Monday, October 31, 2016

Tina's Story

The plantation we walk through to get home.
This week was a good week.  We worked hard and did all we could to make the most of the week.  Elsie is continuing to progress.  She came to church again on Sunday and is on date to get baptized on November 12.  She's only 17 years old, but she has so much knowledge and such a huge desire to continue to change.  She loves The Book of Mormon and reads and reads it.  She especially loved church this week because of the Primary program put on by the Primary children.  They recited scriptures and quotes and sang lots of songs.  We don't have a microphone in our bush chapel so we couldn't hear most of it, but we loved the singing.  The children here are soooooooo cute!  I think I just might stick one in my suitcase to bring home! J

On Saturday, Mama Suzanne, Papa Isaac and Tina flew to Fiji to be sealed in the temple for time and all eternity!  Last week, when the flights were finalized, they realized they would be in Fiji the same time as Tina's final exams for school.  Papa Isaac tried talking to Tina's teachers, her principal, anyone he could think of to try and convince them to let Tina take the exams a week early or a week late.  None of them agreed. It was decided that if Tina went to Fiji to the temple, she would not be able to continue on to class 11 next year.  Papa Isaac and Mama Suzanne explained this to Tina. They told her that they trusted God and that when we put Him first in our lives, He will take care of everything else.  Through tears, Tina decided she would go to the temple and go through class 10 again next year.  Talk about faith!!  The people I know here in Vanuatu never fail to teach me!!  The sacrifices they make amaze me and build my faith too!

We also had the chance to teach Papa Joseph and Mama Alice again yesterday.  I love teaching them because they know so much about the Bible and they ask such intelligent questions- not super common for people in Vanuatu!  We taught them about the Plan of Salvation.  The spirit was helping us answer all his questions in a way that he could relate to them.  Even though Papa Joseph is a strong SDA (Seventh Day Adventist), he admitted many times throughout the lesson how much he has to learn and how much he wants to study more about our religion.  

I just want to send out a special THANK YOU to all of you who have been sending me emails of support.  Every word of encouragement helps get me through the hard parts of the week.  I love you all!  Make it a great week.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Conference Weekend

Amali Park in Showground
We finally had the chance to watch general conference over here in Santo!!  It would have been wonderful, I'm sure, if any of us had been able to understand it!  The translation quality into Bislama was awful and they didn't have it available in English.  Most of the people there were only able to understand four or five words of every talk!  However, we were able to get three new investigators to come!  I just hope they were able to feel the spirit just from being there.  Now I just have to wait for the Liahona magazine so that I can read and understand the talks myself!

Elsie is one of the investigators that we were able to get to church.  She is 17 years old and a Seventh Day Adventist, but hasn't been to that church in a long time.  We taught her about faith the other day.  She told us about an experience she had last year just three months before the school year finished.  Her Mom called her and told her they didn't have money to pay for her school fees.  She would have to not attend school for the next three months, and then take the test at the end of the year and hope she passed.  Elsie said she prayed and studied and prayed and studied, and at the end of the three months she was able to take the test and pass.  She said it took a lot of faith and trust in God, but she knows that God helped her and He is the reason she passed her final.  She is incredible and loves to invite her friends to story with us as well.
Sunset on the beach
Elsie has been a highlight because we got a call from Mama Veronica and Lilly this past week saying that they didn't have time to story with us for the next month.  We're not exactly sure what happened, but I think the pastor from their church must have talked to them.  We are keeping them in our prayers and trusting that God will eventually help them find a way to join the church.  They are wonderful mamas and we will miss teaching them. 

Eta was also set for baptism this week, but her uncle (who she is living with at the moment) wouldn't allow it.  She will move back to Malekula (another island is Vanuatu) the beginning of next month.  There she will be baptized.  Her parents and other siblings are all getting baptized this coming week.  We are thankful that even though she couldn't be baptized this week she will be able to move back to Malekula and be with her family.  They will all be able to grow together.

I love this gospel, and I love teaching it to others.  It's amazing to see how just sharing a little bit of the truth with others can change their lives; it really makes everything else worth it.  I love you all and hope you have a great week!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Electricity is coming to Showground!

Lorina with Sister O.
The big news bouncing around Showground is that electricity is
coming!!  There have been a few men spray painting the dirt to
indicate where power lines will eventually be.  Everyone is super
excited to hear that they will have a reliable source of power and not
have to rely on solar any longer.  They say the power lines will be
installed within the next two or three months.

We have continued to teach Lilly and Veronica this week.  I love,
love, love teaching Mama Veronica!!  She is just an amazing lady and
teaching her is always a highlight of our day.  She is Leann's aunt
which is super convenient because Leann was baptized while I was
serving in Banban.  Veronica recognizes that her church has a few
things that aren't right.  She reads The Book of Mormon and could
talk for hours about what she learns from it.  Lilly is progressing as
well, but she isn't quite as excited about keeping the commitments as
Veronica is.  She does have a lot of good insights though.  We set a
baptismal date for them on the 29th of October, so we will be working
and praying for them like crazy!

Lorina is progressing as well.  It has been a little difficult because she
is living on her sister's land and her sister is a SDA
(Seventh Day Adventist).  This makes her nervous to commit to baptism.
However, she is a cousin of Mama Veronica, and so we think that getting
them to progress and have lessons together will help a lot.  It will
give her the confidence and support that she needs.

Mama Linda has decided to stay in Banban!!  I was so excited to hear
that she was staying.  We need all the strong members that we can get
and so this was wonderful news.  She will do a lot of good for our
branch.  I just hope and pray that Pauline and Jackson will continue
to go to church back in Ohlen now that Jackson's mom is here in

Thank you for all the prayers in my behalf.  They mean so much to me
and help me so very much.  I love you all and hope you all have a
wonderful week!

Monday, October 10, 2016


We had a pretty normal week this past week.  We did a lot of finding, walking and teaching.  We continue to find, but are really struggling to find people who are really committed to changing their lives.  We planned on having  investigators at church on Sunday and visited them all on Sunday to remind them to come, and not one came!!  Sundays like that are always rough!  But we continue to work because we don't believe in giving up over here.

In Relief Society on Sunday, we were discussing the General Women's Meeting.  We talked about Sister Carole M. Stephen's talk.  Here is a short bit from her talk that I want to share:  

I have recently become acquainted with a remarkable young woman named Josie who suffers from bipolar disorder. Here is just a little of her journey toward healing as she shared it with me:

“The worst of the darkness occurs on what my family and I have deemed ‘floor days.’ It begins with sensory overload and acute sensitivity and resistance to any type of sound, touch, or light. It is the apex of mental anguish. There is one day in particular that I will never forget.

“It was early in the journey, making the experience especially frightening. I can remember sobbing, tears racing down my face as I gasped for air. But even such intense suffering paled in comparison to the pain that followed as I observed panic overwhelm my mother, so desperate to help me.

“With my broken mind came her broken heart. But little did we know that despite the deepening darkness, we were just moments away from experiencing a mighty miracle.

“As a long hour continued, my mom whispered over and over and over again, ‘I would do anything to take this from you.’

“Meanwhile, the darkness intensified, and when I was convinced I could take no more, just then something marvelous occurred.

“A transcendent and wonderful power suddenly overtook my body. Then, with a ‘strength beyond my own,’ I declared to my mom with great conviction seven life-changing words in response to her repeated desire to bear my pain. I said, ‘You don’t have to; Someone already has.’”

From the dark abyss of debilitating mental illness, Josie summoned the strength to testify of Jesus Christ and of His Atonement.

She was not healed completely that day, but she received the light of hope in a time of intense darkness. And today, supported by a bedrock understanding of the doctrine of Christ and refreshed daily by the Savior’s living water, Josie continues on her journey toward healing and exercises unshakable faith in the Master Healer. She helps others along the way. And she says, “When the darkness feels unremitting, I rely on the memory of His tender mercies. They serve as a guiding light as I navigate through hard times.”

I have been studying about the Atonement for quite some time and this really touched my heart.  Jesus Christ is real.  He lives.  He will help us through everything and anything we face in this life.  He will NEVER, EVER leave us alone.

I also want to share another clip from Elder Donald L. Hallstrom's talk "I am a Child of God" that I read this past week:

On a very hot and humid Sunday morning, we traveled to a rented meeting facility in the center of the city. Every available chair was set up, totaling 3,500 seats. The final count of attendees was 4,100. Almost all who came had to travel by foot or some form of inconvenient public transportation; it was not easy for the Saints to gather. But they came. Most arrived several hours before the appointed meeting time. As we entered the hall, the spiritual atmosphere was electric! The Saints were prepared to be taught.
When a speaker quoted a scripture, the members would say the verse aloud. It did not matter—short scripture or long; the entire congregation responded in unison. Now, we do not necessarily recommend this, but it was certainly impressive that they could do it. And the choir—they were powerful. With an enthusiastic choir director and a 14-year-old young man at the keyboard, the members sang with vigor and strength.

Then Elder David A. Bednar spoke. This, of course, was the anticipated highlight of the gathering—to hear an Apostle teach and testify. Clearly with spiritual direction, partway through his remarks, Elder Bednar stopped and said, “Do you know ‘How Firm a Foundation’?”

It seemed that 4,100 voices roared in response, “YES!”

He then asked, “Do you know verse 7?”

Again the entire group answered, “YES!”

The arrangement of the mighty hymn “How Firm a Foundation” sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for the last 10 years has included verse 7, which was not sung much previously. Elder Bednar instructed, “Let’s sing verses 1, 2, 3, and 7.”

Without hesitation, the choir director jumped up and the Aaronic Priesthood–bearing accompanist immediately began to energetically play the introductory chords. With a level of conviction I have never felt before in a congregational hymn, we sang verses 1, 2, and 3. Then the volume and spiritual power was elevated when 4,100 voices sang the seventh verse and declared:

The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, I’ll never, no never,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!

In one of the most remarkable spiritual events of my life, I was taught a profound lesson that day. We live in a world that can cause us to forget who we really are. The more distractions that surround us, the easier it is to treat casually, then ignore, and then forget our connection with God. The Saints in Liberia have little materially, and yet they seem to have everything spiritually. What we witnessed that day in Monrovia was a group of sons and daughters of God who knew it!

In today’s world, no matter where we live and no matter what our circumstances are, it is essential that our preeminent identity is as a child of God. Knowing that will allow our faith to flourish, will motivate our continual repentance, and will provide the strength to “be steadfast and immovable” throughout our mortal journey. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

These two talks have lifted me and carried me this week.  I know that this gospel is true.  I know it.

Monday, October 3, 2016


After the Primary Sacrament Meeting program in our branch
This week started off with special training from the mission president and the assistants on Tuesday, taking place of district meeting.  The training focused on finding and baptizing.  Our goal for the month of October is to have 50 baptisms in our zone.  It's going to be a miracle if we are able to do it.  Sista Ouamambare and I have been finding and finding and finding!!  We found ten more new investigators this week and reached almost all of our goals for the week.  Miracles are happening every day here!!  This past week we made a goal to teach a certain amount of lessons.  It was the last day and we were 7 lessons away from our goal.  I thought that there would be no way we could reach it, but as we prayed together in the morning we asked for help and a miracle.  We were able to teach exactly 7 lessons that day!  We went home so tired and so happy.  God will keep his end of the deal when we do all that we can do.  I know it.

We continued to work with Shila and Kalo this week.  We had a wonderful lesson with Mama Suzanne as a member present.  It was perfect because she was Protestant before, as was Papa Kalo.  We taught them the Plan of Salvation and Papa Kalo just kept telling us over and over again how it all just makes sense.  He says other churches just leave out half the plan or leave out important parts.  Mama Suzanne was just the person we needed to have teach with us.  Strong members are such a blessing and we are so blessed to have a few very strong members in our area.  

As we were walking to church on Sunday I was praying to be able to have a miracle come to church.  On Saturday we had called or visited most of our investigators inviting them to church.  Although none of them came, Sabrina did come.  She hasn't been to church in over a month and so I texted her on Saturday inviting her to come too . . . and she did!  We talked and she told me that she had "failed" and didn't feel like she could come back to church.  Mama Joyce acted on a prompting and called Sabrina.  She talked to her and explained repentance again.  She repented and she even received a calling to be Relief Society Secretary!  I was so happy to see her again.  She was the miracle I was praying for.

Sunday night we also got to watch the general women's meeting at the Banban chapel.  Only a few of us were there, but sitting there in our natangura chapel watching conference in Bislama on a little computer screen was such a neat experience.  The spirit was so strong.  I felt like one of the main focuses of the meeting was faith and constantly working to increase it.  The talks were fantastic.  

Well, I think that's it for this week.  I love you all and I love this work.  The church is true!