Thursday, June 27, 2013

Worldwide Missionary Leadership Broadcast: Highlight of the week!

Bulabula everyone!

You know what bulabula means? Good health! Oh my heavens I love hearing about your lives.  Keep it coming!

This week has been so crazy. We're getting down to the wire. Our departure is looming on the horizon AND I AM SO EXCITED. We got our departure plans, and we'll be leaving on the 6th of July. We fly from Salt Lake to LA, and then on to Fiji. When we get to Fiji, we stay in the mission home for that first day and night with President and Sister Klingler, and then we get our assignments. I am so stoked, you have no idea. The MTC is seriously one of the best places in the world, but when you have been cooped up here for five weeks, all the food starts to taste the same, and the walls start to close in on you. I will admit that being one of the more seasoned missionaries here has it's perks, but man...I want to go to Fiji!

So on Sunday was the Worldwide Leadership Broadcast!  What an amazing experience. I was in the choir, and for all of you who had trouble finding me, look harder! I was up on the screen on three separate occasions, front and center. Just look for the little white one in purple next to the tall brown one in bright pink during Hark All Ye Nations, and you will find who you are looking for :) But anyway, I loved being in that choir. You know, there were about 2500 people in it? 1300 of them were missionaries! It was such a powerful experience, one that I will cherish for the rest of my life. 
The main message of the broadcast really struck me. Missionaries can only do so much. That is something that we have talked about in my class. It is true that missionaries are helping investigators work towards baptism, but the end goal is for them to go to the temple with their families. After baptism, the missionaries step aside and these new converts are put into the hands of the members. The way I see it, these converts are at their most vulnerable right after their baptism. That is when the members need to show them that the baptism was worth it. Before my mission, I saw multiple instances where people were baptized and then abandoned by the members that had been so supportive of them while they were taking the missionary lessons. It didn't take long before these converts became inactive. Members should continue to love and fellowship their new ward members. Show them that the missionaries were telling the truth when they said that church attendance and ward membership would uplift, enrich, and edify them. Otherwise, what was the point? 
I'm grateful that we had this broadcast. It addressed things that I have been thinking about for a long time. Member missionary work is just as important as full-time missionary work.  Its all about fulfilling the prophecy that in the last days, the gospel will flood the earth - I am so excited to work with member missionaries to accomplish this! 

As I spoke about in the last email, Sister Tuahivaatetonohiti and I had a third companion until Monday, when she left for New Zealand. Although we only had her for a week, it was quite a week. When she came to us, she was pretty beat down. Her previous companions had been very unkind towards her. As the Sister Training leader, I spoke with my fellow Fijians and we decided that we would make sure that she was healed and happy before she left for the field. I feel as if we were able to accomplish that. In that week, I learned a lot from this sister. One amazing thing about her was that instead of letting her previous companionship get her down, she used it to help her grow closer to her Savior. While being a missionary, there will be difficult companions, difficult leaders, difficulties with the language, etc. I hope that when the time comes that I face my missionary challenges, I will be able to face them like my Samoan speaking Sister T. 

On the language front, I am doing much better. I have a strong testimony of the gift of tongues. Usually, when we give our lessons, I memorize my lines and then recite them as best as I can remember. But during one lesson at the beginning of the week, something just clicked. I started to say things that I hadn't memorized. Don't get me wrong, I still had to think long and hard about what I was going to say, and I didn't suddenly receive an influx of Fijian into my hard drive. It was a simple progression, but a progression nonetheless, and an answer to my prayers as well as those who have been praying for me. I am so grateful for those prayers. Keep them coming! :)

Because my Fijians and I are basically seasoned MTC warriors (haha!), we had the opportunity to Host new missionaries yesterday. That means that we were the ones who opened the door for the new missionaries, grabbed their luggage, and stole them away from their families as quickly as possible.  We received a brief training before they put us to work, and they told us that the goodbye should last three to four minutes tops, and that it should be all about the mom. Who cares about the missionary, take care of the mom. I thought that was funny :) I ended up hosting three sisters. One was going to Japan, one Australia Mandarin speaking, and one was going to Colorado. They all had massive luggage. A word for any future missionaries: please leave the majority of your belongings at home. I myself am going to be sending a few boxes of things back home, so be expecting that. 
We got a new district in our zone, a group of Mongolians. For about three hours they were the phantom Mongolians because we couldn't find them anywhere. When we finally did, it was weird because their packets said they were in a completely different branch than us, but no other ZLs/Sister Training leaders showed up to welcome them so we assumed they were ours. We gave them the 411 about the MTC, and then I took the sisters to their residence and talked to them about what it means to be a sister. Modesty and whatnot. Also I told them that I was there for them if they needed any comfort. They looked like scared rabbits!
I like my calling. I enjoy having opportunities to be compassionate. It makes me happy. Probably one of the highlights of my mission right now. 
Anywho, this is a long one. Sorry for sounding preachy at times!

Keep the faith, keep in touch, keep on keepin on :)
Sista Wright

There she is, flashing those gang signs again, haha!

This was taken on the walk to the Marriott Center for the Broadcast.  
Look at all those missionaries! 

Panorama of the Marriott Center.

View from Sista Wright's seat.

Screen shot of Sista Wright singing in the choir.  
She is the short one that you almost can't see, right behind the sister in bright pink.  
She's wearing a purple sweater.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Exciting things happening!

So much has happened since I last wrote!

First! I want to talk about what is happening this Sunday. There is a worldwide leadership training broadcast. It is part of this new mission president conference. The MTC will host about fifty new mission presidents that will be serving all over the world, as well as the Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency. On Sunday, the broadcast will be taking place at the Marriott center, and there will be a choir consisting of missionaries and members. My entire zone is in it, so please keep an eye out! I doubt that the camera will pan over little old me, but you never know! We are all so excited to be singing for the Prophet and the Brethren. It is an incredible thing, listening to over a thousand people sing Called to Serve. And that's only the missionary half of the choir. The choir will probably take up about a fifth of the seats in the Marriott Center. That's a lot! We are also singing Hark All Ye Nations. Once, when we were practicing, our choir director assigned certain sections to stand up at different parts of the song. The sections were based off of where we were going (North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Everywhere Else AKA Me hahaha). It was a powerful visual, as each of the different sections stood, representing the different nations of the world. Hark all ye nations, hear heaven's voice. To every land that all may rejoice. Angels of glory shout the refrain. Truth is restored again. I totally understand why Uncle Ron's family has adopted that as their family song. It's powerful.
Mama, I am so excited about your new calling! You are going to be amazing in Young Women's. Guess what, I think I got a new calling at the same time as you. I am now the Sister Training Leader (or Coordinating Sister) for our little zone. All of the Tongan Elders and Sisters left, including our previous Sister Training Leader. What does it mean to have this calling? In my opinion, they created this calling in order to save the elders' sanity. My job is to take care of the sisters, to comfort them when they are having a hard time, and basically to be a stand-in mom. When new sisters come (we are expecting about a million Samoan missionaries in about a week, as well as some Mongolians) I help the zone leaders with new missionary orientation. I talk to them about how things work here at the MTC, how important it is to plan, how to have companionship inventory, how to act around the elders, and modesty. And I also give them a tour. Should be good. Right now I just have four sisters to take care of, but when the next wave of missionaries come in, hoo. I will have around twenty. That's ok, I'm up for it! At first I was overwhelmed. I'm already busy as it is, you know? Learning a language and becoming a missionary and whatnot. And now I have meetings all the time. Being a Sister Training Leader is pretty much the female equivalent to the zone leader. My zone leader rolls his eyes when I say that (which was once, I said it once) but it's true. I may have been overwhelmed before, but I also feel privileged. I am so grateful that the Lord trusts me with this responsibility. To me, it means that I must be strong enough to learn the language, since the Lord thinks I can also handle another job on top of it. I am grateful for the strength that He continually gives me. And for all of the prayers on my behalf. I can feel them. Thank you all so much. 

Sister Tuahivaatetonohiti and I have a new companion. She is also Sister T. Her name is Sister Tautaiolefue. She is going to New Zealand, Samoan speaking. She has been the only Samoan missionary for just about a month, and was with the Tongans until they left. Now she is with us until Monday. She is the sweetest girl, but she talks about a billion miles a minute! Let me tell you, it takes a lot of coordination and patience to be in a threesome. But I am loving it. Having another companion brings a whole new kind of spirit. That's what I love about missionary work. Everyone has a different way of going about it, and it is very interesting to me to learn about these different perspectives and methods. Samoan Sister T genuinely loves all of God's children, and has something nice to say about each of them. I love that about her. I am learning how to be more Christlike from her. 

I hope that Sam had a good birthday. I am sure he did, with all of the family that was over. Sounds like you all had a great time. I would say that I wish I could have been there, but in reality I am content with where I am. I love being a missionary. The Holy Ghost has been my constant companion since I was eight, but now I have been even more aware of him, and have been SO grateful for him. What an incredible thing, the Gift of the Holy Ghost. He has been so helpful with our lessons. I always pray that the Spirit will call to remembrance the things that we have studied. And, as promised, he does :) 

I love you all so much. Keep the faith, keep in touch, keep on keeping on ;)
Sista Wright

PS:  Hahaha, Oh, Wednesdays. We get invaded by new missionaries. Which is so cool!  But it gets super crowded.  And they steal our table at lunch and dinner. OUR TABLE. THE FIJIAN TABLE.  Hahaha

 This is Elder Motuliki. He is the sweetest elder, and the funniest. He is the one that says Oh my lantern! Out of every elder that I have met, he is the one that I wish I could give a big hug. He is like a big old bear.  
 Me, Sister Tuahivaatetonohiti, and Sister Tautaiolefue in the laundry.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Week 2: Settling In

Alrighty, here's to another week in the MTC! 

A lot has happened. We have been teaching without notes in Fijian for the past week. It has strengthened my testimony of the gift of tongues, but it has also left me feeling discouraged at times. Let me tell you, having a companion that was able to pick the language up in a week has not been easy. She is so wonderful and I love her so much, but being human, I often seem to compare my progress to hers. And that's not being fair to myself! I realize that, and yet it keeps happening. One scripture that has helped me recently is Proverbs 3:5, "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." I read that the other day, and realized that I needed to cool it. The Lord knew what he was doing when he called me to Fiji, so I need to trust him. Just keep studying and the language will come. Ok! I'll work on it. Another tidbit that has helped me is a quote that I found in the margin of my scriptures: "Perfection isn't an event; it's a process." Amen to that. Fijian will come, though slower than I would like. I just need to be patient! 

Something else that happened since I last wrote:
There was an an elder in our district that I want to talk about. He was amazing. It was his second time coming to the MTC. He had gone home after two weeks the last time he had been at the MTC because of a small worthiness issue, and had spent nine months preparing to return. That in and of itself was bravery; going home and then coming back. Not very many have the strength to do so.
In addition to this being the second time he had entered the MTC, he was also having health problems. He suffered from terrible anxiety and had multiple stomach ulcers. Every night he was here, he threw up. And yet he came to class every day and participated with enthusiasm. We all loved him because he was very funny and he had a different kind of insight, having been to the MTC before the age-change announcement. But last Friday, he announced to us all that he was going home. He said that coming back to the MTC was the hardest thing he had ever done, but that leaving was even harder. He had worked so hard to come back, but his body did not have the strength to carry on. Apparently his doctor and the MTC mission president had been telling him that he should go home for a few days, but he had kept telling them no, give me one more week, give me three more days, give me until tomorrow. Finally they had to strongly advise him to go home, and how can you disobey the mission president. So he was going home.  We all decided to give him a little sendoff. Our two Fijian districts all wrote him notes, and us sisters gathered leis to give him. We all gathered outside his residence and sang "God Be With You Til We Meet Again" in Fijian, and then gave him the notes and leis. There were tears and awkward handshakes and then we took pictures, and the next morning he was gone.  I have the utmost respect for him. He worked so hard to go on a mission, but the Lord had other plans for him. Maybe there is someone closer to home that he needs to find.  I will never judge a missionary for coming home early again. It takes bravery to admit to past sins and then repent of them. And there's nothing to be done about health problems.

Beyond that, I have been carrying on. Our teachers are all doing their best; this is the largest number of sisters they have ever had to teach, and they are beginning to realize that we are a whole different animal. We have feminine emotions hahaha. All of us have cried on different occasions because we've been frustrated with ourselves. It's baffling to the return missionaries that are our teachers. Cracks me up haha.
I still love it here. I still love all of you. I know that this church is true with ALL MY HEART and I am SO excited to go to Fiji to tell them all about it in whatever broken Fijian I can manage!
Tell all the visiting relatives that I love them and that I wish I could be there, but that I have other work to do :)
Moce Mada!
Sista Wright
PS Tell Sam a letter will be coming for his birthday but that it will probably arrive late. Also dad with his Father's Day card.

This is Sista Wright and her friend from BYU, Janessa.  She is serving in Rome.

 Sista Wright and Sister Pilimai
Besties pre-mish, and how fun that they can see each other in the MTC!  Sister Pilimai is serving in Spokane, WA

 Sista Wright and her companion, Sista T.  

Monday, June 10, 2013

A letter for Adam

Dear Adam:

So the MTC is crazy.  Mission life in general is crazy.  Every second of it is planned.  There is no time to spare, especially if you are learning a language.  By 10:30 at night, you are exhausted, and then it seems like you've been sleeping for 5 minutes and then suddenly its 6:30.  The showers are jam packed and there are usually lines to use them.  Sometimes the drains are clogged.  The food is cafeteria food, which can be both good and bad.  You are surrounded by good-looking people that you can't check out.  If you flirt, you can get sent home.  Elders have to make sure to wear a full suit when they go to meetings, not put their hands in their pockets when they speak, stand up when they shake a leader's hand, and never say "you guys".  On Sundays we all have to have a 5-7 minute talk prepared, and then the branch president randomly calls two or three people to speak.  There is no free time for a nap.  There is no time for naps.  You are generally exhausted and always stressed.


You LOVE it.  Your zone becomes your best friends.  Your district becomes your family. Your teachers become your parents.  You laugh until your sides hurt and then laugh some more.  Gym time is  SO FUN.  I always run a couple of miles and then play volleyball with my best friends.  Everyone loves you, even if you are annoying.  The Spirit is so thick you could cut it with a knife, not that you would, haha.  Going to the temple is the best part of the week, because, duh, its the temple, but also you get to walk off the campus!  Which is great when you are in one place almost 24/7.  Getting letters and packages are the best.  P-day is the best day ever.  You CAN take a nap on P-day!  You teach investigators lessons, and eventually they commit to baptism, and the feeling you get from that commitment is SO SATISFYING!  When you learn to bear your testimony in another language, you stop random Elders and Sisters to share it with them, and they are amazed with you.  :)  When you learn to say a prayer in your language, you marvel at how the Lord can understand you even if you butcher it.  :)  You learn to love being a missionary.  :)

I am telling you these things because I want you to be aware of what it means to be a missionary.  It's not all fun and games.  It is HARD.  But Adam, it is SO WORTH IT!  Prepare yourself, bub.  You're going to be a great missionary.

Au Lomani Iko!
Sista Wright

P.S.  Write to me gosh dang it.  Or Else.

Thursday, June 6, 2013



Sista (haha) Wright's first letter.

Holy cow, let me tell you, I have received more mail than any other missionary in my zone. Already three packages and at least a dozen Dear Elders. I am definitely feeling the love. Every time my DL goes to get our mail he comes back and says and ANOTHER letter for Sister Wright. THANK YOU! KEEP IT UP! 
So. My companion is named Sister Tuahivaatetonohiti. She is from Tahiti and speaks French, English, Spanish, German, and Tahitian, so Fijian is coming pretty quickly to her. I LOVE HER. She is so sweet and she is musical too, which is a plus! We are singing a musical number in church next Sunday. Every time she prays she says thank you for my wonderful companion, which makes me a little teary eyed :) I call myself her little daughter, because she is so much bigger than me! We get along so well, and I'm so grateful for her. 
This last week we have been teaching an 'investigator' named Luke, pronounced Lookay. IN FIJIAN. Holy cow. We taught him five lessons, and yesterday we committed him to baptism! We started cheering after he agreed to it, it was funny. Now we have to prepare for another investigator, and this time we are not allowed to use notes. SCARY. 
Out of all of my zone, I am having the hardest time with the language. I understand why the Lord sent me to a foreign speaking language. I needed to be humbled. Going to an English speaking mission would not have been humbling enough for me. I accept this. In the Preach My Gospel, it talks about how we are supposed to struggle with the language. This is kind of a comfort to me, because it means I am being inadvertently obedient haha. 
How bout I share my testimony in Fijian with you?
Au via wasea na noqu ivakadinadina. Au kila ni lomani eda na Kalou. Au vakadinadinataka ni parofita dina o Josefa Simici. Au vakadinadinataka ni parofita dina o Thomas S. Monson. Au kila ni bula o Jisu Karisito. Au vakadinadinataka ni dina na kosipeli i Jisu Karisito. Au vakadinadinataka ni dina na iVola i Momani. E na yacai Jisu Karisito, emeni.
That's obviously a short version of my testimony, but I don't have my notes with me so I had to write it by memory. Let me tell you, this language is so much different than anything I am familiar with. But I believe in the gift of tongues, because I have been here for barely a week and already I am teaching lessons in Fijian and bearing testimony in Fijian and saying prayers in Fijian. It is hard, but I know that it will come. I have faith. I just have to work hard and lean not on my own understanding. 
About my district: I LOVE THEM. We have two New Zealand elders that cuss from time to time because "in New Zealand they aren't cuss words" hahaha. We all get quiet when they do, and then they say "What?" and then we crack up laughing. We laugh so much. One of the New Zealand elders is Elder Motuliki. He is SO FUNNY. His companion is Elder Tenney, who is usually pretty serious, so they are a funny pair. Actually they are perfect, because they balance each other out. But Elder Motuliki is always trying to speak in an American accent, but its always nasally so he sounds like he is mocking us. One time he tried to say "Oh my lanta" but instead said "Oh my lantern" so now we all say that all the time haha. There is Elder Tenney and Elder Motuliki, Elder Moka and Elder Wall, and Sister Tuahivaatetonohiti and myself. Our teacher is Brother Crump. Brother Crump is amazing. He is 23, goes to BYU, and went to Fiji on his mission. His language is perfect. It comforts me because that could be me someday! 
Elder Wall has a Fijian name, Elder Lologa. My Fijian name is Sister iMatau. It means right as in the direction, but it could also mean ax. So I am Sister Ax. 
I want you all to know that I know that this Gospel is true. I know that I am in the right place, and that I am going to the right place. We talked about how the Lord called us to be missionaries in the pre-existence, and that the people that we are going to teach probably talked to us about it before any of us were even born. I know it is true. I love the Fijian people even more, especially now that I am surrounded by so many Polynesians. My zone is made up of Tongans and Samoans and Tahitians and one from Kidibus, or however you spell that. He doesn's speak English very well, but his Fijian is coming along very quickly. 
It is busy work, but rewarding. It is easy to get discouraged, but you can't let yourself get that way. That is Satan working on you. 
Some funny things: 
Every time I brush my teeth and make myself gag, I think of Sophie.
All of the toilet paper rolls in the ENTIRE MTC are upside down. Makes me want to pull my hair out hahaha.
Guess what sister is in Fijian! Sista! So it is hilarious that that is what I changed my Facebook name to haha.
Sierra is here! We crushed each other in a hug when we saw each other at dinner yesterday. 
I miss you all but I haven't gotten homesick, which is a blessing. I am just too busy to be homesick. 
Family in Fijian is matavuvale. Eternal family is tawamudu na matavuvale. 
You are my favorite people in the world, and I will try to get letters written to each of you, but usually I have to choose between writing a letter and writing in my journal.Tough choice!
Be good, keep writing. I am so grateful for you all. I know that God will bless you. I feel like those blessings have already started. 
Au lomani iko!!!
Sista iMatau
 With my companion, Sister Tuahivaatetonohiti. 
 The other sisters in this picture are Sister Trammel, who knows the Hanshaws, and Sister Crowell, who is Hawaiian. They are our roommates and are in our zone. Love them. 

 The one where we are sniffing the tree, that tree supposedly smells like orange cream soda. Everyone kept telling us to smell it. So finally I did, and it smelled like a tree... haha.