Monday, November 25, 2013

It's time to...DO WORK YO!!

bula mama!

okay okay first things first......I SAW IKAIA!!! but it was so funny because we awkwardly shook hands and ill tell you i was soooo tempted to hug him, but i didn't! dont worry :) but we had our meeting and then after at lunch we were just talking about BYU days and all that stuff and it was just so good to catch up. he's getting so skinny!! but we were talking like the whole lunch and at one point while we were talking and suddenly everything just got really quiet. we look up and everyone else was staring at us, so we stopped talking and one of the elders was like, oh no please continue your story we want to hear too! they were listening to our conversation for about 5 minutes and we didn't notice, how embarrassing! lol. but we'll take a picture this week at zone conference, dont worry. 

Thank you for that scripture. I've been having a little rough time loving our investigators that don't keep commitments, so i needed to be reminded that i need to love them no matter what. if i dont love them, then they're not gonna care at all about what i say and what i ask them to do. ive noticed the difference in my lessons. when i truly and genuinely love them, i can hear the spirit clearly and im able to say what needs to be said. while if i go into the lesson just irritated because they didnt come to church on sunday, the spirit is not there at all. i literally feel like a sells girl, trying to share the gospel. no one likes to listen to someone who talks about how their church is better, that's not what we do. we just share about the restoration of this true gospel and help them understand and learn about the fulness of the gospel, instead of just a little piece of the big puzzle.

well...this week was better then last week. each week gets better and better. ive been really praying and asking why i dont seem as motivated and excited about the work anymore. i found myself just going through the motions. it's just like volleyball. if you just go through the motions, no one will get anything out of what you're doing. so ive been just taking some time to ponder and think about what i need to do to get back that excitement and drive. i've been on my mission for about 4 months now and i am just getting so use to the missionary life. recently ive been thinking, all we do is eat, sleep, and find new people to teach the gospel. but that's not what this work is! it's so much more than that! missionary work is helping to strengthen the Lord's church and to find His lost children so that we may ALL return to our Father in Heaven. in my journal i recommitted myself to the work. i really thought about why im here, what am i doing, how am i going to improve? im here because i love this gospel with all my heart and it would be selfish of me to not share it with all of God's children, so that we can all return back to Him. what am i doing...i am building the Heavenly Father's kingdom here on earth. how lucky am i to have the trust of my Father in Heaven to teach His children here in Fiji. it's a responsibility that i shouldn't take lightly because i only have 18 months to do it. and im going to improve by "forgetting myself and going to work." immerse myself in this beautiful work. that includes loving ALL those i meet and because i love them so much, learning their language, so that they can hear the fullness of the true gospel in their own tongue. so it's time to...DO WORK YO!!

this week we've really been focusing on strengthening the members. we've been visiting a lot of less actives. many of them that have been less active for a really long time. we actually found two less active families that no one knew where they lived. come to find out...we walk pass their homes like all the time AND they live right next to each other. go figure! so me and sis. ons and 2 sisters from the branch came with us and we visited those 2 families. one of the father's of the home was even a branch president and his wife and mother are actually not members yet, so we're hoping to get some investigators from that visit. the second family, there is 2 sisters that are baptized out of the like 15 people that live in that one house. but they only got baptized about 2 years ago so they still have so much to learn. so we'll be visiting them a lot. none of them came to church yesterday but it doesn't mean that we are giving up. we will visit them every week until they come to church again. along those lines....i want to invite you all to go and visit the less actives! especially the ones that have just fallen away. usually those who recently fell away still a strong testimony, just maybe something happened that you could help with. but also visit the older less actives. something we do here is every saturday night we meet and go on splits with the auxiliary leaders and go and visit different less active members. it's been really successful and most of the families we visit come to church the next day. so that's something you can ask uncle kahele about. it's really helped us to strengthen our branch.

on friday lucy taught me how to make polusami which is like the samoan palusami. the roro (lu'au leaf) with corn beef wrapped in it, cooked in lolo (coconut milk). and guess what...i squeezed the coconut milk. so we're never buying coconut milk again when i come home. we just get some coconuts, scrape it, and i squeeze it and make the coconut milk for you. fresh :)

this week i have also been trying to speak as much fijian as i can. last night in our lesson we taught the plan of salvation and i tried my best to speak fijian. so i pretty much ended up teaching most of the lesson because my companion is not as confident in fijian. but i tried my best, even though at some points i needed to speak english because i couldn't think of how to say it in fijian. but at the end of the lesson we sang "i am a child of God' with our 2 recent converts Meli and Lucy, and our investigator Arieta. she loved the song! then we prayed and after we prayed i told Arieta that i was so sorry for my fijian because im still learning and trying. her face was like so surprised. she told me that she thought that i was already fluent in fijian. i was like whoa! thank you! but i told her i am far from being fluent and i still have so much to learn! but i appreciated that compliment because it just helped me to know that im making progress in my language, one step at a time.

funny thursday night there was a huge thunderstorm! me and sis. ons were sleeping until suddenly..."BOOM!!" a huge thunder shook our house. and the way they build their flats here is like on log stick things. which i never trusted in the first place. so when this huge thunder hit, first of all, im scared of thunderstorms, and second of all, all i was thinking was our flat is just going to fall off those sticks and we're going to like die! i was freaking out! and then as im lying in bed with my blanket over my head covering my ears, i feel something crawling up my arm. A BIG COCKROACH!!! oh my gosh!! i started to cry because i flicked it off my arm and then it started to crawl up my leg and i just jumped out of bed and jumped up and down screaming and shaking my hair out and i had no idea where it went. my companion was just laughing at me! after standing up for about 10 minutes i lied down again and covered my body fully with the blanket and finally fell asleep. it was the worse night of my life!!

well au lomani kemudou sara ga! kalougata tiko!!

loloma levu,
sista chong

Lovin' my Fijian Food!!

Monday, November 18, 2013

First Bible Bash and a Sacrament for 9

bula sia mama!

Anyway, this week was another slow week and we had a lot of fall through appointments. the work is moving slowly. everytime we think things are getting better, it just gets harder. we're still working on finding more investigators but we haven't been very lucky. the hard thing in fiji is everytime you go and knock on someone's door, they invite you in to sit down, have some juice, and talk a little bit. then you start to share about what you do and start talking about the gospel and then they tell you they go to another church, but all of God's word is good. so you pretty much get your hopes built up and then crushed. i sometimes wish that they would just shut the door in my face from the beginning so i dont sit there for like 20 minutes talking to just have them not be interested. another thing that's hard is that fijians are so nice that they dont like to say "no." so when we ask them if we can come back and meet with them they act all happy and excited but when it comes to that day, they start to lie and hide, which just wastes our time and we get so frustrated. i want them to just tell me that they're not interested and not be nice lol. but me and my companion are praying all the time to help us find some new investigators. hopefully we'll get some new investigators this week.

this week i had my first bible bash. me and my companion went into the pharmacy store to buy some face wash (which is $20!!) and while we were looking one of the workers comes up to us and at first asks if we need help. we tell her no we were just looking. then she asked us if we worked anywhere because of our name tags and we told her who we were and what we do. in my mind i was like "yes! this might be our new investigator." well, as soon as i thought that she suddenly said, "do you know what it says in Matthew 6?" where in the world did that come from! before i realized it she started throwing bible verses at us asking us if we knew what that verse said. she told us that we pray to God not Jesus and we told her yes we believe that too. and then she threw another bible verse at us, even though we agreed with what she said. i was so confused to what she was trying to prove! then she said there is one greater then Jesus, and we said Heavenly Father. but they are the same through their works and she said do you know Heavenly Father's name. we were confused by her question and told us, "God's name is Jehovah." she was a Jehovah's witness. I told her that Jehovah is Jesus Christ and that God is Heavenly Father. she just kept throwing bible verses at us with jehovah in it until finally i was like you know what, thank you but we need to go. we're not here to fight about religions. then we walked out. we then went to meet the elders for lunch and we told them and one of the elders was like "let's all 10 of us go back to the store and teach her the gospel." haha but dont worry we didn't. we just forgot about it. but that was my first experience and i hated it. i hated the feeling of not being able to say what i wanted to say because she kept cutting us off but i know that that's not what we do. we dont go around trying to prove someone else's religion wrong. we're just here to share our message and it's their choice to except it. but the Jehovah's witnesses here are really irritating. they go around telling people not to listen to us mormon missionaries because we dont believe in the bible, only the book of mormon. so they just give me more motivation and determination to teach everyone the truth!

This week we had a lesson with our one new investigator, Maca. she goes to seventh day church and she lives by Meli and Lucy and they asked us to come teach her. our lesson was really good and she understand and seemed to believe in the things we were teaching. we taught her about the Restoration of the gospel and we asked her if she had any questions at the end. she sat their quietly and asked, "how do you know which church is the true one? how do you know that your church is true, what about mine?" me and my companion sat there quietly looking at each other like who was going to answer her question. i finally just felt prompted to bare my testimony. i told Maca, "there's no scripture or anything i can show you that will convince you right now that our church is the only true church. but i can bare you my testimony that i know with all my heart that this church is true and that it's the only true church on this earth. i know with no doubt in my body that joseph smith was a prophet called of God and that he restored this gospel, the gospel of Jesus Christ. this isn't joseph smith's church, it is Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ's church that they restored through joseph smith. i testify that joseph smith translated the book of mormon by the power of God. and that by reading it, it's the only way you can know that joseph smith was a true prophet. only if you read and pray about it." i could feel the spirit so strong at that moment. it didn't feel like i was speaking but rather my lips were moving and the spirit was giving me the exact words to say. after, i bore my testimony she didn't say anything. she couldn't argue with me because it was what i believed, but i knew that it impacted her and i could see the spirit working in her. i now can truly testify that there is no way at all you can do missionary work without the Holy Ghost! the Holy Ghost converts, not us.

Lastly, yesterday we went with the elders up to Boca loop which is about a 15 minute drive from town, where we took up sacrament. the elders are starting a unit up there and they invited us up there because technically it's our area it's just that we don't have a transport so it's too far for us walk. but we hold the sacrament meeting at a member's home, outside on her porch. her and her son are members and then only 2 other people came. so we only had 4 people at sacrament, besides us. this experience was so humbling to see the dedication and love these people have for the gospel. me and my companion got to speak to them yesterday and the spirit was so powerful, even with just the 9 of us there. it is an experience i will never forget and we will continue to go up with the elders on sundays and hopefully the unit will grow more and more.
well all is well here. i still love being a missionary and would not change it for the world. me and my companion always talk about the weird things we're going to do when we get home. well, just the fijian things that we'll do at home, which will be weird to you guys lol. it'll be fun!! but au lomani kemudou sara ga!!

loloma levu,
sista chong

Gotta LUV the NIU!

Some RS Sisters in Labasa Branch

Friday, November 15, 2013

Finally Teaching in Fijian

bula mama!
me and my companion were cracking up at all the wedding pictures. but honestly i didnt expect anything different then what i saw lol. the three boys look so cute! my companion was cracking up at their mustaches and bow ties, cutest!  i wish i could've been there. no one printed a poster of me and carried me around!? how rude! hahaha!
here in fiji it was hot like crazy! i swear im getting like 10 shades darker everyday lol nah just joking, i wish. but its been really hot recently and the sun here in labasa is like penetrating my skin. we walk around with umbrellas not just when it's raining, but also when the sun is so hot, cannot handle. we always feel like the jehovah's witness people, but we gotta do what we gotta do.
well something exciting happened this week, actually just yesterday. I TAUGHT MY FIRST LESSON IN FIJIAN! pretty much the whole lesson was in fijian! and let me tell you, i struggled hard, but at the same time i knew enough to get my message across. i felt bad for my investigator because i probably made no sense at all at some points, but she was so nice and tried really hard to understand me lol. we also had a member present with us so wherever i got stuck she would help me or continue what i was trying to say. we taught the plan of salvation. it was so difficult because not only was almost every concept in the plan of salvation new to our investigator, Arieta, but she had to try and understand it with my broken fijian. i was just so grateful that we had our member there because she really helped Arieta to understand what we were trying to say. when we got to the judgement part in the plan of salvation, she told us, "i know im a sinner, so what happens to me? can even i repent of all the bad things i did? or is it too late?" we shared with her the scripture in Doctrine and Covenants that says that when we repent with the fulness of heart, the Lord remembers them not. she started to cry when she heard this because it was a new sense of hope. i told her that she was already on the road of repentance and she was already drawing closer to our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. we told her that our Father in Heaven was already happy and rejoicing that she is choosing to change her life and come closer to Him. i reminded her how much our Heavenly Father loves her and wants her to return back and live with Him. i then committed her to baptism and she accepted. she said that she can't wait to be baptized and be reborn. the spirit was so strong in that lesson, even though it was in fijian and i didn't know how to say everything, i knew the spirit was testifying to her of the truth. now i am have a lot more confidence to teach in fijian and i think me and my companion are going to try and teach in fijian more often.
another good thing happened this week...MY COMPANION ISN'T GETTING TRANSFERRED! well atleast not this week. we found out that something happened with the new intakes travel plans. they were suppose to arrive today but something happened so they won't be coming to fiji for another week or so and that's when there will be a big transfer so we'll see if my mom (companion) stays. but when the intake comes i wont be the new missionary anymore! yaaayyy! so now i won't feel like the little, unexperienced missionary anymore. lol
this sunday we had our primary presentation. and it was a success! me and my companion pretty much wrote the program and taught the kids the songs. so we played a big part in getting all the stuff together and we ran the rehearsal the saturday before the presentation. let me just say now, i never want to be a primary president! hahaha! and now that i just said that, im gonna called there. isa! but me and my companion fasted that morning just praying that the program would be successful and everything would be okay. when we went to church we practiced and from the practice i was so unsure and uneasy about the program. but once sacrament meeting started i just knew it would be okay. i was the one that sat on the side of the pulpit in case the kids forgot their lines and they did an awesome job! even all the little ones did their talks and weren't scared. they're singing was so beautiful and touching to many in the congregation. i think it was one of the first primary presentations that they had in the branch and everyone said it was beautiful. when they sang "i am a child of God" at the end, the 2nd counselor in our branch presidency was sobbing. the song touched him so much! after sacrament was done, so many people came up to us and said they really enjoyed the program and to keep up the good work. i thanked my Heavenly Father for helping us get through this and thanked Him for the spirit that was present during the presentation.
there's one sister in our branch who me and my companion have been spending a lot of time with this week. one because she's the primary president so we were helping her a lot, second because she is going through a hard time. so we've been just going over and visiting, taking her out to our lessons, doing service for her, and just trying to give her that extra support. we have grown so close to her and she's amazing! she's so strong in the gospel even though she's been through so much. i can't imagine all the things that she's been through in her life, she deserves so much better, but she continues to have such strong faith and trust in the Lord. she builds my testimony every time we meet with her. she also has a son on his mission in the Philippines and she's borrowing a friends laptop during Christmas week so she can skype him and she offered for us to borrow it too! so i think we might get to skype on Christmas and not just talk on the phone. yaaayyy!! im so excited! but just thought i'd let you know, only one more month :)
well, the work is still amazing! very difficult but the blessings that come from it are indescribable! au lomani kemudou sara ga!
loloma levu,
sista chong

oh my gosh i forgot something to include in the blog letter. I DRANK FRESH COW MILK!  like straight from the utter kine!! and i was looking at the cow the whole time i was drinking it. it was actually okay and tasted pretty good when you put sugar in it. the only thing was that there was like chunks in it and that's when i almost threw up but i didn't. and i drank it all! and i was like yes i did it! then the lady refilled my glass. i almost cried. i prayed and asked heavenly father to give me the strength to drink this second glass and He did. i held my cup the rest of the lesson so she wouldn't refill it. hahahaha!

Young Men from the branch

Chong in the House!!!

excerpt from Keapo's letter from her first week in Fiji about the frogs:

so every night when we come home to our flat there are all these frogs on the grass. they're maybe like the size of golf balls or so but they're gross and there's choke!! i like scream and run through the grass. they like jump and touch my legs and my companion just laughs at me and tells me, "just kick um!" yeah no im not kicking no frogs!! im just gonna run and hope they dont touch me. sometimes i step on them and it makes the grossest sound. so my companion said we're going to try and come home before its dark so i dont have to deal with frogs, eeewwwwww!!!! i swear im going to die!!! but i guess ill get use to it and start kicking frogs like nothing. we'll see. gross!!!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Boat to Suva

bula mama!!
dont worry i didn't forget about you guys but i think you're on a plane but we're emailing on tuesday this week because we had a zone pday yesterday and didn't have time because it was a holiday so everything was closed. but i'll email you my big letter, later on when we drive back to labasa. we're in savusavu right now, about 2 hours away from my area. but i love you guys and i email you more later today. i got some stories! i love the kids costumes!!!!! we dont have halloween here, i miss the candy :( lol love you!!

***Later in the day we received this letter***

bula mama!!

okay so now we're back in labasa town and back to the work. well, after we email lol. but i had a pretty adventurous week. but before i get to that. what happened to your hand!!! you beating people?? lol nah but fo real what happened! why doesn't the doctor give you a brace or something?? i loved the kids halloween costumes this year, so cute! im sure kino loved disneyland so much! did all the kids go on the tower of terror? the picture is small so i cant really see it clearly. if they did, wow! im so proud of them :)
well, last week wednesday we had a sister training in suva. so on tuesday morning me and my companion still didn't know when we were going because the APs (president's assistant) didn't email or call any of our zone leaders or district leader. so we're sitting in our flat on tuesday and doing our normal studies until we get a call from the APs and they say, "sisters did you know that your plane leaves in 3 minutes?" come to find out, they forgot to tell anyone! they just booked our flight but forgot to any of us so we had no idea our flight was that morning. so we ended up having to catch the bus down to savusavu which is about 2-2.5 hours and then we had to catch the BOAT to suva. we are the first sister missionaries to catch a boat in the whole mission. like for so long. the outer islands have to catch a boat but it's only like half an hour. our boat ride was 15 hours long! when we got to the boat we had no idea what to expect. it was a huge boat, more like a ship. downstairs there was like cars and trucks to ship and stuff and then we had to go upstairs. upstairs where we were going to be sitting was surprisingly really nice! it kind of looked like an airplane and everyone pretty much took a row for themselves and lied down to sleep. but me and my companion shared a row, so one of us slept on the chairs while the other slept on the ground. we were okay and really excited to ride the boat until we woke up in the morning and we did not feel good at all! my head was throbbing and i felt like i needed to throw up because we were in this hot room all night. then we went outside to get some fresh air and watch the waves and we felt a little better. the ocean spray felt good and ocean breeze smelt good and i missed it so much!  we left savusavu at 8pm on tuesday night and then we didn't get to suva until 11am wednesday morning and we ended up missing half the training. it went from a fun, simple trip to suva to a crazy, long trip. it was an experience ill never forget!

The Boat Ride
the training itself was actually really awesome. they pretty much talked to us about member present which is so important and the thing we are the weakest at as a mission right now. and then LANGUAGE! we need to learn the fijian language!!! and it was perfect for me because i love the language and i want to learn it but i just want it to come to me already you know? i hate not being able to speak it. i read uncle shons letter like everyday for that extra boost and motivation so im determined! even our zone training last night was about language. isa! i need to do it! there's a scripture they shared with us from D&C that says that every nation should receive the fulness of the gospel in their own tongue. they told us that even though fijians speak english, they would understand so much more if we spoke fijian and they deserved to be taught in fijian, their first language. so im trying hard but now im going to try my hardest ever to learn the language.  fiji has just enhanced my FOBness lol. i love it!!!! i wear my suluvakatoga (lavalava) to sleep every night because it's so hot haha!!! 
Elder Rainston and Sister Bechu

North District

i want to thank each and every one of you for your prayers. this week we were able to find 2 new investigators and i know your prayers played a big part in that. im humbled and overwhelmed with the spirit everytime i think that not only me and my companion pray for our work but our families do too and you guys are so far away. i can feel your love through your prayers and i am seeing the blessings of having a family that is constantly supporting me and encouraging me to do the Lord's work. i dont know if i would be able to do this without you guys. so i just wanted to say VINAKA SARA VALEVU!
one of our new investigators is Arieta. she is from a small group of islands between the main fiji islands and tonga, called Lau. she is leaving next to Meli and Lucy and she is a referral from both them and another member in the branch. her family is catholic but she has never really practiced their religion so she doesn't anything about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. our first lesson with her was about the Godhead. she expressed her want to change and become closer to our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. she says she knows that she's done so many things that she's not proud of and now she's willing to change her life and fix it. i love her for that and i know she can do it, especially with this gospel in her life. When we taught her about the Godhead she understood that they are 3 different people but she asked us about Mary, Jesus' mom, because she said that their church they pray to her. we answered her question by showing her the scripture John 16:23, which is Jesus telling us himself to not ask Him anything but instead ask the Father in His name and we will receive whatever we ask for. she couldn't believe what she had just read. she was like, "why did they tell me to pray to Mary when it says right here in the Bible to pray to Heavenly Father? i've been praying to the wrong person my whole life. no wonder i felt like God never answered or loved me." it was the first time that i've seen a scripture effect a person so much. she could not believe this verse, she read it over and over and couldn't believe how clear it was. so we taught her the 4 steps of prayer and committed her to pray about what we taught her using the 4 steps and she said she would.

we then had a second lesson with her and we taught her about the Restoration. when we taught her that lesson, we had another lady come and sit in the lesson, Maca. she was another referral but she wanted to kind of see what we teach, what we do, and then she would decide if she wants to take lessons. when we taught the Restoration the spirit was so strong. at the end of the lesson she expressed that it all made sense. we committed her to read the introduction of the Book of Mormon and then pray about it. next time we'll show her the Restoration video so she can picture it and see the First Vision. it should be good for her. but we're hoping that she'll be able to change her ways and come more unto Christ. we're meeting with her again tomorrow and i can't wait! we're meeting with Maca tonight for her first lesson on her own. we'll see how it goes.

this past sunday it was that holiday diwali. and on diwali all indian families pop firecrackers, it's crazy! well, not crazy like home on new years eve but there's still kind of a lot. and they also all make food and sweets. their indian sweets are pretty bomb. and they just give it away to everyone who wants, its awesome! so it was kind of like halloween for me haha.

so the work is moving a little more everyday. the sad thing is this next week there'll be transfers and i really think my companion will be getting transferred because she has been in this area for about 6 months. everyone says that im gonna train as soon as my training is done because that's what usually happens in our area. they said the normal time period in our area is about 6-7 months. so i think ill be here for a while but i love this area so it's okay :) i just dont want my companion to leave me, but it's time for her to get transferred because she's been here really long. but it'll hard, but ill be happy for her. she's amazing!
that was pretty much my week. it was pretty adventurous and productive. it was so much fun! but au lomani kemudou sara ga!!
loloma levu,
sista chong

Scenic Point in Savusavu

Elder Schofield - Micah Swain's TWIN!!!!