Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Hilton House and other Christmas Activities

 This week all the missionaries from the big island, Viti Levu, and from the other large island, Vanua Levu, came to Suva for a Christmas party.  There were 70 missionaries, plus the 7 senior missisonay couples, and the Mission President and his wife.  I was in charge of the dinner of enchildas, rice, and corn, but I had a lot of help from the other senior couples and Mike (Mostly from me, Mike, + 34 liters of ice cream which Cherie thought was too much).  I sent Mike to buy the ice cream the day of the event, and instead of buying 20 liters as he was instructed, he buys 34 liters.  Even with huge, giant-size portions handed out to the Elders, there was about 8 liters left over. I do have to say the missionaries were very excited when they saw the giant servings of ice cream on their brownie.  Anyway everyone was happy and full and I was really glad when it was all over.  After dinner, the missinaries had a talent show.  There was a lot of island dancing and singing. It was a fun show and an enjoyable night for everyone. 
 These missionaries did a Fijian fan dance. 

For a Christmas service project all the senior missionaries bought needed items for the Hilton House, a disabled children's facility right down the street from where we live.  There are 15 children who live here full time, but 10 of the children were at home for the holidays.  These children (below) do not have any family.  They were abandoned at birth because of their severe disabilities.  We visited today, and took the items and some goodies. The two older girls were so happy to have visitors.  They held our hands when the caretakers showed us around the facility and were so proud to show us their beds.  We sang someChristmas carols and primary songs to them, which they loved, and left them with a prayer.  It was at times impossible to hold back the tears, but it felt so good to bring a little happiness into their lives.
Back -  John, Joshua, Mere, Annie (standing)
Front - Sai

The Group
(Back) Elder Tait, Elder and Sister Kasteller, Sister and Elder Checketts
Sister Tait, Sister Anderson

Annie learning to blow bubbles!  They loved the bubbles!

There is a rain forest preserve not far from Suva, so we took a drive up there.  It was beautiful.  This is actually a small pond that sits below a restaurant called the Raintree Lodge.

These tikis are carved from stone, but they reminded Mike of the tikis we have in our back yard.
This is Brother Meli and Sister Litia Vakarewakobau.  They just moved back to Fiji after living in Northern California for the past 8 years.  Most of you are probably familiar with the "will you" invitation that is part of Preach My Gospel.    Meli told us he was the  Fijian high chief  Brother Merrill was referring to in the
story below:

The focus of the Lord’s mission for His Church might be illustrated by an experience in the island nation of Fiji in 1995. We had just finished a stake conference, and as we were leaving, some missionaries pointed to a woman who wanted us to meet her nonmember husband of 30 years, a Fijian high chief. I shook his hand and, after greetings were exchanged, asked if he had heard the missionaries. “Yes,” he said. “How do you feel about the Church?” I asked. He said he felt good about it. I then asked, “Will you be baptized today?” He looked into my eyes, then away at the sky, the ground, and from side to side. Eternity pressed on this moment. Then came his answer: “Why not?” So I asked, “Is that a yes or a no?” “Yes!” he exclaimed.
His wife burst into tears of joy. We had a jubilant baptism. The mission of the Church had been put into action. This brother was invited and he then took an essential step in coming unto Christ. Baptism was the gate (see 2 Ne. 31:17), but he needed to press forward after baptism. I returned to Fiji a few months later and found that our new member was already an elder in the Melchizedek Priesthood. A year after his baptism, he and his wife were endowed and sealed.    
If you want to read the entire article found in the Ensign Oct. 2001, the link is below.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Christmas Season in the South Seas

The Sisters tracting in Fiji on their day off, but nobody
was around except for a few crabs that ran inside
when they got near their home.

Here I am wearing my sulu I got at the school Christmas party.  It is really cool!  A lot cooler than pants.
I doubt this is BYU dress code even with the T-shirt.

We spent part of P-day in Pacific Harbor with the Andersons, a Temple couple from British Colombia.  It was nice getting to know them and taking a little break from the work we have been doing.  We average about 14hr. days, and are trying to be faithful in our calling so we usually don't feel too tired.  I believe D&C 84:33 For whoso is faithful unto ... the magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies.
We may not look to "new" but we feel great. 

Family home evening with the Saints from Vanuatu and Tas.  They are different countries from Fiji, but are part of the Fiji Mission.  Three widows and a family with seven "pickaninnies" (this is NOT a derogatory term in their language, Bislamic).  We could get the jist of what they were saying as it is a pidgin form of English & French.  Pickaninny is the word for child and in their lesson and testimonies Father in Heaven was "Papa God"  and the Son was "Papa God Pickaninny"  It was very spiritual and humbling to be in the presence of such faithful people.  The widows were from Tas, they speak an entirely different language, which has no translation of the scriptures or temple ordinances at this time.  Many of them slept at the school because the patron housing at the temple was full.  They were moved to tears by the generosity of the saints in Fiji who provided food for them for the week they were here.  We were moved to tears to hear their testimonies of Joseph Smith and the restoration, listen to them quote scriptures, pray for President Monson, and sing Christmas Carols.  After FHE most of them went upstairs and started singing more Christmas Carols.

Here I am with the District President (Stake President for a Mission Area).  He joined the church when there was only an annex (a congregation too small to be a Branch) in Vanuatu.  Now there are two Districts. (This is my dressy sulu)  Sister
Wooley, the Temple Matron, in the background.

This little girl was so cute.  I think she was fascinated with my blue eyes as she would smile and stare at my eyes when I was talking to her or her mother.

This is the Fanafo Branch Chapel.  They had 43 at church Sunday.

Volleyball on land.

Volleyball at sea.

Guess why I am doing the blog this time?