Ni sa bula vinaka na tina gu kei na noqu matavuvale!
I love Fiji.
This first week has been sooo good! So much goes on in a day that it is really hard to even get it all out in journal entries! There have been so many cool experiences and so many cool things about the culture and life in Fiji (ps. It’s Fiji, not Figi. Just saying because a few people have been spelling it wrong 😛 I did too at first!) But there is quite a variety of people here. I feel like I understand Joseph Smith a bit better now too! Every street corner is a different church! There is even a building where the first floor is one church, and the second is a completely different one! I’ve had old ladies rub my arms, homeless guys kiss my hand, and kids play with my hair 😛 They love the white guy! It’s really different here where people are really open and blunt about everything. Kids will laugh and cheer when the “valagi” (white guy) walks by! All of the Fijians and Hindi Fijians here are really dark. Darker than most Polynesians, so I stand out pretty easy! Turns out, there is a lot of myths and superstitions here too. You never whistle at night, because it brings out the spirits. Also, a funny one, if you get a palm branch and hold it up and yell “vodo vodo” while running through a cemetery, the spirits jump on the branch and ride!! There are also several cemeteries as well, many in peoples yards! But along with all of the superstitions, there are also a lot of people who like to play around with black magic. So basically, there is a chance I will encounter possessed people and possibly cast out devils. It’s kinda freaky. My comp almost did at a hospital, but then the person got moved to another part of the country. Basically, there is a lot of interesting stuff around here! Most of it really cool though!
Anyway, my first area is here is Suva! My companion is Elder Kesni Tausinga from South Jordan Utah, and he is a big football player! He has a scholarship to play for BYU when he gets back! Way cool guy, hard working, and very helpful and friendly. He is the bomb. I’m in the Suva 3rd District, in an English speaking ward. It covers part of Suva called Nabua, Raiwaqa, Vatuaga, and USP (the University). Part of it is city, and in the middle is a large area that is really poor and packed with little tin shacks and huts. It is a very humble area. The river that runs through it is more of a sewage dump. But this area is where I have taught most lessons so far! Mostly to a mother named Moni, and here 3 daughters Arishma, Karishma, and the baby whose name I forget! But they are the bomb. They are Hindi and before the missionaries they had no clue what prayer, sin, or repentance were, and they had no clue who Jesus was. Now, they pray as a family and have strong testimonies of Jesus as their Savior. Their English is really poor, so they struggle to read the Book of Mormon, and it’s hard for them to understand everything clearly, but they have testimonies and are getting baptized on the 13th of October!
Before that even, this Saturday we are baptizing a 24 year old girl named Grace. She is quite and gets embarrassed sharing her feelings, but she is ready! They were going to baptize her this last Saturday, but she missed Church the week before, so they postponed it a week to see if she’d come to the next meeting! She made it yesterday though and is now getting baptized!
Otherwise, we have taught a few other really good lessons. There’s a man named Navi who is about 20 to 25 years old. He has a testimony and knows that he needs to make some major changes in his life. He just is struggling to make the effort to start.
We taught to other lessons that were very similar, but to very different people. One to a 20 year old Muslim girl and the other to a 45 year old Catholic. It was a first lesson for both of them. But something difficult here in Fiji is that everyone seems to have a common belief. Everyone thinks that every church worships the same God and that is all that matters. People have their own ways of worshiping, but in the end, muslim, hindi, catholic, Wesleyan, etc, are all true because it’s the same God. So even if they believe everything we say, they think they are still right too. We just pray that the spirit will be with us and that they will feel that we have that something unique and different than other churches!
Anyway, as for other interesting experiences this last week, we have an abundance of mosquitos and they love me. I’ve seen a couple large sized spiders and roaches and centipedes. This last week, there were 5 convicts that broke out of prison and robbed a bank and several houses. They have caught all but 1 of them. The other night we approached a house and an old woman inside saw us and panicked and ran away because she thought we were the escape convicts. I have eaten a LOT of food. It’s kinda crazy how much food we are given, even the poorest people give you all they have. The food is super good though. Nothing I have disliked!
Yes it is crazy humid here, but luckily I have been getting use to it. It’s just getting into the hot season down here and it is also the rainy season. It rained more the last week here than it has the last 2 years in Utah! But I’m barely noticing the humidity anymore. I’m still adjusting to the time zone, but I have slept very well every night here! Better than I ever did in the MTC! However, because of the amount of rain the last few days and the cloud coverage, it actually got chilly last night! Ended up pulling out the blanket! Sunday was super good. This ward I am told is one of the best wards and it seems true! They help out a lot and work hard. The Church buildings are fun because the hallways are all outside as well as the font, and there are multiple parts to the building. They Chapel does have AC. It was cold in there!
That’s the first week! Lots of walking! Vinaka sara vakalevu na nomudou veivuke! Au lomani Kemudou!
Ps. I just learned that garments here are super cheep and that you can buy them online and have them sent to the mission office. It’s connected with a distribution center! $0.90-$1.90! Sorry I didn’t know sooner! Thanks though! Moce mada!