Monday, May 30, 2016

Elder Pearson's visit to Vanuatu

Elder Pearson's visit
The inside of our one-room church.
We had the amazing opportunity to be given training by Elder Kevin W. Pearson of the First Quorum of the Seventy this week and it was amazing.  You may remember his general conference talk, “Stay by the Tree.”  The training lasted all day Thursday and I wish every one of you could have been there!  I learned so much and because I learned so much, I want to share it with all of you. J  Here are a few things that I learned from his training:

- "You get what you focus on consistently."  This applies to everything!  Our families, work, school, problems, anything!  What we focus on is what moves forward and improves in our lives.

- Ask yourself two questions:  “Because I am a disciple of Christ I am no longer _____.”  What are you willing to give up in order to become who your Heavenly Father knows you can become? Then ask yourself, “Because I am a disciple of Christ I am ______."  Pick a few things you are willing to give up and a few things you want to improve on so that you can become more like our Savior.  You have to let go of somethings to embrace better things.

- "If it wasn't hard, it wouldn't be worth it."

- "When you get up, get down on your knees and pray like everything depends on the Lord, and then get up and work like everything depends on you."  God works with those who are in action.  Do you part, be out doing good, and God will use you to help and bless others around you.

- "Thy will be done."  We need to be 100% aligned with our Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ.  When we become aligned with His will we "have no more desire to do evil.”  So get aligned and STAY there.

- "Smile!!  We have and understand the Plan of Happiness!!"

All in all it was an amazing meeting and Sista Tonga and I are putting a lot of what Elder Pearson said into action and it's working!  The gospel is so true!  I know it with all of my heart and I love sharing it with the people of Vanuatu.  It is so important that we do everything we can TODAY to improve ourselves and to allow God to mold us into who He knows we can become.  We need to be better today than we were yesterday, and better tomorrow than we are today.  When we are living the principles of the gospel we are happy because true joy comes from doing what is right.

I love you all.  Have a great week!
Lean braiding Sista Tonga's hair.

Monday, May 23, 2016

New Investigators!

Scratching Yam
This week has flown by!  Last night we had family house night with Tony and Pricila's family.  We taught them that we give the Lord what we can, all we have to do is try our best, and He will pour out blessings.  We told them the story of King Lamoni's father, and how he was willing to give up all he had to have eternal life.  After the lesson we played team rock paper scissors with all the pikinini and then ate a mountain of rice and some meat.  It was a great night! What made it even better was all the different families that came to listen.  Tony's brother, sister and mom were all there, along with all their pikinini.  I really do feel like their family is my family.  I love them so much!

We're continuing to work with Tony and Pricila.  The eldas in Malakula are supposed to get the divorce paper signed by Eric this week and then bring it on Tuesday when they fly in for the meeting with Elda Pierson.  We'll take that paper and have Pricila sign it, and then we should be good to go.  Pray things work out!

Netty with her pikinini, Sister Tagini and me
Family house night at Tony's and Pricila's.
Earlier this week we went and visited Flafi.  She has been investigating the church for almost five years now, but hasn't been able to get married because of her family.  Her husband, Takame, is a member and they come to church pretty regularly.  We felt impressed to ask her about the wedding and do you know what she said?  She said her parents had agreed earlier that week to Takame and her getting married!  She said all they needed to do was go and get a wedding certificate from town, but I had one in my bag and gave it to her right then and there!  We go over tomorrow to talk to them about setting a date.
We found two new investigators this week as well.  One we met during a lesson with Papa Eme.  We taught the Plan of Salvation.  He asked so many questions and we were able to help him find answers with the help of the Holy Ghost.  His name is Jonas.  Robson is Josh's brother and has two girls.  When Josh asked him for permission to be baptized, Robson asked us to teach him so he can understand why Josh is being baptized.  He is very quiet, but when he is asked questions he has a lot to share.  We'll work with them and see where they go!
At the market:  Sista Rivera with red bananas, Monique with peanuts, Sista Manly with large yam, and Sista Tonga with mangoes.
One of the main things I will miss when I get back is going to the market and getting all my fruits and vegetables fresh. J  Right now they have oranges and mangos, snake beans, red bananas and papaya.  Lechi is also coming into season!
Eating laplap susur
This week Sista Granger called and informed us that the sister training leaders (STLs) in Vanuatu will now be getting cars!!  They should be here within 4-6 weeks.  We'll be driving a Rav 4 so that's exciting.  Hopefully I don't get transferred next transfer! You've also probably heard by now that the sisters can wear pants in our mission now.  I don't think I will, just because it's so hot, but it was a surprise to hear about!

Well, that's it for this week.  I ate lap lap susur for the first time this week and it didn't taste too bad. . . I think I'm finally getting used to the food here haha!  I love you all, have a fantastic week.
When a cruise ship comes all the tourist souvenirs come out for sale.
Part of a news release by The Church:

Dress guidelines for missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been revised for men and women serving in areas around the world impacted by mosquito-borne viral diseases such as Dengue Fever, Chikungunya and Zika. The new missionary health and safety guidelines were announced by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles Friday, May 20, 2016.

In the 230 missions, or roughly half of the Church's missions, where there is significant risk of mosquito-borne diseases, missionaries are strongly encouraged to wear clothing that covers exposed skin, especially arms and legs. Sister missionaries serving in the affected missions are encouraged to wear full-length dress slacks during proselyting activities. They will continue to wear skirts or dresses when attending the temple and during Sunday worship services, conferences and baptismal services. In areas where it is not acceptable for women (including sister missionaries) to wear dress slacks, they are encouraged to wear long skirts to protect themselves from mosquito bites.  The new guidelines apply only during the wet seasons, when the risk for mosquito-borne illnesses is high. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

First baptism in Santo!

With Selvider (Takame and Flafi's little boy)
This week was amazing and had a great start!  I loved talking with my family for Mother's Day and seeing their faces.  I'm so blessed to have such an incredible and supportive family!

This week we started another round of exchanges.  I got to spend a full day with Sista Rivera, from the Philippines.  Whenever I am around her I feel so uplifted.  She is amazing and the kind of missionary I am constantly trying to become.  We had companionship study together and she taught me more than I could ever teach her.  She needs to be the Sister Training Leader!! We got out into Banban and worked hard and taught like crazy.  She showed me some of the Christlike attribute activities she uses and her pearls of wisdom in teaching.  She truly is amazing and we will be lifelong friends! 
Lean was baptized this week!  I was very concerned after we talked to her last week and asked her why she didn't show up to her baptism.  She said she wasn't sure she was making the right choice.  So we shared a scripture and asked her to ask Papa God.  I promised her that this was the right choice.  When we went back on Wednesday she was set on being baptized on Saturday, no matter how much her father was against it.  Saturday she was baptized.  She was very emotional, but knew that what she was doing was right.  All night long I was praying that when her father found out his heart would be softened and Lean would be safe.  When she came to church on Sunday she told us she had told her father and that he seemed to be indifferent.  It was a miracle and an answer to our prayers.  Lean will be solid!  She told me on Saturday she wants to work towards going on a mission in a year!  Yeah!!
Lean's baptism
Another answer to prayers was the rain that we got last night.  The people in my area don't have a water source, only wells and water tanks.  So when it doesn't rain no one has water.  On Sunday lots and lots of people didn't come to church because they couldn't swim (bathe in the ocean) and didn't want to come to church dirty (because there was no water for baths).  So I did the only thing I could do about it—I prayed.  Last night we had a HUGE rain storm and every single one of those water tanks in our area should be full now!  Just one more instance that shows God is mindful of us.  He hears our prayers, no matter how small they may be. 
Check out my new name tag:  Sista Drapa (They can't pronounce Draper here!)
I love you all!  Have a great week and remember that you are all lifelong missionaries!  Go share this gospel with those you love!  It's the best thing ever!! J
Me and Sister Tonga on p-day
Aru on top of his house

Monday, May 9, 2016

Mother's Day

I hope you all had a wonderful week!  Over here in Vanuatu things are going just great!  We've been working with Tony and Pricilla. They didn't go through with their wedding this week, so we'll move it to this Friday and that means their baptism to this Saturday.  The same thing happened with Aru and Cicilia.  We thought Lean would get baptized this Saturday and had everything arranged for him, but when Saturday morning came around Lean was nowhere to be found!  Turns out she was at "sports day" for her school, and forgot that she was supposed to get baptized!!  Please keep them in your prayers as we try and do everything we can to work with them this upcoming week.  They all mean so much to us and we want to help them in the best way possible--giving them the chance to accept the gospel and receive all the blessings that go along with it.

On Tuesday this week we had zone training.  It was a little bit of a frustrating experience for me.  All the training we received was on basic rules that missionaries should know and should be following.  The training lasted for close to four hours, and I didn't feel like I learned anything from my peer leaders that I couldn't have learned from reading the 'White Handbook".  This zone has a long way to go, and it all goes back to what the individual missionaries are doing.  It has improved a lot, but we still have a long way to go.  The good thing is we have a good group of missionaries to work with. 

Transfer calls came this week as well.  Sista Tonga and I will be staying here but we have a new zone leader, Elder Iloa.  Sista Tagini (my trainer) will be moving out to Santo and be training another American Sista!  That means there will be four American Sistas in Vanuatu- Wahoooooo!!!  Yeah for white men!! I know that sounds funny, but I think I know how black people feel in Utah!  It’s so strange being the minority!  Haha that reminds me of a funny story that happened this week:  I was teaching a mama the plan of salvation, and she told me that it was easier for me to get to the Celestial Kingdom.  I asked why and do you know what she said?!  She told me that white people aren't as easily tempted as black people are!!  Haha I wanted to laugh, but held it in and explained that, no matter our skin color, Satan knows our weaknesses and is trying to tempt us where we are weakest.  Those are the lessons I wish I was a black person . . . .

Sunday this week was incredible! We started right on time again, but because we started on time the sacrament meeting speaker wasn't there!!  So I got to throw together a talk super fast.  My talk went well, but Relief Society was even better.  The four of us Sistas:  Sista Manly, Tonga, Rivera, and I taught Relief Society.  We talked about the stripling warriors in the Book of Mormon and their mother's example and impact.  Then we all shared how our own mothers had affected us.  After the lesson ended the young women came in and gave the mamas flowers and cards and we all ate cake together.  There wasn't a dry eye in the room.  These mamas never get appreciated.  To get a simple card and flower made their day.  I love my Mom with all my heart and am beyond thankful for what she has and continues to teach me.  I'm so blessed to be able to call my best friend my Mom!

Well, I love you all!  Have a great week and Happy Mother's Day to all you mothers out there!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Baby steps, Miracles and an Earthquake!

Vanuatu Port Vila Mission
This week has to have been one of the best weeks of my mission!!  It was just amazing and so many miracles happened.  We worked a lot with the less-active members and the previous investigators in our area book.  We are working with quite a few of them now, and it's so exciting.  We found a man named Endre.  He is a papa of a new born baby boy.  We talked with him and his wife and they wanted their baby blessed on Sunday.  His wife, Silvia, is a member already and she really wants her husband to be part of the gospel as well as her baby son.

We continued to work with Aru and Cicillia this week.  We set a date for baptism, but Aru doesn't want to get baptized until Cicillia does.  Cicillia is working on getting baptized this upcoming Saturday.  We are praying and fasting that Aru's heart will be softened and that he will have the desire to be baptized with his wife as well.  Please keep them in your prayers.  Leann is also on schedule to be baptized.  She has had some difficulty with her papa, but she wants to be baptized more than anything and her papa sees that.  She is convinced that she will be baptized on Saturday.  We'll be working a lot with her papa this week to try and make that happen.  I hope his heart will be softened to the truth.

We met with our Branch President this week and worked with him on how we can improve our branch.  I am more than happy to announce that church started right on time!  We had all three meetings AND a missionary meeting after church!  It was a miracle!!  The branch president is an amazing man and now he knows that he can rely and trust the missionaries.  We are going to lift this branch!

On Monday this week, the sistas from Showground moved in with us because their house is infested with centipedes, rats and any other kind of bug you can think of.  It has been a lot of fun to have Sista Manly and Rivera stay with us.  We've played a lot of phase 10 at night and even got through all 10 phases!!!  Sista Manly and I tied for first place (must be an American thing! J While we were all out 
running together on Wednesday morning, the ground started shaking and we started hearing glass shattering.  We looked around and realized we were having a huge earthquake.  We were fine, as was our house, but it shook us up a little--literally!

It's amazing to see how when we are doing what the Lord asks, he blesses us!  He opens the windows of heaven and there is no room to receive all the blessings he has for us.  This coming week Sista Tonga and I have to give zone training on obedience.  The more I study and the more I work, the more I come to realize that we are obedient because we love the Lord. That is why we should keep the commandments.  That's why I read my scriptures, go to church, get up at 6:30 a.m. every day, and walk for miles and miles.  It's all because I love my Savior, Jesus Christ.  I hope that we are all doing everything in our power to follow Him, and I promise
you only happiness will come from it!  I love you all.  Have a marvelous week!