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

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

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Second Canal (the name of my new area)

Sista Manatau at Champagne Beach
This week has finally felt like an actual week of being a missionary again.  The last two weeks have been crazy so it was good to get back into our area and get back to work!

We've continued to work with Zino this past week and he was able to come to church!  A family was married and baptized this past week.  They were confirmed during sacrament meeting. In between their confirmations, Zino leaned over to me and asked when he could get baptized.  He is now set to be baptized on my birthday, August 27th!!  We're super excited!  He loved church and found out that he knows a lot of people there as well.  As an only child he's grown up following his parents, but now he wants to help his parents follow him.  He's amazing and such a blessing to Sista Manatau and me.
The marriage of Marta and Harry
this past week- one of Sista Manatau's
 previous investigators in Pepsi

 We had some great visits this week with quite a few less actives in our area and we thought they would come to church. . . but not one of them did!  On Sunday morning we walked around the area reminding and inviting all of them to come to church.  Some said they would come and others didn't answer when we sung out to them.  One man even told us that we were forcing him, and he was going to call the police because we were forcing him to come to church (that's a first ever here in Vanuatu!!).  We put together some plans for this week and have dubbed Saturday our "Rescue Day."  The areas of Second Canal and Sharpi are full of less active members so we have a lot of work to do!  The members in the Luganville branch are a huge blessing.  We have two members teaching with us today and another one teaching with us all day tomorrow.  They are so supportive and willing to help our investigators.  I've never had that in a branch before, so I am very, very thankful!

We just finished having zone training at the chapel.  We focused on the five steps to reach miracles:
1. Be obedient
2. Be faithful
3. Work hard
4. Achieve the goals you set
5. Never give up
The zone leaders taught the first two steps and then Sista Manatau and I taught the last three.  We finished the training with the Bible video called "Because He Lives."  If you haven't watched it yet, look it up.  It is amazing and teaches us that we can do all things with the help of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  I know that this is true and although I don't know the meaning of all things, just as Nephi, I do know that God loves His children.  He is constantly there to help us if we accept him.

I was having personal study this morning and I found a scripture in Hebrews 12:1-2 that made me think of enduring till the end of the challenges we are given.  It says, "let us run with patience the race that is set before us."  My thoughts were then pulled to D&C 122 where we are asked, "He (Jesus Christ) descended above all these things, art thou greater than he?"  This hit me really hard because I have been struggling a lot with WHY Heavenly Father has given me this challenge with my ears. Even after doing all that can be done I still am in constant pain.  I have been on my knees praying for an answer and asking why over and over again.  But I've come to realize that it's not time for me to know the why.  It’s just time for me to trust.  And so that's what I'll do.  I'll continue trusting, and in God's time- not mine, I will know why.

I love you all.  Have a wonderful week.
Elder Hyatt at the clinic after he sliced open his wrist
with a bush knife.  He got five stitches. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Mission Leadership Conference

Sista Monatau and me
This week has been another week that I have learned many new things.  I have also recognized how well my Heavenly Father knows me, and how much He wants to help me grow.  I have spent the last three days in Port Vila with the 19 other peer leaders in the Vanuatu Port Vila Mission, as well as President Granger and his wife.  I have been taught and have felt so much and hope that I will be able to convey a little of what has happened.  
Sista Norton, Lemus, Manatau and I at Cafe Vila for the MLC dinner
We flew from the three different countries included in the Vanuatu Port Vila Mission (Solomon Islands, New Caledonia and the islands of Vanuatu) into Port Vila on Sunday and all the sistas stayed in the Ohlen house.  Eight sistas in one house is quite the party!!  Three of the four STLs (Sister Training Leaders) in New Caledonia were the same.  So it was fun to see them all again.  We reviewed a lot of basic things on the first day such as housing, vehicles, preparation-day and the unwritten order of things and then finished off playing team games outside the mission home.
All the leaders of the great Vanuatu Port Vila Mission
Tuesday we went back to the mission home again for more training for the better part of the day.  We were introduced to a "mission map" that the assistants and President Granger have put together with the help of the spirit.  It pretty much just covers everything we need to do to become a tool in the Lord's hand.  One thing that stood out to me was the "destructive D's."  The destructive D's include: discouragement, disobedience, doubt, disbelief and distraction.  When we let these thoughts creep into our minds we give power to Satan to destroy our purpose as missionaries.  He knows that if he gets us to disbelieve, we won't be able to teach with convincing power.  He knows that if we get discouraged we won't have a desire to work hard or serve others.  He knows that when we get distracted with worldly things our full might, mind and strength won't be spent doing the Lord's work.  He knows this, and so he works overtime to smuggle these thoughts into our minds.  But here's the thing: We have the light of Christ!  And because we have that light we have power over Satan.  He only has power over us when we give it to him.  When we feel discouragement, doubt, and disbelief creeping in and start to become a little disobedient and distracted we have to immediately apply the "Positive B's".  The "positive B's" are to be positive, be happy, be clean, be ready, and be busy.  When we do those five things we take away Satan's power.  In the MLC (Mission Leadership Conference) we continued to discuss how our attitude, combined with our efforts, can help us reach miracles.  Last week I sent an email all about miracles that I have seen.  I know that those miracles will continue if I continue to do my part.  The work will move forward, and we can choose to be a part of it or be left behind.  
Sistas Norton, Draper, Lemus and Manatau
Another thing that President Granger said that really stood out to me was that it is better to offend others than it is to offend God.  That hit me hard because I have noticed that as one of my weaknesses.  I "fear man more than God" and realized that I need to have more courage and faith.  During the MLC, I was talking to Elder Fidow, the previous AP (Assistant to the President) and currently a zone leader in Solomon.  His mother passed away the first week of July.  He set aside the feelings of doubt and discouragement and complete anguish he was feeling and threw himself into the work.  During the month of July he and his companion were able to baptize 20 people.  Twenty people is a lot of people, but I believe that the true miracle is that he was able to put aside his own worries and doubts and trust God completely.  Elder Fidow said that he fell to his knees many times at night crying out for help and ALWAYS felt a confirmation that God would not give him more than he could handle.  He knew that he was not going through this alone. I know this to be true.  I have experienced times when I feel so discouraged and completely in the dark, but through the grace of God I find light--every single time.  Just like Elder Holland said in last conference, "God will not leave us alone; it is not in his nature."  His whole purpose is to help us.  He will never desert us. A scripture that has and continues to help me is found in Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me."  All things!  Despite how hard we may see it, we can do it through Christ and His power. 

I hope that what I have shared can help each of you.  Apply it. Live it, and that's when the miracles happen.  I know this is true.

Check out our mission facebook page:  Vanuatu Port Vila Mission 2015-2018

Monday, August 1, 2016

Bye, bye Banban!

Shadrack (He baptized Sabrina in French), Joshua, Edwina,
Mary, Sabrina, Me, and Sista Tonga
This week was fantastic!  If you take a look at the pictures you will know exactly why!  We had a miracle week and the baptism on Friday proves it.

Sabrina:  After speaking with her on Wednesday and using the help of the sisters in Showground, Sabrina decided to get baptized.  She realized that she was denying herself the blessing that her Heavenly Father had in store for her because she was scared of her own weaknesses.  She has come to realize that she can only become who she ultimately wants to be through the Atonement and the help of a loving Heavenly Father and older brother, Jesus Christ.  She is a miracle and she will forever have a special place in my heart.  We have been through major ups and downs together, laughed and cried together, and I will miss her so much. Her goal moving forward is to prepare to enter the temple in a year from now and then go out and serve a full-time mission.  She has taught me so much about humility and true desire.  I love her so much!

Joshua finally got baptized!  It's so amazing to see someone I have worked with for so long finally make that step and get baptized.  He was so happy and shared a great testimony at the end of the baptismal service.  He says that he wants to serve a mission as well, but that will have to wait until he is married and is a little older.  He's a great guy and couldn't have been happier to finally get baptized.

Mary:  after waiting for years and years took the step to get baptized on Friday.  She was so shy and quiet during the program which is really unusual for her, but she was smiling the whole time.  God does answer prayers.  She is the one Sista Tonga and I prayed and fasted to be able to find someone that day that we could teach and baptize.  God sent us the most prepared woman in the world- Mary.

Edwina, sweet little Edwina was baptized as well.  Her mom, Netty, cried and cried when Edwina bore her testimony which made me start crying as well.  Oh man I wish so bad that Netty could be baptized.  She wants to so much, but she has to get married first and her man, Edward, doesn't want to get married.  She either has to separate from him (get divorced) or marry him to get baptized.  She has three children with him and she feels like they need a father.  So until “her man” has a change of heart she’s stuck.   I trust that God will bless her as much as He would if she could be baptized.  I love their family very much and they have taught me more than they know.  

Sista Manatau and me in front of our new house and car
Transfers came on Saturday and Sista Tonga and I are both out of Banban.  They will be putting two elders in our place because the mission leaders have decided it’s too bush (too remote and too much of a jungle) to have sisters in that area.  For now, Sista Tonga will be going to another area in Santo called Pepsi and I will be serving in Second Canal with Sista Manatau (from West Valley City) . . . . who is an AMERICAN!!!!  I freaked out a little when I found out.  I just don't know how to deal with Americans anymore! J  She will be my first American companion.  But the last few days have been a blast, and she will be able to be a great STL as well.  We go to Port Vila next week for a mission wide MLC (Mission Leadership Conference) again so we'll have lots of time learning together.  For the first time on my mission I have air conditioning, hot water AND an oven . . . so that means I’ll be able to bake myself a birthday cake at the end of the month! 

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