Wednesday, January 8, 2014

You might be in Fiji if you solve the silverware problem simply by not using it

Bula Vinaka!

     HAPPY NEW YEAR! VAKANUINUI VINAKA VOU! Now that I have that out of my system, I guess I can quickly talk about the new year here in Fiji. In Fiji this means have this thing they call veisui. Which basically is water fight. That is the tradition in Fiji for the New Year. From the New year to when school starts again (this being their long break) you just randomly throw buckets of water at each other because you can. Or you drag someone down to the river by their sulu and push them in. The first day no one got us, I think mostly because they weren't doing it because it rained all day. The next day, after service, we just started throwing water around, it was pretty great. I've also snuck up on my branch President a few times and soaked him. It's all in good fun. And besides, I am participating in the culture. :)
     Speaking of service day, we were getting ready to go do service when a member came by and told us the water was going to be shut off. We went and cut wood, of course soaking us in sweat. But the water was off, so no shower. Instead we just went to the tank of rain water outside our house and just soaked ourselves to try to get the sweat off. When the water finally came back on it was super muddy. When I went to fill a cup it was brown. I looked up and said "It came out of the faucet that way Eunice." (If you don't get it, no problem.) I wish I had a picture. But our water is back on now, so no problem there, it was just a little rough that day.
    A quick funny story for that day. We went to eat with a member and he was outside working. When we finished we asked if we could help him cut down the tree he was working on. He decided he could handle it, got into his truck just backed into it, knocking it over. That is American type ingenuity and laziness!
     I've decided we're doing something right here because the members are showing increased love. We've had gifts of fruit coming out of our ears. Bananas, Vudi, Pineapples, papaya, etc. We had so much that we started giving it away. I know I have a hard life out here on the garden island of Fiji.
      Speaking of the garden island of Fiji and food and what not. This has nothing to do with anything really, but for everyone's edification, I have eaten turtle. Also, I know everyone says it, but it tasted just like chicken, so don't try going out of you way to eat it.
      On to a more spiritual type topic, but still pretty cool. I have fulfilled one of my dreams and hiked to our interior village Bainikarasi. We've been trying to plan a trip for months, but things just kept going wrong. We finall decided to just get up and go regardless. It wasn't perfect, but it got the work going. It is an hour hike straight up, and if you don't start by about 6 or so, you end up in the blazing sun and sweating more water than you thought you had. We got up and the sun just broke through the morning mist as we did. Perfect timing. We started teaching, and we didn't get to see everyone we wanted to, but it was a start. The biggest obstacle is that these people usually only come down once a month if even that, so church attendance may be hard. We met a lot of less actives down lower closer to the road though. Hoping they can start coming to church, that would really boost our branch and save their souls at the same time. :) The best part, besides the visits, is I can say that I have hiked through the jungle with a guide hacking at the foliage all around me with a knife, just to get to an appointment. Everything is worth it if you can just help one come closer to Christ.
     Sorry not a whole lot of spiritual this week. We have had a pretty rough time, many of our investigators are young and not too interested in using their school break to sit with the missionaries. We still work our tails off though regardless of what people do. We have learned that to do missionary work the right way it must be the Lord's way. And that way is obedience. We brought a less active to church last week. His name is Siri. He's been wanting to come, but he's been scared. This was the best week to bring him. We read Elder Uchtdorfs talk The best time to Plant a Tree. It was all about starting again, and the best time being now. It got Siri all fired up and he started telling us everything he was going to do to be active again. To start right now. So if you feel lost or like you're too far gone, don't wait until a new year or a new month or whatever to start again, to try harder, to make yourself better. Start now, it is the best time to start. As the Music Man says," If you pile up enough tomorrows, you'll end up with a lot of empty yesterdays." That's my two cents for today. I love you all and hope the best for you in everything.
  Elda Mokini

Thursday, December 19, 2013

You might be in Fiji if a long walk on the beach is how you get somewhere not a romantic getaway...

Bula Vina'a!

Well this week went by quick. Probably because I emailed last Wednesday thus cutting my email period short by one day. Still, time moves by fast either way. I can't believe that I've already had my first week with Elder Golson, but I also can't believe that I've only known him for a week...if that makes sense. I'm not sure what I've already said about Elder Golson, but I'll say a bit more since we were a bit rushed last week. He's awesome. The best part of being with him is that he is always fired up and ready to go. WE constantly encourage each other to do better and have fun while we are doing it. We've been having slow work in Qeleni the past few months, so it's been hard to work out of the rut, but Elder Golson showed up and said that we can just forget about what every says. Qeleni isn't a slow hard area, we just need to work harder. Feeling his energy I told him a wise saying from a wise man "It's not hard, it just requires effort." Taking this to heart we got out and worked talking to everyone we found and the work is starting to get a footing again. It's not quite up to the missionary ideal of a "good area" but give us a break, we've only been at it for a week.
      That's just an overview of what's been happening out here, not I guess I ought to go into a bit more detail. We've just been going around trying to meet everyone. The actual village Qeleni had been mostly untouched until now, so we pulled up our sleeves (figuratively since we only wear short sleeves) and went to work talking to people. In the process we looked for service. A lot of people were making sasa-s which are traditional Fijian brooms made out of coconut tree leaves. You have to cut the stalk of the leaf down. Then pull the individual leaves off, and then shave the leaf part off with a knife leaving only the stick-like bendy piece that holds up the leaf. Then you bundle those together and tah dah! you have a broom. Since everyone was making those we quickly learned how and started to help. It was fun, becoming more cultured by the day.
     We've been looking for every opportunity that we can to do service. We had service set up with one of our investigators to go up to his farm and help him out up there. But he decided to go diving instead that day. We ended up going up with another man, who is also the uncle of half our recent converts (one family) and helping him. True to Fijian nature he didn't really want us to help him too terribly much. Just told us to rest and do small things. We took the time to get to know our recent converts really well. It was really fun to hike up into the mountains of Taveuni though. We got to see the beautiful interior of Fiji. I'd say that is even more stunning than the beaches and the oceans, but hey, I'm an Oregonian.
     We had a lot of work this week trying our best to keep our promise to turn this area around. One thing we planned on was hiking up to the interior village we have in our stewardship called Bainikarasi. However, as we started to go, on a day that was much too hot, my shoe broke and we were unable to make the hike. I think the Lord knew that it was too hot and that there were other things we needed to do down here. We ended up just going to Qeleni and seeing a bunch of people there getting some great return appointments and service done. No matter what we do, the work of the Lord continues unhindered by our limitations. God always prepares a way.
     Part of our attempt to build up the area involved a missionary meeting with our branch presidency. We decided the best thing to do to move the work forward is to involve the members (no duh). Because of this we are working with a paper called the Member-Missionary Promise. This spiritually prepares the members to receive revelation on who we can go see and share the gospel with. I'm excited about this new plan and if you've never heard of it or haven't done it yet, I'd suggest you ask the missionaries if they've heard of it and why they aren't doing it. It keeps the missionaries and the members closer as the strive to work together to build up the kingdom of God.
       Okay, I'm almost done. The last thing I wanted to do was share, not about an experience, but my thoughts because of it. The first idea I want to connect with the sharing is something that President Wilson said. He said only the truly righteous don't come to church. I looked at him funny and asked why. He said, because sinners go to church to get a remission of their sins and repent. Obviously if you aren't going it means you don't need a remission of your sins, so you must be especially righteous. I want to warn everyone to never be too righteous to come to church. It isn't worth it. Sometimes problems occur and people get offended. They leave the church because of a person. Nothing someone else said or did, or is saying and doing, is worth leaving the church. If you are thinking "If only they weren't there I would go to church." That is wrong. The Christ like thing to do is forgive them and attend church. By not coming the only person you are hurting is yourself and no one else. Especially not the person you are mad at. At the last day it will be much worse for you then the person that did wrong or said wrong because they are still coming to church. When the day of judgement comes it will be them that enter into the rest of the Lord, a repentant sinner, and you that shall be told  get thee hence o thou worker of iniquity. Because the House of the Lord is the house of sinners and publicans and Samaritans and those that are not accepted and the downhearted. Don't allow the sin of pride to pull you away from his hallowed house.
    Enough preaching, I just needed to share that final thought. I have gained a huge testimony of the importance of church attendance, and that is about the dumbest reason to not attend church. I love all of you and wish you could be experience the great joys that I get to experience out here. All my afflictions on the mission become but a small moment as they are quickly swallowed up the the joys of the next moment. Thank you for your support and prayer.

Elder Morgan

Monday, July 22, 2013

You Might Be in Fiji can't tell the difference between a poorly kept paved road and a well kept dirt road

Bula Vinaka na Noqu Ma'avusue

First off, Ma'avusue is Vosavara (the dialect in my area) for family. I thought it looked cool. Second, and the most important reason for this email is that I have made history. I was the first missionary in Raki2 (that means Raki squared or Rakiraki) history to take a hot shower in the Raki2 flat. I managed to gerry-rig the the hot shower heater with pipe, coat hanger, a hole in the wall, and a metal bar too; now we have hot water. Also, because there is no plug in the bathroom, the cord goes out the door and into the bed room across the way, but that's okay. Man that was so exciting. I actually look forward to showering now.
    Just a word to the wise, if you send me a package and it is time sensitive, send it way in advance. The mail system here is terrible. The church doesn't use it. The package arrives in Fiji, sits in an office for a while, eventually gets magically approved and then sent to the mission home where it sits until someone comes out towards my area that they can send the package with. Give it lots of time.
    We had service this week and everything fell through, it was kind of sad. Instead, I swept our entire flat and I have a testimony that missionaries are disgusting. That's all I will say about that. Also, I'm turning into dad, I clean things when they need to be cleaned just because it needs to be cleaned and living in a pig stye is nasty. That's a good thing though. After sweeping the house we had more time so we went upstairs to the church and started to clean. You know it has been a while if you have to clean the cleaning supplies before you can clean the building. Judging by the state of that mop bucket, I'd say that it hasn't been used since it was bought when the building was made. Mopping the church reminded me of my Wendy's days. I'm so happy I'm not working there right now. My heart goes out to all the poor fast food workers.
     A few funny stories before the more serious. First of all, we were studying the other day when we heard the bleating of a goat right outside. Somehow, this poor creature had wondered into our yard (which is fence and gated). I grabbed a broom and played goat round-up. The video my companion took is quite comical I must say. Oh memories created on the mission. Speaking of memories. Just yesterday we were out proselyting but had a dinner appointment in the middle. We went to the appointment to find the gate locked and the sister who is to feed us praying on the other side of the gate. As we approached she told us she didn't have the key and had been praying for a way to open the gate. Since nothing came to mind she decided that, instead of letting us starve, she would hand the food to us over the gate. She also handed us an ibe (traditional Fiji mat) to sit on. There is something surreal about eating fish (the best fish I've ever tasted mind you) on a grass based mat in Fiji by the side of a dirt road. (see picture I sent)  Final funny story, I must say I'm grateful my faith is strong. If not, my branch's singing might have sent me home. Of the twenty or so members that show up to church regularly, only three I'd guess (us the missionaries included) can carry a tune. It is so bad sometimes that I want to keel over and die. So if your faith is weak, so go to Rakiraki branch, they might drive it from you.
     I have another interesting story, Fiji is so interesting its hard not to have interesting stories. In Fiji, we are told specifically not to proselyte to Muslims, unless they specifically invite us. We were given a referral to go give a blessing to a sick Muslim. We went and asked if we could give him a blessing, he was more than willing. After the blessing his mother and him both asked when we were coming back. Not even Christian Fijians do that. I'm excited to see where this goes. You know, I never expected my first blessing on my mission to be to a Muslim.
     This week has been an up and down kind of week. What seemed like success, what seemed like defeat, what turned to the opposite and what turned to the same. We found many people to teach, of which I'm very excited, but we lost some too. I wrote about Veniana, my first investigator found, last week. She moved to Suva a few days ago so I don't know what will happen to her. I hope she receives the missionaries there. And her son, Laisiasa also moved, but he moved to Lautoka, closer, but still out of our area. They were both such good investigators I'm saddened to see them leave. I hope we were able to plant a seed in their life of the gospel of Jesus Christ to make them desire it where ever they go. Our other disappointment is that we road out to Navalau One (if you remember from last letter, very far away) and managed to teach no one because everyone was at the funeral of the Chief that just died that day, probably smacking grog, unfortunately.
     In more exciting news, one of our recent converts changed houses and when looking for her (because there aren't really street addresses here, you just ask around) we met a family whose mother used to be a member until she got married and was forced to change to her husband's religion of Catholicism (a tradition in Fiji after marriage). I'm not sure if she will ever come back, though she claims to still hold the faith, but there are no boundaries on the children joining the church and I think they would be great additions to our branch. As a matter of fact, one of this woman's children is one of our recent converts, so I know they are a willing family. The funny part is that we didn't know they were related when we asked them where our other recent convert lived. The Lord leads you to those he prepares.
     We also started meeting with Veniana's daughter, who has met with missionaries before, and her sister-in-law's cousin thing I think. Even without missionary encouragement she has nearly read the entire Book of Mormon and wants to be baptized. We just need to make sure she's ready. Hopefully we can get her husband to start listening to the lessons as well. That's the biggest problem in Fiji, the wives are willing, but the husbands are not. Such is the case with a long time investigator Sister Ana who just can't join the church (or come to church) because he husband won't let her or the kids go. I pray for their hearts to be softened.
     Our most progressing investigator besides the one with a baptismal date rapidly approaching, is Vuli (another relation to Veniana that I don't understand fully). He knows the church is true and we invited him to come to church. He didn't come. When we talked to him about it he said "I woke up this morning and I thought, I want to go to church, Then I realized I don't know where it is." We never told him where the church building is. DONG! McFly! Anybody home? Think McFly, think! Now that he has directions, hopefully he'll come.
     I love seeing the eyes of understanding come to these people. Fijians are simple people, and sometimes it is hard for them to understand complex ideas because their language causes everything to be simplified. However, when they know it, they know it, and they will not let go. I've seen that fire start to kindle within these people and I love helping them start it. Especially the doctrine of Christ. If we but have faith in Him, repent of our sins to come to Him, are baptized and cleansed in his name, receive the Holy Ghost as our guide, and keep pushing forward or endure to the end, it is possible for us to receive "all that the Father hath." When they know that, their face brightens and hope kindles within them. I just want to share that message with all that will hear me. I know that this is the doctrine of Christ and by following it we can return to live with our Heavenly Father. I hope you all know that as well. I love you all,

Elder Morgan

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Na Noqu Kai Rakiraki

Bula Vinaka!
Wow it feels like forever and a day since I last emailed, and the circumstances then were much cushier I assure you. I guess I should tell you first about the subject of my email and move on from there. After two an a half days of waiting around the mission home we finally got assigned to our first area. This area will be "where I am from" for the rest of my mission. I was assigned to the north west side of Viti Levu (the big island) to a koro called Rakiraki. When at the MTC my teachers told me that almost nobody went to biking areas in Fiji, none of them did, lo and behold, my first area is one of the few biking areas in Fiji. You may be wondering, how do you bike in a skirt with two flaps in the front? Good question, the answer is pin and pray. It makes for some quite interesting rides.
       My trainer is name Elder Hishibashi. He's been in Fiji for nearly a year now and he's great. He knows a lot about the people and the culture which I've had to learn fast. I've learned plenty from him, but not everything yet. He's from Hawaii, so at least he speaks English, but I'm really trying to speak Fijian as much as I can. I've learned something, learning a language is hard. I think I've said that before, but I mean REALLY hard. My goodness. The people are kind though and patient, and most of them know some English so they can help me out if I simply must ask how to say a word.
      Let's see, it has been a rough first week and I am sore and morning always comes too fast. But I do enjoy watching the gospel touch lives. In my area we can choose between two kinds of pain, at least for the newbies, that is the pain of riding a bike for a really long time, or the pain of sitting cross legged in a house teaching a lesson a lot. After a few hours you are just in pain regardless of what you are doing so it doesn't really matter anyway.
     I think my mission is exactly opposite to David's, and I think that for one main reason. David came home after wearing shoes everywhere he went, even inside. In Fiji, wearing shoes inside is rude and wearing shoes outside is optional, which is perfect for me. The lives of the people are very humble. As a matter of fact, the lives of the missionaries are rather humble. I'm blessed with a rather large flat, but it is barely a step up from what a normal Fijian lives in. The difference is hard floors, electricity in every room and a water filter. The reason our flat is so nice is that we live underneath the church building. That's great because I don't have to worry about being late for church...ever. I do like the way Fijians live though. They don't rush to anything. They just live on Fiji time, which is an euphemism for nothing happens quickly here, so don't worry.
      My area is huge and we don't even cover half of it. To get to our farthest extent takes an hour on bike and the bus system is too unreliable to take out there. Speaking of which, that is how I spent my Saturday, riding my bike way out in the boonies, and then stopping at houses on the way back. The farthest village we visit is called Navalou 1. It is called that because the second farthest village is called Navalou 2. Don't ask me why, I don't know it just is.
      I have a pretty cool story to tell. We went to my first lesson (after two had fallen through) and offered to teach a man named Laisiasa. He's great, his only hold up is he needs to come to church, but that's another story. When we sat down to teach him his mother (at least I think she is his mom, relations are REALLY confusing in Fiji) decided to sit down with us. Because Laisiasa had already received all the lessons we just decided to leave a spiritual thought and Elder Hishibashi decided to talk about the spirit world. When that led to baptism for the dead and the scripture in 1 Corinthians 15:29, the mother, Veniana, began to cry. She had lost two children that she had been told were gone forever. When we testified that baptism for the dead could reclaim them if they accept in gospel in the spirit world, she exclaimed that the Holy Ghost was testifying to her that it was true. She told us that she always rejected us teaching her before because she believed that our church was of the devil, but Laisiasa convinced her to stay and when she felt the Holy Ghost testify to her she knew that the Holy Ghost wouldn't testify of a church that was of the devil. I have taught her everyday since I arrived in Rakiraki.
       The rest of my time I've spend riding up and down dusty, rocky hills teaching as many as we can. It's hard to contact here though. People will let you in because that is polite, but not because they truly want to hear your message. Instead we are focusing on our investigators and hoping we get referrals. The other problem is that Rakiraki is a Methodist village. 
    The Methodist Church here is weird. The people go to church and the talatala (preacher) screams at them in a microphone for an hour and then they go home. It's not even testifying or trying to bring people closer to Christ, it's like a screaming contest with only one contender.
     Speaking of church being weird, it's hard to get anything done at church when your branch is so small, and we have a unit we have to visit on Sundays so we must take a bus to the unit after the branch meeting to be there for church. Anyway, 10 o clock hit and the branch president hadn't shown up because the bridge from Rakiraki to where I live (not in Rakiraki because it's a Methodist village) is broken and the bus didn't come by and it's a long walk. Bad excuse, but whatever. The Relief Society president started class, of which I understood nothing or nearly nothing, after that the ward clerk started Sunday school, of which I also understood nothing. Finally, we had sacrament meeting with the ward clerk presiding (I think he's also a councelor, but I don't know). I blessed the sacrament in Fijian and Elder Hishibashi passed it. When that was over we zipped over to Nakorokula for our unit meeting to do the sacrament again. Elder Hishibashi forgot the bread so they had breadfruit instead (close enough, right?).
     I know I'm not in America anymore for two reasons besides the fact that everyone here speaks Fijian or Hindi. First, the showers are cold. We have a small electric heater, but we have yet to mount it on the shower because of a few issues, I intend to work on that. You may think that cold showers would feel nice in Fiji, but this is winter here, and yes it is sweltering during the day, but in the morning and at night it is only pleasant. And with windows that are always wide open and the wind blowing, your shower is cold. Secondly, I saw two women just whip it out and start breast feeding on Sunday. That was loads of fun and I could only think that Grandpa's story about Jolly Lot just giggling when he saw that.
     I apologize I forgot my camera and will not be sending pictures this week, but I'll try for next week. I'm not sure how well that will work in this crummy internet cafe, but we'll see. Oh, I'm sure I have other things to say, but I want to say this last thing and then close, unless I remember something else. I've said before that they have different dialects in Fiji. Some are harder than others, but we only learned one. When I got here my companion said the people will love me if I speak in their dialect. I have trouble enough with normal Fijian, but I've been trying sometimes. Basically it involves dropping all T's and changing some words. It isn't too hard, but it was quite the awaking to hear, "I'm glad you know Fijian, now change it." Life's hard, then you die, right? I only say that because the second half of the phrase to me is then life is easy. David said that my biggest problem would be having to eat too much. With how much riding I'm doing, there is no way, and we don't exactly have dinner appointments, we just wait to be invited, so if a hurricane comes and blows me away, don't be surprised.
     A mission is hard, don't let anybody tell you otherwise. However, for some reason, when it's over, everyone wants to go again. I had an epiphany. A mission is like giving birth. It is REALLY hard when you do it (I don't even know how hard) but for some reason you bring it on yourself again by choice. I'm at the beginning of the labor (pun intended) and I'm not yet seeing why I would want to do this again, but I also know that I'm going to want to. I can't wait for that day to come, and I will strive to find it. I've just about used up my time, I know this gospel is true and I'm excited to be sharing it, no matter how painful it is to my behind on a bike and my hips when cross legged. It's worth it and God gives liberally to those that give to Him. I only ask for your prayers on my behalf to give me strength. Thanks for prayers you have given me already, I've needed them. I know for myself that Christ is my Savior, I invite you to learn to same for yourself by study, prayer, testifying, and striving to have the Holy Ghost testify to you that it is true. I love you all if you took the time to actually read this long email :). Stay strong in the faith.
                           Elder Morgan

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

I made it

Bula Vinaka
Hey, I don't have a lot of time so this emial won't be long. Thursday night was great, we had fireworks and watched 17 Miracles, a fantastic movie. Friday was a blur of getting ready to leave. Saturday was a long day of waiting, but I talked to you then. Sunday disappeared in an airplane ride and the international date line and I'm here now, safe and sound. I've already bought my Sulu, pictures to come soon hopefully. Good stuff. Well, I've got to go, and not much else has happened thus far. Fiji is gorgeous! I'll try and take as many pictures as I can. I love you all!
Elder Morgan

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Friday, July 5, 2013

It's the final countdown

Bula Vinaka!
    Well everyone, this is my final MTC email. It's hard to believe I've been here for five weeks and will be leaving in two days. Now I have to remember what happened this week. It's all a blur of MTC stuff. A lot of class, a lot of lessons, and a lot of teaching. I don't know where to begin. I guess I start with a funny story and go from there. I had my first major language flub, at least as far as I know, and my teachers were laughing SUPER hard. In Fijian cici (theethee) is to run. And if you want to say I'm running, or I'm running forever, you say Au cici tu. When I tried to say that I said Au ci tu. This may not sound too bad to an American, but to a Fijian, leaving off the last ci is hilarious. because the word ci means to quickly expel air... from your rear. If that went over your heard, perhaps you are more spiritual than I am. I don't know why all my funny stories involve that, maybe I'm just too base for missionary work. Oh well.
     Apparently, according to my friend Juliene Ames (yes I'm calling you out) I can be seen in the broadcast around minute 31, I don't know that for a fact, but you can look if you'd like. Or you can think that I keep bringing this up and I need to stop and just not look. It's up to you.
     As you all know, today is the Fourth of July. I was so saddened that I would have to miss the Forth of July, but I came anyway. Well, the Lord blesses the faithful. Tonight, we all get to watch the Stadium of FIRE! that's the firework show from the BYU stadium. If you don't know, I LOVE fireworks. It's so nice of them to celebrate my last P day here with fireworks, isn't it?
     I guess I ought to write some words of encouragement before leaving. Our speaker on Tuesday was Mathew Richardson. He told about the stone tablet in the MTC lobby. This MTC inspired DavidO Mckay (later prophet of the church if you don't know) to become a diligent missionary. At the top it said "What Ere Thou Art, Act Well Thy Part." Below it was a square with nine smaller squares. the squares had the numbers 2 through 10. I wish I could draw it, because no matter which way you go, up, down or diagnal hitting 3 squares they equal 18. So basically, if any of the numbers changed, then the perfect square wouldn't work. It was pretty cool. He said we are all part of the missionary work and if we try to be something that we aren't, then we will ruin the triangle. (triangle in reference to Elder Richardson's talk) So just be yourself, because the Lord gave it to you and you should like what the Lord gave you. I hope all works in your favor, and if you are faithful, I know that it will. Next time I write, FIJI BABY! I can't wait to tell everyone about how amazing it is. I love you all!
          Elder Morgan