I tell you, everyone is more excited for me to leave this country than I am...
Every time I see another missionary, they say something like 2 MORE WEEKS or YOU GO HOME NEXT WEEK, all the things I'm trying so hard not to tell myself, haha. It honestly just blows my mind to think that in just 12 days, I get to be with you all again. I finally get to meet Pierce and Talia, hold them, and just talanoa (wala'au, I think is the right translation) with everyone. BUT, again, trying not to think about it. Luckily, we have a lot of good things happening in the area right now to keep me distracted. This next week will be really hectic, given that we planned heaps of teaching appointments, lunch and dinner appointments, baptisms, and I still need time throughout the week to pack. Oh my goodness, I have to pack this week. I need someone to give me the line between charity and wastefulness, because even though I didn't buy with my own income a lot of the things that I have, I've already given away so many things, and there are more than I can give that I don't necessarily need. I lowkey feel like I'm wasting the money yous spent on things for me to live well by giving it all to other people, but then again, it does make me and them happy. Not to worry, however, 100% of the money yous have sent me over the last few weeks is going to cool stuff for you guys.
This last week was great. I love finding new ways to be productive. While shopping for some "cool stuff" in an Indian shop, we spoke to and got the numbers of six employees who want us to come over and share the message with their families. One pretty neat thing about having a haole companion is that these people just lose their minds when he opens his mouth and their native tongue rolls out, especially so fluently. As soon as he begins to speak, people flock. A tiny downside is that most of the people aren't wayyyy interested in the message of the restored gospel per se, they just want a holy white man that speaks Hindi sitting in their home praying and eating their cookies. We always do get in, and whether or not they're genuinely interested in the message, they're always very kind and pleasant. We were lucky with several of those families, however, as we visited them on Friday and set return dates for tomorrow.
Yesterday was especially nice. We received a text from President Higgins earlier in the week, indicating that there were two YSA aged men in Navatuyaba that needed to take the discussions. Given that there are no elders currently serving in that area, the responsibility fell on Elder Hess and I to contact and teach them. We decided to abandon Nausori ward and Waila ward for a Sunday so that we could attend the Navatuyaba ward sacrament meeting and teach Josefa and Timoci during the class block. Timoci was brought up in an LDS family, but he himself never joined for his own reasons. His father passed away several months ago. Timoci has been attending church over the last few months with his friend, Josefa, and has realized what the church really teaches and what he's been missing in his life. He regrets not having joined sooner in his life, and wishes that his father could have seen him in that chapel and taking the discussions from the missionaries. I know that he does see Timoci, and beams at Timoci's growing desire to enter the fold. What initially sparked the interest of Timoci and Josefa, however, was the fact that they were dating a couple of YSA girls in the ward, who made it clear that they would marry in the temple of the Lord, whether to them or someone else. Timoci and Josefa started with simple questions about the temple, which lead to heavier questions about the greater truths of the restored gospel. Their questions were so sincere, and always made sure to ask more if they didn't understand anything, until they did perfectly. They are beyond prepared, and though I won't be here for their baptisms, I'm SO excited for that day and for the lives of joy and happiness that they will have with their families as a result of the gospel.
Driving from Navatuyaba to Naulu for that ward, we received a text from a member in Nausori ward indicating that he had a referral for us. His cousin (a less-active member) is getting married soon. It's an Indian custom that the wife follows the religion of the husband's family, and given that the bride-to-be was raised Hindi, she was granted permission by her father to convert to Christianity. We'll start teaching her the lessons tomorrow night. We're hoping that this process not only enlightens her to fully accept Christianity and baptism, but that her bridegroom will reactivate himself in the church. He wishes to marry her in the temple, so we'll see how her desire is tomorrow night.
When we reached Naulu, we saw that Sonu wasn't in church. Sonu is scheduled to be baptized on May 19, being the day I leave. We compiled the plan for his baptism to take place first thing in the morning, I leave Suva for a bit to be able to attend his baptism, then get straight on a bus to Nadi from there. However, when we saw that he wasn't there, the plan went down the drain as that Sunday would have been critical for him to come to be able to be baptized on that day. The family that usually drove him to church was already there, so we sat down just a bit discouraged. For me, personally, I don't care when they get in the water, whether I'm able to attend, or that I'm able to baptize them personally. As long as I receive word that someone that I taught entered the waters of baptism READY, it means the same to me. Of course I love being the one to personally escort new sheep into that saving ordinance, or seeing it done, but the real joy and comfort rests in that they understand the covenant they're making, and they're ready and willing to keep that covenant. As these things ran through my head and as I listened to the testimonies being born, an exhausted mass of Sonu quickly walked through the doors and plopped itself in the seat just beside me with a heavy sigh and a big smile. Upon waking up late, he decided to stay home and enjoy a peaceful sabbath in his bed room. However, an undismissable prompting drove him out of bed, into his sunday best, and into a taxi to the chapel. So, the plan is still in movement, and Sonu is awesome. We left Naulu after classes to talk details with Joseph (the member from Nausori) about the referral, after which we again met Sonu at a self-reliance fireside. We were addressed by Elder Johansson of the Area Seventy, who gave his life story. Something he shared that stuck out to me was: 'In the scriptures, we are implored to "seek learning".' He talked about how he never finished school, nor did he ever earn his degree. However, he's always been a very keen learner. He loved to learn, and learned everything there was to know about anything. Circumstance disabled him from finishing school, but because of the knowledge he was able to acquire doing small-time jobs and studying on his own, he was able to see a lot of success in his life and obtain his current position overseeing church operations in 9 South Pacific countries. He carried on to instruct " -don't seek a degree; seek learning." Now this could easily be interpreted the wrong way, as in Wow, so I don't need a degree to be successful... why try? Don't worry, I didn't take it that way. To me, it means that I shouldn't study just for the sake of receiving a degree to get it all over with. Knowledge truly is power, and knowledge opens so many doors and possibilities. I've never been very academically inclined, never been all that much of a scholar, but I do have a newfound love of learning new things and applying those things to my life. He also instructed us to "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto [us]." I'm so ready and motivated to go to the temple as often as possible and to take a calling that may be available for me upon my return; do things that will keep me spiritually in tune so that I can receive spiritual guidance as to what I need to do.
Anyways, this last week was just really good and we saw a lot of good things.
So, I received the big scare (news, rather) on Saturday night at a dinner appointment. As I sat there, Sister Tuinamoala said "Elder, you're from Hawai'i right?" I said "Yeah!"
"Oh, an earthquake shook the Big Island today, activating tsunamis and volcanic erruptions! How scary, aye? What island are you from?"
"... the Big Island."
"Oh! Oh... u'oh..." BUT I figured everything was alright. Yesterday in church, several members -knowing I'm from Hawai'i- approached me and asked how my family was. Not knowing, I just asked what the magnitude of the earthquake was. One member responded by showing me the news report on her phone. Not only did I see that it was a 6.9, but that the red dot indicating where the tremors began and where the volcanic fissure had opened was dead in the center of Puna. Oddly enough, none of it scared me. I was completely confident that you were all okay, and that whether I came home to my own home or somebody else's, everything would be alright. Though the idea was in my head that we may lose our home, something inside just didn't mind and was completely comforted in the fact that my family was fine. However, I checked the reports and it looks like the lava is heading the opposite way, which is comforting. I also checked up on Keolani, remembering that they stay in Leilani Estates, and was relieved to know that they were safely situated in California due to Brother and Sister Bandmaan's inspiration to book their tickets and fly out early. I hope their home is preserved. I think the McCubbins live near there as well, right? Are they alright? Finding out about the homes that have been lost so far made me think about what I shared before, that when devastating things happen out of our control, it's God's will. There's definitely nothing anyone could've done about an earthquake ripping a hole in the middle of a small Hawaiian settlement and spewing molten lava all over the place, but they can still have faith and act. The Lord has a plan for those whose homes were lost, and their needs will be provided for according to their diligence, faith, and perseverance.
"[Heavenly Father and the Savior] never do anything to hurt us or torture us; they only do things to help us. That's all they do."
Anyways, glad you're all safe! Are yous still in Puna, or have you all migrated somewhere? Is the house in the track as well? I saw videos and pictures of the flow. It looks hellish, but pretty sick. I say that because Te ka hasn't eaten my house yet, I guess, but my prayers do go out to those families (the very first movie I wanna watch when I get home is still Moana).
MEEEAAN LEHIA! HOW cool is that, you got to travel off-island for State Championships for a sport you've only been playing for what, four months? AND you win a match! We're hitting the mat as soon as I get back (you are, I mean, cause I no lose). You'll only get better and better and win more and more matches as you keep up with your practice, keep a positive attitude, stay humble, and persevere.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY JEREMIAS, I'll bring something nice for him. Also, forgive me my horrible memory, but Herbert's birthday is soon I just don't remember the exact day. MARAUTAKA NA NOMUNI SIGA NI SUCU TALEIGA, NA TUAKAQU WANANAVU SARA! Kua ni leqa, au na kunea e dua na ka set saraga vei kemuni. BRASS e sega sara meu wawa medaru talanoa vakadua! I'm obviously still learning, but kerea moni vulici au kei vosa vei au i vosa vakaviti ga so I can pick it up.
OH, we're planning to skype next week Monday morning (that's what works best for Elder Hess and his family). I'm not fussing all that much, because I literally get to see you all six days later. We still haven't established exactly where we're skyping, but we'll check up at some point throughout the week to finalize details. The plan right now, however, is Monday morning.
I gotta go, I love you all so much! Have a great and blessed week, be safe!
-Elder Scofield is 6'7
-Herb, do you remember Lavenia Kabetebete? You baptized her, and she sends her loloma.
-Elder John H. Groberg
-After the devotional
-Elder Scofield is 6'7