Bula Vinaka everyone!
A lot of good things happened this week. probably the most exciting is that we are now driving a Corolla instead of the stick-shift truck we were driving. I even ventured out on my own and drove downtown and back without getting lost. We can't believe what a difference a week has made in our level of comfort here. Things are looking a lot more familiar and we are getting around much better. The second best thing that happened this week, for Dad anyway, is that he got his IPhone up and Last Monday a new group of Elders came in. It was the group we met at the MTC. It was fun to have them arrive. On wednesday we had zone leaders conference and then 3 more missionaries came from the New Zealand MTC. We had missionaries, food, more missionaries, more food, more missionaries, more food. We fed elders all week. I loved it. Nothing better than feeding a bunch of hungry elders and have them love what you feed them. I fixed lasagna again for the Zone Leaders conference. They loved it. Some of the other days we ordered out for food but we fixed all the extras and set up and cleaned up. It was a lot of work but a lot of fun.
The highlight of the week was Friday. One of the missionaries that arrived on Wednesday was from Vanautu and was returning there to serve her mission. She only spoke french and was extremely shy so she was very nervous and withdrawn. She brought only one small suitcase with her. Probably the least amount of luggage that anyone has brought here for their 18 month mission. I had a skirt, blouse and shoes that I didn't need so i gave them to her. Sister Erickson from the Mission office went and bought her a couple of skirts and tops at a slightly used clothing store. When we went to lunch Dad and I went into a shop and he picked her out a skirt and top. She arrived at the mission office about 3:30 so we could take her to the bus station to go to Nadi where she was to catch the plane to Vanuatu. When we gave her the clothes, she cried and hugged us tightly telling us she loved us. She took her old shoes off, put on the new ones and threw the old ones in the garbage. She was so grateful to us. She cried and hugged us again. Dad and I took her to the bus station. She was so scared! She cried again as she boarded the bus. We assured her that the missionaries would be at the airport to pick her up, take her to a hotel for the night then put her on the plane to Vanuatu the next morning. It is hard to explain how we felt but we realized that helping her was only a small taste of the joys that will come to us while we are here. It was the best day of our mission so far.
Saturday we spent the day cleaning and continuing to fix up our flat. It isn't much but we are feeling more at home every day. Saturday night we went to dinner with our neighbors.
Friday we went to a dinner hosted by the local rugby team. They had a dinner to introduce us and to say goodbye to the Staggs. It was awesome. We had lots of food and singing. Three young girls sang and did some Fijian dances. The people are so happy here and have so little. The party was held in the up stairs of an old building in Nausori. It is the same building that they hold church in. Pretty humble conditions. Fiji is definitely 3rd world which is well defined by garbage, poverty and poor living conditions. It makes our little flat look very good to us when we go home at night.
Sunday we went to the new ward we have been assigned to. We stepped out of the car in the parking lot and I was instantly snatched up by the RS president who told me she wanted me to speak in Sacrament Meeting. So i gave my first im promtu talk. From what i understand it was the first of many. They asked dad to speak next week to represent the High Priest Group leader because they don't have one in their ward. The members here are very humble and have strong testimonies but they are very inexperienced and naive about running a ward. They have never heard of a PEC meeting.
We fixed dinner at our flat and had Sister Erickson and our neighbors the Stenlunds over. The Stenlunds share our duplex and we share a common patio with them. Sister Erickson is a senior sister who's husband died about 6 years ago She is only a little older than us. She is my hero here because she came on this mission all by herself. She doesn't have a companion but lives with 3 or 4 other sisters in a flat. I admire her so much for doing this all on her own. She came because she felt she needed to. She said that she and her husband always planned to serve a mission together and felt that she needed to serve a mission even though he wasn't with her. I work with her in the mission office and we have become fast friends.
This week is the Hibiscus festival here in Fiji. It is the biggest celebration of the year. They have a big park downtown with ferris wheels and other rides as well as many activities going on everyday for eight days. We are planning to go tuesday night to see what it is all about.
The food isn't too bad but we miss our favorite eating places at home. When the natives feed us we have to be a little careful. Over all we haven't had too many sick missionaries however on Saturday my day started with a call from some missionaries in Vanuatu who got burned putting out a fire in their flat (shack). I was so worried about their burns that i didn't even ask them how the fire started. They both burned their hands and one of the elders was badly burnt on his leg. They went to the clinic and had the burns treated. They were native Fijian's so they didn't expect much in the way of medical treatment which was good because on Vanuatu the medical care is minimal.
A little while later in the morning i received a call from an elder who had stepped on a nail and his foot hurt so bad he couldn't walk on it. I sent him to the clinic where he got antibiotics and shot to prevent infection. Another elder called because of a rash that was very painful and spreading. He too went to the clinic where they told him he probably has shingles. I get frequent other calls for diarrhea and flu type symptoms but nothing too serious.
We are growing to love the people here and are learning our jobs better. Dad is anxious to get involved with the ward and help them get things going. Everyone has said that Fijian's have a style of their own and that it is better to not have too high of expectations.
One of my goals this week is to learn to say Elder "Robanakadavu" and Elder "Qasevakati" without looking at their name tags.
Everytime i try to say their names they just laugh at me.
Yesterday while i was waiting for Dad while he was meeting with the Bishop there was a fight right outside the church. A man got punched in the face by another member. I don't know what it was all about but everyone just went on with what they were doing.
It is a different world over here!
The weather has been mostly beautiful. Not too hot and not too cold. I could get used to this climate on a full time basis. As i look out of my window here at the mission office I see over the tops of houses, palm trees blue skies and the ocean. It is beautiful anytime but especially on a beautiful day like today.
Well it has taken me two days to get this sent to you because the internet service throughout Fiji has been down. Can you imagine 2 days with internet down all over the country. anyway I am glad it is up and going today!
We love you and miss you but we are loving our service here in Fiji. We pray that the Lord will bless each of you ther