Monday, July 25, 2016

Bagem Wok

“Bagem Wok” in Bislama means to work hard and to get a lot done.  We say it here when you are doing and having success in the work.

One more week of July and I can't believe it!!  This week has flown by and a lot of neat things have happened!  This week Sista Tonga and I killed it!!  We taught and taught and taught!!  And every night we came home and all we wanted to do was sleep and it was the best!

We went to visit Sabrina on Tuesday and she said she wanted to talk to us about her baptism.  She said she wants to be baptized with all her heart but she wants to stay clean from alcohol, smoking and Kava for at least 3 months before she gets baptized.  We talked with her and even had the branch president’s wife at the lesson to help us talk through things.  In the end Sabrina decided that she wants to wait.  We asked her to pray and see what Papa God needs her to do, but she continues to say He isn't giving her an answer.  So as of now she is waiting for three months until she gets baptized.  But she is staying very active!  She started going to seminary and we started teacher her Mom, Lisa, this past week.  I love Sabrina with all my heart, and I know that whatever she ends up doing it will be the right choice.  She has changed and never, ever wants to go back.

We had everything ready to go for Robson's baptism on Sunday morning starting at half past seven.  At seven a.m. we got a call from him telling us that his older sister had died earlier in the morning and he had to take a ship back to Malekula (another island in Vanuatu) that morning with her dead body and wouldn't be back for a few weeks.  When he talked with us he seemed very distressed.  Please keep him in your prayers and I'll keep you updated on what happens once he gets back in a few weeks from Malekula.

We went and visited Joshua this week as well.  He has permission to get baptized!!!  His daddy never actually came to Santo, but he got permission from one of his uncles, so it's all good!  He was so excited when he told us that he stood up and started slapping my back with a huge smile on his face.  He's been waiting for so long, and now he can finally take that step this Friday!

Having a car here isn't as great as I thought it would be.  The roads here are awful and because Sista Tonga doesn't drive, I have to deal with it.  She does love to complain that I don't drive smoothly enough . . . but really she needs to take a look at these roads!  There are pot holes everywhere and no lights on the streets.  So at night I drive with my brights on when we have to go somewhere, but most of the time we stay inside once it gets dark. 

Yesterday was Children's day here and so everything was closed.  This week will be kind of a dead week because it's independence day and everyone is gone.  Sunday was a joke.  No one was home.  Hopefully it's not like that the whole week like everyone says it will be.  Pray for a miracle!  

We've continued to teach Edwina, Netty's little girl, and she is drinking up everything we have to teach her.  I love teaching pikinini because I can really see why we are commanded in the scriptures to be as a little child.  She will be baptized this Saturday with Joshua and Mary if all goes as planned.

I am so thankful to be a missionary and to be serving here in Vanuatu.  I love it.  I love every day and I love the people here more than anything.  I know that this is the true, the one and only, true church on the earth today! After weeks like this I feel like Alma, wishing I had the trump of an angel and could tell everyone in the whole world about this gospel!  It's true!!!

I love you all and hope you have a great week.  Sorry there are no pictures.  The computers here just don't work all the time!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Back to Banban!

Sista Norton, Bedilia, Me, Sellesin, and Lemus
I'm back in Santo with Sista Tonga.  It has been a good, but very exhausting, two weeks and I am glad to be back at “home.”  

On Monday I went and saw the physiotherapist in Brisbane, Australia who gave me lots of jaw exercises and massaged my face, neck and head; and then gave me a list of exercises to do while I am in Vanuatu.  She asked me to stay in Brisbane for another week so she could have a few more visits with me.  She wanted to make sure what she was suggesting would actually work, but my flight couldn't be changed.  So she gave me a big list of exercises to try, and then said to email her if they didn't work and we would try something new . . . so pretty much I went and they told me to exercise my jaw!  
Me, Sister Oraa and Whatcott at Bounce Inc. in Brisbane, Australia
I spent the last little bit of my time with Sister Oraa and Whatcott going to Bounce Inc., a trampoline park in Brisbane.  We had a lot of fun and enjoyed a good night’s sleep that night!

Flying over Vanuatu
I flew back to Port Vila, Vanuatu on Tuesday morning and stayed with Sister Norton and Sister Sellesin while we tried to figure out how else we could fix my ears.  Sister Norton and Sellesin make me so happy.  I love those two so much, and I just can't be sad around them!  It was a blessing to be able to stay a while with them.  Wednesday my ears hurt like crazy so I had Sister Norton call Sister Hill (the mission nurse) again.  She canceled my flight back to Santo and got me another doctor’s appointment with the ENT specialist educated in France.  He said my ears were not okay and that the doctor in Australia was crazy!  I now have four different medications to take including an antihistamine, a heat pack, two mouth guards and lots of people praying for me.  They got me a sports mouth guard to help me not grind my teeth when I sleep, but I tried it last night and it was too big.  It fell out sometime while I was sleeping!  Eventually the pain will go away, but for now I am leaning on something President Granger told me, "Sometimes God will send you through things and places you don't understand, just to get you to where He needs you to be.  Trust his plan, not your pain."
Sister Sellesin and me

The new car for the Sister Training Leaders
When I got off the plane here on the island of Santo on Saturday afternoon I had a beautiful Hyundai Tucson waiting in the airport parking lot for me to drive home!!! It is beautiful and brand new!!  Sister Tonga and I literally took the plastic off the seats!  It was just like Christmas!  J  It only had 118 km on it!  Oh we are loving it!  It will be such a big help to our zone!  We’ll be able to assist the zone leaders a lot because we now have two cars on Santo instead of just one.  

The best part of my week however, was after church when we finally got to get out and teach!!  I haven't been in the area for over two weeks and Sista Tonga was only able to work in the area one day in the two weeks I was gone.  So we taught as much as we could and miracles happened!!!  Sabrina is set to be baptized this coming Saturday at three o'clock in the ocean!!!  We went and taught her yesterday.  She has been coming to church almost every week and we taught her a few commandments and she started crying.  She told us that she wants to change because she is seeing how her actions are affecting her family.  She recognizes that she needs to change now.  The spirit was so strong!!  It was one of the most amazing lessons I have taught on my mission.  She also told us that her mom wants to hear the lessons as well . . . so we will be teaching her on Tuesday!  Sabrina is already a missionary!!

After our lesson with Sabrina, we committed Thomas and Roseline to baptism on the 29th of July.  We will continue to work with them because they aren't married yet.  While we were teaching them Thomas' Uncle Lolo sat down and asked us to teach him as well as his nephew, Kiki.  THEN we went to visit Robson and before we started the lesson he told us that he had fasted and prayed to be able to convince his chief to let him get baptized.  He talked to his chief last week, and the chief said he can join any church he wants!  We told him we had a baptism day this week and next week and he said he wants to get baptized this Saturday!!  July truly is a month of miracles!!!  Sista Tonga and I are going to keep working like crazy and find, find, find!  We truly are in God's hands and he is helping us.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Brisbane, Australia!

Brisbane, Australia
It's p-day here in Australia because they have the chance to go to the temple once a transfer.  I just happened to be here the day they switch their p-day to Thursday because of the day they go to the temple.  We just finished a session in the Brisbane Australia temple and it was absolutely BEAUTIFUL!!!  It was wonderful to go back after over nine months in a mission without a temple.
 I flew from Vanuatu to Brisbane, Australia on Monday night and was picked up by Elder and Sister Callahan.  They drove me to the mission home where I stayed with the brand new mission President Mark E. McSwain and his wife, from Farmington, Utah.  I guess Peter Vidmar is president of the Melbourne mission.  I stayed in the room where General Authorities usually stay and it was amazing.  I literally slept on a cloud!  J  The next morning the Callahans took me to a hearing doctor and then to the ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist.  They determined it wasn't my ears but my jaw (TMJ pain syndrome) causing my ear pain and headaches.  I will go to a physiotherapist on Monday and then back to Vanuatu on Tuesday.  No mouth guard because that takes too long to do . . . but you already got an email on that!  So I will spend my time telling you about Brisbane.

Email from Michael Callahan: Sister Sarah Draper was seen by Dr Christopher Que Hee in Brisbane yesterday. Just prior to her visit with him she had a hearing test performed and it was completely normal. Dr Que Hee did a thorough exam of her ears and it was also normal showing no signs of infection and no fluid behind the ear drums. His diagnosis is TMJ pain syndrome and she has been referred to a physiotherapist who specializes in treatment of TMJ. I personally spoke to her and she will see Sister Draper next Monday for an hour of treatment and training in exercises and other modalities to help control her symptoms.

She is a lovely young woman and is going to be staying with two of our sister trainers in Brisbane. I anticipate her return to Vanuatu next Tuesday as scheduled.
Sister Oraa in a mall!!
Who can identify this Australian animal??  
Back to Sarah's letter:  Brisbane is just like living in the avenues in downtown Salt Lake City.  The houses are old and quaint and cute.  It's freeeezzzziiinnnnggg here right now!!  It’s winter in the southern hemisphere.  I have to wear 3 jackets, and I sleep with a bazillion blankets.  I feel like I am back at home and it is October or maybe November haha!  Last night we even made the curry that Mom used to make!  I am staying with two sisters, Sister Oraa from the Philippians, and Sister Whatcott, from Minnesota as well as a girl from their ward who is doing a mini-mission until Friday, Sister Grammit.  They have been very sweet, but it sure has been a shock to come to a normal mission and see what most of the missionaries across the world do every day!

I'm glad my mission call is to Vanuatu, but this has been a great experience to come to Australia. We don't teach a lot but do a lot of street contacting and people are not very nice!  We also ate dinner at a member’s house and knocked doors- two things I've never done before on my mission.  I've only been here two full days but it has been an adventure.  Today we went into the mall and I about died!!  They have a real grocery store!!!!  And it has everything!!!  I can go get mac and cheese and peaches and chips and fresh milk and yogurt and I could go on and on!!!  AND  they have McDonalds!!!! They drive on the left side of the road here and one of my companions is an awful driver and so it has been terrifying!!!  Everything is huge here!!  Huge buildings, houses, even this library we are emailing in is huge and there are lights everywhere and everyone here is white!!!  I’m in the majority and not the minority like I was in Vanuatu.  We street contacted a guy yesterday and he was black and I automatically started talking in Bislama to him.

The photo on the right is Elder Derhak from upstate New York.  He is the son of Stacy Neilson Derhak who went to pharmacy school at the University of Utah with my dad.  Stacy’s younger brother is married to my mom’s sister.  So Elder Derhak’s uncle is married to my aunt and we share four of the same cousins!  . . . And we’re both serving in Brisbane Australia.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Miracles in July

Enet, Wendy and Cindy after being confirmed on Sunday
This week has been a week of up and downs for sure!  I found out on Monday I would be flying to Brisbane, Australia to have my ears fixed at the end of the week.  I have had almost continual double ear infections for the last eight months.  I fly out today and if everything goes as planned, I will be back here in Vila on the 12th of July.  My doctor’s appointment is tomorrow, so please pray that things go well and that they can fix the problem quickly and completely.  On top of that, we had four exchanges we had to fit into one week as well as continue to help out investigators and our area progress.  It's been crazy, but God has taken every opportunity to teach me all He can and now that the week is finally over, I can say I am thankful for what I have learned.

An update on our investigators:  Flafi and Takame will be getting married this coming Saturday (July 9th) by Flafi's father who is flying in from Kiribati to perform the wedding.  Flafi has been taught by over four sets of missionaries and will be baptized the following Saturday (July 16).  It truly is a miracle that things have finally fallen into place for them to be married and Flafi to be baptized.  Hopefully Takame will be able to perform the baptism.  I can't wait! 

Sabrina is scheduled to be baptized on the 9th of July, this coming Saturday.  We taught her about a few of the commandments this week and she bore her testimony to us at the end.  She said she knew that she has a lot to change, but because she knows that what she is learning is true, she is willing to pay the price.  I love that girl so very much!!

Saturday night I flew into Vila and got to spend Saturday and Sunday with two of my favorite sistas in the whole wide world:  Sista Sellesin and Sista Norton!  When I got to their house, I jumped out of the car, threw open the door and gave Sista Sellesin a 5 minute hug haha!  I was so happy to see them again and these last two days have been a blast with them and being able to see all the people in my old ward and area.  Going to church on Sunday was just what I needed.  I have been really struggling because Banban is not as open to the gospel as the people in Ohlen, and even though I feel like I am working harder than ever I don't see a lot of results coming from our hard work.  Going to church on Sunday helped me remember how blessed I am to have had the chance to work with the people in Ohlen and how much the gospel continues to change the lives of those I had the privilege to teach.  It was also super exciting to see how many of the people I started to teach before I left have been baptized.  I even had the privilege to see Enet get confirmed.  We worked with her family for a long time to get them reactivated so that she could join the church with an active family at her side.  This past week it finally happened.  God is a God of miracles!!

I love what I am out here doing.  I love, love, love it!!  There are definitely hard times, but the Lord has a way of making things work out and making all the hard times worth it.  I love you all.  Have a great week.