Fiji Suva Mission

Fiji Suva Mission

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Great Plan of Happiness (Lautoka 2nd, Week 5)

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,

Elder Barnaby

Sunday, September 18, 2016

"And He ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of Miracles" (Lautoka 2nd Area, Week 4)

That scripture, found in Mormon 9:19, reads as follows: "And if there were miracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being? And behold, I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles." (for a more full testimony of this truth, read the full chapter)

This is Niko - he's the man.
He's a pretty good artist, too - he doodled this during Stake Conference

And boy, were there miracles this week or what.

Monday we had dinner and Family Home Evening with the Koro family, a few of which have started taking lessons and several of which are current members of the church. We had curried parrot fish, and I thought it was nice - Elder Fitisemanu, on the other hand, got a little sick from it.

Tuesday was a fun day - busy, but fun. We were tasked by our Mission President's wife, Sister Layton, to do the missionaries' flat inspections, due to the distance between the West and Suva. We'd done a bunch up to that point, but Tuesday morning we had to drive up to Ba and all the way to Tavua to do some of the inspections. By the time we got back, we were late for District Meeting, but thankfully they waited for us and we had a fun Preach My Gospel jeopardy challenge, in preparation for our Zone Conference Preach My Gospel challenge. I'll refer back to this later. Also on Tuesday we saw Niko and he surprised us when he handed us a piece of paper with a summary of the chapter we'd asked him to read from the Book of Mormon - we were shocked, because hardly any investigators do that. He also downloaded the Book of Mormon Stories animated videos onto his phone.
Zone Conference takeaway: "No Grit, No Pearl"
Wednesday we had exchanged with the Assistants to the Mission President, and that was fun - I went with Elder Harris, who was in the MTC with us, and we cranked out the work. I was especially excited when we didn't have a single fall-through, and we ended up with probably three or four return appointments and referrals, too.

Thursday came around and we had Zone Conference - my last one - in which we learned about how
We had a Preach My Gospel challenge 
during Zone Conference, and our district won!
we need our trials to become better, and we also need to learn better how to commune with our Heavenly Father through prayer. It was way intense, and I learned tons! I also had the opportunity to bear my departing testimony, which all missionaries do at their last Zone Conference. It was sad, but it didn't put a damper on the Zone Conference spirit. Also, remember that Preach My Gospel challenge? Thanks to our practice activity during District Meeting, our district ended up winning.

Friday and Saturday were good - tough, but good. We were both a little under the weather and worried about pretty much everything, and we had a lot of fall-throughs that put a little damper on our spirits, but we were just excited to get to Stake Conference on Sunday.

E dua ga na vale
And that's when the miracles exploded.

We were sitting there, Stake Conference started, wondering where Niko was, along with the others we'd invited. Then Peni and Miri, a couple we're teaching, showed up during the beginning of the meeting. That made us happier, but we really needed to have Niko there, so that he could meet the requirements to be baptized next week. I prayed during the meeting - hard - that he would come. And then, I glanced back fleetingly and saw him, standing in the back of the crowded chapel. I motioned for him to join us, and my heart soared towards heaven with thanks. But after the meeting the Lord blessed us tenfold - in the end, we had 14 investigators at church, including Peni, Niko, Mereoni, 4 other new investigators, and 7 investigators from our other area, Nasivikoso. It was a miracle. Our mind was blown how amazing that was.
This is Niko - he's the man.
 We committed him to read Alma 40, and 
he wrote up a summary to go along with it. That's a first.

To top it off, this morning (Monday morning) we witnessed Peni and Miri's marriage, something that they've been trying to do for a long, long time. Now, Miri is worthy again to hold a Temple Recommend and Peni can now be baptized in a few weeks. Amazing!

The Lord.

Elder Barnaby

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Back to My Roots (Lautoka 2nd Area, Week 3)

"O iho hoi vai?" "Qi luve boto ehe - ahwe na lequ horo."

This week was packed, crazy, and just fantastic. Definite highlight of my week: I went back to my first area on exchanges.

I went to Tavua.

Crossing to Nasivi from Matanagata in Vatukoula, Tavua, just like good ol' times!
Here in Fiji Suva Mission, we embrace Fijian culture and say that wherever our first area is, that is our "koro" (village, specifically referring to your father's village) and our second area is our "koro ni vasu" (mother's village). So I am Kai Tavua (i.e. my ethnicity is Tavuan), Vasu i Taveuni (i.e. my "mother's village" is on Taveuni Island). That's how most people refer to themselves here in Fiji, by their father's village followed by their mother's village. Anyway, I got to go by to my koro - Tavua. (Also, that line at the top of this entry is in Tavuan dialect)
"So, we meet again, 
Buzz Lightyear, for the last time!" - Zurg

We had our Zone Training Meeting on Tuesday, the first I'd led with Elder Fitisemanu, and it went pretty well. We only went a little over-time and I feel like we got the messages we wanted across. Immediately after lunch, we went on exchanges with the Tavua Elders for me to train one of the elders how to properly train a missionary. But to be honest, my heart was racing, because I was gonna be able to go back to Tavua after over a year of being gone. We taught a few lessons to some people I didn't know, but along the way, heaps of memories flooded back. The poor elder I was with had to listen to me rant about how new the stores looked and how I tripped on that log and how the flat smelled identical to when I was there (it really did!) - ah! It was the best!

Everyone's done it, it's about time I made a tag-in-the-sand picture

Especially when I got to see some of my favorite people, including Sister Vauvau, the Vunisa's, the Tora Family, and Nina, my not-so-recent convert! We stopped by their house and they like mobbed me, it was like the happiest day of my life. They were amazed at how my Fijian has progressed (quote, "When you were here before, your Fijian sucked!") and I found out one of the less-actives we were working with was now ready to start filling out her mission papers - it was just a grand day!
Me, Navi (recently baptized), Lucy, 
and their younger brother, from Tavualevu village in Tavua.

I took the Tavua Elders out to Vatukoula to show them around, and while we were looking for a referral that lived out there, we decided to ask someone and he then invited us into his home. We walked in and saw a big painting of Jesus Christ on the wall, the very one that many LDS families have in their homes (see attached picture). We thought, "Hey, are these less-active members?" and then the guy proceeded to explain that his uncle was a Bishop in one of the wards in Lautoka. I was surprised and asked which one. He replied that it was Bishop Tuwai, who just so happens to be the Bishop in Lautoka 2nd Ward, the ward I'm serving in right now! We chatted and invited him to try out our message, and he accepted warmly. It was a way cool experience.

The past few days I've been on exchanges with Elder Luatua, my district leader and fellow-intake member (i.e. we were in the MTC together). Our companions took the truck up to Nasivikoso to check on the unit there and have church there, at the request of the Lautoka Stake President, President Kaumaitotoya, who we met with on Wednesday to discuss missionary efforts in the stake. It was a
Didn't even know they had Koolaid in Fiji
way fun exchange with Elder Luatua too, catching up on old times in the MTC and enjoying how much we've changed since then. We were disappointed when Niko didn't come to church again, and our returning member, Sister Labalaba, failed to meet with Bishop to receive her calling and temple recommend interview. We were excited when Sini, the non-member husband of a member showed up to church. We were especially excited because we realized we were scheduled to have dinner with their family on Monday night, just a day after they'd had a spiritual experience at church.
Scenic shots from Natabua seaside

I love serving my mission. If any of you are considering going, I say pray and ask Heavenly Father if He will consecrate your desire to go. He will answer you, and give you direction in all things (see Alma 37:37). But seriously, especially you guys, don't wait - go now and serve the Lord and see if He will not open the windows of heaven and pour out an indescribable blessing upon you (see Malachi 3:10 and 3 Nephi 24:10).

Elder Barnaby

Lautoka 1st Ward youth practicing Polynesian dances for an activity

Scenic shots from Natabua seaside

Sunday, September 4, 2016

From Coast to Coast and Back Again (Lautoka 2nd Area, Week 2)

Some scenic shots from some of the places we proselyte in Lautoka.

Boy, what a busy week! I thought being an Airport Elder was busy, but this might top it!

Monday we were able to visit Jonas, an Indian youth in the ward who has cancer. We gave him a blessing, and he came to church this week for the first time in 6 months. He said something as he walked into the chapel that I don't want to ever forget, "I feel just a blast of the Spirit right now." He's such a great guy, so proud of how hard he's fighting this sickness!

Tuesday we were able to see Niko, our new
investigator, for the first time. We taught him about the Restoration of the Gospel and he just ate everything up. He said he wanted to change his life, and he's doing that in amazing ways! I've never had an investigator quite like him - when we handed him the Book of Mormon for the first time, he accepted it with a gentleness I didn't expect, but was grateful to behold. We saw him again on Friday and had a great lesson on the things we need to do in this life to return to live with our Heavenly Father again, including baptism, which he accepted immediately. Unfortunately, he had to pull a double-shift on Saturday and got home early Sunday morning, so he wasn't able to go to church.
The Mission Leadership Council (MLC), made up of Zone Leaders, Sister Training Leaders, and Assistants to the Mission President. I look so small compared to everyone haha

Wednesday we drove down to Suva for our big mission leadership meeting - about a five hour drive, but it was fun, and we actually made great time. I got to see Elder Kahia and his companion, they were having a baptismal interview that night for the boyfriend of a girl we met the day I left Samabula 2nd - who woulda thunk! I was happy to see some of the people I knew and loved in Samabula. It was funny, though, because the Stake President in Suva North Stake, President Qaqa, whose home we ate at every Tuesday, thought I was still serving in Samabula - funny guy. We met the other Zone Leaders, Sister Training Leaders, and Assistants to the President at the Mission Home for what they call "Unity Night" - basically, all us leaders get together and play games to build unity in our Mission Leadership Council (MLC). It was way fun, and I got to see some of my favorite missionaries, too.

Thursday we had out MLC meeting, and it was amazing! We learned so much about building good relationships, gaining a true testimony of missionary work and family history, and presenting the message in a way that will touch peoples' hearts. President Layton spent a week on the island of Rotuma two weeks ago and stayed at the Elders' flat, so he got hands-on experience that he shared with us about presenting the message, especially the introductory lessons and the baptismal invitation. It was amazing - I learned so much! We then held a council and set some goals for the mission during the month of September. It was special to be a part of it - and the food was to die for, so that was nice too.

Got a package from Denver, Colorado - from Hermana Rebekah Pierce! 
Our mission secretary had a heart attack, though, when she couldn't figure out who Elder Pineapple was.
We then had to make the trek home with all the things our Zone needed (including a package - shout out to Hermana Rebekah Pierce!) and, as soon as we got back to the west, we immediately went on exchanges with the Nawaka elders. It was a crazy packed weekend, and it was way cool to test out the suggestions President Layton gave us during MLC about teaching new investigators and focusing on the Temple.

Sunday was great - full of giving healing blessings and visiting less-active members. One of our favorite progressing less-actives right now is Sister Labalaba, a young mother who is finding her newfound-love for the church and the gospel. I love serving as a missionary, and I love serving here in Fiji - I can't wait to see what this week will hold!

Elda Barnaby