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