Sunday, October 27, 2013

Study time

Ey bula! Vakacava tiko? :)
SO basically this week has been hard but good. Much was learned.
Remember how my companion, Sister Aoina, went to the hospital last
week? Well yes we got her out. It was a herculean task, because they
wanted to keep her there until she died (ironic since it's a hospital
and all). We got her out, but it may have been too soon. She is a hard
worker by definition, and refused to show any weakness at first. I
mean, we were playing basketball with the elders! And we were playing
hard! And then we walked home in the rain! The next day she was
miserable, and I told her guess what, it would be better to take time
to get better now than to be miserable now and still have to take time
to get better later. So this week we did not leave the flat much. I
did a lot of studying while she slept and slept and slept. She didn't
want to. It about killed her to stay in. She kept apologizing for
being a lousy companion, and I kept telling her she was an angel and
to get back in bed. I took good care of her. I realize that I truly
love to serve people and keep them happy. So even though I should have
been super bored, I was content with my scriptures and this
opportunity to serve my lovely companion.
Regardless, we both wondered why the Lord was allowing this to happen
when we had so much work to do, and such a desire to do it. We
wondered what it was that we were supposed to be learning. When we
finally had our companionship inventory at the end of the week, we
looked back and realized that we are so much closer now than we would
be otherwise. We had learned patience, and to trust in the Lord's will
and timing. We truly learned to love each other, and we love each
other's families, and we wish we could have grown up together so that
we could have already been good friends. Numbers-wise, it was a crappy
week. We maybe taught eight lessons. But it was not a wasted week.
The highlight of the week was Stake Conference. A member of the area
presidency, Elder Coward of the Seventy, was presiding. Whoa, he was a
powerful speaker. On Saturday, he straight up said that members should
not be drinking kava (I don't have the energy to explain what that is,
look it up on wikipedia). This has been a controversial issue, since
it is not specifically talked about in the Word of Wisdom (we just
teach people that it is a harmful and addictive substance). So it was
a bit of a shock to hear it, but a good shock. He talked about true
conversion, which is something that I have been studying lately. (Look
up Elder Bednar's talk about true conversion. SO GOOD.) On Sunday he
spoke a lot about members and missionaries working together. THANK
YOU. We haven't had that much support from the members. It was kind of
satisfying to hear him get after them. But then he called our Zone
Leaders up. He asked them how many lessons a week on average does our
zone get. 13 or so. (In Suva 1st we generally get from 16-20). He then
challenged us to get 40. Our jaws dropped. What?? The highest number
we have ever achieved was like 25. How are we supposed to get 40?? And
he said it in front of the entire stake! AH. But then he acknowledged
that it was a high number, and he said that we cannot achieve it
without the help of the members. You've got that right.
Sister Aoina and I just started laughing. We got 8 lessons this past
week. Holy cow, have we got our work cut out for us this week. And for
the weeks to come. Obviously we are not going to get 40 lessons right
away. It will be a process. But that is the goal. We will make Elder
Coward proud.
Elder Coward ain't no coward. (Lol.)
This upcoming Wednesday we have Sisters Training, where we basically
have a Zone Conference type meeting for all the sisters in the
mission. All of them will be coming in for it. It will be good to see
Sister Crowell and Sister Trammell. I've missed them. Sister Klingler
has asked me to do a musical number for it. I still have no idea what
to do. Sister Aoina and I have not had enough time in front of a piano
to work one out. But. I'm sure it will be great.
I am so happy. This Gospel is the best thing ever, and I am so
grateful to be a missionary during the time when prophecy is so
clearly being fulfilled. I am almost six months out and so far I have
helped two baptisms come to pass. That's partially because I am
serving in one of the hardest areas in Fiji, the capitol, Suva. Out in
the villages the work is progressing at a much faster rate. But I am
not complaining. I know that the Lord sent me to Suva for a reason.
The souls here are just as precious as the ones out in the villages,
they are just a little harder to come by. Haha!
I love our Savior. My relationship with Him has become so much more
personal. I am so grateful for the pains and the suffering that He
went through, and that I can not only apply it to my own life, but
help others to apply it to theirs as well. Watching our investigators
use the Atonement to change and to become better creatures has
seriously brought me true joy. And I have become truly converted.
Before the mission, I thought I was solid, but now I realize that my
testimony was primitive at best. I am so grateful to be a missionary.
I am so grateful to be a part of this, His most important work.
If you haven't read Jesus the Christ yet, get going. Best book on the
planet, besides the scriptures.
Kalougata tiko!! <3333333 Loloma levu!!!!
Mwah!
Sista Wright

Monday, October 21, 2013

New companion ---> hospital, no!


Hello my darling people.
This week has been the craziest, and yet the happiest I have had in a
long long time. I do indeed have a new companion, Sister Aoina. And
she is amazing and I love her so much.
So I told you about the craziness that happened on Monday. Well it was
crazy for her too. It was her birthday, of all days to get
transferred. She had to fly from Taveuni to Nadi and then take a 4
hour bumpy bus ride to Suva. Taveuni had been an amazing experience
for her, and she had had such a good relationship with her companion
there, Sister Trammell. So it was a bummer of a birthday for her. But
I made sure that she got a cake. We had dinner at Elder and Sister
Whitehead's house, and they made that one cake that I feel awkward
saying the name of  (because I'm a missionary)(you know the cake?).
But deelicious. Then we tried to find a way to email her family, since
she hadn't that day, and of course all the internet shops were closed.
I feel so bad, what a lame start to her time here in Suva.
And really, coming to Suva from Taveuni was a bummer in and of itself.
The work there was going so well. The area was amazing. But it seems
that the Lord saw the great work that she was doing with Sister
Trammell in Taveuni, and heard my prayers expressing my desire to be
obedient and diligent, and so he sent her to me. And we have our work
cut out for us.
I was honest with her. I laid it all out. I told her about my
experience with Sister Bechu, about how the Bishop's family did not
trust us, and that the ward did not support us. I told her about how
small our teaching pool is, and how we would spend almost every day in
the same place, Howell Road Howell Road Howell Road. I told her about
my desires to work, work hard, and work right. And she listened to
everything I said and was angry that I had to go through the things
that I did. The fact that she listened was a beautiful change in and
of itself, but having her sympathize with me made me love her all the
more. My previous companion never did.
Almost right away, we had exchanges with the Sister Training Leaders.
Sister Aoina went up to Samabula, and Sister Lavatai came to me. I
love that woman. Her counsel and support is what kept me sane during
the really hard times. And Suva 1st had been her first area, so she
has a lot of insight that is very useful to me. That week she
expressed to me how sad she was that the area had gone so far downhill
since she had left it. And I expressed to her my desire to fix what
had been broken. We went around and she showed me places that were
ripe for the picking because of the seeds that she had planted there a
year before. She also took us to see the Bishop's wife. If felt so
good to reconcile things with her. That was one load that had been
weighing down on me for far too long. That night, when Sister Aoina
returned, we had dinner with the Bishop's family. I had never had
dinner there before, and I have been here for almost four months. It
was so good, and we were able to discuss some good things with the
Bishop.
Then, as luck would have it, Sister Aoina got really sick. She tried
to keep working, but pretty soon I wouldn't let her. It got pretty
bad. We ended up in the hospital, and they said she was greatly
dehydrated and had some bacterial infection. I spent the night there
with her, waking up when her drip ran out and going to get the nurses
to bring a new bag. I felt so bad for her. What the heck, we have such
a desire to do the work and we have such great plans, why are we being
delayed? Another test of patience. That next day, she stayed in the
hospital and the other Sister Training Leader, Sister Sua, came with
me so that we could get some work done in Suva 1st.
Have I told you people about Ilivasi? He is the bomb. He comes from a
part member family--His mom is a less active, his grandma a member and
his sister Sesilia is a recent convert (love her). Sister Bechu and I
taught him two lessons and invited him to be baptized at the end of
the second one. He went to General Conference and received a strong
confirmation that this was the right thing to do, even though his dad
is a strong Methodist talatala (preacher). He is so smart and he gets
things pretty much right away. The only question he has really had is
how does he know that he is feeling the Spirit? Luckily we had a bunch
of the YSA with us in the lesson, and we went around in a circle and
each told him about a spiritual experience that we had had. It was an
amazing lesson.
Anyway, Sister Sua and I taught him about the Law of Chastity. I
actually love teaching that one. You know what? That law has been put
in place to protect families. I am so grateful for the Law of
Chastity. Afterwards, he expressed to us his desire to go on a
mission. Yay :) I love hearing that! He should be baptized in the
beginning of November.
Sister Aoina did not come out of the hospital until Sunday afternoon.
It was so good to have her back. Let me tell you some things about
her: She is Samoan, but from New Zealand. She is 23 years old. She is
tall and big and protective of her palangi companions. She has great
compassion and is fiercely loyal, just like me :) And she is an
amazing musician. She plays the piano and sings. I love her so much. I
am so so grateful for her. She truly is an answer to my prayers. I
told her all about our family, and she really wants to meet you
people. So we need to make a trip to New Zealand after you come pick
me up in Fiji, k? :)
She is still not completely recovered, but you can tell that she is
feeling happy just being out of the hospital. Man, once you are
admitted to the hospital, it's like a prison. You are stuck. And she
felt like she couldn't even leave the room, because she had no
companion. But President wouldn't let me stay with her...otherwise I
would have.
Basically, I am so very happy. No one can rain on my parade. Even
though it is definitely raining out there.

Yay for Sam speaking in church! Don't worry, it gets easier every
time. Now, I love speaking in church!
Tell everyone that I love them more than life itself. I would
seriously die for every one of you if I had to. But hopefully I won't
haha.

Love your Sister Wright

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Same area, new companion!


So this week we started really teaching Ilivasi, the brother of a
recent convert named Sesilia. He is amazing. He already knew most of
what we had to say. He told US the First Vision (or a paraphrased
version of it). The only question that he had was how can we know that
we are feeling the Holy Ghost? Luckily, we had three YSA's with us,
and we went around the room and shared experiences where we had felt
the Holy Ghost. Then we shared from Galatians 5:22-23, about the
fruits of the Spirit. After that, we invited him to be baptized, and
gave him the date. He said that he would pray about it, and let us
know. This weekend he went to Priesthood session of General
Conference, and the two sessions on Sunday. Afterwards, he told us
that he had gotten his answer. Sesilia is walking on air. She is so
happy.

While all of this was going on, we got a call from the Zone Leaders.
They told us that Sister Bechu was getting transferred to Somosomo,
Taveuni. (The place that I so desperately wanted to go when I first
got to Fiji.) And that was all the information that we received. They
didn't tell us when, they didn't tell us who was replacing her,
nothing. I was confused, and she was devastated. It is funny, because
for the longest time she would talk about wanting to be transferred,
wanting to get out of Suva, but now that she was actually leaving, she
realized just how much she loved this place. I have a strong belief
that transfers never happen when you want them to. They only happen
when everything has started to get good. This is because the Lord
sends you places to learn something, and it only starts to get good
when that lesson has been learned. We had started getting close. The
work had begun to pick up speed. And so things needed to be shaken up
a bit. This weekend was a time of tears for Sister Bechu and for all
the members and investigators that she had grown so close to. I will
admit, I doubt that anyone would be so upset to see me go. She is
precious to these people. Then, on Sunday at the chapel, we ran into
our District Leader and asked him what the plan was. He said he didn't
know, the Zone Leaders hadn't really told him anything. So that night
we assumed that she would be leaving in a few days, that she would
have time to prepare herself for the journey. No. The Zone Leaders
called at 11:30 Sunday night and told us that the AP's would be coming
to get her in three hours. 2:30 in the morning. So a packing frenzy
began. It didn't help that she could only bring 15 kg of weight in her
suitcase. And we had no scale. Pretty soon I fell asleep, and suddenly
I woke up to someone shouting, "Sisters!" The AP's were there! We
hadn't heard the phone ring! We hadn't heard our alarm! I looked at
Sister Bechu's things, and they weren't even all packed yet. She had
fallen asleep in the middle of packing. And now it was 3:00. The AP's
had been calling for half an hour. Finally they decided that they
needed to take action, so they broke into our flat. They opened the
window next to our door and turned the key that we had fortunately
left in the doorknob (from now on I'm locking that window and never
leaving that key in the doorknob again). And then they shouted. And we
woke up. And there was another packing frenzy. The flat was turned
upside down. And there were quite a few things that were left behind,
things that I am now responsible for giving to various people that I
can't even completely remember. We got in the van and Elder Palmer
drove like a madman, with his hazard lights on because apparently that
gave him an excuse to speed. Every time we went around a roundabout I
thought about The Man Who Knew Too Little. "Clench your buttocks!" We
traveled what should have taken an hour in about twenty minutes, and
the plane had not left yet. They weighed her bag, and it was exactly
15 kg. I believe in miracles. Sister Bechu shook my hand firmly and she
was off. And I got dropped off at the Suva 3rd sisters flat at 4:30 in
the morning. Sister Tuahivaatetonohiti and Sister Aso are the sisters
there. I will be spending the day with them until my new companion,
Sister Aoina (pronounced Aweena)(I know dad will like that name)
arrives later in the afternoon.

Now things are going to change. And I am a little scared, but also a
little excited. I have a feeling that the work will start to pick up.
I have a feeling that Sister Aoina and I will get along just fine,
because she is musical. And she has been companions with Sister
Trammell for the past three months, which must have changed her for
the better. Because Sister Trammell is the bomb.

My prediction: we will be companions until November, when the new
intake comes in.
Totally forgot to talk about conference. I loved it. The entire thing.
It is amazing how being on a mission makes you appreciate it so much
more. And now that I have been studying the scriptures so much more
thoroughly, I recognized every scripture reference. And of course, the
favorite was Elder Holland. As usual. He basically speaks directly to
our family every time, doesn't he? I also really enjoyed Elder
Nelson's, and Elder Bednar's was so straightforward when it comes to
tithing. Really they were all amazing, and so relevant to the issues
of today. I hope that everyone heard how much they emphasized
missionary work. I hope that everyone back home will take it
seriously. I hope that everyone here in Fiji will as well. Because we
need the help of the members. And we have all been called to the work.

I love you people!
Kalougata tiko,
Sister Wright

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The last two weeks

So I will start with the good things that have happened in the past
two weeks. Things that have made me happy:

1)  Tadu was baptized and confirmed! There was a week of nail biting
in between, but the ordinance has been completed and Tadu is solid. He
bore his testimony on Sunday, in front of the whole ward, expressing
what he believes in and how he wants to go on a mission one day. My
heart. I love that boy. And he has friends in the ward that are
fellowshipping him. This is what makes missionary work WORTH IT :D

2) My comp and I are doing so much better. This past week was the
first time she ever told me that she appreciates me. And suddenly,
these past thirteen weeks with her have become so much more worth it.
Since the beginning, I decided to serve her, because they say that
serving someone is the best way to learn to love them. And I found
that it was true. Despite the difficulties that we have gone through,
I can honestly say that I have grown to love her. Even though the
whole time I was serving her I did not receive any thanks, but
criticism. It was hard. I had to learn so much more humility and
patience. But I regret nothing. I know that the Lord put me with her
for a reason. I know that because I have changed so much in the past
three months. I am a different person. It's crazy. And now, we are
pretty good friends. We even have inside jokes.

3) We are finally finding new people to teach that are genuinely
interested in what we have to teach! It isn't hard to find people to
teach, because pretty much all the Fijian people are happy to listen
to what we have to say, but a lot of the time they consider our
meetings to just be Bible study and they don't keep their commitments.
Frustrating. One of the new ones is a 19 year-old Catholic girl named
Trish, and she has a guitar! We totally had a jam session after we
taught a lesson about the true nature of the Godhead. It made me
really happy. Another one is a brother of one of our recent converts,
so he already has someone to strengthen and fellowship him. Man, I am
excited about these people. I already love them, and we just barely
started teaching them.

4) Every day when I put on my tag I look at it and think Am I really a
missionary? Am I really living in Fiji? Is this real life? And then I
look at myself in the mirror and think YES! I am a missionary and I am
serving in one of the most beautiful places on the planet, among some
of the most amazing people God has ever created. And I am so happy
about it. Mama, do you realize that it has been exactly a year since I
chose to go on a mission? A year since that historic October General
Conference? Do you remember that day? Holy cow. I regret nothing. I
would still make that decision, over and over again.

This includes an explanation for why I did not email last week. Things
that have made me sad:

1) Last week was in and of itself a good week. Ofa and Ali were on
their way to getting married. Tadu got baptized. Happiness, right? But
then we went to go pick Ofa and Ali up for church on Sunday, and we
discovered that Ali had given Ofa a pretty bad beating, and had
chopped off half her hair. This was the first time he had abused her
since we had started teaching them. Ali justified his actions by
saying that she had gone out drinking the night before. "She broke the
Word of Wisdom, so she deserved a good hiding."
We left. What were we supposed to do. Ali came to church on his own,
with a stubborn look on his face. Convinced that he was right, and
determined to convince us so.
On Monday we went and got Ofa and took her to get her hair cut
properly instead of emailing. She was a tragic sight. The first place
we went to refused to help. I wanted to shake the dust from off of my
feet as we left. The second place asked if we were working with a
rehab program. I guess Ofa looked like a druggie, being so thin and so
haggard. But we "rescued" her hair. And that's why I didn't email last
week.
On Tuesday I prayed long and hard about what we should teach to Ali. I
told Sister Bechu that I needed to do what I had been called to do,
which is call people unto repentance. She said it was in my hands. So,
I prayed, and a story came to mind. The story of the woman taken in
adultery. The scribes and Pharisees took this woman, who they had
found committing adultery, and threw her down at Christ's feet. They
asked him what should be done about her. The law stated that she
should be stoned to death. But Christ looked at her pitiful state, and
addressed their question with a bold statement: "Let he who is without
sin cast the first stone." Not one of these men were perfect, and they
all knew it. So, one by one, they left the woman with the only truly
perfect man that had ever lived. "Woman, where are those thine
accusers? Hath no man condemned thee?" She looked up and saw that the
only one there was Jesus Christ. "No man, Lord." Christ had never
sinned, and so he out of all of them had the right to condemn her. But
did he? No. "Neither do I condemn thee. Go, and sin no more." After I
read this story and explained it, I asked Ali who he was in this
analogy. He understood that he was the scribes and the Pharisees. I
then asked him if we, who are imperfect, had any right to condemn each
other, when Jesus Christ, who never sinned even once, had not
condemned a woman for committing adultery? And he understood what I
meant by the parable. Ofa may have broken the Word of Wisdom, but Ali
had done far worse in his past, and he had no right to beat her. I
then went on to talk about how as husbands and wives, we must respect
each other. I showed places in the scriptures where it talked about
husbands taking care of their wives. I talked to him about how Eve was
formed from one of Adam's rib, and that men have been commanded to
care for their wives like they would their own body. Jacob chapters 2
and 3 are some good chapters about men treating their women with love
and respect. I was thorough, and I felt pretty comfortable with what I
was teaching, because I had the Lord on my side.
Ali wasn't angry with me, thank goodness. And he did say that he
regretted his actions. But, unfortunately, he did not take what I said
to heart. He said that she had done something wrong, and that she
deserved what she got.
Needless to say, they will not be getting married. And that means that
they aren't getting baptized anytime soon, unless they separate. And
I'm not sure if Ofa is brave enough to leave him. She's been with Ali
for too long. It is a tragedy that we tried to remedy, and it looked
like it was going so well. It looked like it was going to be such an
amazing success story. It had started to be such a testimony to me of
the power of the Atonement in people's lives. But now I am watching as
this little family falls apart. They are still living together, but
they don't love each other. And Ali has not been treating her better.
Basically, I am heartbroken for them, and I am heartbroken for us. Two
months of hard work for these two, seemingly for nothing. Like Sister
Bechu always says, Satan is clever.
Never in my life did I ever think that I would have to deal with
something like this. Never in my life did I think that I would have to
teach a grown man not to beat his wife. And I wasn't even scared. I
could feel the protection of the Spirit.
BUT MAN THIS IS THE SORT OF THING THAT SUCKS ON A MISSION. Or stinks. Sorry.

Some lesser evils:

2) When we went to get Ofa's hair cut I looked down and saw that there
was a tear in my bag. Someone had tried to cut a hole in it so that
they could get to the treasures inside (Lol). I hadn't even noticed;
the pickpockets here are clever. So we went to go and get my bag
repaired. I had to take everything out and hand my empty bag to the
guy at the shoe/bag repair stand. (They have these stands all over
Suva. I bet they have a racket going with the pickpockets. Ugh.) In
the hullaballoo of it all, I lost my USB that contained all of my
pictures since the beginning of my mission, my camera/computer
connection chord, and my bottle of Ibuprofen. But I didn't cry about
it because Sister Bechu has taken a lot of the same pictures as me and
they'll all be on Facebook after our missions. However, this means
that I have no way of sending pictures home to you (not that I have
been able to anyway, with the stupid internet connection), and I no
longer have my favorite painkiller. They don't have Ibuprofen here in
Fiji. All I'm saying is it could have been worse. It could have been
my wallet. Or my scriptures. Losing my scriptures would have been the
real tragedy. So I count my many blessings.

3) We did not get to see the General Relief Society Broadcast. It was
cancelled. But of course, no one thought to tell us. So we cancelled a
bunch of appointments, picked up an investigator, and traveled by bus
all the way to the Stake Center to watch it. And no one was there. And
it was cancelled until further notice. Ticked me off, because I was
really looking forward to it. But that's ok, at least there's no way
they can cancel General Conference. Man I am so jealous that everyone
else is watching it right now...

Anyway, there's my life right now. Lot's of ups and downs, but the ups
make up for the downs. Haha. I love you all. Forgive me for my
weaknesses and shortcomings. I am so far from perfect. But I am
trying.

Thank you for the updates. Keep them coming.

LOLOMA YANI,
SISTA WRIGHT