Monday, December 19, 2016

Christmas Week!

Sister Betero, Amina, Sister Draper and two pikinini
 Merry Christmas!!!  I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas week!  This week we had the chance to share the Christmas story with a lot of people, members and nonmembers.  We've invited each of them to think about the wise men and the gifts that they gave to their Savior and then to think about what they can give to their Savior this Christmas.  It's been really neat to hear about all the ideas that people come up with.  Some have talked about giving more service, trying not to swear, spending more time with children and trying to trust God more.  As we shared this Christmas message with Amina she was really touched and shared with us about how she has continuously struggled with the word of wisdom.  She feels like she keeps relapsing again and again.  She shared with us about the time she prayed and asked God why this was so hard for her.  She felt like God was telling her that she needed to struggle this much because it was bringing her back to Him.  I know how true this is and had the chance to testify to her, using personal experiences.  God really does give us challenges to help us grow and become closer to Him.  We fasted with her this past Sunday for added strength to resist the temptation to drink kava.  She is also in the process of finding a new house so that she doesn't live in a yard with a nakamal (place to drink kava).  Please keep her in your prayers as she continues to work to live the word of wisdom.
Making Laplap with Julie and her family
We had the chance to make laplap with Julie and her family this week.  Laplap is the national dish of Vanuatu. Laplap is prepared by pounding breadfruit, taro or yam roots into a dough. The dough is then cooked in an underground oven, with fresh coconut cream and some pork, beef, chicken or flying fox in taro or spinach leaves.  I scratched a full arm of bananas!  We came back later and ate all together.  That night both Sista Betero and I felt super sick, but it was a good chance to get to know Julie's family and gain their trust.  We invited Julie to get baptized this past week, but her parents won't allow it.  She's been reading The Book of Mormon like crazy and is currently in 2 Nephi 20.  She knows it is true.  She knows that Joseph Smith is a true prophet!  It's so hard when investigators know and have a testimony, but then their family blocks them!  We hope that the time we spent together making laplap and talking with her family will open some doors and soften their hearts.

This upcoming week we have the branch Christmas party on the 24th and all the missionaries are dancing and singing--so that will be fun!  Christmas we will spend with the branch, and then have a missionary devotional at night.  I hope you all have a very merry Christmas!!  Love you lots!

Monday, December 12, 2016


Here I am at Amina's house with her niece.
My first week in Sharpi was a success.  I absolutely love my new companion, Sista Betero!  She is from Kiribati and is 22 years old.  It's super interesting because I have had many, many islander companions on my mission and with the majority of them I have felt like I have had to push them, but with Sista Betero she is the one pushing me!  She is always saying, "one more, let's find one more" before we go home at the end of the day.  I LOVE it!!  Sharpi is a wonderful area and it feels a lot like Ohlen, the first area of my mission.  It has a lot of potential, and I am very excited to see what the next two transfers have in store.

We have two amazing sistas in our area named Mary and Julie.  Mary is 17 and Julie is 12.  They are so smart!  We taught them about The Book of Mormon and invited them to read the first chapter in 1 Nephi before out next appointment.  We came back and found that Mary had read to chapter two and Julie to chapter 10.  What was even better was that they could remember what they had read and had written a list of questions to ask us.  They also attended a baptism with us this past Saturday.

We are also teaching a single mom named Amina.  She lives at the house of a member, but works at a nakamal (a place that sells kava, an alcoholic beverage) so it makes it hard for her to live the word of wisdom.  She is strong and recognizes God's hand.  She had a dream this past week during which she was told she needed to change NOW.  She hasn't touched kava since then!

We have many, many members in our area and they love working with the missionaries (thanks to Sista Manly and her bubbly personality).  Our branch is wonderful and am I really excited to be in Sharpi and in this branch!  I love you all and hope you have a great week.
Our house with a view of the ocean and a cruise ship!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Toa's Baptism!

Toa's baptism
 Highlight of the week:  Toa's baptism!!  It was such an amazing experience for everyone who came.  He is such a humble man and so willing to do what the Lord asks.  He bore his testimony, dressed in a nice white shirt and tie the eldas brought for him, and testified of how God has a plan.  He explained that because we taught Elsie he then became interested in what we had to share.  Little did we know that because of Elsie, we would find Toa, the one who was really prepared to accept the gospel.  He was confirmed a member of the Church on Sunday and bore his testimony again in fast and testimony meeting. I was even asked to speak at his baptism about the Holy Ghost.   Such a miracle to see him take this step!

Transfer calls came on Saturday morning and Sista Ouamambare is headed to Vila and she will be serving with a sista from Kiribati.  I will be moving to the other side of the plantation and working in Sharpi, also with a sista from Kiribati, Sista Betero.  Sharpi is a great area and I am excited to work with Sista Betero!  I'm super sad to leave Showground and especially the Banban branch.  I have met some incredible people and have learned so much from them. 
Little Tina

We've continued working with Sylvie and she is seeing changes.  Malaya and Sua are doing well but Malaya is progressing much faster.  She just eats up the Book of Mormon!  Sua on the other hand will read really quickly what we assigned him to read just before we come and so he doesn't get much out of it.  I hope the new sistas coming to Showground will be able to help him progress, he would be such a great member!! 

We said lots of goodbyes this week and were given lots of food!  Showground has taught me a lot, and although I would never wish to go through it again, I have learned many things- number 1, to trust the Lord more.  He is all-knowing and really does know what will stretch us and what will break us.  He stretched me pretty hard these past three months but not once did He leave me alone.  I am so thankful for my Savior and His constant love and support.