Monday, January 25, 2016

Finding and Teaching

Sista Sellesin in our area
This week started off with family house night over at Mama Vero's.  She's the Relief Society president and so it was good to spend the time talking with her and her daughter.  They both are converts to the church and both have been married and later abandoned by their husbands.  They are incredible women who have been through a lot, and know where to turn when things get tough.  One thing we talked about was visiting teaching.  From what it sounds like, Mama Vero has been taking it upon herself to visit every sista in the ward every month and share a message with them. .  . so I explained how visiting teaching is supposed to work and she seemed to really like the idea of pairing sistas up and giving each pair two or three sistas to visit.  We plan on talking to the Bishop at ward council this Wednesday and setting up visiting teaching assignments.  I'll let you know how it goes.  Visiting teaching and home teaching do so much for members and especially recent converts.  I hope that once we get this started it will help with our mission goal to get the members more involved in missionary work and fellowshipping. 

Sista Sellesin and I have been working hard to find new investigators this week.  We made a plan to dedicate Wednesday to just finding new people.  We decided we wouldn’t go back home until we had either handed out 4 Buk Blong Mormons (copies of the Book of Mormon) or 20 pass-along cards.  We prayed to know what to do and decided to stand on a street corner and just talk with everyone.  Dad would be proud to know we handed out all 20 pass-along cards and set up 5 appointments, 3 of which we visited on Saturday and gave them the first discussion!!  All 3 are Papas too!  Their names are Peter, Eric and Freddy.  Eric has one small girl and a wife and said that he wants to know what all the people in yellow shirts teach (Helping Hands service after Cyclone Pam).  He was very interested and said he would come to church on Sunday. . . he didn't, but we'll keep on trying.  Freddy asked us specifically to help him and “his woman” as they prepare to get married later this year.  It was actually super fun and Sista Sellesin and I made a goal to devote one hour every week just to finding.  Maybe next week we'll try dancing and holding signs to get people's attention!
Family House Night with little Sariah
Friday we had the “leavers dinner” (those leaving after completing their full-time missions) at the mission home.  Elda Tempany, Elda Card, Elda Tupo and Sista Povori are all going home this week and it makes me soooo sad!!  I love all of them and the mission is going to miss them heaps!  Leaver's dinners are always a neat experience because all the missionaries going home get to share their testimony and any scriptures that have impacted them while serving their missions.  I love to learn from the scriptures they share and apply it to my mission right now.    

I had a neat experience at church yesterday.  At the beginning of the program, the bishop asked a married couple who had just returned from going to the temple in Fiji to share their experience.  Both the Mama and the Papa came up and bore powerful testimony of the importance of the temple and the ordinances that take place inside its walls.  The papa ended by inviting EVERYONE to make it a goal to go to the temple.  He said that no matter the sacrifice, it is worth it, and the Lord will provide a way.  It just made me so thankful for the chance that I have to live so close to so many temples in Utah.  I never realized how blessed I was to be able to go so often until I came here and have to go for 18 months without attending the temple.  For those of you back at home, GO TO THE TEMPLE!!   If you don't have a recommend, get one!!  Just like the papa said, the sacrifice is worth it.  My love for the temple continues to grow as I learn more and more about it.  We are so very blessed!

Sonia is scheduled for baptism on the 6th of February and we were able to help her mom with a few issues as well this week.  It taught me a lesson on really helping and knowing my investigators better.  They are children of God, not just a number and we have been sent to help them and improve their lives through the gospel.  The gospel makes EVERYTHING better!!

I hope you all have a great week and enjoy the cold!  I love you all.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Washing Clothes and Baby Girls!

District Meeting: Elda Muala, Vinluan, Allen, Welegtabit Sista Povori, Jimmy , Monu, Sellesin and me
This week started off with an exchange with the sistas in Malapoa.  I got to spend 24 hours with Sista Oreamatang.  She is from Kiribati and is quite the character haha!  I really enjoyed my time with her.  She told me lots and lots of stories while we were out walking to and from appointments.  She even told me about the first time she used a fast food drive-through. She was picked up from the airport by a lady who took her to the New Zealand MTC.  The lady asked if she was hungry and Sista Oreamatang said yes, so they went to get fast food on the way there.  When Sista Oreamatang was told to talk to the computer she was super confused and she said it scared her to death when the computer started talking to her haha!  I could not believe that she is 21 years old and had never used a fast food drive-through before.  It blew my mind!  She also told me about how excited her family was when they found out that their island of Kiribati was going to have a paved road put in around the perimeter of the island . . . life is so different depending on where you are in the world!
Washing clothes by hand
On Thursday, the sistas of Erakor Lagoon and Etas came over and we provided service for one of the less active members in my ward.  Her name is Mary and she is 23 and has a little boy and no husband.  She literally lives in a small tin house with four walls and a mat inside to sleep on.  We helped her wash clothes by hand, make simboro (It’s made with a grated starch, like cassava, sweet potato, or yam, wrapped in “island cabbage,” then simmered in coconut milk), sort through a garbage pile and last, but not least, clean out the toilet pit:)  It took 2 hours but with the help of 7 sistas we finished the job and Mary couldn't have been happier.  I gained a greater appreciation for washing machines and sewage systems though.  Never take those for granted people!  

We had the chance to help Mama Ruth fill out her "My Family" booklet this week as she prepares her family to go to the temple in June.  It's hard work because the people in Vanuatu generally don't know their own birthdays, let alone their parents’ or grandparents’ birthdays.  With a lot of asking around, we were able to find out Mama Ruth’s parents’ and grandparents’ birthdays.  She is so excited to go and receive her own endowment as well as do work for her family.  I realized how blessed I am to have journals and a family tree already online to use.  Family history really is important and we can learn a lot from it.  

We have been working quite a bit with small Enet's family this past week. Her parents want her to be baptized, but they don't have the desire to take her to church.  So instead she comes with her neighbor, Mama Solomon.  It's wonderful that she is coming to church but Sista Sellesin feels that it is crucial that her parents come to church with her and support her after she is baptized.  Enet is only 8 years old and NEEDS family support, not just neighbor support.  Her papa is a returned missionary and her mother is a member but they are both currently less-active.  Please keep them in your prayers as we try again this week to work with them and help them see how important the entire family is in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Sonya is progressing as well and was actually interviewed for baptism this past Saturday; however, she didn't come to church yesterday.  Her father is very much against her being baptized which makes it extremely hard for her, even with the support of her grandparents and other family members.  Her mama would also be taking the discussions as well, but her papa won't allow it.  Satan is working so hard to stop the work of God.  Please keep them in your prayers!  What keeps me going is the knowledge that we are on God's team, aka the WINNING team, and He will not forsake us as long as we are doing our part.  

Pauline's new baby daughter.
On Saturday, Sista Sellesin and I got the news that Pauline had had her baby!!!  We went right up to visit her and her new baby girl.  She doesn't have a name yet but is absolutely darling!!!  Oh my goodness!!  I didn't want to leave!!  Pauline is doing well and so is the baby.  The custom here in Vanuatu is for the baby and mama to stay in the house for one whole month after the baby is born.  They can't go anywhere!!  Pauline says she is already about to go crazy and it hasn't even been a week haha!  So after this month is up, we can move forward with the wedding and baptism.

This week has been deathly hot almost every day.  Sometimes I go outside to walk to our area and I just want to sit down and cry because it is so hot and humid and I just can't cool down my body no matter what I do.  Skin cancer is inevitable!  I'm dying.  Slowly.  Haha actually I just feel like the wicked witch in "The Wizard of Oz"  when she says, "I'm melting,  I'm melting, I'm meltingggggg!"  Just enjoy the cold for me!  Well that's it for this week!  I love you all!  Thanks for all your prayers and thoughts.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Cyclone Season is Here!

Baptism of Netty and Joyline with Mama Ruth and little Lin, me and Sista Sellesin
I guess I'll start off my email this week with the best news:  Mama Netty and Joyline were baptized on Saturday!!  Joyline is the last of the Peter and Ruth family to be baptized because she has been away at school in Tanna. That means in just a year they can all go to the temple and be sealed together for time AND all eternity!!  We just helped create an eternal family!  Wahoo! Netty has been taking the missionary discussions for a long, long time but hasn't been able to get baptized because she has been living with "her man" (who is also father of her two children).  He was extremely abusive- physically and verbally.  She finally was able to move away and get a place of her own and is now living worthy of baptism.  She couldn't stop telling us thank you on Saturday, but really we didn't do anything, it was all the spirit and her.  Saturday was a fantastic day!  
Out and about teaching and playing with pikinini
This week started out with an exchange with the sistas in Etaz (Sista Pavori, Monu and Jimmy).  There has been a little bit of tension between them and me, but we were able to clear things up when we opened the exchange and now I think we all have a lot more respect for each other.  It's amazing how fast you can clear up a problem when you rely on the spirit to help you.  I was able to spend the day with Sista Pavori.  She is from Papa New Guinea and is going home in just 2 weeks.  I learned A TON from my 24 hours with her.  She loves the people with all her heart and it shows in the way she teaches and talks with our investigators and members.  I need to work on that!  She also taught me a few different ways to teach different principles.  All in all, I really enjoyed my time with her.  
Our area after a rain storm . . . we made it across dry cause we know how it's done!
I should let you all know right off the bat how amazing my companion is!  Sista Sellesin, from Western Samoa, has been in a lot of pain lately because of her feet.  The second day she was here she started to get blisters all along the pads of her feet.  We think it's because of how hot it is right now and her feet just aren't used to it.  Now her feet are completely covered in blisters.  We talked with the mission nurse and because the blisters are on the bottom of Sista Sellesin's feet and we wear sandals and walk through mud, dirt, trash and the bush all day long, it wouldn't be a smart idea to pop the blisters.  So she just has to deal with them until they toughen up.  I can tell when we walk how much pain she is in, but she never complains!  I could go tell her we needed to walk to the other end of the island to visit an investigator and she would do it, even if it killed her!  She is amazing and such a hard worker who is devoted to the Lord's work.  Heavenly Father sent me a companion who can teach me a lot!

On Saturday, just before our baptism, we got a text from the APs saying that Cyclone Ula was heading towards Vanuatu and New Caledonia and there was a small chance it could hit us.  For those of you who don't know, cyclone season here in Vanuatu lasts from January to March.  Sista Tate told me that they got a lot of cyclone warnings and she was right!  Ever since that text our phone has been going off every few hours with an update or another warning.  I'm not worried (haha in fact I kinda want to experience one) because Sista Granger (the mission president’s wife) is the emergency preparedness queen.  She is ready for anything!  So we will be safe and sound as long as she's around!
Well that's my week!  I love you all so much! I'll leave you with a quote this week that is found in "Preach My Gospel" page 13.

"What does the Atonement have to do with missionary work?  Any time we experience the blessings of the Atonement in our lives, we cannot help but have a concern for the welfare of others. . . A great indicator of one's personal conversion is the desire to share the gospel with others." 

So, how converted are you? I invite you all to make a goal this year to make an effort to understand the Atonement better and then share what you know with others.  Share that joy and peace that can only come through the atonement of Jesus Christ.  It WILL bless your life and the life of those you share it with!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Happy New Year 2016

Pinch me!  This place can't be real!  This is where I live!!
Happy New Year Everyone!!!! I am so excited for this year and to work towards all the goals I have made!  2016 is going to be AWESOME!

On Monday night, Sista Tagini and I were getting ready to go to bed when the Zone Leaders called.  They told us that they had big news.  EMERGENCY TRANSFER!!  Sista Tagini was transferred to the Freshwota area, which is right next to the Ohlen area and I am staying in Ohlen and will be training a brand new sista, fresh from the New Zealand MTC and I will remain the STL (sister training leader). Needless to say, I didn't sleep very well that night! 

My new companion came on Wednesday night.  Her name is Sista Esther Sellesin and is from Samoa.  I love her to death already and we get along great!  Island companions are the best:)  She is 19 years old, the second of 8 kids and the first in her family to go on a mission.  She is such a hard worker and super tough and has a rock solid testimony.  I couldn't be happier to work with her.  Training her is going pretty well, even though most of the time I feel like she is training me, just like in D&C 50:22 "Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together.” Bislama is hard to teach but she is starting to pick it up.   Now that I don't have Sista Tagini to speak and lead the discussions, I have to do it.  I am forced to speak when we teach and find.  My Bislama has rocked this week!  God is blessing me to be able to teach and our investigators with the ability to understand me.  Miracles happen!  
Sisters Draper and Sellesin

Earlier in the week, Sista Tagini and I did an exchange with the sistas in Beverly Hills.  I got to work with Sista Lemas who is from Belize.  She made me burritos for dinner after we worked in the area and that was probably the highlight of my week haha!  Mexican food is soooo good and they don't have it anywhere here.  She just arrived in Vanuatu a week ago, so it was good to talk with her about adjusting to life on the island.  I can relate because I was just there and know how hard it can be.  Her English is incredible and she will do some amazing things for this mission.

New Year’s Eve was pretty exciting over here in Vanuatu.  We had to be inside our flats by dark (6 p.m.).  Then around 8:00 p.m. I started to understand why!  Drunk people were everywhere and although we didn't see what was going on outside, we could sure hear it!  Around 9:30 p.m. we got a surprise visit from the Mission President, his wife and all the office eldas.  They brought us cookies and glow sticks to help us celebrate!  At midnight, the whole place exploded!  Fireworks were everywhere and people were screaming and yelling and music was blasting!  It was insane!!  

On New Year ’s Day we made the mistake of going to our area. . . .and it was saturated with drunk men.  We were only out for a few hours, but there were so many times when I thought we were going to die, but God was protecting us!  We got home safely and Sista Sellesin and I both vowed not to go out next New Year’s Day! The Eldas came over that night to fix our hot water.  It hasn't worked for over a month and now it finally does!  The funny thing is it's so hot I don't even want to take a hot shower haha!  Oh well:)

We got a referral this week from one of the eldas in Tana.  Our new investigator is Sonya and she is 11 years old.  She has been living with her grandparents who are members and has learned a lot from them.  Now she wants to join herself.  She knows all about Joseph Smith and the restoration of the gospel to the earth.  Sonya came to church on Sunday with her Grandma and siblings and loved it.  We teach her again on Tuesday, so I will keep you updated on her progress.  

Well that's it for this week!  I love you all!  Thanks for all you do for me.  Have a fantastic week.