Email 24 March 2013

Yadra Vinaka!

Things have been continuing! Another great week! Very interesting and very educational! Had some very new and unique experiences. We have continued contacting and have a couple new and interested investigators! Sis Sema sa leqa tiko… She has been missing the last week so we haven’t been able to see her since the conference. We have no clue what’s going on. But we left her a talk by pres. Monson to read and we will hope to see her this week! Sister Ana, however, we were able to contact again this last week! She was excited for baptism a few weeks ago but then when out of town! So we were worried that her interest may have faded, but we met with her again, cleared up some details on priesthood authority and she is excited again to be baptized! She has a great understanding of the commandments, repentance, and a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon. She is ready. She just needs to come to church. The problem is that she has some responsibilities in her church for Easter right now, so she may wait until after Easter to come to church. But we should be able to get her baptized next month! Hopefully with Sis Sema too!

So to answer your question about Easter, yes! It is really big here! Every church is getting programs and things ready for this Sunday! We even had Sis Ana ask us if WE celebrated Easter in the church. We said yes! We sure do! Easter is what makes Christmas so big! And yes, I am excited for general conference, however, I’m not sure if we will even be able to watch it. If we do, we’ll have to go to Lautoka for it I’m sure. So i’m not sure. We may be waiting for the Liahona magazine. I may pre order the DVD set to be mailed here. It is really cheap to get in Fiji. I just really like to be able to watch and listen. So I may not get it for an extra month. Not sure yet though!

I’m excited to see it some future day! haha, also the movie! Dad sent me the cast photo and I do remember a good handful of the faces there! Looks like it was way fun! Valjean would be way fun to play someday! Go LP!

But yeah! Good to know about the chips! We heard about it again yesterday from a Methodist preacher! He was telling us how it is real and it already happened and that the bible tells about it! Yep, I’m a believer. πŸ˜› I have no idea how the rumor started, but preachers are preaching about it everywhere! So even if we tell them that it is false, they won’t believe us and prove it with the bible πŸ˜› We’ll just give them the gospel!

Haha, that sounds like good ol’ Utah! Here, there has been a flu going around because of the weather. They have been telling us that it has been unusual this year. but we had none stop rain for a few weeks, and then the last 4 days have been extremely hot and sunny. So it go really hot and then last night the temperature change brought in crazy thunder. Thunder like here does not exist in Utah. It was nuts. But it is back to really sunny and hot again today!

Okay, so to share the really interesting part of the week that was very educational. Sis Vakalala, a member we have been visiting every week, the really sweet old lady, passed away this last week. We had her veibulu (funeral) on Saturday. It was a sad day on Wednesday when she passed away, but knowing her physical restrictions and weak body, plus her age of 83 years, I was happy that she is now resting. The day she passed away, we were in the village and stopped by the house. Several of the member sisters where there. They asked us to say a prayer with them. So we offered a prayer for the comfort of the family and for everyone to remember the plan of salvation and they will all be able to meet her again. It was a really moving experience that made me once again grateful for the gospel knowledge we have. Seeing here the last couple weeks before she passed, I saw it coming. She reminded me a lot of Grandpa Hancock soon before he passed away. She just had a really weak body, couldn’t talk at all, very still. So there was a lot of pondering. But all I found was more comfort and peace and reassurance in the plan of salvation. That night we had dinner with Sis Whippy, the relief society president here. As we were leaving that night, she looked up and the sky was clear and sunny for the first time in weeks. She then said, “look, even the sky cleared up so Sis Vakalala could go home through a night beautiful sky.

That Saturday, we were told at 8am that the funeral was that day at 10am, so we canceled our other plans, jumped on our bikes, and quickly made the several kilometer ride to Navalou village. Here is where we had a great cultural experience. Upon getting there, the truck pulled up with the casket and Bro Sekovi (leader of the Unit). He got out and sat on the ground and was presented a tabua (whale tooth, extremely valuable). We then took the casket to a home where inside we heard a lot of loud screaming and crying. It was like the professional mourners you read about in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus. Really interesting. But we then went to a room full of only men, with the chief of the village sitting at the head of the building. In the middle of the room was a large Tanoa (bowl) with Yagona (grog, bad drink). But we sat down and Bro Sekovi presented the tabua to some other men in the room and the chief. (necessary to bring in a body to be buried in the village. There were some chants and other speeches that happened. Then they started passing out the grog which we had to turn down (or be sent home). While we were there, a couple endowed member sisters helped prepare Sis Vakalala for burial. We then returned to the home with the casket, where me and Elder Owens were asked to help with carrying the casket. We then took it to the Methodist church in the village. There is where we had the service. We had a few preachers speak, who showed respect to Sis Vakalala and the LDS church. Pres. Jemesa, the branch pres. spoke, then after several Fijian Hymns, we took sister Vakalala to the cemetery.

The cemetery was really interesting. It was tiny, and in the middle of the Jungle. Like something you’d see in movies! But there the casket was wrapped in a large ibe (fijian mat) and lowered in. We then were also asked to participate in the dedication. Once again, the other faith ministers were respectful and allowed just the few people who were LDS priesthood holders to participate. A member of the stake presidency, Bro Sekovi, me, and Elder Owens stood around the grave and offered the dedicatory prayer. We all threw some dirt in and they then buried her.

After, we went back to the village for a lunch. It was really an incredible experience and a major chance to learn more about Fijian culture. I am also even more grateful for the Restored Gospel.

Then on Sunday, our branch president was a lot more friendly and open to us. It was really cool! We then found out later, that we were the first Elders in Rakiraki to attend a branch funeral and serve therein. So we really impressed the branch and made them really happy showing that we cared and loved them. So it was a really good experience for us and the branch. One of the best Sundays I’ve had in the mission.

Anyway, that is a pretty long email! Au lomani kemuni na tinaqu kei kemudou kece na noqu matavuvale kei veiwekani! Dou moce toka! πŸ™‚



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