Sunday, December 29, 2013

Sister Wright is still alive

Last time I didn't hear from Sister Wright, I sent her an email and said that if she didn't have time to write, she should just send me am "I'm alive" email.  This is what I got this week:

Subject line:  Sister Wright is still alive
Hey this is Elder Heninger From the Fiji Suva Mission! I'm Sister Wright's District Leader and she wanted me to tell you all that she alright and the reason that she hasn't e-mailed you all is because her companion, Sister Kumar, is super sick! Sister Wright is a great Sister, she is a super hard worker and it is a ton of fun to have her in the district!!! She is definitely one of those people who is willing not only to go the extra mile, but then take the extra 30. Hope you all have a great week!! May God Bless you all!! 


Love,
Elder Heninger

Lautoka District Christmas meeting with President Klingler.  Elder Heninger 2nd from right, Sister Kumar (Meg's poor sick companion - hope she feels better soon!) first on the left.  Thank you Elder Heninger for sending this pic!
Its good to know Sister Wright is still alive.  :o)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas!

I really don't know how to say Merry Christmas in Fijian. They all just say Merry Christmas to us. And to each other. But Christmas is Siga ni Sucu, day of birth. Birthdays are called the same thing. Kind of confusing, but whatever.
Alright so here's the info you will need to know for the phone call:
Let's do it your Christmas Eve and my Christmas morning. Because for me, the 26th falls on a service day. So. I won't be able to do much in the morning. And I want to talk to you in the morning. 
So I've calculated it, and you are going to need to call at 1:45ish (pm, in the afternoon) your time so that it is 6:45ish (am, slightly after I wake up on Christmas morning) my time. Yes, you will be calling. That way you'll be paying for it, not us haha. Not sure how it works, but try. If I don't get a call from you before 7, then I will call you. But that's worse case scenario, k? Hopefully we'll be able to talk for a little over an hour. I AM SO EXCITED TO TALK TO YOU PEOPLE. Expect me to use some weird slang and say eh at the end of my questions. I've picked up some weird language habits. Haha. 

So I just want to say a little something about the true meaning of Christmas. I have been doing a ton of studies on the life of Jesus Christ, on His teachings and doctrine, on anything about Him that I can get my hands on. I've been trying to more fully understand the Atonement. Because I don't really know how to use it. And I feel like if I am helping other people to use it, I should know how to apply it to myself, right?
Something that I have noticed: the key to coming unto Christ is humility. That means giving ourselves to Him completely. He so wants to give us everything that He has. But first we have to let go of our selfishness and our pride. We cannot come unto Him if we think that we know better than Him. We cannot fully repent if we are constantly trying to control every aspect of our lives. I have had this problem. And as a missionary, it has been difficult. When an investigator comes with us to church, I am worrying the whole time. Do they understand what is going on, what is being taught, what is being said? Can they feel the Spirit? What can I do to help them have a better experience? It is like this when we teach, too. I feel as if I have to have the answers to every question, to every tiny concern. If not, then I have failed. This has been my mindsetting. It has made for a stressful mission. Because guess what? That's not how missionary work works. It's not up to me. These people have their agency. And it is up to them to allow the Spirit to fill their hearts or not. And this has killed me. But this week, I realized that sometimes you just have to let some things go. Allow the Savior to take control. This applies to our lives as well. Let Him be in charge, and things will go so much smoother. 
This has helped a lot when I teach in Fijian. I don't have someone to support me with Fijian. My companion is awesome with being able to back me up in English without even understanding what I just taught, but she can't help me with the language. This has been really stressful for me. Until this week. I decided that part of the Gift of Tongues is people being able to understand what I am trying to say. The Spirit speaks every language, doesn't he? And now teaching in Fijian is much less stressful. I am going to stop trying to be in control. Or at least, I am going to try. 
This is one prideful part of my life that I am going to be working on. My gift to the Savior will be accepting His gift in my life. 
I love my Jesus. Like Nephi said, "I glory in my Jesus, for he hath redeemed my soul from hell." I am so grateful to be a missionary. If I had not gone on a mission, I don't think I would ever have been able to come to know Him like I have. Or it would have taken a lot longer, through much harder trials. It is amazing how the mission is set up to spread the gospel throughout the world, but also to refine and strengthen the youth, the future church leadership, as well. Every aspect of it is for our good. Our futures will be so much better, because of this choice that we made to go on a mission. 
I feel it appropriate to type this up and share it, because now it applies to my life so much more than two years ago, when I wrote it.

Far from home on Christmas Day
And not because I've lost my way
I travel here, on foreign shores
To spread a message, door to door
A message of the reason why
God's Holy Son was sent to die
A child, born in a lowly state
So humble, with such a tragic fate
He'd live a life so good and clean
That no common man could have forseen
That he'd invoke the wrath of kings
All weary of the truth he brings
And yet his death had been foretold
By every prophet, new and old
But men forgot, for when he came
All other babies born were slain
With hopes that he would be included
And his short reign on Earth, concluded
Forgotten was the joy he brought
Though all their lives they had been taught
Yet he survived, to grow and teach
In temples he began to preach
Rejected again, but some began
To listen and to understand
The truths he spake were soft and clear
They showed that man need not fear
"Come drink," he said, "And thirst no more."
And so they did, and their spirits soared
"Come with me and be fishers of men."
And so a discipleship began
He walked Judea with Apostles twelve
Missionaries, not unlike myself
He taught them through example sweet
He blessed them, and he washed their feet
And with them he did heal the sick
With Priesthood power, not conjured trick
He caused the lame to walk and blind to see
He called back the dead and fed the hungry
His mission was not to conquer and rule
But to serve his God, to be His tool
To save the children, though not from Rome
But from their inability to return home
To be reunited with their God and Kind
And this was why he had to bring
His disciples to Gethsemane
He said, "Sit ye here and watch with me."
But one by one, they fell asleep
And as he knelt, our Christ did weep
"Father, take from me this bitter cup
Or couldst thou somehow interrupt?
If this dark hour could only pass
If my great burden could be less vast
But I'll always be thy faithful son
So, Abba, let they will be done."
And so the Atonement did begin
He felt every pain and every sin
His pores did bleed, from head to toe
Such suffering we might never know
Because he took our place that night
So that our burdens may be light
He saved us from an awful fate
From our inborn "natural man" traits
He truly was our Savior then
But his suffering had not come to an end
For one of his disciples twelve
Betrayed Christ, for money for himself
The soldiers took our Lord away
And despite how many people prayed
That somehow he would be set free
He was sent to Calvary
He was esteemed as not, like common dross
Whipped, and told to carry his own cross
His physical strength was pushed to the brink
Until upon his knees he sand
The soldiers, angered by the pause
Chose another man to carry his cross
And so they led them to the hill
Where the Redeemer would be killed
Now, because he had bled from every pore
In that Garden, only hours before
He was filled with pain at the lightest touch
He felt every blow so very much
So when they nailed his hands and feet
His suffering was made complete
Yet as he hung above those men
He asked his Father to forgive them
"Forgive them, for they know not what they do."
He meant both Roman and Hebrew
And after he'd given his utmost
Our God and Savior gave up the ghost
His faithful Apostles, all filled with gloom
Took his body to Joseph's tomb
They laid him there, in linens white
And there he stayed, for two more nights
But on the morn of the third day
Mary went to where he'd been laid
She saw his body was no longer there
And her heart was filled with such despair
That when he came and asked her why
She had a reason to weep and cry
She did not recognize her Lord
And through her blinding tears implored
Where had he taken her lifeless God?
But then she saw him, and was filled with awe
"Go and tell my disciples what thou hast seen,
that they soon will know where I have been."
And though Thomas doubted, they all saw
That Christ had satisfied the law
He had overcome the jaws of death
That we may breathe again after our last breath
And so even now, men laud his name
So grateful that to this Earth he came
And yet, on Christmas, some do forget
Why God's own Son, Mary did beget
Why he was born in Bethlehem
Why wise men sought to bring gifts to him
And this is why I am abroad
At Christmastime, on foreign sod
To spread a message, the reason why
God's Hold Son was sent to die
He died for us that we might live
The greatest gift anyone could ever give

I want to bear my testimony with all of you. I know that our Redeemer liveth. I know that He loves each and every one of us. So so much. I feel His love as I teach these beautiful, amazing people here in Fiji. I feel His love as I get to know my companion better each day. He gives me a greater portion of His love, and makes my own capacity for charity that much bigger. And it makes me happy. I know that this gospel is true. I know that this church is true. I know it, I live it, I love it. I hope that all of you will remember the true meaning of Christmas this holiday season. And I hope that your New Year's resolution will be to let some things go, and give the Savior more control of your lives. That's my resolution, anyway. 
God bless you all. 
Loloma levu.
Sister Wright

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Lautoka


Lautoka! Lautoka is good. The people are so sweet and kind. The ward is small but good. It is hot hot hot here. It doesn't feel like the Christmas season, except for the common focus on the Savior. That particular feeling is the same. And, actually stronger, since I myself have become closer to Him. 
One thing that we did this week is buy a heap of pineapples. Six of them for three dollars. They are very cheap right now because they are in season. Everyone and their dog are selling pineapples. The pineapples here are different. They are smaller, about half the size of ones back home, but so much more sweet and flavorful! Whenever I eat them, I think of you poor people, and how unfortunate you are to never have tasted the real thing ;)
As we walk the streets of Lautoka, everyone says Bula or Moce (Moe-They) as the pass by you. Everyone smiles and waves. It reminds me a lot of New Harmony. I love it. The small kids always come up and dre, or shake hands Fijian style. The way they do that is like a limp handshake where they slide their hand across yours until your fingers touch each other, and then you have to stiffen your fingers really quickly so that when your hands come apart they make a snapping noise. There are a few ways to do it. I've gotten really good at it. Almost no Fijians do the firm handshake that we Americans are used to. It's either the dre or a very limp handhold haha. And all the ladies come and kiss you on the cheek. It's great! Haha. 
When it comes to teaching around here, everyone is happy to have us come. Sometimes it's a bit hard, because they aren't at all interested, but it takes a few visits to figure it out. A lot of them just consider our visits as just bible study. One of our investigators, Samanunu, has been to every church under the sun, and is very interested in gleaning as much information about different churches as possible. So she was taught all the lessons. But when invited to be baptized, she has no desire to do so. Darn it. After spending all that time teaching her, it was all just bible study to her. 
Right now the majority of our investigators seem to just be interested in bible study.
And by that I mean all four of them. We need more. We have been doing some finding, which is the missionary term for going out and talking to everyone with ears that can listen, but right now our efforts have not been that fruitful. So here we go again, can all y'all back home pray for us to find some sincere investigators? Lautoka hasn't had a baptism in months. It's time to fix that. Please help us out :)
Now, our companionship. Things are much better. I decided to not be a doormat anymore and just tell her how she made me feel. And I uncovered the truth. Her father died recently, while she was on the mission. And she was having a hard time coping. And suddenly I felt like a big fat jerk. But we were able to work some things out;  I learned a lot about humility, and hopefully now the work will pick up because we are more in unity. Man, it's like what they say. Always give people the benefit of the doubt. 
I love my Savior so much. He has been with me through all my ups and downs. I didn't always accept Him, but I feel that recently I have finally been able to grow close enough to Him to feel the comforting effects of the Atonement. I'm ashamed that I had to be brought low in order to turn to Him, but that's how these things work. We have to be humble in order to be His. And now I'm really working on it. Just in time for Christmas.
In response to your questions:
Christmas call: it will be your Christmas. Which is the 26th for me. I guess we are going to buy another sd card for the phone and call you. I'm not so sure. I wish they talked to us more about it. But I will let you know. Have your phone on hand at all times, k? 
Packages: Just keep sending them the way you have been. I received three this week. One with wrapped presents from you people, one with sharpies and Muddy Buddies (YUM), and one from Grandma and Grandpa W :))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))) This was one of the highlights of my week. Thank you people so much for not forgetting about me. I love you.
I love you all. You are the best. Ask me specific questions, it helps me when I write these stinking emails.
LOLOMA LEVU
Sista Wright

Monday, December 2, 2013

Awesome Zone Conference

My darling people! Hello hello hello! Oh my goodness how I miss all of you! How I wish I could have been around for Thanksgiving! Can someone please email me Grandpa's Thanksgiving speech? Man. That was a hard one. I just had to pretend that it wasn't Thanksgiving. And it wasn't too hard because we had curry for dinner. Probably the farthest thing from turkey (turkey is like a hundred bucks in these parts). Which actually helped. Mama, thank you for the Christmas tree in a box. I set it up when we got home on Thanksgiving. Keeping the tradition alive haha. 
So let me start by apologizing for my attitude last week. I was sad because I had left an area that I loved and a companion that had been like a sister to me. Suva had become my home, and had temporarily filled the empty place that had before been full of the ache of homesickness. So yeah, it was hard, and I wasn't doing a good job of seeing it with an eternal perspective. Since then, I have snapped myself out of it. Emailing with you people last week really helped. So did having Zone Conference. Yes, we had Zone Conference last Tuesday. I got to meet all the Zone. It was way great. They are all so cool. And Elder Haretuku is in my zone, which makes me really happy!! He was in my Suva district back in the beginning of my mission, and had been my only friend. We would sing country songs together. It was so funny in his New Zealand accent. I missed that kid when he got transferred, but now we have been reunited! If you have forgotten, he is the one with eyebrows that rival Jack Black's. Funniest kid you ever knew. So having him around was definitely a tender mercy haha. I was actually scared for Zone Conference because they asked me to do the language insight. That means you get up in front of the whole zone and tell them something about Fijian that they don't already know. Talk about intimidating, because the zone is full of elders that are of course fluent. So I just got up there and explained something that I sometimes do in language study, which is break down words. Fijian is a language full of compound words. So if you understand the roots of the words, you can figure out what the words mean. For example, tawamudu means eternal. It's a word that we as missionaries use frequently. Tawa means without, or -less. Mudu means end. So literally, tawamudu means without end, or endless. Then, you can take what you know from that and figure out what tawayaga means. Yaga means use. Tawayaga means useless. And vakatawayagataka means to render something useless. You know where I came up with that from? Remember when I was all obsessed with spelling bees? And how the spelling bee contestants would figure out the Latin roots of massively long words to figure out how to spell them? Yeah. It works in Fijian just as well as it works in English. Except there are no Latin roots....BUT anyway it went well and I bore my testimony of the gift of tongues which is STRONG by the way. My Fijian may be ridiculously broken, but it has improved tremendously since I got here. And I am not afraid to speak it anymore, which is also a huge improvement. But yeah, my language insight was fine, no one told me it stunk, so that's good. And then all the training that we received was fantastic. I always enjoy Zone Conference. Then, randomly, they decided to have our Zone Christmas party that night after dinner. Came out of nowhere. We were supposed to prepare a talent or something to share, and I had planned to play my nose flute, but had forgotten it back in the flat. So I read my missionary Christmas poem, The Greatest Gift. I wasn't sure how well it was received, because all the other acts were super funny and mine was the one serious one. But afterwards everyone wanted a copy. Now Sister Klingler wants me to send it to her so that she can put it in the Christmas newsletter for the whole mission. Everyone will read it. Haha way cool. That poem is going around. It may take a few years, but maybe someday we'll hear a General Authority quoting it or something. If that happens, I can happily retire. That night we stayed with the Nadi sisters (Zone Conference was in Nadi), Sister Lavaka and Sister Rich. I stayed up late talking to Sister Rich, who is the newest palangi sister in the mission. She just barely finished her training, I believe. We really hit it off. We have a lot in common. I always get along so well with the palangi sisters, but I will never be companions with them. It just has never happened in the history of the mission for two palangi sisters to be paired up. Oh well.
So yes, Zone Conference was a great pick me up. I get along very well with all those missionaries, and I made a great effort to get to know people. I am getting a lot better at being social. The same goes for people in the ward. I try hard to get to know them and get them to laugh. They like me. 
We also had Stake Conference this Sunday. President Maiwiriwiri, who is in our ward and whose wife is an American, got released. Their family is moving back to the states, after having been here for ten years. They will be missed. I will really miss Sister Maiwiriwiri. But guess who got called to be the new stake president? Sister Kaumaitotoya's husband! I got to meet her, mom, and she told me that you two had been keeping in contact. She got a picture of me and said she would send it to you. Not sure how nice I look, but whatever, I'm not trying to impress anyone. Elder Pearson of the Area Presidency spoke, and wow he sure can speak. I received a lot of personal revelation from listening to him. It was so great. 
I am so grateful to be a missionary. I am so so incredibly grateful to be a missionary in the South Pacific. I love these people so very much. They really are some of the best people in the world. So humble, so kind, so friendly, so funny, so faithful. There are a lot of things about their culture that I am going to miss. 
OH MY HECK MY 6 MONTH MARK! It passed uneventfully. What did I burn? Our dinner. Sister Kumar was teaching me how to make curry and of course I burnt the heck out of it because I wasn't paying attention. Sigh. 
Some investigators that we are teaching (me primarily in FIJIAN HA) Mosa, and Sovaira and Temo. Pray for them by name please. They are all on the fence, not so golden, but they have the potential to be! We just need better fellowshipping. That is truly how missionary work is successful. Through fellowshipping. Keep that in mind, people of the real world out there back home. Help your missionaries. Don't just pretend like you support them, actually support them. 
I have written too much and I have more to write but no time I guess.
I know that this gospel is true with my entire being. The Lord is my best friend. My one desire is for my family to be eternal. Have a family home evening where you get everyone together and have them commit to never falling away. Tell them to doubt their doubts before they doubt their faith. 
LOLOMA LEVU
Sista Wright