Monday, April 28, 2014

Choose to be happy!

This last week was tough.  Missionary work had gotten stale and I felt like I didn't have that much support from above. I was seeing things through a very negative lens. I started to feel sluggish and rebellious and even more trunky. Then something happened (a catastrophe!) that seemed to support my negative views and I was having a hard time coping. So I sought a priesthood blessing. (Just because I was sick of being a missionary does not mean that I was sick of being a member of this miraculous church and enjoying the benefits that come from associating with priesthood holders.) Thank goodness for elders. They are the bomb. I appreciate them so much. Who else would be willing to drop everything and come give me a blessing? Well, any decent priesthood holder probably would, but our elders here in Fiji are particularly wonderful. Anyway, that priesthood blessing was the catalyst for some life-changing thoughts. I started to think of the aforementioned catastrophe in a new light. And from there, I started seeing my missionary service in a new light. And then my life in a new light. And it just kept going. One such revolutionary thought was: I can choose to be happy. Another was a subsequent choice, to count even the small blessings as miracles. And another choice: to see each person as a child of God. Even rude people. Even people who have hurt me. And to stop saying unkind things about them. Because that's hypocrisy. 
Since then every single day has been cloudy and gloomy and rain rain go away. But every single day has been beautiful. And suddenly the small blessings turned into big miracles. Let me share some with you!

1. Una! Una is the cousin of a less-active family. We went to go visit this family, and met her. She is their stay-in nanny. She was making roti (indian version of tortillas), and offered us some. We had a few laughs and then Sister Uate asked her if she wanted to take the lessons. She said she had been waiting to take the lessons for two years now. The next day we taught her the entire first lesson, and invited her to be baptized. She accepted with a huge grin on her face. 
2. The ward! Nasinu 2nd has proved to be so awesome. I feel as if I have been here a long time. I know most everyone by name and they know me, because I chose to do everything I could to show them that I love them. Last week we had a ward FHE and 61 people showed up! That's a new record around here! We had previously volunteered to be in charge of the game at the end, so I decided that we would teach everyone the chair game that Sister Ewing and her counselors made famous at our Youth Conferences back in Thousand Oaks. (Oh the good old days!) How do you play? Everyone grabs a chair and sits in a circle. One person stands up, leaving an empty chair. The person sitting next to the empty chair then scoots over, and then the next person, and then the next one. The empty chair moves around the circle. And the person who had previously stood up tries to sit in that empty chair. If they happen to catch it, then the person who was too slow to scoot over and fill the chair becomes the new "it". Oh man! It was such fun. It's a game that all ages can play, both old and young. It was especially hilarious to see the bishop become the one in the middle. Everyone enjoyed! And everyone suddenly knew who the new sister was. It was a great introduction into the ward! 
3. Stake Conference Choir! My companion and I decided to participate in the Stake Conference Choir. We went to one of the practices, and the choir director started talking about how they needed someone to sing a solo for one of the verses in one of the pieces we would be performing. I kept my mouth shut, but my companion and a couple of members volunteered me. I got the job. And I ended up singing a solo in the Suva Stake Conference that occurred this weekend! Crazy haha :)
4. Ensigns, Liahonas, and Friends, Oh My! Our flat here in Nasinu has an incredible collection of church magazines! At least fifty of them, and they range from the 1980's to some of the most recent ones. Reading them has become a bit of an obsession, but I promise I have control over it! As I have read them, with my newfound perspective, I have seen that the church is true for a completely different set of reasons. Reasons that you could only understand by having read 50 church magazines from the past thirty years in a startlingly small amount of time. It's funny, I like the old ones a lot more than I like the new ones. When I get home, I am ordering a subscription and am going to collect them for the rest of my life. They make me happy. They also inspire me to be a better person. One who is more kind, more patient, more humble. 
5. OFA. This one is the most incredible miracle of all. Remember the family that I had been teaching, way back in the beginning of my mission? Ofa and Ali and their two little girls? Remember how Ofa ran away because of some serious relationship issues? Well guess what. I found her. She is here, and we are going to be teaching her again. We had taught her all of the lessons, and she was so ready to be baptized. But then she ran away, and I thought for good. Made me sad because it seemed as if all of that hard work seemed to have gone to waste. But no! We ran into each other and she gave me a big hug and we chatted for a bit. I asked her if she still wanted to take the lessons. Yes? Yes! I was bouncing around after that. Floating. What an incredible miracle.
But the real miracle is that if none of these things had happened, I still would have been fine. I would have been a-ok. Because happiness is a choice. What a liberating discovery!
To those who are reading, I am sorry for anything that I have said in the past that has been irritating, offensive, juvenile, or hypocritical. I'm still learning and growing! Thank you for your kindness and patience in your association with me :)
Aunt Deann: Thank you so much for the package! It was a hit, everyone enjoyed it (everyone being both missionaries, members, and investigators alike). I really love you and enjoyed reading about the family :)
Aunt Gina: I don't know if you read my blog, but I hope you know that you are in my prayers as well as the prayers of the people here in Fiji. I tell many of them about you, because there are so many Indians that live here. They love to hear that I have an Indian aunt!
Grandma Wright: Thank you for my birthday package as well! It came at a time that I really needed it. Love you lady! And Grandpa Wright! I received the letter from you about the waves and the troughs. It was inspiring, and definitely eye-opening. I will keep that one to read again and again. Vinaka vakalevu :)
Grandma T: I received your letter and skirt! Thank you so much. One thing that I want you to do is take care of yourself!!!!!!!! Please Grandma. I just love you so much. Grandpa, I hope you know that the email that you sent me weeks and months ago regarding the times we must spend in the wilderness was also exactly what I needed to hear when I needed to hear it. I will keep it forever. 
Mama: the first package that I received was the one with the birthday decorations. It came the day before my birthday, which was perfect. Sister Eneri took your instructions very seriously haha. 
Sophie: Those bracelets are a hit around here! I gave one to Sister Uate, and she wears it ever day too! Please send me more! 
Aunt Kirsty: I hope you know that I appreciate you and the family as well! Thank you for never forgetting about me :) I will definitely be coming back to Utah after my mission, and will continue to spend time with you folks. Tell Owen that I love him and that I am proud that he is choosing to get baptized!! 
Everyone else that I failed to mention: I love you :) forgive my suckiness at writing.
Sigh. My heart is full. I am so grateful to be here in Fiji. What an incredible place. What an incredible people. You all should be jealous! Haha ;)
Loloma bibi,
Sista Donu

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