Sunday, July 28, 2013

Cultural differences

Heyo, things are better :) 
Your prayers have definitely been felt. The amount of strengthening that the Lord has been giving me has been overwhelming. 
On Tuesday we had Train the Trainers meeting at the mission home. One of the things they talked to us about was having compassion for our companions. It's true, my companion is not the best trainer in the world. But sometimes strong missionaries are placed with less than strong ones, specifically to strengthen them both. The most important thing is to remember how much the Lord loves each of us. And poor Sister Bechu, she has been through ALOT. So after our training, I felt ashamed. I had been trying to be compassionate, but not hard enough. That training changed my perspective, and gave me the strength to start making an earnest effort to love my companion. I have been praying for this like no other, and the effect has been amazing.

President Klingler told me something that I already knew: that Sister Bechu had a lot of insecurities about being a trainer, and that the Lord had placed me in this companionship to strengthen her. Challenge accepted. This may mean that I have to train myself and her, but I have the strength to do so. 
So that's what I have been doing. Serving her. Talking her up. Making her feel good about herself and our companionship. Getting to know her. Talking to her about the difficulties that she has gone through. Making brownies with her. Teaching with her. Learning from her. I am learning much better people skills!
That's half of what the mission is about, methinks. 
I was also talking to our new mission nurse, Sister Limberg. She is fabulous. She said that it is difficult for Americans to adjust to the culture in places like Fiji because we are used to a very efficient way of life. Here they just aren't efficient. This is why I was so upset about disobedience for the first week and a half or so. Obedience, in her culture, is just different. Not as exact. Tough to work with. But the way I have been getting around the cultural differences in our definitions of obedience is to bring the various issues up one at a time, at different occasions, and in a more compassionate way. Or as a question that I am supposedly ignorant of. If I act like I don't know the rules and she is teaching me, then it is easier for her to change her own behavior. Very manipulative, but you gotta do what you gotta do. When I get a companion with a Western cultural background, the efficiency will be back in place. But until then, I will be patient with teaching less than I would usually want. 

About Fiji:
The people are so great. Everyone lets us into their homes. This doesn't necessarily mean that they are interested, but at least they are friendly. Sister Bechu, being Fijian, is related to just about everyone. Or she went to school with just about everyone. So basically every time we start talking to anyone, we have an immediate connection there. 
The Fijians are a much more modest people than what I am used to, meaning clothing (but actually in the other definition too). The women wear much more clothing. Sleeves and longer shorts and everything. Of course this isn't always the case, but on a whole they just are more modest in their clothing. 
The buses are super fun. They are music buses, and the music they play is generally music I know from back home that has been remixed to a Fijian beat, an island beat. It's pretty funny. They played Whiskey Lullaby the other day, and it was bouncing to an island beat. Weird. I love the buses. When they are crammed, I love seeing the young men give up their seats for the older women. They just do it. Makes me happy. 
So far I have eaten shark and octopus. Shark is not so bad, but octopus is still pretty weird for me. I want to eat bat and mongoose before the end of the mission. I'm getting more used to the food. I really hope I don't get fat. 
Something about being a missionary: the members judge us pretty harshly. There are some stories that I have heard where women have gotten so offended by a sister missionary that they stopped coming to church. So I need to watch what I say and do. Especially since I'm a palangi. 
When we go to a house, we always take our shoes off. This is important. We sit cross-legged on the ground to eat and to teach. Almost no one has tables and chairs. The ground is always covered by a woven mat, or an ibe (eembay). 
The air is moist. The weather is very temperate right now, with heavy rain every once in a while, with sprinkling in between. The Fijians hate it, they think it is freezing and they avoid  the rain  and "cold" because apparently it will make them sick. I laugh. They think I'm crazy. By the end of my mission I will be shivering right along with them. 
A couple of very cool stories:
We taught a deaf woman the other day. She is the friend of one of our recent converts, who can sign for us. The lesson was very simple. All of our words were carefully chosen. It was tedious, but at the same time one of the most spiritual experiences I have had since I got here. She was receptive and wants to learn more. I am excited to see where this goes. 
One day when we were out proselyting, we came across a girl holding a baby in a doorway. She asked if we could talk to her for a minute, and we went inside. There were a couple of little ones, and two young women in their early twenties. We started teaching them, and found out that one of them had already taken the lessons in her village and had been about to be baptized when she suddenly moved to Suva and had lost contact with the missionaries and the church. But we had found her. It is amazing how the Spirit guides. And how the Lord never forgets His children. 
These are just two examples of the many amazing experiences we have been having. Even though we are not teaching as many as I would like, we come home spiritually exhausted. It is a good feeling. And the lessons we do teach are all fantastic. I am grateful to be a missionary. 
I love you all so much. Your prayers have all been felt as I have begun to get used to the culture and love it. My homesickness has not been cured, but it is more in the background than it was before. I think the main reason I was so homesick was because I was going through tough times. That's generally how it works, huh? :) 
Scripture of the day: 
Alma 31:5. 
Love love love you. Give my love to all the family.  All of them!  
Love, Sister Wright
I kept trying to send a picture but it's not working. It was of a mouse. He had eaten some of the poison and was paralyzed on one side, so he could only go in circles. He was easy to catch. He wasn't a pet, but a prisoner of war. We named him Mate (mah-tay), which means death, because he was about to die any minute. Funny how this little incident brought us closer together, haha! 

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