Fiji Suva Mission

Fiji Suva Mission

Sunday, July 31, 2016

First (Dratabu Area, Week 3)

Kuki Ravudra with his best friend, his speaker system.

Awesome week! Absolutely hectic and draining but awesome nonetheless!

Lemme break it down for ya.

So on Tuesday I accidentally had district meeting go for 2 1/2 hours (no one was really happy about that - my bad), but it was good nonetheless. We had a cool activity where I gave the missionaries different materials to make a card tower, but some of the materials were just there to frustrate them and, in some cases, I gave them less cards than they needed. While they worked, I held up a sign that said, "Just ask for help". Each team slowly realized that I was holding the sign and then asked for specific help, like a better base for their tower or more cards. It was all about our mission president's 5 steps to success (I'll let you draw ties between the activity and the following):
District Meeting card-building activity, group 2 
(Brother Vodonaivalu, Elder Howard, Elder Johansson)

District Meeting card-building activity, group 1 
(Sister Baki, Elder Jones, Elder Tony)

                                                       1. Personal Relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ
2. Hard Work
3. Exact Obedience
4. Teachability
5. Attitude

But next time, I'll keep it to an hour or less. Oops.
District Meeting card-building activity, group 3
 (Sister Hawkins, Elder Whiting, Elder Babcock)

Baptism of Iokimi Ravonu Turuva.
Wednesday was a crazy day, we picked up another new senior couple, saw a bunch of our investigators and less-actives, and reviewed the baptismal interview questions with Iokimi, who was (spoiler alert) baptized on Sunday. His interview was supposed to be done on Thursday when the Zone Leaders got back from a meeting in Suva, but they got back too late, so we postponed it until
the following day. Iokimi was so excited when he passed the interview, you could just see it in his 12-year-old eyes. Two of his friends, Alipate and Jolame (the latter of whom has come to church two weeks in a row), both asked when their baptism interviews were. It was way cool!

Said goodbye to Elder and Sister Knight -
 Elder Knight took care of the mission finances and
 Sister Knight was our mission nurse for the last 18 months.
Friday we also put the Knights on their plane home. Elder and Sister Knight had been serving in Fiji for the past 18 months as our mission's finance secretary and nurse. We were sad to see them go - and it was way funny, cause the Zone Leaders made it to the airport just before they went through security to say goodbye. Saturday we filled up the baptismal font and saw some of our other investigators, but near the end of the day we started getting worried about the baptismal clothing for Iokimi's baptism. After doing a baptism interview for the Nawaka Elders' investigator (and eating some amazing pumpkin curry) we started racing around, looking for some baptismal clothes (a white jumpsuit) that a family had forgotten to return after the baptism. We couldn't find it anywhere, though. We raced around and checked both chapels in Nadi (Nawaka Ward and Nadi Ward), but no one had any baptismal clothing. In the morning we made it halfway to Lautoka to meet the Zone Leaders when we got a call that a white sulu had been found for Iokimi's baptism. We were so relieved, and he was baptized Sunday morning. He received the Gift of the Holy Ghost ( in Sacrament Meeting directly after his baptism. It turned out to be a great week with that kind of ending.
Checking out a river to see if we can have our baptism there -
 it was kinda dirty so we thought against it.

Iokimi is the first person in his "yavusa" (a portion of a tribe where the members are all interrelated) to become a member of the church. Because of him, about 5 or 6 other people have started to take lessons and started coming to church, too. In Fijian, we would call him "na isevu", directly translated as the first fruits of a harvest, but meaning that he is setting the tone for the rest of his family, being the first one to join the Church. He bore his testimony to his friends the other day, and even though it was simple, it was powerful.
Roti for days!

We're in for another crazy week - we're heading up to Lautoka today for a Zone Family Home Evening tonight! Sota tale!

Elda Barnaby

That is an old-style Fijian "bure" (house)

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Not Sure Who's More Tired, Pattie or Us (Dratabu Area, Week 2)

This is our baby - Pattie!
She's on her last legs, but she looks good after a fresh car wash.
Pattie is the name of our lovely van - and we're all equally tired.

Oh boy, where do I even start? This week has been filled to overflowing with crazy work, runs to pick up and drop off people at the airport, district meetings and exchanges - I'm literally falling asleep here at the computer!

My driving skills are still rusty - coming along, I don't stall as much now, but they're still rusty and people really enjoy passing me. Most of our area requires dirt off-road travel to get to certain investigators and members, it's pretty fun.
A little kid was carrying a can of ketchup and spilled it all over me.
 I just picked up a piece of cassava and dipped it in.

Probably the area of most excitement and activity at the moment is Dratabu village. A humanitarian LDS youth group from America (HEFY) just finished building some new outdoor bathrooms in Dratabu village and they had lots of missionary experiences along the way, they referred a bunch of people to us and we've started teaching a few of them. One of our investigators in Dratabu, Iokimi, is getting baptized next week. He's a great investigator - he's gotten some of his friends interested, and he's brought probably 3 or 4 new investigators for us. Talk about the Lord working in mysterious ways, using a 12-year-old boy like Iokimi to get others interested in learning more about the Restored Gospel.

Teitei bele mada! (planting bele leaves for service!)
Thursday we had a fun service with this less-active family. The mom, Lewa, had us plant bele plants.
It was way fun! Where they live looks a lot like the mountainous areas of Utah - dry, evergreens, tall grass - the only difference is there's also the occasional banana tree. It's a fun drive out there, which takes about 15 minutes. On Saturday we tried to see them, drove all the way out there, and...they weren't home. Which is a first. So we got some roadside barbecue made by a Canadian guy to make up for it.

Friday and Saturday we had exchanges with the Nawaka Elders, I went with Elder Babcock and it was way fun! We talked to a lady outside her house who happens to be from Matei, Taveuni, and I happen to know her family - we used to teach her niece, Phoebe. Way funny how small Fiji really is. Also, we started a giant argument in a house over my nickname, "Painapiu" ("pineapple"), and its equivalent in the Nadi dialect, "Vadrasola". These two people had a full-blown argument over the fact that they weren't the same thing. It was pretty funny, actually.
These two kids wanted to wear our bags - they're our new replacements

Sunday was the best day of all. When we got to church about 30 minutes early, only 3 people where there. We waited, and waited, and waited, and were about to start the meeting at 9:45 am when the transport showed up. And out came enough people to not only fill the little unit meeting house, but also 5 investigators. Remember Jope from last week? His wife came today, along with her niece who lives with them, and Iokimi and his friend, and Sister Kurucake's brother, Nathan. It was just nuts. We loved every minute of it. Definitely a Sunday to remember.

Elder Whiting played soccer for BYU-Hawaii, just so everyone knows.
Well, gotta sign off, but it's been a great week, we're looking forward to an even better week this

Elda Barnaby

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Can We Pretend That Airplanes In Nadi Are Like Shooting Stars (Dratabu Area, Week 1)

Moce Samabula 2nd!

And it's official! I had to say goodbye to Samabula 2nd this week and come back to the Burning West - I've been transferred to Dratabu area, just outside of Nadi, with Elder Whiting as my companion! But allow me to explain the whole week - it was a good one. Exhausting as usual, but good.

The Suva North Stake President's son, Errol Qaqa, 
won gold in the Melanesian Games for Hurdles! That's the medal!
One last district picture - let's go Samabula Fire Monkeys!
Tuesday we had our final district meeting before the transfer and Elder Tairua finished his mission, so I made it really memorable. It was all about trusting those who we work with - so I let
Sister Taufa cut my hair and related it to 
the gospel for our last district meeting in Samabula
Sister Taufa cut my hair (it was pretty scary, she used material scissors), we did trust falls from 3 or 4 feet up, and had a jump-rope competition (I lost by a landslide). Definitely memorable. We got transfer calls a few hours later and found out that I was being transferred to Dratabu area this week. They just combined two districts here in Nadi, too, and so President Layton asked me to be the District Leader over 5 areas from Sigatoka to Nadi, in addition to being the Airport Elder with my companion, Elder Whiting. That means that we have to help out with all the missionaries and senior couples coming to, from, and travelling by plane within Fiji with their tickets and such. We pick them up and drop them off and it's pretty fun, actually.

Rogosau boys - Pita, Jone, Ioane!
Anyway, so Wednesday we said some goodbyes and decided to try to go to this one area that we'd never been to, Tamavuaiwai. While there, we met this way nice Methodist lady named Soko who told us, "Don't marry an atheist girl, don't marry a methodist girl, don't marry a catholic girl - marry a Mormon girl!" It was pretty funny, considering that she wasn't even a member of the church. But while coming back, some kids started tossing a rugby ball with us and I slipped and cracked the glass on my camera. Luckily it's just the water-proofing glass above the lens, so it still takes pictures fine.

The saddest goodbye of all - Brother and Sister Matanatabu
Thursday was a great day - and a sad day. Elder Kahia and I went to say goodbye to the Matanatabus, and it was probably the saddest goodbye I've ever said. I love that family so much, because Elder Ta'a, Kahia, and I all helped them become active members of the church. It was so special. That night, we held Seruwaia Kasa's baptism, and I was able to baptize her right before I left the next day for Nadi. It was hard saying goodbye to the Kasa's, too. I love that family as well. I wish that their older sister, Carissa, had been ready for baptism too at that point, but I know Elder Kahia and his new companion will take good care of Samabula 2nd. I really love that place, it was hard to leave.
Seruwaia'a Baptism!

Had to say goodbye to Talei before her baptism - that was sad!
Friday, I got to Nadi - and we started work right away, transporting Elders and Sisters back and forth
from Nadi to Nawaka to Lautoka and back. Pretty exhausting first day. Our van, who's name is rightfully "Pattie", is an old, rundown Toyota manual-drive van. It's a blast to drive - and I'm the driver, so it's really crazy over here! Saturday we spent all day with the departing missionaries and finally got them on their flights in the evening, after 7 or 8pm. Airport Elder is where it's at!

Elder Whiting and I in Dratabu!
Sunday, though, was my favorite day. We work with Dratabu Unit, which is a very small group with maybe an attendance of 40 every week, sometimes less. Elder Whiting and I preside, and conduct, and come up with the program, and do pretty much all the official stuff. It's pretty legit, but I wish we had one of the members do it. The problem is there isn't enough men who hold the Melchizedek Priesthood here. One cool thing that happened, though, was this man walked into church and said he felt so touched that he wanted to join the church with his family. He comes from a rough background, and he wants a good, solid foundation for his family. We're excited to start working with him!

I love my mission, and I love my new area and my new companion and how wonderful the Lord has been to all of us! Let's go team! Let's go, God's side!

Elder Barnaby 

These valiant missionaries finished their missions this week, and as the Airport Elders we saw them off at the airport on Saturday. Shout-out to Elders Tairua, 'Ita, Johnson, and Pomate!

That's a lot of Burger King (gotta feed the missionaries headed home somehow)

Sunday, July 10, 2016

"Where was Jesus born?" "The hospital?" (Samabula 2nd Area, Week 22)

This is called "Wiwi" - I think it's a star fruit in English, but it's Fijian name just means "sour".

You remember our investigator, Sisa? He and his wife, who is a member, have been teaching their little daughter Adele things about Jesus and the gospel, and they quiz her often so she remembers. When they asked her, "A sucu evei o Jisu?" ("Where was Jesus born?"), she said, "Na valenibula" ("The hospital"). Way funny - and that describes our fantastical week. Sorry, this one's a novel.

This week was just PINS AND NEEDLES, we were on the edge of our seats ALL WEEK. Last week, during our weekly planning session (where we go over the schedule, plans, and goals for the coming week), we decided we wanted to try to get 30 lessons this week. For a walking area in Fiji - especially the notorious Samabula 2nd Area - it's not an easy task. This area barely saw anything above 15 lessons a few transfers ago, let alone 30. It takes a lot of discipline, hard work, and a lot of time on your knees, pleading for help and miracles and people to be home and stuff like that. In addition to that, we had Talei Ciri and Seruwaia Kasa's baptismal interviews that they needed to pass and their attendance at church and it was just nonstop anticipation for 7 days.

Of course, getting no lessons on Monday did not help our anxiety.

Then, having to figure out the Suva bus system for the first time to get to and from Zone Training Meeting was another adventure.
Elder Kahia learned how to "kari niu" (scrape a coconut) from Sister Kasa on Wednesday!

And then, it began.

Tuesday we saw Atu and Lusi, some of our newer investigators, and went over the Restoration again with a cool cup-tower analogy. It's kind of hard to describe, but basically the foundation of Christ's Church (the Apostles, the Prophets, Jesus Christ, and the Scriptures - see Ephesians 2:19-20) makes up the bottom row of the cup tower. We placed my Fiji Driver's License, which represents the Priesthood (the power and authority given from God to act in His name), on top of the two cups that said, "Jesus Christ" and "Prophets", connecting the two. The rest of the tower includes Christ's teachings and the different ordinances of the Gospel, including baptism. We then removed the cup labeled "Jesus Christ" from the tower, because after His Resurrection, He ascended again to His Father. Anticipated result: the tower falls. Actual result: because of the Priesthood (represented by my driver's license), the tower still stood. But when that authority of the Priesthood was removed from the earth due to the death of the apostles and prophets, the whole tower fell. We then reconstructed it as we talked about the prophet Joseph Smith and the Restoration of the Gospel. It's one of my favorite object lessons, and Atu and Lusi seemed to enjoy it.

Wednesday was PACKED. We ran all over the place - preparing Talei and Seruwaia for their baptismal interviews, teaching heaps of people and just having a blast doing it all. Thursday was equally stressful, running back and forth with the Zone Leaders doing Talei and Seruwaia's interviews - which, by the way, they both passed! - and we were just so dead tired and we were still only half-way to our goal of 30 lessons.

Friday we ran into Sister Matanatabu, our recent convert, as she came home from work. We sat down for the last time in their home - they've been asked to leave their house for reasons I won't describe, but suffice it to say that the Matanatabu family is very low right now. And yet, somehow, their faith is unwavering. She and Brother Matanatabu both described how they know this is a test of their faith from the Lord, and that they want to make sure they stay strong through it all. In a moment I can't ever forget, Sister Matanatabu asked, "Elders, how do I forgive someone? I mean, I say I forgive them, but I want to forgive them completely." In the midst of all this pain and trial, all Sister Matanatabu wants to know is how to forgive as the Savior forgives. I was reminded of the centurion that came to Jesus to ask Him to heal his servant, an experience to which Christ remarked, "I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel." (Matthew 8:5-10)
This is exhibit A of the Fijian wedding reception food.

On Saturday, our dinner appointment was at a Fijian wedding reception - Sister Sautu's sister had just gotten married, and they invited us to eat. And BOY. Did we EAT. Let me tell you, if you want a taste of Fijian cuisine at its best, just go to a Fijian wedding. We ate everything from palusami to pork cut from a spit-roasted pig and prepared three different ways, fresh water muscles ("kai"), earth-oven cooked taro ("dalo"), kokoda, the list goes on and on. It was good preparation for the anticipation of Sunday and what it would hold.

Sunday we sat at church, waiting for Talei and Seruwaia to walk in. Sacrament meeting started, and they hadn't shown up, and we were just clinging on to that faith that we had that the Lord would deliver. And then Sister Kasa and Seruwaia walked into the chapel. A mani vakacegu sara ga kina na yaloqu. Seruwaia will be baptized on Thursday, which is right before transfers, and we're just so happy that she came. Talei didn't come, she apparently went on a surprise trip to her aunt's house (that happens a ton in Fiji), so we'll have to push back her baptism another week. But the Lord came through - in His own way and in His own time.

Okay, one last miracle and then you can go back to your lives. Remember Atu and Lusi and the cup tower analogy? Well, we saw Atu after church and when we got there, he like skipped all the pleasantries and was like, "Elders, I'm ready to hear your message today." As we talked, he said that when we showed the cup tower analogy, he said something clicked in his mind. He told us that his soul just couldn't rest all week, and he looked at us and asked, "Is it alright if I can come to church next week?" And we were just floored. I've never had that in my whole mission, and this sincere seeker of truth just asked us if he could come and see for himself.

And guess what? We hit our goal of 30 lessons on Sunday at 7pm. The Lord just loves Samabula 2nd area! Transfers are this week, and I'm worried I'm going, but I'm secretly hoping I get to stay for just one more transfer. Not my will, though, but His be done. We'll see ya next week!

Elda Barnaby

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Earth Right After Rain (Samabula 2nd Area, Week 21)

Meet Immanuel. While waiting for dinner at the Tuinisautu's house, 
he proceeded to bring forth 3 basketballs and fling them at us.
Ever heard about that "silver lining" that shows where the sun is behind the clouds? Yeah that was basically this week. Literally, and figuratively. Oh, I like this theme this time! Now, I explain.

This week was, somehow, even busier and more exhausting than the week before. Some of our new investigators had us do service with them this week - way fun! We just collected wood and different leaves for their "lovo" (Fijian earth oven). It was good, hard work - I definitely got a workout carrying all the wood up and down hills! They're a nice family, and they're starting to get more interested in the Book of Mormon too.

ervice - part one! We were collecting wood for them 
to make a "lovo" (Fijian earth oven)

Service - Part 2!

This is Pita and Simeli, two of our investigators, 
with Elder Kahia during our service with them on Thursday.

We've been seeing Serewaia and Carissa Kasa, and Talei a lot this week to prepare them for their baptisms this coming week. Unfortunately, we haven't been able to see Carissa - every time we see her sister, she's not there. In addition to that, it rained all weekend, and none of them - including Talei - came to church. It was really disappointing. Like when it rains, most people just want it to stop. That's kinda how I felt at church on Sunday, when after a busy week, there didn't seem to be any fruits of our labors.

Talk about WRONG!

And another full dinner list!
Miracle days were, ironically, Friday and Sunday (which were the days it rained the hardest). Friday started with us contacting a less-active who told us, "Elders, I'm done with the church. Sorry." And that like never happens in Fiji, where they don't even invite you inside - it was a little shocking. After that, we started walking again in the rain and I turned to Elder Kahia and said, "Let's go see those potential investigators on Bureta Street" - a couple we had talked with something like two weeks ago. As we were headed over there, a car pulled over and the driver asked, "Hey, do you want a lift? But ready for the curve ball? It was the family whose house we were headed towards right then. We told the lady, Lice (not like the bug, it's pronounced "lee-they"), that we were just going to their house right then, and she was surprised, because they were wondering what they were going to do for about an hour before they went to a rugby game. Talk about the Lord's hand in His work!

We played baseball at P-Day last week!

Next miracle was, even after the not-so-great day at church (church itself was good, just the fact that none of our investigators came to church), we saw Atu and Lusi down in Nauluvatu settlement. When we got there, Atu was sleeping, and they woke him up (we told them not to - in fact, we left but they called us back) and when we sat down with him, he told us, "Elders, au mani wilika koya na lavelave ya, ka'u kila ni dina na ka sa volai kina." "Elders, I read that pamphlet, and I know that what's written in it is true." We were caught off guard, but he explained that he agreed that we need the gospel to be restored or brought back as it was in its origination by the Savior. By the time we'd explained the Restoration, the Prophet Joseph Smith, and the Book of Mormon, Atu was determined to read the Book of Mormon to know for himself. We were so excited!

Miracles are real - just like Earth after rain.

Elder Barnaby