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!