Sunday, October 24, 2010

Bula Vinaka (A Very Warm Welcome) To Fiji

 On our way to Fiji our one and only stop was at Christmas Island.  It is somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and Fiji.  There was a medical team getting off there.  As we were flying in we saw this view of the beautiful turquoise water.

This is the airport terminal at Christmas Island.  We were the only plane there. 

As you can see it is an international airport. 

On our second day in Fiji we took a drive along by the ocean.  This is the sign that greeted us by the beach.

This is Mike learning to drive.  It is really hard to get used to driving on the left side of the road and on the other side of the car.  The turn signals are on the opposite side of the steering wheel too.  Every time he wanted to signal a right turn he would turn on the windshield wipers.  We were laughing so hard every time the wipers would come on.  Actually he is doing really well with his driving.  I haven't tried driving yet (I am going to wait a few weeks.)

 This is a view of the valley and the bay from the temple.  It was an overcast day, but it has been drizzly and overcast most days since we arrived. 

The Suva, Fiji Temple

 This is the view from the LDS Church College.  It is a beautiful campus.  Mike and I have our office here at the college.
They call the high schools, colleges and the elementary schools, primary schools.
They have a few buildings that have thatched roofs like this. But the other buildings are larger and also have walls that are made out of some kind of woven plant material.  Most of the buildings at the school are made from block.

 We are pretty much settled into our little flat.  This is the shower room.
 And the room for the toilet.
The Kitchen

The living room.

This is the biggest and best part of the flat.  There is a very large deck that we share with the neighboring missionary couple.  We had dinner on the deck tonight.

We finally arrived in Fiji late Wednesday evening.  Bishop Prasad, his sweet wife, and their daughter, Channel, picked us up at the airport.  We stayed at the apartments at the Suva temple for a few days until our apartment was ready.  We thought we had a choice between 2 apartments, but then the larger one near the church schools wasn't available, so we moved in to the other apartment.  It is actually very nice and fully furnished.  We are very thankful to have it.

We have met so many wonderful people already.  Everyone is so friendly and welcoming here.  Today we went to church.  It was a very small branch, but the spirit there was very strong. There was no accompaniment to any of the music, but the members sing beautifully and with all their hearts.  Most people here are very poor, but also very humble and so happy and thankful for the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  They are so kind to the missionaries.  The children just love us and want to be near us. 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

BYU Hawaii

When we arrived in Hawaii, Brother & Sister John Bailey picked us up at the airport and greeted us with a beautiful lei.  Every time I have visited Hawaii, I always wanted to be welcomed in that way.  We loved the lei.  The next day, we had the opportunity to be guests in Brother Bailey's education classes and we shared a little bit about our teaching experiences.

That morning we had breakfast in the student cafeteria.  As we were getting our breakfast, there was only 1 person in the entire place that talked to us.  He asked us if we were from England because he had noticed our name tag.  We found out he was from FIJI!  We had breakfast with him and we were so impressed with him. He is the only member of his family.  He came from a small island in Fiji and met the missionaries.  When his family found out he was joining the church they kicked him out of the house.  They put him on a boat to Suva which he said was a two and a half day boat ride.  He went on a mission for the church and he said he wrote his family every week, but they never wrote him back.  When he returned from his mission, there was no one there to welcome him home.  He stayed in Suva and went to the church school and worked.  He continued to send letters to his family and asked the missionaries to deliver them.  His family has finally softened their hearts somewhat, and they are communicating with him now. We had tears in our eyes as we listened to his story about all he sacrified for the Church of Jesus Christ.   

 The BYU Hawaii campus has some beautiful buildings.  This is a mosaic portraying David O. McKay at a flag raising ceremony at an elementary school in Hawaii.  This gave him the vision to expand the church college system, so these children could further their education.

We were so surprised to have a cute 1 bedroom apartment right on the beach.  This is our view from the porch.  As we were unpacking I hear Mike say, "Oh my gosh!"  I thought something was wrong and asked him what was the matter.  He says, "This place is so awesome!"

This was one of the beautiful sunrises we have witnessed as we walked on the beach.

We had dinner with Courtney and Robby Hundley and their cute girls.  We had a really nice time visiting with them.  

We visited the Polynesian Cultural Center and these are the cast members from Fiji.

This is Mike dancing with the other lucky people that had birthdays in October.
Fiji's Independence Day is October 10th, the same as his birthday! 

The Laie Temple.  It has been closed for over a year because of remodeling and the Open House starts next week.  We missed it by 3 days. 

We leave for Fiji on Tuesday, October 19th.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


  But great are the promises of the Lord unto them who are upon the isles of the sea; wherefore as it says isles, there must needs be more than this, and they are inhabited also by our brethren. 
2 Nephi 10:21

We had a wonderful first week at the MTC.  What an amazing place. The first day we were just struck by the great numbers of the Lord's missionary force.  We kept thinking of Daniel's prophecy that the kingdom of God would go forth upon the earth and that we were just one tiny speck on that stone.   The keys of the kingdom of God are committed unto man on the earth, and from thence shall the gospel roll forth unto the ends of the earth, as the stone which is cut out of the mountain without hands shall roll forth, until it has filled the whole earth.  D&C 65:2 

            ... go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.  Mark 16:15

We were walking down the hall and we suddenly heard, "Mr. Tait!"  We were surprised to see one of Mike's former 6th grade students (Elder Eliason) at the MTC.  We were so excited to see him.


After the Tuesday night devotional we ran into Elder Brandon Guthrie.  He was so happy and excited about missionary work.

All the senior missionaries in our group.  There were 26 couples going all over the world.  Some of the places were: Ghana;  Beirut, Lebanon (they are the first proseliting missionaries to Lebanon); Poland; Switzerland; Ukraine; Norway; South America; Singapore; Japan; Australia; U.S.A; and of course FIJI!

Our district: The Warners, The Hobbs, Brother Hepworth (our teacher), Elder and Sister Tait.

We met so many wonderful people.  Our teachers were great!  We met a missionary who had come from Brazil to serve a mission in Canada.  One day we were walking around and an Elder came up to us and said, "I don't have a companion."  He looked sort of lost.  He could speak some English, but Mike learned some Portuguese on his mission and could communicate with him.  I'm sure the Lord sent him to us.  He said he had come in the day before and had been with a group of Elders, but all the other Elder's companions came but his did not.  We took him to the information desk and visited with him until his zone leaders came. 

  Not only are missionaries being sent to all the world, but they come from all over the globe.  There were even missionaries from Iran and Pakistan.  The work is truly worldwide.  We also met a missionary who had just come in from Bora Bora.  They have a place at the MTC, funded by contributions made to the General Missionary Fund, where missionaries who would not be able to get appropriate clothes can get suits, shoes, etc.  He was trying on his first pair of shoes (that were not sandals).  We told him we would be trading our shoes for sandals soon. 

The spirit is so strong.  We had some wonderful practice teaching experiences. The MTC has rooms and you knock on the door, and a pretend investigator opens the door and invites you in to a living room.  I was so nervous at first, but once we started teaching it was so great.  We came out feeling such happiness and joy from teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Tuesday night devotionals are wonderful.  They treat the senior couples sort of like royalty at the MTC.  It makes us feel very loved and appreciated.  They save the first 4 or 5 rows at the devotionals for the senior missionaries.  One of the things I liked the best was the singing.  15 minutes before the meeting starts we all sing hymns, and the missionaries sing with great spirit.  Then the opening hymn is always, "Called to Serve".  It is an amazing sight to turn around and see the hundreds of misionaries singing with all their heart.  It brings tears to your eyes.