|Yep this is Fiji...|
A lot has happened this week. This may have been one of the most draining weeks of my whole mission. But oh, how happy I am. In spite of all the hardship and sorrow, somehow I'm still happy. Probably because of Mosiah 2:41, which states, "And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual."
Now, what happened this week again?
Peni and Miri - they crack me up
Tuesday was a great day for lessons - we didn't have any fall-throughs and we had a great dinner with the Ulunikoro family (they're like my new favorite family here in Lautoka). Brother Ulunikoro got home just before we got there at 7pm, and his wife wasn't home yet, so he threw together some curry for us. It was nice! And then, when Sister Ulunikoro got back from fishing, she fried up some of the fresh fish she caught. I forget what type of fish it was (that sentence was hard to write, first thing that came to mind was the Fijian, "mataqali ni ika"), but it was probably the tastiest fish I've had my whole mission.
Exchanges in Rakiraki with Elder Stock
Wednesday we went on exchanges with the Hindi-speaking elders in Nadi, but before that we went to an appointment with our new investigators, Sireli and Sereima. Sireli's niece and aunt both sat in on the lesson, and it was a powerful lesson - they really understood as we shared from Ephesians 2:20 and 4:5 about Christ's church and the need for His original church to be on the Earth today. By the end of the lesson, Sireli's aunt, Laisa, asked for a pamphlet of her own and she and Sireli's niece, Alesi, both expressed excitement about our next visit.
Exchanges with Nadi Hindi was fun, though (I got to drive the truck!), and we did a lot of good. We visited a less-active family with the ward clerk, Brother Pillay, and committed them to coming to church. My tactic to making sure they would come was that they wanted to feed us some time, and I told them that they could sign our dinner list at church on Sunday. They came, and it was signed, so that's a win-win-win situation for everyone. I learned a lot from being with Elder Howard on exchanges that day, though. We even got a new investigator while teaching Niko about the Ten Commandments - a kid named Wani, who lived next door to Niko.
Thursday was also fantastic - mostly because we got to see Sister Labalaba, who we were helping to reactivate, and found out that she had not only met with Bishop to get a temple recommend, but he'd also extended her a calling - and she accepted! We were so proud of her, and she was even among the first to church on Sunday. That night we talked about Temples with Niko, and he just grasped every little bit.
Friday and Saturday we had exchanges in Rakiraki with the Elders there. I went up to Rakiraki with Elder Stock and it was way fun - lots of work got done, and boy, they have a nice flat! I kept calling it "The Hotel". Maybe it's just nice to me because of my flats on Taveuni, which weren't the first place I'd choose to live. Saturday when we got back from exchanges, though, Niko had his baptismal interview and passed with flying colors.
Best news of all: Niko got baptized!
Sunday morning, at around 8am, we were able to witness Niko's baptism. It was a pleasant experience - probably one of the nicest, happiest baptisms I've had on my mission. Niko looked at me after I baptized him and he just looked like he was where he belonged. I felt the Spirit confirm that to me last week at Stake Conference, when a member of the Stake Presidency here in Lautoka was released and he spoke to all the nonmembers and less-actives that had come and said, "You're in the right place." Niko is starting to really become a part of the ward, too - after the baptismal service, a bunch of ward members came up to him and shook his hand and gave him hugs. I really like Lautoka 2nd Ward.
I want to send my condolences to the Pierce Family from my home ward in Massachusetts, who recently lost their son, Matthew. After hearing the news and a lot of prayer and study, I've gained a greater testimony of our Heavenly Father's plan for us, the Plan of Salvation. I hope and pray that all who knew Matthew, and all of us who deal with trial and hardship in our lives, may come to learn my personal favorite name for that plan. As Alma calls it, it truly is the "great plan of happiness" (Alma 42:8). So many things this week have taught me about it, and increased my desire to live it and love it and share it with others.
Toso Viti Toso,