Fiji Suva Mission

Fiji Suva Mission

Sunday, August 28, 2016

I Asked For Lau, Got Lautoka (Lautoka 2nd Area, Week 1)

New area: Lautoka, the second largest city in Fiji!
Well this was a shocker - I got transferred! I thought for sure that I was staying in Dratabu, and then, one transfer and I'm outta there. As far as I know I am the shortest-lived Airport Elder of all time #randomachievements #wheresmymedal

But I'm way gutted, I didn't get to say goodbye to anyone. Not even Jolame, who I haven't seen since his baptism last week. I'm most upset that I won't be part of the journeys of our awesome investigators anymore, namely Jope and Adi, Maki, Violet, Iva and Mela, Jone, Ranadi...isa I miss them. And apparently, Elder Whiting told me that on Sunday two less-active families came to church on Sunday, determined to come back, and one of them is a part-member family with family members interested in joining the church. Isa lei, Dratabu! But duty calls elsewhere.

My newest (and 15th) companion, Elder Fitisemanu!
Lau is a group of islands east of the main land of Viti Levu, and I've been dying to go there for a long time. Only a handful of missionaries have ever been there, and I was studying the dialect, along with Dratabu dialect, hoping that President would allow me and another Elder to go out there. But instead, the call came to go, no to Lau, but to Lautoka, the second largest city in Fiji. I was also asked to fill a position as a Zone Leader, which basically means that my companion and I are in charge of the 24
missionaries in the western-half of Viti Levu, from Rakiraki to Sigatoka. It's a big responsibility. Thank goodness I have a solid companion, Elder Fitisemanu, who's half-Samoan, half-Tongan from Utah (actually went to the same school as Elder Whiting).

Sorry, not a lot to update on this week, we had a hectic time with transfers - almost every day we were at the airport, three times at 5 A.M. dealing with lost baggage, visa waiters staying at our flat, and, the most exciting of all, putting 14 missionaries on a bus to Suva and then getting a call from the Assistants that the bus showed up empty (they were found, but almost two hours later). So this has been a really crazy, roller coaster week. District meeting was fun, though - we played Wheel of Fortune, scripture style!
Our last district meeting in Dratabu District
Lautoka 2nd Ward is an awesome ward, though - very well run, and this past Sunday, I met a lot of people I knew from other wards in Fiji and a young man named Niko who just showed up to church and told us he wanted to join. That's a nice welcome to the ward! Our Ward Mission Leader, Brother Lal, is the man too - he's so organized and concerned about missionary work, ward goals, and retention of converts. I'm excited to finish my mission in this ward, it's a great place!

Next week will be more exciting, I promise - we have Mission Leadership Council in Suva on Thursday with the rest of the Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders in the Fiji Suva Mission. I've heard it has good food, so let's go!

Elder Barnaby

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Too Many Sleepovers (Dratabu Area, Week 6)

Nasivikoso Sleep over

Wow, this week was so crazy, filled with so many exchanges we were hardly even at our own flat this week. I can't believe I have to do this again, but here's another play-by-play of the week.

Monday we had district P-day because the other districts in the Zone had a combined P-day without us - that's cool, whatever, we had tons of fun playing basketball and such.

Nasivikoso adventure 
(Elders Barnaby, Fitisemanu, Whiting, and Masoe)
Tuesday we came to support the Nadi Sisters' baptism, which was hectic because their ward mission leader forgot about it. Directly afterwards, we had district meeting, and then we went home and waited for the Zone Leaders to call. We were headed on exchanges to Nasivikoso, a village in the interior of the main island of Fiji, Viti Levu. There's a unit of the church there that the Zone Leaders check up on every once and a while, and they had us come with them this past week. Tuesday we went up, slept in an old building there they use for the chapel, and, because there's no running water there, we had to bathe in the river. We tried to visit some members and recent converts there, but they were all gone selling their harvest in the markets in Nadi. It was a super fun two days, though.
This is the crazy road that leads into the Nausori Highlands
 towards Nasivikoso (also the end of the pavement after this)

Wednesday and Thursday we were able to do a lot of work in our own area, especially getting Jolame ready for his baptism on Sunday. He's such a beast investigator, he shares his testimony at the end of every lesson. When we talked to his mom about signing his baptismal form, she told us that he tells her at least twice a day about his baptism and how excited he is. Then, Thursday night we headed down to Sigatoka to go on splits with the elders there. I also did a baptismal interview for the elders' investigator while we were down there, and Friday evening we came back up to do a little more work in Dratabu.

Saturday we had Jolame's interview, which he passed with flying colors (as was to be expected). We had a very successful Saturday, though it didn't end well - Elder Whiting lost his camera and our appointment with our investigators Jope and Adi, who both have baptismal dates for the first week of September, fell through. We're probably going to have to postpone their baptism.

Sunday was the most happy, hectic day of the week. We had ward conference, and for the second week in a row,  we had almost all of our baptismal dates at church. Seven of them came, including Jolame, who was baptized after church. Ward Conference dragged on for almost two and a half hours (pretty much a stake conference) and then, right afterwards, everyone went home early because apparently they were shutting down the roads in Nadi for a big event. The Fiji Rugby Sevens Team got back on Sunday from the Rio Olympics and the people were going nuts - literally everyone was wearing Fiji flag sulus, shirts, and waving the Kuila i Viti (flag of Fiji) out of every car and house window. The whole bishopric left, and we were left, wondering what to do about our baptism. The side that everyone from Dratabu lives on didn't have closed roads, so we could still hold our baptism, but there was no one there to preside. I remembered something that we learned in our leadership training though that President Layton said that if it was necessary, we could preside at a baptism because we hold the priesthood keys for convert baptisms in the mission. So we started the baptism anyway.
Jolame Lawavou's baptism!

Just as Elder Whiting got in the water with Jolame, though, I felt an unmistakable prompting from the Spirit, probably one of the most powerful promptings I've ever gotten: "Call the Zone Leaders." I interrupted the baptism and called the Zone Leaders immediately and asked them if it was okay that we presided at our baptismal service. They said that we needed to call President Layton, so I called him and asked him for his permission to hold the baptism without a member of the bishopric present. When I heard the words. "Yes, Elder Barnaby, thank you for checking with me," I felt a great peace come over me. It was wonderful. The baptism turned out great, and we ended the night with a district sleepover at the Nadi Hindi Elders' flat.
We went on exchanges with the Zone Leaders 
up to one of the most bush areas in the mission, Nasivikoso!

The church is true, but more importantly, God still talks to us and that's why I'm doing this work, to give others the opportunity to receive baptism by water and by the Holy Ghost, which is the Gift of the Holy Ghost, given by the laying on of hands ( - subtitle "The Gift of the Holy Ghost"). I gained a powerful testimony of it this week. I love you all! Transfers are this week, so we'll see what happens! I only have two left!

Elder Barnaby

Pattie needs a car wash after all the rain this week

Na loma ni koro i Nasivikoso

Up in the interior of Fiji, they have budget goal posts for their rugby fields.

Na loma ni koro i Nasivikoso

Monday, August 15, 2016

This is my country! They won gold! Two of the players (back row, third from left and second from right) are from Dratabu!

I don't know how I'm going to explain the awesomeness of this past week - it was so good. It was hard at times, but it was so good.

First hard thing: We got stuck in the mud again. On Tuesday. This time, we got out the same night, with the help of some members, the Ravudra's. It was kind of embarrassing, especially since we were trying to be extra careful to not go anywhere we would get stuck. It was kind of funny, though, and now we're being EXTRA extra careful.

Wednesday we had to wake up early to take the Nadi Sister Training Leaders to the airport, because they were going to the northern islands, Taveuni and Vanua Levu, to go do exchanges with the other sister missionaries there and train them. When they got back on Saturday, they told us about some of the missionaries there that said hello to us - it was cool to be remembered and loved, even from so far away!

Thursday we had to have our car, Pattie, serviced, and they told us it would take about 2 hours, so we left and got something to eat and came back at the appointed time. When we got there, they said, "Oh, actually it's going to take another 5 hours." That kind of annoyed us, so we explored Nadi town while we waited for the car to be done. When we got it back, though, they hadn't fixed our stuck side doors - 7 hours and it wasn't even completely fixed. Somehow, though, we had an effective rest of the evening proselyting. We committed Jolame to be baptized, and he was so enthusiastic that we set the date for the 21st of August - next week! He's a boss kid.

On Friday, Fiji won their first ever medal in the Olympics - Gold, in Sevens Rugby. It was a madhouse here - the people went crazy, and they deserved to win.

Definitely the coolest days were Saturday and Sunday. We had fall-throughs for days on Saturday and we had an airport run in the middle of the day, but it was still so good. Our investigators, Jope and Adi, fed us dinner (some sorely needed Fijian food - rourou), and before dinner we had a lesson. In addition to Jope, Adi, and Jope's mom, about four of our other investigators in the village were at their house (Fijian houses are very open and people can come in and out of them easily). We read 3 Nephi 11 together, which talks about the Savior visiting the people of ancient America (, and in the chapter it talks about Jesus Christ giving people authority to baptize. We talked about it with those sitting there and invited them all to be baptized. By the time we left, we had committed all 7 of them to being baptized next month.

And then, Sunday. We got to church, waited for the van that always picks up people to come, and prayed that those whom we had invited had come to church. And when it came, they poured out of the van - 9 investigators came to church. Nine. Ciwa. One of them we had just met in passing and gave him a Book of Mormon, and he came to church because of it. Needless to say, Elder Whiting and I were over the moon. And they were all from Dratabu village. We are so excited with all the work and miracles we're seeing here!

Can't wait for this week! Go Fiji Go!

Elda Barnaby

Monday, August 8, 2016

Out Of The Mud (Dratabu Area, Week 4)

Dratabu Koro
Trust me, the title for this week has a funny story behind it. At the time it wasn't funny, but now it kind of is.

And so on Monday we had a Zone Family Home Evening, which included a talent show that just turned into a bunch of last-minute skits. It was fun, though, and then the next morning we enjoyed Zone Training Meeting. I say we, but actually Elder Whiting and I had to leave halfway through to go pick up a missionary at the airport in Nadi. When we finally got back around 2:30, we went on exchanges with the Zone Leaders and I brought Elder Fitisemanu with me to Dratabu area. We had a fun exchange and made a few more airport runs on Wednesday. We also started teaching Jolame, Iokimi's cousin, and his family. All the kids wanted to come to church, and they would have had the transport come to pick them up. When we found out it didn't, we were pretty embarrassed.

This is what missionaries look like when 
they're headed to the airport (our treat to them)
Wednesday night, after switching back, Elder Whiting and I went on another adventure through Nadi to go find a missionary from Christmas Island who had landed, lost his itinerary, and was staying with some nice people while he waited for us. We searched for probably an hour before we finally found the house. We brought him back with us to stay at our flat, and then early the next morning put him on his flight to Suva. We thought after that, surely the adventures were over. Oh boy, were we wrong.

Friday we had a Leadership Training Meeting, which President and Sister Layton and the Assistants drove out to Nadi to do for us. We learned tons about our calling and responsibility as leaders in the Fiji Suva Mission. After that we struggled for a few lessons with some of our investigators, though we did give Jolame a baptismal date for later this month, which he gladly accepted. And then, Saturday came.
Play-Dough activity at our leadership training meeting 
- it's a moko (fijian gecko)

Like I've explained before, as a District Leader I have the privilege of interviewing baptismal candidates before they are baptized, and we had three interviews in Nadi on Saturday, all in a row. The first two went okay, though during the first one a downpour had started outside. By the time we picked up the Nadi Elders to go to the third and final interview, it had rained for a good few hours. It's still raining now, on Monday afternoon. They told us that the interview was down a dirt road into a small settlement. We discussed it, voiced concerns about driving down it, and ultimately decided to just go for it. As we were headed down, however, another car was coming up, and there was no room for it to pass, so we pulled off to the side of the road to let the man pass. We'd pulled a little ways into a short driveway on a hill, but as I tried to back up the hill, the tires just spun. I tried pulling forward, but didn't know that it was a patch of freshly laid dirt, which makes for excellent mud. And then we couldn't move at all.

You can imagine my panic. We tried to push it out, but it was no use. We were forced to abandon it for the night, to the dismay of the owner of the house whose lawn we had accidentally torn up. We prayed and fasted that night, but when we woke up Sunday morning, the downpour was worse. We went to church, wondering what to do, and during Sacrament Meeting I had a thought come to my
This is Junior - his jacket is the best
mind, which I am convinced was from the Lord. The voice in my head asked, "What are you doing? Don't you know that I can do My own work?" I had forgotten the whole week to include the Lord in His own work, and even while fasting and praying to get the car out of the mud, all I was thinking about was how inadequate our abilities were to get it out by ourselves. Finally, after church, and a lot of pulling and tugging with the Zone Leaders' truck, we gave it into the hands of the Lord. The owner of the lot then called a man with a tractor, who was able to come and get our van out of the mud. It was a miracle - but the bigger miracle was that the Lord had pulled me out of the mud in the first place.

Okay! Let's all have an even better week this week, cause I know we will!

Elder Barnaby