Monday, September 1, 2014

September has BEGUN

Can I just say that time has a funny habit of moving CRAZY FAST. Wow I can't believe it. 
Can I also say that I am so grateful for the Atonement of Jesus Christ? The greatest blessing ever given. Why I say that, our dear district leader Elder Motuliki (from my intake, my favorite elder in the MTC) asked me to do the training for our next district meeting, and it has to be about the Atonement and how it applies to our work as missionaries. And you know me, I love to give trainings, so I was like I ACCEPT THE CHALLENGE. Doing a training on the Atonement is not an easy thing! I tried to back in Lautoka and it was mediocre at best. But this time it will be better. This time it will be epic. So lately I've been reading up and studying up on the Atonement. What a blessing that has been, because as I did so, I realized just how dumb I have been lately. (i.e. The slump I mentioned to you last week.) I need to get my act together. So. That's what I decided. If I were to give this training and NOT change, then I would be a hypocrite. And I thought about it, and I thought about the Atonement. And I am just so grateful that our God is a God of second chances. What a blessing that is to me, because I have made so many mistakes. I have not been an angel! I am, even still, hopelessly flawed, and therefore nothing without my Savior Jesus Christ.
Yes, Kelera did end up getting baptized. How grateful we are that this happened. Because it was a difficult journey getting her to the waters of baptism. Her husband and son did not even attend, but at least it happened! And when she bore her testimony afterwards, she cried and thanked her two sisters :) I love her forever.
Here's some other fun stuff that I failed to mention in previous emails:
1. Book of Mormon Confirmation: A few weeks back we were focusing on the Book of Mormon during training. It was awesome because I love the Book of Mormon and I love helping other people love it too. Sister Uoka is currently reading it all the way through for the first time, and she is eating it up. This gives me such satisfaction. Anyway, we were discussing the promise found in Moroni 10: 3-5 (search, ponder, pray to know if the book is true). We talked about how it is good for us as missionaries to also pray and ask if the book is true. Well, it just so happens that that very week, I happened to finish the Book of Mormon (for like the fifth time on the mission). And I thought about what I had just talked to Sister Uoka about. But for some reason I didn't really want to. In my mind, I thought, "I already know. Why do I need to pray about it again?" I had already received a 'burning in my bosom' concerning the truthfulness of this divine book. But I needed to practice what I had preached, so I knelt down and asked the Lord. I felt nothing. I shrugged my shoulders and continued on with my study from the Doctrine and Covenants. And there I read this lovely little nugget: D&C 6: 22-23-- "Verily, verily, I say unto you, if you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things. Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?" Whoa it was an awesome experience, because it totally answered my prayer perfectly. I may not have received an intense burning in the bosom like I had that one time, but I didn't need to. Guess what, no one needs to. You can receive answers to prayers in so many different ways. In the past, I thought that it was only through intense emotions, but the mission has taught me otherwise. Thoughts, dreams, and other people can all be indicators of God's hand in your life.
2. Ratu mai na koro i Nabukadra: A couple of other weeks back, (not really, it was the same weeks as my other story) we were over at Kelera's house, and there was a visitor there. We taught our lesson, and then opened the floor to questions/testimonies. When it was his turn to speak, he started asking questions that had nothing to do with what we had taught that day. He asked about baptisms for the dead, and temple work. He sounded as if he had already taken the lessons before. Who was this guy? But it was awesome, because he was saying that doing work for the dead was a concept that he was really interested in, because he felt really connected to his forefathers. We happily showed him all of the scriptures that mentioned baptisms for the dead and missionary work being done in the next life. He ate it up. He took notes. And then, we found something out that was amazing. The guy was a Ratu. What is a Ratu? A chief. It's the closest thing Fiji has to royalty. After further questioning him, we found out that he was the chief of this village in the west, Nabukadra. He told us that every generation of chiefs had introduced a new religion to this village. His great grandfather had allowed the Methodists to come and preach there. His grandfather had allowed the Seventh-day Adventist missionaries to come and preach there. His father had allowed the Assemblies of God church to come. Each had been converted by these churches, and the villagers would always follow the chief. This Ratu told us that he was not satisfied with any of these churches, and that he was looking for something better. The truth. He said that our church really interested him because he would be able to help his forefathers also find the truth that they clearly had been searching for. Heck yeah! Now, this interest was awesome enough all on it's own, but the fact that he was a Ratu meant that this village could very soon be opened for proselyting (you need permission from the chiefs to even step foot in a village). AH that would be so awesome. That would be some HUGE hastening of the work here in Fiji. It's been awhile since a village was opened! So we were pretty stoked. We gave him every pamphlet that we had on hand, as well as the My Family booklet, Family Proclamation, a Book of Mormon, and an LDS King James Bible with helpful markings inside. He was very grateful. He described to us some land that he had prepared for a chapel. On top of a hill, overlooking the sea. I can see it all now haha. 
His contact information was given to the Mission Office. I have no idea what has happened since then, but I'm glad that I could be a part of it. What an awesome experience.
What does a chief look like? Any other Fijian. He wore jean shorts and an "America needs some R&R" Mitt Romney t-shirt (which made me like him even more) (the shirt was from a second hand shop, shows how humble he is) (good man).
3. Man from Peru: We went to Valelevu (shopping complex in our area). We were going to the chemist (aka pharmacy). A white guy was following us and staring at us creepily. Ok weird. We went into the chemist, got what we needed, walked out. There he was, waiting for us. He said, "You two are the LDS missionaries?" Yes. He then asked for a Book of Mormon. Ok, we just happened to have one. He took it and opened to the picture of Samuel the Lamanite in the front. "The Book of Mormon took place in America, right? Central, and South." We nodded. He pointed at the picture and said, "I'm from Peru. I can tell you that there are no buildings like this anywhere in South America." Well, first of all, yes there are. The Incas built plenty buildings like that, though they are now all ruins. Duh. And second of all, it's just a picture. An artist's interpretation of what that particular scene looked like. Not a photograph lol. Dumb. But we didn't say any of that, we just looked at him with furrowed brows. This felt weird. He then said, "You know the promise? If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, and then you will receive that wisdom?" Yes. "Is that how you people believe that you can be saved?" No. Receiving wisdom is not enough, you have to act on that wisdom. "But what about what it says in Romans, that all you have to do is declare Christ as your personal savior, and then you are saved?" I said, "What about what it says in James, that faith without works is dead, being alone?" Then I stopped and realized that I was about to Bible bash with him, and that the Spirit had already left ages ago. So I started to bear my testimony. "Regardless of whether or not you accept these things, I know for myself that they are true. And I am so grateful for them, because they have changed my life and helped me to become the person that I am today. I have a strong desire to share this gospel with anyone and everyone, but that does not mean that I am going to force it on anyone. I respect your beliefs, and I would appreciate it if you would respect mine as well." I had started to get emotional. I almost started crying. We were in a food court, so there were a lot of people looking at us. Some Fijian boys looked like they were about to get up and do something to help us. The Peruvian then said, "Jotepasimis." Or something like that. I'm like, "What?" Sister Uoka understood him though. "Joseph Smith." He said, "I can prove to you that he was not a true prophet." At that point we had taken back our Book of Mormon (get your grubby hands off of it, you meanie) (not giving my pearls to this swine) and were walking away. But I turned to him and said, "I don't need you to do that, because I have already proved for myself that he is a true prophet of God. Have a nice day." And then we hot-footed it out of there. Man we were shaken up. 
This experience was significant for me. Because I had never once in my entire mission ever encountered an anti before. Never. The culture of Fiji does not allow for it. They are far too respectful and loving and kind. So after this man from Peru confronted us, I was filled with gratitude for the people of Fiji. I know that if I had started to cry, those Fijian boys would have gotten up and asked this man to leave. Because as missionaries, and especially as sisters, we are respected. Everyone knows who we are. Everyone likes us. Everyone is willing to listen to us, whether they choose to accept our message or not. What a blessing this has been. And I took it for granted until this particular incident. Haha all I could think was, "Go back to Peru. Get out of my Fiji. Stop corrupting my beautiful island home. Your kind are not welcome here." Which of course is un-Christlike of me. But still. I love my Fiji. 
Did I react in the right way? Did I do the right thing? A lot of missionaries have told stories about how some of their golden investigators have come from successful Bible-bashing sessions. And it's not that I do not have the knowledge necessary to counter his silly arguments. But I just wanted to get out of there fast. So I did. 
Don't get me wrong, I have encountered people who wanted to Bible-bash with me before. But I had not encountered an anti until this week. And I never want to again. Yuck.
Hmm what else...I love all of you. Yeah, I've said that before, and I'll probably say it again. Don't get used to it, appreciate it every time, because it represents all the loyalty and compassion and charity that my little heart possesses. You people are my people, even though I probably won't recognize you when I get home. You probably won't recognize me either. Because I'm fat and covered in spots haha. But no matter. At least my insides are gorgeous.
Sister Wright

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