Sunday, October 19, 2014

and back again

Well I'll begin with the story of Errol. Once upon a time, Errol was a little boy living in Suva. His cousins were all LDS, so he was very familiar with the religion. They even convinced him to go to the LDS Primary School (elementary school) and later the LDS College (combined middle and high school). Pretty soon he was asking his parents if he could be baptized, but alas, the parents said no. Flash forward to 2013, Errol was in his 50's, living on the other island in Savusavu. He had just had a stroke, and could no longer walk or use his right hand. He was helpless. Who was it that came to him and basically took care of him until he had recovered enough to take care of himself? Elders Motuliki and Rainsdon. It took a lot of patience, but they also managed to teach him a couple of the lessons, though it didn't seem as if he could understand them very well. Eventually, they both got transferred and Errol moved to Nasinu. Incredibly, Elder Motuliki was also transferred to Nasinu, and somehow found him and began teaching him again. But because he needed to be taught in English, he was referred to the missionaries who were in the English ward, aka Me and Sister Uoka. Wow it took time to teach him, because we had to go very slowly and review a lot. But then Sister Mataoa came, and suddenly he started to really get it. And not only that, he came to church everySunday. He read his Book of Mormon and the Liahona regularly. He talked about Thomas S. Monson like they were close friends. Ah, Errol was a delight. We had to postpone his baptism a couple of times, but it was ok. He needed to be baptized according to the Lord's calendar, not ours. And so, on October 18th, 2014, Errol David Bert Whippy was baptized, and the following day he was confirmed a member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He was baptized by Elder Motuliki (our District Leader), and Elder Rainsdon (our Zone Leader) gave a talk on the Holy Ghost. It was an awesome experience for all of us. DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF PLANTING SEEDS. Eventually, they will get baptized. 
Now mom, this story is one that you may not appreciate...
We are teaching the brother of a girl from our ward that just left on her mission. His name is George Brown (I know, a total palagi name, but he's Fijian). He works on a boat, and before he used to spend a lot of time in New Zealand. While he was there, he went to church every week at an LDS church. Since then his life has gone a bit more zigzag. But now we are teaching him, and he is progressing nicely. Anyway, we taught him the first lesson. We taught him about the Book of Mormon. I looked in my bag and realized that I did not have a copy to give him. But as I testified of the Book of Mormon, and told him about how it changed my life, I had the strongest impression to give him my extra triple combination that I carry around with me. But there was something that was holding me back from doing so. You see, this triple combination was special. It was one that my mom had used back when she was in seminary, all those years ago. Reading it had brought me so much comfort, because it made me feel like I was with her. Seeing her markings, reading her notes. How could I give it away, and to someone that I wasn't even sure would use it properly. But I can't deny a prompting. I gave it to him. And I let him know just how special it was. He was touched. He promised to read it. And guess what, he has. He has been eating it up. Yay George! And he has a baptismal date for November 15. MOM DON'T BE ANGRY, PEOPLE ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN THINGS :D haha  (This is the Mom.  I am not angry, obviously.  I can't think of a better place for my old triple combo to go.  And who knows?  Maybe I'll see it again someday…)
I know that this gospel is true with every fiber of my being. I just finished the Doctrine and Covenants again. What a fascinating and powerful book. Now I have a new triple combination, and I am going to use it like crazy. I'm going to mark it and make it beautiful from obvious signs of use and love. Just like my mom's, the one I gave to George. Then one of my siblings or my children can take it on their mission and give it to one of their investigators. It will be great. Pay it forward! :)
Now for the next story. This will come as a shock to everyone, including me.
I'm getting transferred.
And I'm going to...............Lautoka again. Hahahahahaha. 
I remember when I first left Lautoka, the day before my birthday. I vowed that I would return. And what do you know, not only am I going back, but I am going to die there. 
Though not in the same ward. I was serving in Lautoka 1st before, now I'll be in Lautoka 2nd. 
Could this be the mountain I was praying for? Perhaps...but with only 6 weeks left, it won't be a long-term mountain. I'm excited to learn some new things and to grow closer to my Savior, because that's what mountains do. 
My companion will be Sister Siale, another Tongan. She was in Suva 3rd for awhile, so we got to know each other and we got along fine. Should be great!
I am definitely going to miss Nasinu. I have grown a lot in this area. It has been hard but it has been great. I am happy to say that I am leaving it in better shape than I found it. I am not taking credit for this, I give all of the credit to the Lord. But it feels good, because I know that the area is set. We have like six baptisms lined up for the next few months, and a ton of work to do. And not only that, but I am leaving the place in good hands. Sister Mataoa is a boss. I love her so much. I'll miss her, but I'll see her again when I go to Tahiti in a couple of years...
I will miss the ward. I will miss these people. I really love them. This has been the area that I have spent the most time in. Seven months. Wow. That's a long time. It's definitely had an impact on my life and I am grateful for it. So so grateful. 
Suva Lautoka Suva Lautoka. It's a pattern.
On to the next adventure!
I love you all. I'll see you soon. 
Let's endure to the end together. 


Monday, October 13, 2014

Holy goals!

Hello friends neighbors and countrymen. How are we doing? I think we're doing mighty fine, but that's just my opinion.
Let me just start by saying that I love my companion. What a blessing she has been for me. Like I said last time, she's only a little bit younger than me in the mission. I leave in December, she leaves in January. So I don't have to try to teach her anything about being a missionary, which is SUCH a relief. She is an answer to my prayers. Back when I was still training my youngest, I felt myself slowly getting trunkier and lazier and losing my umph and feeling generally bleh. I prayed for help. I prayed for a senior companion. Which was an impossible request, since I am pretty much in the oldest intake of sisters in the entire mission. But the Lord sent me Sister Mataoa, and she has been able to help me get back into the game. She has helped me become more obedient, more diligent, and more receptive to the Spirit than I have been in a long time. And not in a compelling kind of way. She has simply been my friend and made me want to be better. In addition to that, she has helped me with a few of my issues. I can be more honest with her and open with my feelings than I have been in a long time. Maybe because she is from Tahiti. I get along well with Tahitians. But anyway, I love her, and she has been a real blessing to me, even though I was the one who was meant to help her. It's funny how these things tend to work out haha.
But as wonderful as everything has been lately, I have also been feeling the countdown. I am on my last planner. This is ridiculous. Am I excited to go home, of course, but at the same time, I want to serve in these last 6 weeks to the best of my ability. So you know what I've been praying for? A mountain to climb. Ever heard that talk by President Eyring, called Mountains to Climb? He prayed for a challenge. And then one of the hardest difficulties he had ever experienced occurred. But amn did he learn a lot from it. I also, have learned so much from every challenge I have gone through, and looking back, I am grateful for them. Well, seeing as how I only have a little bit of time left, and seeing as how everything right now is just far too easy, I have been praying for a challenge. I mean, I'm CONTENT for the first time in how many months! I'm not as worried as usual. I'm happier. I have been strengthened, and am therefore ready for a challenge. The challenge I have in mind is a companion that needs some help. Someone who is struggling and needs some rehabilitation. This is what I have in mind, but of course, the Lord may have something else. It's up to Him. 
I know it's weird, but hear my reasoning. Right now I am coasting. Coasting on a spiritual high, yes, but still coasting. I want to sprint the finish. I want to have no energy when I get home. You know? Does it make sense? So. There you have it. Interpret it in any way you want.
I loved General Conference. To me, it focused a lot on avoiding personal apostasy. Like Lynn G. Robbins said, "Lowering the Lord's standards to the level of society's standards is apostasy." From what I hear, this is happening a lot in the church right now. To me it means that the Second Coming is well on it's way. Prepare yourselves, my friends. In order to help us avoid this personal apostasy, a lot of things were repeated again and again, like taking the sacrament seriously and sustaining the prophet and avoiding anti-Mormon literature (rip-tides). I loved it. 
As usual, I watched with a question in mind. What should I do with my future? Way too open ended of a question. As conference was progressing, I felt as if I wasn't getting my answer, but when they started talking about personal revelation, I changed my attitude. Then, after conference, I made a list. At the top, I wrote my question. I titled the list General Conference For Me: What I got out of general conference. Here's that list (kind of a list of goals for when I get home):
  • Take the sacrament seriously. Use it as a weekly personal assessment.
  • Continue to use the Atonement in my life (repentance). Learn to use it daily. 
  • Lift my personal standards to meet the Lord's.
  • Help others, both temporally and spiritually. 
  • Do not be easily offended; forgive easily every time, and give others the benefit of the doubt--LOVE ALL. 
  • Record my own testimony at the end of my mission and listen to it frequently, as a reminder of how strong it was at this point of my life----> to me this is an awesome idea.
  • Pray always. CONVERSE with the Lord.
  • Use time wisely. Try not to be bored.
  • Take care of my physical body: diet, exercise, personal grooming.
  • See every challenge as a blessing.
  • Serve others. Lift the downtrodden. Pay a generous fast offering.
  • Prepare myself to be an excellent mother.
  • Seek personal revelation. Learn the many ways the Lord speaks to me.
  • Sustain my leaders--no evil-speaking of them or criticism. 
  • Have daily scriptural feasts.
  • Go to the temple weekly AT LEAST.
  • Actively participate in Family Home Evening. 
  • Work towards the promised blessings in my patriarchal blessing.
  • Talk with my family about my goals/vision.
  • Be willing to change/repent QUICKLY.
  • Do genealogy. Take family names to the temple.
  • Keep a journal.
  • Share the gospel.
Family, hold me to these things, k? I'll need your help. It's ALOT. But it's doable.
Anyway, Errol is getting baptized this Saturday! This is great. He came to both days of General Conference. He loved it. What an awesome little old man he is. I am grateful for him. Should be a great week :)
Love you people. Rock on.
Sister Wright

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Hello :)

Wow this week was amazing. Here's the main reason.
Backstory: The temple here in Fiji is about 14 years old. Last time I went, the ceiling was leaking in the changing room. It needs to be renovated very badly. And so, they decided that they would close it for a year. But after they went through and inspected it, they decided that it would need to be closed for two years. This is a good thing, because it means that the temple will be better taken care of, and there will be another open house and dedication. That'll help with the missionary work so much! People are so curious about the church with a golden man on top up in Samabula. However, it will also be devastating. The people here in Fiji love their temple. They receive so much strength from it. And so do a lot of other people from neighboring island nations, like Kiribati and Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu. If it is closed for two years, the people will have to scrimp and save to go to Tonga in order to attend the temple there. It'll be hard. 
So for the last six months, we've witnessed as there has been a bit of a scramble to get to the temple. A scramble to clean up their acts, to get worthy, to get endowed and sealed. A scramble to gather family names. It's been beautiful, but it has also been heartbreaking, because not everyone gets to go. There is simply not enough time, not enough room. 
I may or may not have told a story about three months back about the Nacebe family. They were meant to be sealed, but somehow there was a mixup, and Brother Nacebe was denied entrance to the temple because, although he had received his temple recommend, he had never received the Melchizedek Priesthood. How he had gone through both the bishop's and stake president's interviews without them realizing this is still a mystery. But they told him that he would have to wait until Stake Conference to be ordained an Elder. That's how they do it around here. Long story short, Sister Nacebe was able to go to the temple for her endowment, but not him, and they were going to have to wait two years to get sealed to their three adorable little girls. It caused a huge commotion in the ward. And Brother Nacebe, who had just recently reactivated, started to go inactive again.
Mainstory: We had Ward Conference a couple Sundays ago. Stake President got up and told everyone that he had felt prompted to ordain Brother Nacebe an Elder after sacrament meeting that day, so that they could be sealed as a family the following week, two weeks before the temple closes. It was done. And we got permission to attend their sealing, since they were recently reactivated and two of the little girls were recent converts. 
I had never attended a sealing before. 
What an incredible experience. I was filled with love for this family, and with gratitude. My entire life I had taken my parents' sealing for granted. As a child of the covenant, I never had to be sealed to my family. I was born that way. But as I watched those little girls kneel beside their parents around the altar, I was just overcome with happiness as I was reminded of the covenants that my parents had made 21 years ago. Oh how I want that for my own future family. How could anyone ever even consider being married outside of the temple? 
It was perfect, because the man who performed the sealing was Elder Watling, who had taught them the temple class. He was very emotional about it, because he had been right there with them as they had been preparing for this day. We were all crying together. This family had come so far. 
Let me just say that attending a wedding in the temple is 100% more beautiful than attending Wills and Kate's wedding (which I did via television). 100%. Nothing else can compare. Nothing else matters. 
Now the temple is going to close. This Saturday is the last day that it will be open. It is sad, but I am so grateful that the Lord provided a way for me to be able to attend at least one more time before the end of my mission. Usually the outgoing missionaries would be able to go to a session, but by the time I leave, it will already be closed up for renovation. This really made me sad. I thought I would never get to go the Fiji temple again. But the Lord provided a way. At exactly the time that I needed it. 
I have such a love and respect for the temple. It is the very best place to be.
We worked hard this week. We laughed and we cried. It was a good one. How grateful I am for my companion, who is only one month younger than me in the mission. She is such a strength to me. (It's a relief to not be training for once! Haha.) How grateful I am for the gospel. I cannot even imagine what it would be like to not have it at all. But I often relate to our investigators just how jealous I am of them, that they get to hear about it for the first time. I give them their first Book of Mormon, and I say to them, "I wish I could be in your shoes. I wish I could read the Book of Mormon again for the first time." But how grateful I am to be able to read it every day, and to understand it differently every time. What a marvelous book. I am currently trying to finish reading it in Fijian. I don't think I will finish it before I get back, but that's ok. I will continue, regardless. 

AH. It's hard to be a missionary, but so incredibly worth it. I do not deserve all the blessings that I have received thusfar. I am such an unprofitable servant. But I am so grateful to be serving, nonetheless. 
I'm a little scared to go home. I am excited, but I am scared. What if I go back to my old ways? What if I forget some of the things that I have learned? I am terrified of this. I don't want to lose the person that I am now. I pray about this every day. I ask for Him to guide me, to keep me moving forward. Not backward. I know it will take work, but everything worthwhile takes work. That's one thing that I have learned.
Errol should be getting baptized on the 18th. General Conference is next week. I have so much to look forward to. And so much to be grateful for.
I love my Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. I love this gospel so so much. I can't even describe it. I love my family. I love Fiji. I will always be indebted to this little island nation, and the people that live here.
Haha I'm getting emotional over here. This is silly. I love you people.
Sister Wright