Monday, April 25, 2016

General Conference!!

WE FINALLY GOT TO WATCH GENERAL CONFERENCE!!  It was definitely the highlight of my week because for a while I didn't think we would have the chance to watch it.  It was amazing, and I learned so very much and had a lot of questions answered.  One of my favorite quotes came from Elder Jeffery R. Holland, "The Lord does not make it easy but he makes it possible."  The challenges we face are stretching us and molding us into who our Heavenly Father wants us to be.  We can do this with His help!

Another highlight of the week was running into Papa Shem at the port with his boat, The Big Sista.  He goes between Santo and Port Vila once a week shipping people and supplies.  When I got out of the taxi he looked over and saw me and got a huge smile on his face and ran over to talk to us.  He acted just like a dad, asking me how I liked Santo, my area, and my companion.  He was great and just a crack up like normal.  It was a blessing to be able to see him again.  I love him and his family!

We've been working with the family of Aru and Cicillia (last week I sent a picture of Cicillia and her new baby Mary if you remember).  We have taught them and, with the birth of their new baby, I think it has really opened their eyes to what they want for their children and family.  They came and watched general conference with us on Sunday.  Tony and Pricilla came to watch conference with their children, as well as Leann and Samuel.  General Conference was a miracle in and of itself, but it also helped bring in our investigators.  They had an amazing experience hearing the word of God directly from His living prophets and apostles.

I don't know if any of you remember, but while I was in Port Vila we went with the eldas to give a priesthood blessing to a girl named Valerie.  She had been in the hospital for a few days because her leg had swollen up.  During our visit the elda promised her a full recovery in the blessing.  Last week Sista Sellesin (my former missionary companion) called me and said that Valerie had died.  It was heart breaking!  

During my personal study for the past week I have done a lot of studying about the priesthood.  I have come to realize that just because we want something to happen, it doesn't always happen.  The priesthood is a key given by God to help move His work forward.  Just like in the movie "Charly" we can want something, but if it isn't God's will it won't happen.  It made me realize how important it is to make God's will our will.  When we do so we demonstrate our faith and trust in Him completely.  We trust that God sees the bigger picture, and that He knows all.  He will do what He knows will help us most.  Miracles do happen; I've seen it when Thomas Yataca was healed after falling on his back out of a swing.  We have to KNOW before challenges come (and they will!) so that when our faith is tested we can say, "I know and I trust my Heavenly Father."  I love my Savior and I am coming to realize more and more how much He loves me and is aware of me.  He will NEVER leave us alone; it is not His character, as President Utchdorf told us in general conference.  Please keep Valerie's family in your prayers during this difficult time!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Banban Wabam!

Cicillia with her new baby and little girl
I hope you all had a wonderful week.  I'm slowly adjusting to how things work here in Santo.  This week we did a lot of work in our area and that helped because I am getting to know and love the people here in Banban.  They are so sweet and accepting, and it’s such a relief to see them after we've wandered through the jungle for 20 minutes or so trying to find their house! J 

On Thursday and Friday this week, we made an exchange with Sista Manley (U.S.A.) and Sista Rivera (Philippines).  I spent the day with Sista Manly and it was so weird!!  I haven't been with an American for so long!!  I swear we didn't stop talking the whole time we were together.  She just got here two weeks ago and we both agreed that we had never felt so close to someone before just because we are from the same country!  We taught a lot in Banban and it forced me to figure out how to get around my area.  While we were on exchange, Sista Manly and I found a new mama who wants to hear the discussions.  Her name is Flafi and she is half Nivan/Kiribati.  She has two little boys and her husband is actually a member of the church.  We were able to teach her and her sister together at the same time.  She wants to continue receiving the discussions.  With her husband’s help they both will be able to do a lot to help their family progress.

We are also working with an awesome couple, Tony and Priscilla.  This past week we committed them to baptism!  Tony is a truck driver and Priscilla is a hard working mama.  They have been coming to church and just “eat up” the lessons we teach them.  I love them with all my heart and can't wait to see them get baptized on the 30th of this month.  Priscilla loves church and they bring their two little pikinini as well.  
Cicillia's daughter Leann
One miracle happened on Friday.  I was sitting on a mat teaching a lesson when someone came up behind me and grabbed my shoulders.  I turned around and guess who it was?!  Netty, Mama Rachel's daughter, an investigator that I was teaching in Ohlen (my last area)!!  I was so excited!!  She just moved here with her daughter so that she could be with her husband who is working here in Santo.  We get to teach her AND her husband now!!  It was a miracle to see someone I know.  It’s such a blessing for me to have the chance to teach her and her husband together.  

I love you all.  I know this church is true and that Heavenly Father and our Savior are always beside us helping us and carrying us through the hard times we face.  In Joshua we are told to "Be strong and of a good courage.  Be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed, for the Lord thy God is with thee, withersoever thou goest."  I know this is true.  This week I have been carried and the love my Heavenly Father and Savior have for me has been so evident.  Look for that love and seek for it.  You WILL find it!
Sitting in the back of a truck

Monday, April 11, 2016

Santo Week 1

This is the church "building" that we attend!
And this is the "toilet" at the church.
Wahoo for adjusting to new things!  Life here in Santo is very, very, VERY different than life is in Port Vila. You were right what you said about adjusting.  This week has been hard!  I don't know very many of the missionaries here in Santo, so I feel like I'm starting all over with the area, the people and the missionaries.  It's a little hard. . .

We haven't watched general conference yet and from the sound of it, I don't think we will.  It just isn't possible here.  I’ll just have to wait until the conference Ensign comes out and gets mailed to me.

When I walked into my new house in my new area on Wednesday night it was flooded due to the tropical storm that hit on Tuesday.  We ended up sleeping over at some other sistas house because everything in our house was soaked.  (But we made out better than the elders in BanBan East whose roof got ripped off in the storm.) The next morning we got up early and cleaned and cleaned all the dirt and water and leaves and everything else that blew in with the storm.  I have never seen such a dirty house before!  I really think that the house might not have ever been thoroughly cleaned before!  When that was done, we went down to town and explored a little.  The town here is just one long street.  The Market is heaps cheaper here in Santo than in Port Vila, and you can get more fruits and veggies. 
My new companion Sister Tonga from Tonga!
As far as my area goes, it's bush and bush and more bush oh, and then there's some bush!  J Bush everywhere!!  Just one big jungle!  I'm used to being in the town and so this is quite a change.  I feel like we walk through the jungle until we happen to run into a small home with a family inside.  We can see the ocean for the most part of the day, which is beautiful, but that means that there are tons of mosquitoes everywhere!  Oh well, you can't have both I guess.  I have a new Santo disease; it's like boils on my legs. So here come the scars that everyone else has!  The people are so kind though, and I really do love the area.
It's a jungle out there!

Saturday Mary and Michel got baptized.  There is a nice church in town with a baptismal font.  We were able to go there for the baptism.  Everything went really well and they seem like nice people (I met them the day they got baptized).  Our branch president also seems like a good guy who will help us a lot.

Sunday Sista Tonga and I left the house at 8:00 a.m., but didn't get to church until 9:30 because we had to go pick up some people.  We only picked up three people but we had to walk FOREVER to find them!  When we got to church (a bamboo hut with a palm leaf roof) church hadn't even started yet.  We waited around until 10:15 when they finally got started.  It was district conference so the district president was there. They talked for a good hour and a half and then they announced that church was over. . . yeah. . . I couldn't believe it!!  We have a lot of work to do to get this branch going!  

Sooooo, this will be a bit of a change! J  I know this is where the Lord needs me  .  . . so I'll try to do my best.  I love the scripture in Joshua that tells us to "be strong and of a good courage" even when hard times come.  I love you all, have a great week!

Mary and Michel's baptism at the nice church in town.
Here are some pictures of my house that looked like a pig sty when I first arrived.
Other than the mess we found to begin with, our house is amazing!! It's a beach house without anyone around.  I can sit on our patio and just stare at the ocean!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Mission Leadership Conference

Sunset in Vanuatu
Dolcy was baptized this past Saturday!  It was not easy for her to get to the chapel at numba two but she came and was able to be baptized.  I am always so amazed with people who are physically limited yet are so willing to do what their Savior asks of them.  Dolcy was so happy, but very tired by the end of the day. I love her very much and make sure her to tell her "nindondomiac" (which means "I love you" in the Tongoa language) every time we leave her home.
Dolcy's baptism
Sista Sellesin got lice this week. . . luckily Sista Lemus was staying with us and was able to help Sista Sellesin because I just could not make myself touch her head once I found out what was living on it!  Eww!  We got it all taken care of and the lice are dead, as of now.  Yeah!!  Hopefully I don't find out that I have lice in a few days. . . . oh the joys of living in Vanuatu, right? J

On Monday and Tuesday of this week, the Vanuatu Port Vila Mission had their first ever mission-wide mission leadership conference (MLC).  We flew in the missionaries from New Caledonia, Solomon Islands, and the other islands of Vanuatu and met with all the sister training leaders, zone leaders, assistants and the President and his wife.  We spent two days focusing on how we can become better missionaries by becoming more obedient, recording our key indicators correctly, being good examples, becoming united, and so on. One thing that really stuck out to me is how a mission is only as good as the missionaries in it.  The mission president also reminded us that we should be obedient because we love the Savior, not just because we're scared of the consequences.  I learned a lot, and cannot wait to get out into my new area with my new companion and apply all that we have learned!  We are going to light Banban West on FIRE!!  
Mission Leadership Conference
All the “arrivers” (new missionaries) came on Wednesday and guess who was in the group!  ELDA BROADBENT from South Jordan!!!  We went to high school together.  It was super exciting to see him and talk just a little bit about home.  He'll be staying in Efate and working in the office so I won't get to see him a ton, but we're each where the Lord needs us to serve.  

So right now I am in the mission office with a few others waiting to fly from the capital city of Port Vila on the island of Efate to the northern island of Espiritu Santo.  We should have flown out this morning, but there was 6.9 magnitude earthquake in Espiritu Santo as well as a tropical storm . . . so we are waiting it out in the office.  Sista Tonga'onevai is my new companion and is from The Kingdom of Tonga.  She is pretty much the coolest sista out here in the mission- just sayin. J  She is super funny and speaks English incredibly well.  I think we will be getting along well.  However, saying goodbye to Sista Sellesin was super hard and some tears were definitely shed.  I pray that she and Sista Norton will keep up the good work here in Ohlen and look after all the investigators and new members that I love so much.  

Well, that's a wrap for this week.  I love you all, have an awesome week!

Monday, April 4, 2016

6.9 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Vanuatu

(CNN) A magnitude-6.9 earthquake struck the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu on Sunday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The USGS said the quake hit at 7:23 p.m. local time off the island of Espiritu Santo, more than 250 miles north-northwest of the capital, Port Vila.

It occurred about 50 miles north-northwest of the town of Port Olry at a depth of  22 miles.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center initially warned of a potential tsunami but subsequently said the threat had "now largely passed."

Vanuatu is situated in one of the most seismically active areas in the world, and similarly sized temblors struck it in October and December.