savusavu (that doesn't happen in Fiji - I was on cloud nine), and then came back to Taveuni on Wednesday. The boat ride was awful - the waves were so big, I thought I was going to be sick. So, first time I saw the hand of the Lord this week: I didn't throw up. That was good.

But then, then the miracles started flying! On Thursday, Elder Jonutz and I went to the house of a man who said he was interested in sitting with us - while searching for his house, we found his aunt and uncle too, who let us into their house as well. Overall, we found eight new people to share the message Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. That's miraculous! I love it! Elder Jonutz can't stop talking about it - he's so excited to share with these people!
Sa Kidavaki ki na Koro ko Qeleni

Then, we went to Qeleni to continue our work in that area. We switch back and forth between our two areas, so it's pretty fun. Tiring as anything, though. We took three buses on Friday, to and from Qeleni, because we got up to Qeleni and realized that we'd forgotten our key. But the work there is moving! We went to this village called Vurevure, and just the walk there was beautiful! We met some great people there, and we set up several teaching appointments for next week.

Our flat, cause we didn't have power this week! 
Elder Jonutz is a very special person.

Church was good this week, too. Qeleni Branch is a cool place, I can't wait to aid the Lord in His
work in this area. The church building and our flat are both powered by solar panels, but there's something wrong with them, so we didn't have any power during our stay there. It was actually really
exciting, though at night it would be nice to have more than flashlight light. Elder Jonutz got a taste of the "bush" this week, though! It was super fun.
This is the walk from Vurevure Village to Qeleni.

Our Mission President, President Layton, has told us that success and satisfaction in our missionary efforts will only come after we become "consecrated missionaries" - exactly obedient to the commandments and mission standards, work as hard as we can, become truly teachable, and develop a personal relationship with the Savior, Jesus Christ. I caught a glimpse this week of what following that pattern can bring. Now, I want to try harder than ever to be the servant my Heavenly Father needs me to be!

Elder Barnaby

"Para, para, paradise!" - Coldplay

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Sa Qai Dola na Vanua ko Qeleni (Matei/Qeleni Area, Week 12)

Title Translation: "Qeleni Area is now open"

Cool picture in Qeleni - look at this tree!
Qeleni Chapel
This was a way fun week - Elder Jonutz and I are having a great time together here on Taveuni, and this week lots happened! We did a lot of walking - poor Elder Jonutz has some nasty blisters on his toes - but lots of work got done! We had some great visits, especially with Dipika, Siteri and Paula, some of our investigators. I may have mentioned Dipika before, she's reading the Book of Mormon and believes it to be true. We taught a little about the Plan of Salvation this week and she really enjoyed the lesson. Siteri and Paula are so great - I love their little family. It was way good to see them again. We taught them about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Prophet Joseph Smith, and about the Book of Mormon. It was a powerful lesson, and even though Elder Jonutz can't really speak Fijian yet, his simple testimony brought the Spirit of the Lord into the room. Way good.
This week, Sister Talica came back from Suva with her newborn baby! The baby's name totally
escapes me, but it was way fun to see her again and her family. We see her family often - two or three times a week - but it was extra special to walk up to their door and hear Sister Talica say, "Elder Painapiu!" ("Elder Pineapple!") Boy, I love the members here in Matei.
Elder Noble and Elder Barnaby

Coolest part of this week, though: Elder Noble and I went on exchanges and reopened Qeleni Area, which borders Matei Area (my assigned proselyting area).
Qeleni was closed for reasons unknown to me, but we came in and started work there from scratch, after no Elders being there for something like 4 months. It was way fun! Elder Noble and I started up the work, got some teaching appointments, and had fun navigating unknown villages! It was way cool. Loved it. 
Put the straw in the coconut and drink it all up!

But anyway, that's all really for this week. Way fun week. Right now, we're in Savusavu on Vanua Levu Island right now, we have another meeting to go to tomorrow. But I love being a missionary, and I really renewed my testimony of the sacrament this past week at church. If you come to church with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, ready to change your life, Christ can and will change you! It's amazing! I feel so full of the Spirit right now!

Love you all! Loloma yani mai vei au!

Elder Barnaby

Walking in Fiji-Wonderland