Cola vinaqwa, na noqu matavuvale wananavu sara!
Tamaqu, au sa set tu sara. Au sa marau sara na cakacaka oqo, sa taleitaka tiko na noqu veiqaravi kei na vanua oqo. Sa vakila tiko na veivuke ni Yalo Tabu kaukawa cake mai na noqu kaulotu taucoko. Kila ga au sa marau, au sa cakacaka kei masulaka vakakaukawa tiko ga. (Herb, kerekere correctaka mada na veikakece ca oqori!)
This last week was incredible, one of the more memorable weeks of my mission. I was finally able to see Elder Green for the first time in nearly 18 months, and the reunion was beautiful. He's grown so much as a man and as a missionary, it was SO nice being able to hang out with him and Elder Hunkin over Monday and Tuesday! I noticed that not many intake missionaries are very close to one another for one reason or another; maybe the intake was too big and thus the members weren't as unified, or the intake missionaries were just too different from another. I LOVE my intake elders, and I still consider every one of them brothers. I'm so grateful that the Lord had me wait for the time that I did to serve a mission. I know without a single doubt that I came to Fiji at exactly the time I was supposed to with exactly the people I was supposed to come with. I firmly believe that my mission would not have been nearly similar to what it has been if I were brought in any earlier or later, and though it hasn't been easy to the least bit, it's been exactly what I've needed. I love this work so much. I've been able to partake of the fruits of my labors and witness that fruit spring from home as well for my family to partake of. Surely you do reap what you sow, and the sowing thus far has proven worth every drop of sweat.
Zone conference on Tuesday was awesome. I left my notes home again so I don't remember exactly what the trainings were about, but it gave me a greater perspective on Christmas. Growing up, and for most kids I feel like, the highlights of Christmas include the decorations, the festive foods, the company, and especially, the presents. As I've grown to more fully know and appreciate the true meaning of Christmas, I've come to know that the greatest gift that anyone could ever receive has already been given to us, a long time ago. This gift isn't one that we can overuse or wear out; it isn't something that can be stolen or broken. This gift is eternal; this gift is Christ. Christmas is the time that we celebrate the greatest gift the world has ever received, wrapped in swaddling clothing rather than wrapping paper and humbly placed in a manger rather than a box, given to each and every single one of God's children rather than a few. As yous get together with the family and enjoy eachothers' company, remember the savior.
We spent Tuesday night in Sigatoka and head out into Nasivikoso, where I'd be conducting my first baptismal interviews, first thing Wednesday morning. Along the way, we picked up Atu Sigadrodro, who would translate the interview for me. Surely enough, not only did the first young man whisper everything he said in a dialect I couldn't begin to decipher, he did not speak any English. Fortunately, the second young woman spoke a little bit of English and I was able to conduct most of the interview in very simple English. It was a nerve wracking experience, but a really spiritual one. Somehow, eventually, I was able to grasp a good majority of what was shared between Atu and the interviewees. Though I often got lost, the spirit was always there to put me back on track, and he ultimately told me that those two were indeed willing and ready to make the baptismal covenants with our father in heaven. It was incredible, and I really look forward to the opportunity where I get to do one of these interviews in English or even Hindi! Living in the islands, you get to experience what we call "island time", which is basically It'll happen when it happens. I was always under the impression that Fijian time and Hawaiian time were basically the same thing. However, when you're in an interior koro, you get to experience true Fiji, and thus TRUE island time. After taking us on a hike through the valley, Atu sat us down in front of some food a member prepared for us while we were away and said "Kana, vakacequ mada vakalailai, sa qai cakava na interview (Eat, rest a little bit, then we'll do the interviews)." So we ate, and Atu decided to take a three hour nap. We ended up finishing our business in Nasivikoso a lot later than we initially anticipated, and Elder Tui'one and I were able to get back into Sigatoka just in time to catch the last back heading back into Nadi.
On a side note, Nasivikoso is one of the most beautiful places I've been to in Fiji. It's a nice little koro in the middle of Fiji, a little over an hour drive into the interior, and seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Such a humble group of people, too.
Sorry if the email is all over the place already, it's hard to focus with this weird island Christmas techno blasting through the café.
We had our ward Christmas party on Friday night, where they asked the missionaries to perform our sasa from zone conference and then perform a separate number as companionships. We did the sasa as a district, the district elders did tika tonu, the STLs did a taualuga and a lakalaka and the other sisters sang a Maori song. It was way fun and we were able to talk to heaps of nonmember friends and family members of our members.
Saturday was nice and busy, cleaned the chapel in the morning then was able to find a good amount of people before our lesson with Halamehi.
Halamehi is a cousin of one of our members and is staying with them for the holidays while her mom is working in Vanuatu. She said that while in Suva, she heard about the church and it interested her. She saw a great opportunity to learn more when she found out she'd be spending the holidays with her family that happened to be members. She came to church last week with them, we were introduced and asked to come over and teach Halamehi. It was such a beautiful lesson, and Halamehi is probably the most prepared person I've ever met. Her only issue is that her grandmother is a staunch catholic and she's unsure that her grandmother (who practically raised her) would accept her changing her denomination. We testified that this is what God wanted/needed her to do, and that He will prepare a way for her to be baptized on January 9th, 2018. She's SO ready already, and I'm SO excited for her baptism.
We had the Christmas cantata last night, which went really, really well! I honestly think that my solo went better than it has in any practices, which I saw as a tender mercy. I think the fact that I didn't know anybody in the crowd helped with my confidence, but tonight, the cantata will be in Nadi for the Nadi ward. Hope all goes well, haha.
Okay we have to head out now, but I'll keep in touch to finalize skype details! I love you all so much,
CAN'T WAIT TO SEE EVERYONE!
Loloma sara yani, au lomani kemudou saraga. Kalougata tiko!
Ham aaplogke bahut pyaar karta hei, khyaal rakna!
Ham aaplogke bahut pyaar karta hei, khyaal rakna!