Monday, December 19, 2016

Christmas Week!

Sister Betero, Amina, Sister Draper and two pikinini
 Merry Christmas!!!  I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas week!  This week we had the chance to share the Christmas story with a lot of people, members and nonmembers.  We've invited each of them to think about the wise men and the gifts that they gave to their Savior and then to think about what they can give to their Savior this Christmas.  It's been really neat to hear about all the ideas that people come up with.  Some have talked about giving more service, trying not to swear, spending more time with children and trying to trust God more.  As we shared this Christmas message with Amina she was really touched and shared with us about how she has continuously struggled with the word of wisdom.  She feels like she keeps relapsing again and again.  She shared with us about the time she prayed and asked God why this was so hard for her.  She felt like God was telling her that she needed to struggle this much because it was bringing her back to Him.  I know how true this is and had the chance to testify to her, using personal experiences.  God really does give us challenges to help us grow and become closer to Him.  We fasted with her this past Sunday for added strength to resist the temptation to drink kava.  She is also in the process of finding a new house so that she doesn't live in a yard with a nakamal (place to drink kava).  Please keep her in your prayers as she continues to work to live the word of wisdom.
Making Laplap with Julie and her family
We had the chance to make laplap with Julie and her family this week.  Laplap is the national dish of Vanuatu. Laplap is prepared by pounding breadfruit, taro or yam roots into a dough. The dough is then cooked in an underground oven, with fresh coconut cream and some pork, beef, chicken or flying fox in taro or spinach leaves.  I scratched a full arm of bananas!  We came back later and ate all together.  That night both Sista Betero and I felt super sick, but it was a good chance to get to know Julie's family and gain their trust.  We invited Julie to get baptized this past week, but her parents won't allow it.  She's been reading The Book of Mormon like crazy and is currently in 2 Nephi 20.  She knows it is true.  She knows that Joseph Smith is a true prophet!  It's so hard when investigators know and have a testimony, but then their family blocks them!  We hope that the time we spent together making laplap and talking with her family will open some doors and soften their hearts.

This upcoming week we have the branch Christmas party on the 24th and all the missionaries are dancing and singing--so that will be fun!  Christmas we will spend with the branch, and then have a missionary devotional at night.  I hope you all have a very merry Christmas!!  Love you lots!



Monday, December 12, 2016

Sharpi!

Here I am at Amina's house with her niece.
My first week in Sharpi was a success.  I absolutely love my new companion, Sista Betero!  She is from Kiribati and is 22 years old.  It's super interesting because I have had many, many islander companions on my mission and with the majority of them I have felt like I have had to push them, but with Sista Betero she is the one pushing me!  She is always saying, "one more, let's find one more" before we go home at the end of the day.  I LOVE it!!  Sharpi is a wonderful area and it feels a lot like Ohlen, the first area of my mission.  It has a lot of potential, and I am very excited to see what the next two transfers have in store.

We have two amazing sistas in our area named Mary and Julie.  Mary is 17 and Julie is 12.  They are so smart!  We taught them about The Book of Mormon and invited them to read the first chapter in 1 Nephi before out next appointment.  We came back and found that Mary had read to chapter two and Julie to chapter 10.  What was even better was that they could remember what they had read and had written a list of questions to ask us.  They also attended a baptism with us this past Saturday.

We are also teaching a single mom named Amina.  She lives at the house of a member, but works at a nakamal (a place that sells kava, an alcoholic beverage) so it makes it hard for her to live the word of wisdom.  She is strong and recognizes God's hand.  She had a dream this past week during which she was told she needed to change NOW.  She hasn't touched kava since then!

We have many, many members in our area and they love working with the missionaries (thanks to Sista Manly and her bubbly personality).  Our branch is wonderful and am I really excited to be in Sharpi and in this branch!  I love you all and hope you have a great week.
Our house with a view of the ocean and a cruise ship!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Toa's Baptism!

Toa's baptism
 Highlight of the week:  Toa's baptism!!  It was such an amazing experience for everyone who came.  He is such a humble man and so willing to do what the Lord asks.  He bore his testimony, dressed in a nice white shirt and tie the eldas brought for him, and testified of how God has a plan.  He explained that because we taught Elsie he then became interested in what we had to share.  Little did we know that because of Elsie, we would find Toa, the one who was really prepared to accept the gospel.  He was confirmed a member of the Church on Sunday and bore his testimony again in fast and testimony meeting. I was even asked to speak at his baptism about the Holy Ghost.   Such a miracle to see him take this step!

Transfer calls came on Saturday morning and Sista Ouamambare is headed to Vila and she will be serving with a sista from Kiribati.  I will be moving to the other side of the plantation and working in Sharpi, also with a sista from Kiribati, Sista Betero.  Sharpi is a great area and I am excited to work with Sista Betero!  I'm super sad to leave Showground and especially the Banban branch.  I have met some incredible people and have learned so much from them. 
Little Tina

We've continued working with Sylvie and she is seeing changes.  Malaya and Sua are doing well but Malaya is progressing much faster.  She just eats up the Book of Mormon!  Sua on the other hand will read really quickly what we assigned him to read just before we come and so he doesn't get much out of it.  I hope the new sistas coming to Showground will be able to help him progress, he would be such a great member!! 

We said lots of goodbyes this week and were given lots of food!  Showground has taught me a lot, and although I would never wish to go through it again, I have learned many things- number 1, to trust the Lord more.  He is all-knowing and really does know what will stretch us and what will break us.  He stretched me pretty hard these past three months but not once did He leave me alone.  I am so thankful for my Savior and His constant love and support.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Thanksgiving in Vanuatu

Photo with a family in our area, the Rapdy Family
It's officially Christmas time!!!!  I keep trying to convince myself that it's almost December but my mind just won't click.  It's too hot and too humid for it to be Christmas time!

Zone Conference!
This week was a crazy week.  Tuesday and Wednesday was zone conference.  Our theme was "If love were the only reason. . . "  The training focused on love and charity towards others and companions.  I learned a lot and it was a good reminder of the things I need to improve on.  We played sports in the rain and ate at Hotel Santo and finished watching the new Christmas Mormon Message.  It was a wonderful two days.
Our Thanksgiving feast Vanuatu style!

Thursday was Sista Ouamambara's birthday.  She is now 24 years old!!  We were staying at the sista’s house in Sharpi because our house didn't have water.  We all made her a Thanksgiving dinner and chocolate cake to celebrate.  

Sista Ouamambara's birthday
We've continued to work with Papa Toa this week.  He is progressing so much.  He had his interview for baptism this past Sunday and he’s all set for baptism this coming Saturday.  The elders quorum has just welcomed him with open arms and he loves it.  As we were walking home from church yesterday he vocalized how thankful he is to have found this church where he feels like he is home.  Please keep him in your prayers this week so that everything works out for Saturday.  

We also had the chance to meet with Toa again AND his wife, Malaya.  We asked him if he had read The Book of Mormon.  He said he had been too busy, but that his wife had read a little.  I asked her what she had read and found out she had read 13 chapters!!!  I couldn't believe it!!  They are GOLDEN!!  

Sylvie is also doing really well.  She is reading every day inside The Book of Mormon.  She is in Mormon right now and even reads with her children sometimes.  It's slow, but she can see the change in herself and in her husband.  God really is working in the details of her life.  Watching Malaya and Sylvie progress because of their reading The Book of Mormon has taught me a lot and is just another testimony of how vital The Book of Mormon is to our spiritual growth.  If you're not reading it daily, DO IT!  I have no doubt that it is the word of God.

Transfers are this Saturday and we know that one of us will be out, so I'll let you know next week what happens!  I love you all and hope you have a wonderful week!

Zone Conference with Sister Granger

Our Thanksgiving feast!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Sua

Mama Suzanne and Papa Isaac and their daughter Tina at the Suva, Fiji Temple
This week we had exchanges!  I stayed in Showground with Sista Rivera.  She was able to show me a lot of her previous investigator’s homes (from when she served in my area) and we were able to visit them again.  Most were still not interested, but it is good to know where they live.  We also had the chance to teach Shila and Kalo together.  Our last lesson with them they voiced some concerns about coming to church because they weren't married and they felt guilty.  We shared with them the story of the woman found in adultery and Christ's response.  It really helped them, and they have made plans to get married the beginning of next year.  They are going to Pentacost (another island in Vanuatu) next month to clear up things with Shila's Dad.  

Papa Isaac and Mama Suzanne
This week it has rained almost every day and the roads are muddy!!!  It's a good thing we can wear flip flops here or Sista Ouamambare and I would be having issues haha!  We need the water though, so it is a blessing.  

I got to teach a lesson in English!!  We were out teaching with a member named Walter who is waiting for his mission call when it started pouring.  We ran to the closest shop we could find to get out of the rain.  While we were standing outside waiting for the rain to stop, the shop owner called us in.  We started talking to him and he said he was from Tuvalu and his name is Sua.  He speaks really good English and so we sat down right there on the floor of his shop and taught him about the restoration in English!  I'm not going to lie, it was a struggle.  I haven't taught in English at all since I taught Sabrina over four months ago.  We shared with him some verses in the Book of Mormon and then Walter bore his testimony in English as well.  It was a really neat experience and the spirit was strong. Sua seemed really interested.   We go back this week to teach him again, hopefully with his wife.

Here are a few pictures of Papa Issac and Mama Suzanne at the Fiji, Suva temple a few weeks ago.  Papa Issac is now our new branch president and is doing a wonderful job.

Sister O. and I are working hard to contact every house in our area.  To me it's a very difficult goal.  I don't mind talking to people, but I HATE going into a new yard where I don't know if there is a dog or not!  The dogs here come out of nowhere and try to bite any open skin!  It's terrifying!!  And they always go for me because I am white and don't look like their owner.  I used to kind of like dogs, but now I dislike them very much . . . at least the dogs here!  Contacting does, however, help us find new investigators, and I haven't been bitten yet.

Tomorrow and Wednesday is zone conference, and Thursday is Sista Ouamambara's birthday so I'll have lots to say next week. Until then I want to let you all know how much I love each of you and appreciate all your prayers in my behalf.  These last few months have been rocky, but I am receiving so much help.  Thank you!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Branj Preseden (New Branch President)

Shila and her two pikinini
So for all of you waiting to hear about Tina. . . She got to take her exams!!!!  She will be moving on to class 11 next year with everyone else in her class.  It's a miracle!  Because she decided to put the Lord first He helped her.  Papa Isaac also was called as our new branch president this week in Sacrament Meeting.  He got up and bore his testimony and let us all know that a lot of things are going to change and to be flexible and willing to work with him.  So, it will be interesting to see how our branch is going to change. 

Elsie was supposed to get baptized this week and everything was ready to go, but when we went back on Thursday she wouldn't even come out and talk to us.  Friday we finally had the chance to talk with her as she was washing clothes.  She didn't even look at us, and told us she was busy all this coming week and couldn't story . . . we still don't know what happened.  We think it might have been one of her uncles or someone in her yard that said something, or maybe her parents said no.  At this point we have no idea, but we are praying.  We will go back and visit her next week to see if she is more willing to talk. 

Sister Draper and Sister O.
We've continued to work with Papa Toa and he came to church on Sunday!  He didn't say much during the meetings, but afterwards he said that he learned a lot and really enjoyed the spirit during the meetings.  He's a 68 year old man and has worked his whole entire life to be able to have money to pay for food.  He is very humble and although he can barely read, he tries his best to study the booklets and The Book of Mormon we gave him.  

Monique before she leaves for Panama next Wednesday
I read a talk by David A. Bednar this past week that I really liked and just thought I'd share a few bits of it.  He talks about the story in the Bible about the Apostles being on a ship in a storm.  They wake the Savior asking, "Carest thou not that we perish?"  Jesus responds, " Oh thou of little faith."  I feel like many of us face moments like this where we feel that the Lord doesn't care about what we are going through, that He's sleeping while we are facing the storms of life.  But in reality, he is ALWAYS aware.  He knows the storms we face will make us stronger.  "Many of the lessons we are to learn in mortality can be received only through the things we experience and sometimes suffer.  God expects and trusts us to face mortal adversity with His help so that we can learn and ultimately become what we are to become in eternity."  Christ is going through our trials with us and is helping us every step of the way.  

Monday, November 7, 2016

Showground for dayzzzzzz


Sylvie and her children in front of their house.
Not a lot happened this week so this email will be short and sweet.

Elsie is set for baptism this week if all goes well. We also started teaching her bobo (grandpa) and he is very interested.  However, he's having a hard time accepting The Book of Mormon as the word of God because he can't read . . . we invited him to have Elsie read to him so that he can gain a testimony for himself.  We'll follow up on Wednesday to see if they did.

We continued working with Sylvie as she works towards baptism on the 26th.  Her husband is a strong head and doesn't want to story with us at all. She's scared to make any big jumps because she doesn't know how her husband will respond.  She's reading The Book of Mormon as well.  We invited her to share bits of what she is reading with her family and see if that opens any doors.  She is an amazing lady and this gospel could bless her five children and husband so much!

We also found a Mama and her three girls to teach this week: Dora, Christy, Lindy and Cindy and Tiana.  They were taught before over two years ago, but when they white washed the area, (take out the missionaries and replace them with two new ones) no one ever came back to teach them.  They don't remember much, so we are re-teaching them the lessons.


Well, I think that's it for this week!  Love you all.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Tina's Story

The plantation we walk through to get home.
This week was a good week.  We worked hard and did all we could to make the most of the week.  Elsie is continuing to progress.  She came to church again on Sunday and is on date to get baptized on November 12.  She's only 17 years old, but she has so much knowledge and such a huge desire to continue to change.  She loves The Book of Mormon and reads and reads it.  She especially loved church this week because of the Primary program put on by the Primary children.  They recited scriptures and quotes and sang lots of songs.  We don't have a microphone in our bush chapel so we couldn't hear most of it, but we loved the singing.  The children here are soooooooo cute!  I think I just might stick one in my suitcase to bring home! J

On Saturday, Mama Suzanne, Papa Isaac and Tina flew to Fiji to be sealed in the temple for time and all eternity!  Last week, when the flights were finalized, they realized they would be in Fiji the same time as Tina's final exams for school.  Papa Isaac tried talking to Tina's teachers, her principal, anyone he could think of to try and convince them to let Tina take the exams a week early or a week late.  None of them agreed. It was decided that if Tina went to Fiji to the temple, she would not be able to continue on to class 11 next year.  Papa Isaac and Mama Suzanne explained this to Tina. They told her that they trusted God and that when we put Him first in our lives, He will take care of everything else.  Through tears, Tina decided she would go to the temple and go through class 10 again next year.  Talk about faith!!  The people I know here in Vanuatu never fail to teach me!!  The sacrifices they make amaze me and build my faith too!

We also had the chance to teach Papa Joseph and Mama Alice again yesterday.  I love teaching them because they know so much about the Bible and they ask such intelligent questions- not super common for people in Vanuatu!  We taught them about the Plan of Salvation.  The spirit was helping us answer all his questions in a way that he could relate to them.  Even though Papa Joseph is a strong SDA (Seventh Day Adventist), he admitted many times throughout the lesson how much he has to learn and how much he wants to study more about our religion.  

I just want to send out a special THANK YOU to all of you who have been sending me emails of support.  Every word of encouragement helps get me through the hard parts of the week.  I love you all!  Make it a great week.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Conference Weekend

Amali Park in Showground
We finally had the chance to watch general conference over here in Santo!!  It would have been wonderful, I'm sure, if any of us had been able to understand it!  The translation quality into Bislama was awful and they didn't have it available in English.  Most of the people there were only able to understand four or five words of every talk!  However, we were able to get three new investigators to come!  I just hope they were able to feel the spirit just from being there.  Now I just have to wait for the Liahona magazine so that I can read and understand the talks myself!

Elsie is one of the investigators that we were able to get to church.  She is 17 years old and a Seventh Day Adventist, but hasn't been to that church in a long time.  We taught her about faith the other day.  She told us about an experience she had last year just three months before the school year finished.  Her Mom called her and told her they didn't have money to pay for her school fees.  She would have to not attend school for the next three months, and then take the test at the end of the year and hope she passed.  Elsie said she prayed and studied and prayed and studied, and at the end of the three months she was able to take the test and pass.  She said it took a lot of faith and trust in God, but she knows that God helped her and He is the reason she passed her final.  She is incredible and loves to invite her friends to story with us as well.
Sunset on the beach
Elsie has been a highlight because we got a call from Mama Veronica and Lilly this past week saying that they didn't have time to story with us for the next month.  We're not exactly sure what happened, but I think the pastor from their church must have talked to them.  We are keeping them in our prayers and trusting that God will eventually help them find a way to join the church.  They are wonderful mamas and we will miss teaching them. 

Eta was also set for baptism this week, but her uncle (who she is living with at the moment) wouldn't allow it.  She will move back to Malekula (another island is Vanuatu) the beginning of next month.  There she will be baptized.  Her parents and other siblings are all getting baptized this coming week.  We are thankful that even though she couldn't be baptized this week she will be able to move back to Malekula and be with her family.  They will all be able to grow together.

I love this gospel, and I love teaching it to others.  It's amazing to see how just sharing a little bit of the truth with others can change their lives; it really makes everything else worth it.  I love you all and hope you have a great week!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Electricity is coming to Showground!

Lorina with Sister O.
The big news bouncing around Showground is that electricity is
coming!!  There have been a few men spray painting the dirt to
indicate where power lines will eventually be.  Everyone is super
excited to hear that they will have a reliable source of power and not
have to rely on solar any longer.  They say the power lines will be
installed within the next two or three months.

We have continued to teach Lilly and Veronica this week.  I love,
love, love teaching Mama Veronica!!  She is just an amazing lady and
teaching her is always a highlight of our day.  She is Leann's aunt
which is super convenient because Leann was baptized while I was
serving in Banban.  Veronica recognizes that her church has a few
things that aren't right.  She reads The Book of Mormon and could
talk for hours about what she learns from it.  Lilly is progressing as
well, but she isn't quite as excited about keeping the commitments as
Veronica is.  She does have a lot of good insights though.  We set a
baptismal date for them on the 29th of October, so we will be working
and praying for them like crazy!

Lorina is progressing as well.  It has been a little difficult because she
is living on her sister's land and her sister is a SDA
(Seventh Day Adventist).  This makes her nervous to commit to baptism.
However, she is a cousin of Mama Veronica, and so we think that getting
them to progress and have lessons together will help a lot.  It will
give her the confidence and support that she needs.

Mama Linda has decided to stay in Banban!!  I was so excited to hear
that she was staying.  We need all the strong members that we can get
and so this was wonderful news.  She will do a lot of good for our
branch.  I just hope and pray that Pauline and Jackson will continue
to go to church back in Ohlen now that Jackson's mom is here in
Banban.

Thank you for all the prayers in my behalf.  They mean so much to me
and help me so very much.  I love you all and hope you all have a
wonderful week!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Grace

We had a pretty normal week this past week.  We did a lot of finding, walking and teaching.  We continue to find, but are really struggling to find people who are really committed to changing their lives.  We planned on having  investigators at church on Sunday and visited them all on Sunday to remind them to come, and not one came!!  Sundays like that are always rough!  But we continue to work because we don't believe in giving up over here.

In Relief Society on Sunday, we were discussing the General Women's Meeting.  We talked about Sister Carole M. Stephen's talk.  Here is a short bit from her talk that I want to share:  

I have recently become acquainted with a remarkable young woman named Josie who suffers from bipolar disorder. Here is just a little of her journey toward healing as she shared it with me:

“The worst of the darkness occurs on what my family and I have deemed ‘floor days.’ It begins with sensory overload and acute sensitivity and resistance to any type of sound, touch, or light. It is the apex of mental anguish. There is one day in particular that I will never forget.

“It was early in the journey, making the experience especially frightening. I can remember sobbing, tears racing down my face as I gasped for air. But even such intense suffering paled in comparison to the pain that followed as I observed panic overwhelm my mother, so desperate to help me.

“With my broken mind came her broken heart. But little did we know that despite the deepening darkness, we were just moments away from experiencing a mighty miracle.

“As a long hour continued, my mom whispered over and over and over again, ‘I would do anything to take this from you.’

“Meanwhile, the darkness intensified, and when I was convinced I could take no more, just then something marvelous occurred.

“A transcendent and wonderful power suddenly overtook my body. Then, with a ‘strength beyond my own,’ I declared to my mom with great conviction seven life-changing words in response to her repeated desire to bear my pain. I said, ‘You don’t have to; Someone already has.’”

From the dark abyss of debilitating mental illness, Josie summoned the strength to testify of Jesus Christ and of His Atonement.

She was not healed completely that day, but she received the light of hope in a time of intense darkness. And today, supported by a bedrock understanding of the doctrine of Christ and refreshed daily by the Savior’s living water, Josie continues on her journey toward healing and exercises unshakable faith in the Master Healer. She helps others along the way. And she says, “When the darkness feels unremitting, I rely on the memory of His tender mercies. They serve as a guiding light as I navigate through hard times.”

I have been studying about the Atonement for quite some time and this really touched my heart.  Jesus Christ is real.  He lives.  He will help us through everything and anything we face in this life.  He will NEVER, EVER leave us alone.

I also want to share another clip from Elder Donald L. Hallstrom's talk "I am a Child of God" that I read this past week:

On a very hot and humid Sunday morning, we traveled to a rented meeting facility in the center of the city. Every available chair was set up, totaling 3,500 seats. The final count of attendees was 4,100. Almost all who came had to travel by foot or some form of inconvenient public transportation; it was not easy for the Saints to gather. But they came. Most arrived several hours before the appointed meeting time. As we entered the hall, the spiritual atmosphere was electric! The Saints were prepared to be taught.
When a speaker quoted a scripture, the members would say the verse aloud. It did not matter—short scripture or long; the entire congregation responded in unison. Now, we do not necessarily recommend this, but it was certainly impressive that they could do it. And the choir—they were powerful. With an enthusiastic choir director and a 14-year-old young man at the keyboard, the members sang with vigor and strength.

Then Elder David A. Bednar spoke. This, of course, was the anticipated highlight of the gathering—to hear an Apostle teach and testify. Clearly with spiritual direction, partway through his remarks, Elder Bednar stopped and said, “Do you know ‘How Firm a Foundation’?”

It seemed that 4,100 voices roared in response, “YES!”

He then asked, “Do you know verse 7?”

Again the entire group answered, “YES!”

The arrangement of the mighty hymn “How Firm a Foundation” sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for the last 10 years has included verse 7, which was not sung much previously. Elder Bednar instructed, “Let’s sing verses 1, 2, 3, and 7.”

Without hesitation, the choir director jumped up and the Aaronic Priesthood–bearing accompanist immediately began to energetically play the introductory chords. With a level of conviction I have never felt before in a congregational hymn, we sang verses 1, 2, and 3. Then the volume and spiritual power was elevated when 4,100 voices sang the seventh verse and declared:

The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, I’ll never, no never,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!

In one of the most remarkable spiritual events of my life, I was taught a profound lesson that day. We live in a world that can cause us to forget who we really are. The more distractions that surround us, the easier it is to treat casually, then ignore, and then forget our connection with God. The Saints in Liberia have little materially, and yet they seem to have everything spiritually. What we witnessed that day in Monrovia was a group of sons and daughters of God who knew it!

In today’s world, no matter where we live and no matter what our circumstances are, it is essential that our preeminent identity is as a child of God. Knowing that will allow our faith to flourish, will motivate our continual repentance, and will provide the strength to “be steadfast and immovable” throughout our mortal journey. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


These two talks have lifted me and carried me this week.  I know that this gospel is true.  I know it.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Miracles


After the Primary Sacrament Meeting program in our branch
This week started off with special training from the mission president and the assistants on Tuesday, taking place of district meeting.  The training focused on finding and baptizing.  Our goal for the month of October is to have 50 baptisms in our zone.  It's going to be a miracle if we are able to do it.  Sista Ouamambare and I have been finding and finding and finding!!  We found ten more new investigators this week and reached almost all of our goals for the week.  Miracles are happening every day here!!  This past week we made a goal to teach a certain amount of lessons.  It was the last day and we were 7 lessons away from our goal.  I thought that there would be no way we could reach it, but as we prayed together in the morning we asked for help and a miracle.  We were able to teach exactly 7 lessons that day!  We went home so tired and so happy.  God will keep his end of the deal when we do all that we can do.  I know it.

We continued to work with Shila and Kalo this week.  We had a wonderful lesson with Mama Suzanne as a member present.  It was perfect because she was Protestant before, as was Papa Kalo.  We taught them the Plan of Salvation and Papa Kalo just kept telling us over and over again how it all just makes sense.  He says other churches just leave out half the plan or leave out important parts.  Mama Suzanne was just the person we needed to have teach with us.  Strong members are such a blessing and we are so blessed to have a few very strong members in our area.  

As we were walking to church on Sunday I was praying to be able to have a miracle come to church.  On Saturday we had called or visited most of our investigators inviting them to church.  Although none of them came, Sabrina did come.  She hasn't been to church in over a month and so I texted her on Saturday inviting her to come too . . . and she did!  We talked and she told me that she had "failed" and didn't feel like she could come back to church.  Mama Joyce acted on a prompting and called Sabrina.  She talked to her and explained repentance again.  She repented and she even received a calling to be Relief Society Secretary!  I was so happy to see her again.  She was the miracle I was praying for.

Sunday night we also got to watch the general women's meeting at the Banban chapel.  Only a few of us were there, but sitting there in our natangura chapel watching conference in Bislama on a little computer screen was such a neat experience.  The spirit was so strong.  I felt like one of the main focuses of the meeting was faith and constantly working to increase it.  The talks were fantastic.  

Well, I think that's it for this week.  I love you all and I love this work.  The church is true!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Finding a Gold Mine!

Our district activity last Monday in Fanafol
So I'll start all the way back at last Monday!  Right after emailing I went with my district of 14 to Fanafol (a small village about an hour away) to go on a hike for a district activity.  Sista Manly, Rivera and I had previously been on the hike and were able to get us to the destination, a cave, within an hour. We then had the chance to play volleyball and play with the pikinini for a few hours before we had to head back so that we could be back at home before dark.  A few of the missionaries thought we should take another route back because we were running out of time and so we decided to follow them. . . even though they had never been to Fanafol before. . . we ended up getting lost and walking through the bush until we came to a water pipe.  We were able to follow the water pipe to a small village and the people there were able to direct us back to where our bus was waiting.  It was a miracle that we found the pipe and were able to get home before dark!  God was watching over us for sure!

We had exchanges this week and I was able to work with Sista Rivera in my old area, Second Canal.  It was really fun to see my old investigators and friends there.  Sista Rivera is a great sista and never fails to teach me something.  
Zone training with all the trainers and trainees
The rest of the week Sista Ouamambare and I spent working hard in the area.  We were able to find and teach 14 new investigators!  This week we are hoping to find 20.  Our area is full of people, but they haven't been reached out to.  Another major problem we are finding with our area is that it is an hour’s walk from the church.  This means people have to sacrifice either financially to pay for a taxi to go and come with money that they don't have, or walk an hour to church and another hour back.  We've talked with the branch about this problem and they have stressed the importance of helping our investigators realize that they need to sacrifice some things in order to gain other things of more importance.  All the members in Showground are solid and I really believe it is because they sacrifice so much to be part of this church.  On that note, yesterday in church the topic was sacrifice.  We had three wonderful talks about sacrifice.  One was given by Sista Terahati (the district president's wife), another by Mama Jocelin and another by one papa.  They all had amazing stories they shared and I learned so much.  We have so, so much and are so blessed, yet sometimes we fail to recognize our blessings.  I am going to work on recognizing them and thanking my Heavenly Father more often!

This morning I was reading in Alma chapter 8.  This is when Alma tries to teach, but the people reject him.  He prays and even "wrestles" with the Lord to soften the hearts of the people so that he can "baptize them unto repentance," but their hearts are strong and he seems to get nowhere.  He leaves the city but an angel appears to him, comforting him and then telling him to go back and teach again.  Alma immediately turns around and goes in by another way to teach once more.  He finds Amulek and is successful in teaching the people.  This morning the part about "entering in by another way" jumped out to me.  Sometimes we try the same tactics over and over again and pray that they will work.  We need to ask God for His point of view and then try it His way.  That's when miracles happen.  This applies to missionary work, personal issues and many other things.  We need to TRUST the Lord and His timing.  His thoughts truly are higher than our thoughts!  I hope you all have a wonderful week! 
Giant spiders of Vanuatu

Monday, September 19, 2016

Showground!

Me, Ruth (She served a mission in Boise, Idaho) and her little girl
Right after I emailed last week, Sista Jeppson and Ouamambare and I headed out to Banban for a branch family house night to celebrate the work of Sista Jeppson, Sista Rivera and Elda Tuavao in the branch as missionaries.  President Tarihati gave a small lesson about all that our Heavenly Father has given to help us as we go on in our lives to do new, challenging things.  Afterwards all three missionaries had the chance to bear their testimonies.  It was very sweet.  Those three missionaries are each incredible and have done so much during their few months in the Banban branch, and will continue to do great things in their new areas.  We finished off the night with Vanuatu Kakae (food), baby powder, and lots of mamas crying. 
Sista Jeppson and Elda Tuavao
On Tuesday Sista Ouamambare woke up and was feeling super sick.  She said her heart kept beating like: boom, boom, BANG and after the bang she felt super sick and tired.  We called the mission nurse, but there are no doctors here in Santo for the next two weeks so she told Sista Ouamambare to just rest.  Sista Ouamambare slept for almost two days straight!!  I was super concerned and so was the mission nurse, but we didn't really have a choice but to just let her sleep.  She is slowly getting better and her heart isn't banging quite as much.  Hopefully by the time the doctor gets here we won't have any problems.  Please keep her in your prayers.
Mama Roda, Sista Jeppson and Julio

During the small time that we had to work this week we contacted the small family of Papa Kalo and Mama Shila.  We contacted mama during the day and she said she'd love to have us come over on Saturday because that's when the Jehovah's Witnesses come over as well.  We agreed!  The lesson went wonderfully and the spirit was so strong!  Papa Kalo is just like Papa Shem and is even a captain of his own ship!  We go back on Thursday so I will let you know how things progress.

We tried to visit Anna and Rudh this week but Anna was very sick.  So we'll swing by tomorrow to see if she is doing any better. 

Exciting news!!  Our branch was finally given a time to go to the Suva. Fiji temple in November of this year!!  All the members are getting ready to go and a lot have noticed many challenges coming into their lives, but they don't let that hold them back. These people teach me so much about faith.  They don't let anything get in the way of what they believe.  Their sights are set.  I love what I am doing and I love you all and hope you have another wonderful week!
Suva. Fiji Temple

Monday, September 12, 2016

A.J.

I hope you all had a great week!  This week was a pretty normal week, so this email will be short and sweet:)  

We had the chance to teach A.J. again, but unfortunately not Rudh.  A.J. expressed that she had a lot of concerns and the opposition she has been facing from her family and friends since she started taking the lessons and going to church.  She asked us why all this was happening when she is doing what she feels is right.  Sista Jeppson bore a powerful testimony of the power of God and that when the devil sees we are trying to become better, he hits hard.  He doesn't want us to be happy, he wants us to be miserable just like him.  We then read Joseph Smith History:

"I soon found … that my telling the story had excited a great deal of prejudice against me among professors of religion, and was the cause of great persecution, which continued to increase; and though I was an obscure boy, only between fourteen and fifteen years of age, and my circumstances in life such as to make a boy of no consequence in the world, yet men of high standing would take notice sufficient to excite the public mind against me, and create a bitter persecution; and this was common among all the sects—all united to persecute me.

It caused me serious reflection then, and often has since, how very strange it was that an obscure boy, of a little over fourteen years of age, and one, too, who was doomed to the necessity of obtaining a scanty maintenance by his daily labor, should be thought a character of sufficient importance to attract the attention of the great ones of the most popular sects of the day, and in a manner to create in them a spirit of the most bitter persecution and reviling. But strange or not, so it was, and it was often the cause of great sorrow to myself.

However, it was nevertheless a fact that I had beheld a vision. I have thought since, that I felt much like Paul, when he made his defense before King Agrippa, and related the account of the vision he had when he saw a light, and heard a voice; but still there were but few who believed him; some said he was dishonest, others said he was mad; and he was ridiculed and reviled. But all this did not destroy the reality of his vision. He had seen a vision, he knew he had, and all the persecution under heaven could not make it otherwise; and though they should persecute him unto death, yet he knew, and would know to his latest breath, that he had both seen a light and heard a voice speaking unto him, and all the world could not make him think or believe otherwise.
I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it."

It was a powerful lesson and we continue to work and pray for her.  She has the potential to do so much good!

Well, that's it!  We did a lot of contacting and found a few new people and will continue to do so!  My time is up! Love you all.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Showground Week 1

Zone Conference
 This week was full of contacting and getting to know my area.  We contacted a bunch of people and at the moment have six new investigators and a bunch of potential.  Two of our golden finds were Anna and Rudh.  Anna is 19 years old and Rudh is 21.  They live in Vila right behind the chapel at “Numba tu.”  They've watched all the people going to and from church for years but have never gone over themselves because they were scared.  They both came to church on Sunday and loved it!  The young women welcomed them with open arms as did the leaders.  We asked how class was after church and they said it was "lovely."  We then asked what the topic was and they said sexual purity.  So I'm glad they thought it was lovely and learned a lot! J  They're fantastic and are so interested in learning more and more.  I'll keep you updated on them for sure! 
A giant spider in our house!


Other than that, the area of Showground is very, very big and we walk soooooo much.  My skin is nice and red because of it, but it is wonderful and the people here are the best.  I wouldn't mind staying in this area until the end of my mission.  My companions are fantastic and we laugh so much together.  Sista Jeppson teaches me a lot every single day.  She is a master teacher and when she bears her testimony you have no doubt at all that she is 100% certain that what she is teaching is true.  Sista O. is slowly improving in Bislama, but is very timid and so we've continued to work with her.  She is so helpful and sweet and studies, studies, studies!  She wants to improve soooo much and I really admire that.

Well, that's all that I have for this week. . . I love you all and hope you make it a great week!
Sister O. and me

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Back to the Bush!


So this week I got to meet my pikinini, Sista Ouamameare!  She flew in on Friday afternoon and is from New Caledonia.  She’s an absolute doll!!  She is 23 years old and just joined the church two years ago.  She is the only member of her family who has joined the church.   She has grown up Catholic.  She wants to work, work, work, and I just LOVE it!!  We moved into Showground (the name of my new area) with Sista Jeppson Friday night and stayed up late cleaning out the house.  I thought Banban was bad when I moved in, but this didn't even compare!  I've seen at least four super fat rats since I've been here.  I found a centipede in my running shoes yesterday morning. . .
I think I might die in Showground!  Sista Jeppson has had lots and lots of fun "chicking" me about rats.  One night I was lying in my bed ready to sleep, and as she was walking to her bed she stopped and looked under my bed.  Then she stood back up talking sweetly to a creature under my bed, "You better get out before Sista Draper sees you.  She doesn't like rats."  I jumped up on my bed and started screaming, "Kill it!! Kill it!!" and she just died laughing.  I didn't think it was too funny but Sistas O. and Jeppson sure did!

My first full day with my two new companions in my new area fell on my birthday!  Wahoo!!  I'm now officially NOT a teenager! J  We went and visited a bunch of investigators as well as a few less actives.  After teaching them we all decided the next two weeks will be dedicated to contacting every single house in our area.  Showground hardly ever baptizes, and we think one of the main reasons is because they have just been recycling investigators for years and years.  Finding is what we really need to focus on.  Showground is fantastic though!  I feel like I'm back in Banban and in the bush again!  The members are soooo solid and love working with the missionaries. So I am very excited to be here.  I also have loved being back in the Banban branch seeing the people I taught and baptized.  Thomas and Rosline are getting married and baptized this week!!  It makes me so happy to see the work continuing to go forward even after I transferred out.

That night a bunch of the sistas took me to dinner and made a cake to celebrate my birthday.  It was super sweet and thoughtful.  Thank you for all your sweet emails, letters and/or packages to make my 20th birthday special!

Zone conference was Monday and Tuesday (that's why I'm emailing today).  We focused a lot on the mission map and the five steps to becoming a mission of miracles.  It was a lot of reviewing what we learned at MLC, but I still feel like I learned quite a bit and have a lot to apply and improve on.  We also played sports together and had a flour war which was pretty fun!

One quote has been on my mind a lot this week:  "Sometimes we have to fall down lower than we've ever been in order to stand up taller than we ever were."  Whenever we face hard times remember to FROG
F-forever
R-rely
O-on 
G-God

He's the only one who is there for us constantly!  We just have to open the door to Him.  I love you all, have a great week!

Monday, August 22, 2016

District Conference and another transfer

All the Branch Presidents from the islands of Santo, Ombae and Gaua
 This week felt super long and I don't even know why, we were busy all week!  On Tuesday night we got a phone call from the zone leaders informing us of an emergency transfer.  I will be leaving Sista Manatau and will be going to Showground (in Santo—same island) and training a new sista from New Caledonia as well as be in a trio with Sista Jeppson from the U.S.A.  I'm  super excited to go to Showground because that means I am back in the Banban branch!!  I get to see all my investigators and recent converts again!!  I had a lot of mixed emotions, but I think it will be good.  I will miss Sista Manatau like crazy!!  She is so much fun, and has taught me so much in the three short weeks we have been together.  It's a good thing we're still on the same island and that we live so close to each other back at home in Utah.  We will for sure be lifelong friends!

Saturday and Sunday of this week was district conference.  We spent the majority of the week hunting down less-active members and inviting them to come to the conference.  We started by showing them the Mormon Message "Because He Lives" and then bearing our testimonies of Christ.  Saturday night a few people came, but on Sunday morning there wasn't enough room in the church to hold everyone!!  We had two less-active families show up:  Charity and Anaple (a family that Elder  Matthew Thurbur, my Dad’s cousin, taught while in one of his first areas) and Mama Salaine and Papa David as well as another Sista, Marilyn.  I couldn't stop smiling the whole conference because I was so happy that they all came.  Papa Anaple even came up to me and said that he hasn't come to church for months and months but that today was a new day and he wasn't going to miss another one.  We'll continue to work with them and help them so they can reach that goal.  Ugh!  I'm really sad to be leaving Second Canal!  I've only been here for three weeks, but I already love the people and consider them family.  While we were at conference they reorganized the District Presidency.  President Tarahati is the new District President!!  The former Banban branch president!  I was super happy because he is one of the most humble people I know and will do a great job.  Now we just have to wait and see who will be our new branch president in Banban.
Anaple, Me, and Charity at District Conference
We taught Zino the Plan of Salvation this week and he read the majority of the book of Alma in the Book of Mormon.  During the lesson he was bringing up part of his reading such as Alma chapter 40 while we discussed the spirit world.  He is so interested and knowledgeable.  However, he never showed up to church on Sunday.  We had members go to pick him up.  We also called and texted him, but he never replied.  I hope he didn't move or something!!  We'll try to track him down tomorrow and see what happened to him. 

We found one new investigator this week that has been waiting for the fullness of truth in her life.  Her name is Mary Klode.  She is in her 40s and has heard about the church from a previous neighbor, but has never been taught by the missionaries.  We taught her yesterday, along with her two little boys.  They are so sweet and are so prepared to be taught the gospel. 


Well, that's about it for this week.  I hope you all have a great week!
Visiting Mama Angela at the hospital