I am so overwhelmed with gratitude right now. Reading about Nealchoosing to be baptized confirmed to me how much the Lord
blesses people back home, not entirely because of my sacrifice but at
least partially. When did we ever have so many missionary experiences
until I came to Fiji? I am so incredibly happy. For Charlene, for
Neal. And I have faith that there will be more to follow.
What a blessing it is to be a missionary. This week I had one of my
favorite experiences of my mission. Never have I ever been able to
teach a family. It has always been individuals and couples. But
recently, the Johnson family (a Fijian family, despite the European
name) was referred to us. They are relatives of another Johnson family
in Suva that were baptized last year. Everyone heard of that success
story. The Suva Johnsons are a family of eight or so, and it was a
struggle for the sisters to teach them, but they were eventually all
baptized. The first night that I spent in Fiji was a Monday, and
Sister Tuahivaatetonohiti and I went to a Family Home Evening with
some sisters in Suva. And guess what, it was at the pre-baptized
Johnson family's home. And it was a great experience. Well, when we
went to Suva a couple of weeks ago, I met with Maxine, Sister Johnson.
She was happy to see me, and she told me that she had family in
Lautoka. "You're the right missionary for them." So, we went to meet
them. Wow, they are about the nicest people you ever met. And this
week, we managed to catch them all at home and teach them the entire
first lesson. Wow. So powerful. The Spirit was so strong. Let me tell
you a bit about them. They have a daughter who joined the church long
ago, but grew up and left and they haven't heard much from her since.
They have their cousins in Suva that just recently joined the church.
When their Suva relatives joined the church, it was a shock to
everyone, because the whole family had been Methodist for years. They
felt a bit confused and maybe hurt about it. So when we came around,
they had a lot of questions. "Is it true that you can't eat anything
red in your religion?" Haha what? Where did that one come from? And
one connection that is particularly near and dear to my heart is the
son, Richard. He is 23 years old, and suffers from Bipolar disorder. I
love him with my whole soul. I love each one of them. There is Joe the
father and Sister Johnson the mother (forgot her first name, but
that's ok...) and Richard and Audrey (18) the children that are still
at home. When we taught them the first lesson, Sister Johnson said,
"When Maxine and Isaac joined your church, we couldn't help but feel a
bit betrayed and confused. They were rejecting the religion that we
had all grown up with. But now that we have heard about this
Restoration, we can understand why they did it." Yes! That's exactly
what I like to hear. And then they committed to pray to know if Joseph
Smith was a true prophet of God, and if there were living prophets
today. They committed to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it as
well. Oh man. This is like candy for me. But the most sweet, the most
precious candy in the universe. We are fasting and praying for them
like crazy. Next Suday we are going to their house for lunch. They are
going to serve us raw fish. I've wanted to try this Fijian dish for a
long time. I'm excited. And then the next week they promised to come
to church. Yay.
Another thing about this particular lesson that was important to me
was a realization that I came to. My teaching has changed so much
since I first started. I know the scriptures so well. They have a
question, I can quote scriptures that have the answer in them. I
haven't even tried to memorize any, I just know them because of how
often I have read them. It makes me happy. I really enjoy missionary
work. When I get home, I'll probably continue waving and smiling and
saying bula to everyone I walk past. I'll probably still walk up to
people and ask them if they've ever heard of the LDS church. And I'm
definitely going to go out proselyting with the missionaries. I'm
going to be such a freak! Haha. I just have this strange charity that
I have developed. Strange to me, because of how anti-social I was
before. I was abrasive. I avoided making eye-contact with anyone.
Well, that ain't the case anymore. I see everyone as a child of God
now. And I love them.
Well I at least love brown people. When I see palagis I want to run
away. The other day we were in a second-hand shop when all of a sudden
a group of tourists came in. I felt utterly uncomfortable. I had to
get out of there fast. Haha!
I just wish my Fijian could be better. I know the basics, but I do not
know enough. I can have simple conversations and I can teach the first
lesson in Fijian, but after that I struggle. It is humbling, because
if I could speak English to them I could knock their socks off. I know
how to teach in English. But my Fijian is just "God loves you." "If
you do this, then we promise that this will happen." "I would like to
bear my testimony." "Will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and
be baptized by someone holding the proper priesthood authority?" But,
because my Fijian is so basic, I have come to understand more the
importance of the Spirit. And I have a strong testimony of the power
of bearing testimony. If you look someone straight in the eye and say,
"I know that these things are true because I prayed, and God answered
my prayer," people can feel it. They can feel the truth behind your
words. Even if it is in broken Fijian.
Right now I have a high fever. 39 degrees Celcius. Yeah, that's taken
some getting used to. Last night it was ridiculous. First I was
freezing to death (and that never happens in Fiji), and then I was on
fire. I drank ice water, I took ibuprofen, I took a cold shower, and I
didn't sleep a wink. It's lucky we have a tile floor. It gets nicely
cold at night, so Sister Eneri and I just sleep on the floor from time
to time because of how hot it gets out here in the west. Well, last
night I couldn't even feel that the tiles were cold, my body was so
hot. And I could feel the delirium. All of my thoughts were in Fijian.
I imagined that I was telling the Zone Leaders a story in Fijian. That
would never happen in real life, because I am terrified of speaking
Fijian to them, for fear of them judging how broken it is. And my eyes
hurt and my body aches and I feel utterly weak. Kill me now. But the
work must go on. We have some crucial lessons this week, and I simply
cannot miss them. So, we go.
I want Daddy to give me a blessing. I don't want the elders to. But
I'll take what I can get.
AH I'm so emotional right now. I'm over here crying as I email and
everyone is looking at me like what the heck is wrong with her.
I love you people. It won't be long now. I can feel that I am on the
downward slope of my mission. And it's bittersweet. I'm going to miss
these beautiful, crazy people.
I love this Gospel. I love my Savior Jesus Christ. I love you.
E na yacai Jisu Karisito, emeni.