Sunday, January 31, 2016

Week #25

Bula Vinaka Family, This week has been a long one to say the least. I've been on a boat ride, 2 3-hour bus rides and an hour and a half plane ride. Yes..I was transferred. President called me on Tuesday while we were all in the somosomo flat. I picked up the phone and he said, "Hello Elder Jonutz, how is Taveuni?" I told him I was loving it...but as soon as he asked me that I knew I was getting transferred. He said, "You've been doing very well in Taveuni and we are very impressed with your work and so we have prayed about and decided to send you out of Taveuni to Sigatoka. There you will be follow-up training Elder Stevens!" I said I'd love to President! So, on Wednesday I had to say goodbye to everyone in Taveuni. I’m not going to lie...I miss that place with my whole self.  Elder Vitiarai was just about to baptize his mom and we had found those two boys the week before who weren't members and wanted to go on missions and be baptized. I was hoping I could stay in Taveuni and baptize his mom with him and see those two boy's baptisms ugh! But I am thrilled to know that Sigatoka is the new place the Lord needs me to be. However, saying goodbyes on Wednesday was pretty hard on me. I went to say goodbye to Sister Taylor and Sister Peterson (who is this elderly lady in the branch that I love!) Sister Taylor baked me two cakes and she and Sister Peterson both cried as I walked away from their houses for the last time. The members in Taveuni are my family and I love them. Thursday morning at 8:00 I got on the boat and slowly watched the island of Taveuni disappear. It was sad haha...Elder Vitiarai is the new district leader in Taveuni though! I’m so excited for him. When he first got the call though he was pretty scared. He was like, I can't even speak much english! I just laughed. He's going to be the coolest district leader out there. It was just as hard to say goodbye to the members as it was to the district. We had all spent Christmas together and helped each other through a lot and had all become like way close friends. The Czieps fed me one last dinner. THEY MADE ME ENCHILADAS! They are the bomb and I'm going to miss them a lot.  On Thursday night I had to stay in Labasa and then the next morning I took the plane to Viti Levu. I arrived in Sigatoka on Thursday night. It was about an hour drive from the airport and we have a car so that’s chill! Elder Stevens is a funny guy haha. He's from Spokane, Washington. His sense of humor is a little different but I’m excited to get to know him more. So....Sigatoka is huge. We cover about 3 hours of car driving in our area! All I know is it's the second biggest area in Fiji that you can serve in. And it's just me and Elder Stevens :) So should be quite the experience. To be honest I’m scared out of my mind. It's a big deal to follow-up train someone and I’ve been feeling pretty overwhelmed with all these members and investigators I don't know. But, I know that I’m here for a reason and I’m just going to work as hard as I can and pray for as much direction as I can for this area. Sigatoka is quite the opposite from Taveuni. They call it the “Burning West” here haha. Yeah, it’s hot!!! And we live right by these huge sand-dunes that stretch out for about 3 miles. Sigatoka compared to Taveuni is a huge city. I’m only used to one road and it’s crazy here. Cars and roads everywhere. All the elders have been telling me Sigatoka is kind of known as the dead area of the mission. Meaning there’s not really a lot of work here. Last month they had 0 saints. I’m going to put my heart and soul into this area. If I can be exactly obedient and pray for help I know with Heavenly Father we can find those who are ready to receive the gospel here. Last night I gave a baptismal date to one of our new investigators named Julian. He accepted to be baptized on February 28th. Please pray for him. Church was crazy. They meet in this building on the second floor and there are about 60 members. They told me right when I showed up to give a talk haha. In Fiji that’s just how it works. An american couple from Utah attended church with us and when I started my talk in Fijian they thought I was cool. So I felt pretty awesome hahaha. Our flat in Sigatoka has power for more than 2 hours a day...unlike that’s sweet! It's a lot of change and the only thing getting me through is the gospel is still the same. And no matter where I go Heavenly Father is my best friend and he will be here to teach me and show me how to help his people here. I don't know how people live without a relationship with our loving Heavenly Father. I love him. I miss all of you. Please pray that I might have  peace of mind and be able to know where I should start in this area. I want to be a good follow-up trainer. I’m excited for this challenge and I miss all of you so much. I know Sigatoka is my area for now. The members here (from who I have met so far) are all very nice and....weird hahaha. It’s hard to explain. Oh and I lost my name tag on the boat from Taveuni...It blew off because there was a lot of wind. So I’m borrowing an elder’s name-tag for now. It stinks hahaha ugh. I’ll be getting another one soon though. I can't wait to email you all next week. 

Love, Elder Jonati

Last District Lunch before we all got our transfer calls. Gonna miss these guys like Crazy

Leaving Taveuni...:'(

View from new flat

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Week #24

Bula Vinaka Matavuvale. HOW ARE YOU ALL!?  I’m sorry this email is so late! We went hiking to this cave that I set up for one of our members to take us. It was pretty insane and we got lost so that’s why I’m late to email and I’m so sorry. This week was quite the opposite from last week. Me and Elder Vitiarai let the bummers we had last week drive us to work even harder this week. This week was just fun. On Monday night Elder Vitiarai and I decided to go out teaching during our p-day hours. We were only able to do this because The Czieps were willing. We had two awesome lessons with them. On Tuesday we hit our goal for this month! Originally for the month of January we had a goal of 1 saint. We hit our goal the first week of January and decided we could show some faith and raise our goal to two saints for this month. So on Tuesday we saw sister Tale and she received a temple recommend. Before she was less active and all she needed to qualify to become a returning member was to receive an interview. She received her interview this week and now she's a returning member! So I’m way stoked! Next week we will be baptizing Elder Vitiarai's mom which will give us THREE saints for this month! I’m praying I can stay here in Taveuni. We met two new investigators this month. Both 16 year old boys. Mesake and Tawake. They want to be baptized next month and we both have been teaching them a lot this week. They both are planning to be baptized on February 7th of next month. They really want to go to the temple to and our branch president said the church is paying for all the youth to go. Miracles happen after trials. I can't believe I was even ever discouraged last week because this week has been amazing! Tomorrow I find out if I’m getting transferred. Out of everyone in my district I’m the most likely to go because I've been here the longest. I really really really don’t want to leave taveuni! My members and branch president were telling me I can't go and my branch president said he was going to call the mission president and ask for me to stay hahaha! I told him it doesn't work like that unfortunately! I'm praying pretty hard right now. I just want to be ready for whatever call I get tomorrow. I really want to stay...  So much growth just occurred this week in this area.  But I know if I get called somewhere else it's because the Lord needs me there. My district keeps making fun of me since Taveuni was my first area. They say it's going to be so weird for me if I get like called to suva! Because I don't know if I told you guys this but Taveuni only has one road that goes through the whole island! So if I go to suva which is a city...I’m going to go into shock hahaha! Right now I can't imagine leaving this place...The people here are my family.. They've taught me more than I thought ever possible. I’ve spent nights crying for them and I’ve spent days laughing with them and doing my best to help them spiritually. Matei Taveuni is like a second home for me. So just cross your fingers I stay! So you probably want to here about the cave! On Monday our old returning member Brother Lagi was telling us about this cave that is behind their village. So I asked him if he could lead us to the cave with all the missionaries on pday. Fijians are pretty superstitious. He told us that the cave was haunted from their ancient ancestors who were cannibals and that there were evil spirits in the cave. He was too scared to take us but we got him to take brother cziep up on Saturday so that brother cziep could lead the missionaries there today. Let me just say....This cave sweeeet! It took us about a hour and a half hike. The opening was huge! Bro cziep is like a cave expert! We were crawling on our stomachs through these huge lava tubes and it was pitch black. We had to get approval from the mission president for this activity hahaha! We crawled for about two hours and some of the missionaries almost went insane haha. But the cave led to this open room where bats just filled the room. They were flying everywhere and it was just about like the coolest adventure I’ve ever been on. P-days here are pretty sweet I just gotta say! Afterwards the czieps fed us pizza and ice cream. I’m a happy missionary. I want you all to know that I love Taveuni. This place is a really special place. All because of the people I have come to know. I miss all of you guys. I miss all you cousins and grandparents. I can feel my testimony grow by the day. Some days it is challenged but that only makes it grow more. I know this church is true. The best thing we can do is occasionally re-pray to know if joseph smith was a true prophet. If we do this every once in awhile it will strengthen our testimony.  And I promise you every time you re-ask God He will give you an answer. Sometimes it might take a while to receive an answer. But he will give you one. I love you all so much. Wish me luck for tomorrow. If I get transferred I will be in my new area before next p-day so.....ugh I don’t like transfers haha!. I love and miss you all. 

Love, Elder Jonati

The entrance of the cave
More cave

Gettin real. INside the cave

This is the opening in the cave where all the bats were. It took us 2 hours to get there.

Crawling through the floor

I thought this made a good pose...for the cave

Elder afatasi going down the shaft

If you look closely you can see the bats

Comin out da cave

He's wearing a KFC shirt.

Sittin in a paradise

Service project in Vuna last week

The District on the back of a truck. Yeah

I got bored so I sported my Fly gangsta Glasses

The moths here are big....

Hope his mom didn't let him wear this to school...

Elder Vitiarai looks like a cannibal in this pic. Not gonna lie....

Just want to point out how white my shirt is in this pic

My dinners are so good. Be jealous

Behold. The road to the village of Pagai

I'm telling Y'all. It's green here

From the Vemeeren's blog: "Elder Jonutz and his little buddy"
The Elders carry their new washer to their flat.
The Elders ....the Sisters are now in Suva helping with the Temple Open House Tours.

The Back of my Planner

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Week #23

Bula Vinaka Noqu Matavuvale. I hope all of you are doing great back home.  A lot has happened this week and I've been learning a lot. This week has been hard, but the lessons I've learned from it have been life changing lessons. This week I made it my desire to strive to do everything I can in my area but I learned that people still have their agency :) On Tuesday night we had an A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. lesson with our investigator Jesse. We asked her to pray about baptism and she said if she got her answer she would!  After her lesson we found out Elder Vitiarai's mom is coming to Qeleni and she wants to be baptized here! Tuesday night I was just so good. I was ready to just work as hard as I possibly could and I was so excited to see people accepting the gospel! On Thursday we had to go down to Vuna which is all the way on the other side of the Island. The elders there needed everyone from the district to go down and help level some church property. When we got there it was rainy. And when I say rainy....I mean RAINY! I don't know how the rain has been back home but the rain here in Taveuni I think falls a little different than in California. It's actually kind of scary. You hear the rain coming before it gets to you and you can see it. It looks like a wall of water and one second you can just be in hot sun and then all of the sudden you see and hear this rushing wall of rain coming fast towards you haha. All you want to do is run but there’s no point. It will get you....and it will find you. It’s legit hahaha! Mom, I'm glad you noticed how dirty my shirt is hahaha. They call it the taveuni tan. I only have this one shirt left because the other ones grew mold. Pretty gross.... On Friday, we had a pretty hard day...We did our weekly planning and were way excited to go and commit Jese to Baptism! Before I explain what happened in the lesson I just want to share what I've learned this week. I’ve learned that missionary work is far from easy. Missionaries all experience days where we face discouragement and ridicule. But no matter what I face it will never ever compare to what our Savior went through. I've learned that this work and this life, require faith. I’ve been reading a lot in the New Testament lately and I recently read the story of Peter trying to walk out to Jesus on the water. I've learned that like Peter, sometimes we just need to step out of the boat and trust that he is our Savior. And when our faith weakens or we struggle, his hand is stretched out ready to grab hold and help us. Jesus Christ is our Savior. He loves us more than our minds can even grasp. He wants us to be as happy as we can possibly be! When we let go of ourselves and our pride or fears and put our trust in him, that's when we'll find the most happiness! We can't always control the things that happen in this life or the people around us. We don't have that power. However, we have the power to choose to be happy. I was reading in the Liahona and found this quote by President. Thomas. S. Monson, "We can't direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails." Let the Lord be our light. He's here to guide us and teach us through the still small voice of the Holy Ghost. Jesus Christ, who  healed the sick and raised the dead. Who served and loved his father in heaven with every fiber of his being. He is my Savior. He is your Savior. I know that at some moment in our lives we have felt of his love and his living reality. I had to ask myself this question this week. When was the last time you felt him with you? Remember that he gave his whole life up for us so that we can repent and be happy in this life and the next. His love for us is impossible to comprehend. It is impossible for him to not reach out to us. All we have to do is reach back. Remember that moment when you felt you truly knew him and seize that moment and take it back into your heart. Because I know Jesus Christ truly Lives. It hurts me to think about those who have forgotten his love or maybe have yet to feel it. He loves you and he will come again.  Like I said, this week I've learned a lot about Agency.  Jese took a sad slide down the progression ladder.  She was my favorite investigator. I know we aren't supposed to have favorites but this woman was ready to receive the restored gospel. On Friday night we went to go see Jese. We were excited to hear about her answer to her prayer and solidify her baptismal date. During the last lesson she had expressed to us how much she loves our message. She loves reading the scriptures with us and talking about eternal families because she said in her catholic church they aren't even allowed to read the scriptures nor do they believe in eternal families. The whole Friday I had been praying non-stop that she'd accept baptism. We sat down with her and asked her how her prayer went. She told us she's decided to stay in the catholic church. With a pretty broken heart I bore my testimony to her as strongly as I possibly could. She told us we can still come visit her but only once a week. After this lesson I was pretty confused. I was pretty depressed. We tried to get other lessons that day before we went to dinner at the Czieps because they invited us. We didn't get much lessons. I was struggling inside I'll be honest. Elder Vitiarai pretended to answer the phone and then hung up and looked at me and said, "The Czieps just canceled dinner on us.”  I was about to cry hahaha. He said he was just joking and we both started laughing way hard. Elder Vitiarai is a funny guy and I’m so glad for his sense of humor on really hard days. The next day I was reading in Alma and found this verse: Alma 26:27 -"Now when our hearts were depressed and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success." This scripture was exactly what I needed to hear and the rest of the week I was motivated to give it my all. We didn't get as many lessons as planned this week. We found out our potential returning member almost killed his wife and is now in prison.  A lot of interesting things are happening. I pray for these people every night in my prayers. Please pray for them as well. This work in Matei and Qeleni is teaching me patience, diligence, faith, and that people have their agency. I know that Jese knows this church is true. I could feel it in our lessons. Please pray for her to have an open heart. No matter how hard this week was I loved it. Jesus Christ is the leader of this work and I felt his hand in all of our work this week. I love him. I want to be more like him. I love all of you and hope that you know Jesus Christ lives. Next week is transfers week. I’m praying I'll be able to stay. I love Taveuni so much. Thank you for all your prayers on my behalf and on the people here. They are blessed because of your prayers. I love you Mom and Dad. Tell Hazel, Megan, and Olivia I love them too. 

Much Love, Elder Jonati

I'm still trying to figure out the glasses!!!  I took these pics from the wonderful Vemeeren's blog!  

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Week #22

Dear Matavuvale! I lomani keimami kei misitaki kemudou kece! Na macawa sa oti a dredre sara ga! Ia Au kila sa na ituvavtuva ni kalou. This week we got a surprise call from our district leader. He told us we'd be leaving to Labasa for a zone training meeting on Tuesday morning! To be honest I was pretty upset. I had just planned the whole week out and was way excited to get working! So this week we took that long travel of about 6 hours of boats and buses all the way to Labasa. The night before our district leader told me I’d be giving an “insight” at this ZTM and that the zone leaders and AP's would be there hahaha. .....So I was way nervous and spent most of the traveling preparing my insight. I was glad to hear after that everyone really appreciated my insight. They all thanked me after and it made me feel really good. I take insights pretty seriously because if they are directed by the spirit you can say things that may help some missionaries. So I was relieved that so many were grateful! We spent all of Tuesday through Thursday in Labasa. But it was all worth it because my MTC companion Elder Sieverts got transferred into our zone so I was able to see him. Even better, I got to go on splits with him in his area. It was way weird to be back with him and to see how his Fijian has improved. I missed the guy! Elder Sieverts is the MAN! On Wednesday we went with the Elders who live in Tukavesi to their flat. Elder Davis and Elder Nelson are the two Tukavesi elders. Elder Nelson was also one of my old MTC companions from when we were in the tri-companionship so it was just like a nice ol' family reunion this week haha! We drove four hours to get to their flat and along the way we stopped at this restaurant in SAVUSAVU. I had a fetticiini or however you spell it I forget! My english has gone down hill just so you are aware hahaha. When we got to the Tukavesi elder’s flat it was way cool. They live in a Fijian koro. They actually like live in the village. So I slept in a fijian village. I just become more of a fijian every day hahaha just kidding! the next morning they drove us to the boat and we rode the raging waters back to Taveuni. Everyone’s telling me in my district that I’m going to be leaving Taveuni this transfer. If I do I’m going to be so sad. This island has become like my second home! The people here are like family. I still have so many people here I need to help and ugh! When we got back to working in our area the chaos didn’t end! Our district leader wanted to do an exchange this week, so Elder Vitiarai went to somomo with the district leader and I took Elder Amisone (who is also from my intake at the mtc!) to matei.  A lot of people were gone this week and it made the work hard. We went to go see our investigator Jese! I had to teach her the rest of the plan of salvation which is the hardest lesson to teach in fijian. But the spirit is real because I was helped all through that lesson and we have her committed to come to church next week and her daughter committed to coming to this “young single adults” activity that the Czieps are beginning to hold at their house.  After that lesson the Czieps made me feel like a million dollars! They told me they've seen me grow so much and that my fijian has gotten way better. These old ladies that we always take the sacrament to who always correct my fijian don’t even correct my fijian anymore. They tell me "Isaaa Elder Jonati, o iko sa imatai sara ga en vosa vaka viti!" Which is like saying in english “ohhhh elder jonati you’re so smart in the language in fijian and catching on fast.” It always feels good to hear that but sometimes I wonder if they’re just trying to be nice! The exchange with Elder Amisone was good.  After Elder Vitiarai came back we had a pretty hard day. Roberta. The best investigator ever. She was so excited to read the book of mormon...She has a similar situation as Joseph Smith and we were going to commit her to baptism. We showed up on her doorstep ready to teach her and she slowly walked out and said, "I have some bad news." I knew what was coming. She said, "Both my parents are preachers in the church and I have to ban you guys from coming here anymore..."  She's 25 years old but family seniority is like big here in Fiji. You have to listen to your parents. I walked away pretty devastated. I still am way sad. She was ready... I’m hoping we can still teach her somehow. I’m going to try to go to her house agin this week but I might get chased out with a sele haha..... This week was crazy.  Definitely an adventure with all the traveling. I’m just looking forward to having a full week of work next week. There are a lot of people here who are way excited about the temple. It’s such a blessing to be able to sit with members and non-members and share with them about the temple and then tell them that next month it’s going to be dedicated in Suva. Our returning member Brother lagi came to lotu yesterday so I’m way happy. Sorry, I put lotu it means church ahah! I miss all of you guys. I hope you feel my testimony through these emails. I love this work. I’ve seen lives change already in my mission and I know that it’s because of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I can't wait to talk to you all next week. Everyone take care!

Love, Elder Jonati!

The view from the restaurant
The best food I've had in Forever
This snake fell from a tree when we were walking home one night

This is called valolo it's a fijian dessert I ate. Looks yummy eh?

Fijian Feast

Is that what I think it is....?


The Qeleni chapel

The boat to Labasa
The sky looked like this the other night!

Thought this pic looked sweet haha

I found a real live avocado.  Twas good.

Picture taken off the Vemeeren's blog.  Not sure what's up with the glasses - he doesn't wear glasses!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Week #21

Bula Vinaka! What an insane week. So much to fill you all in on! Probably the craziest week of my life so far on my mission! I feel like I’ve finally gotten into the swing of things though with my new companion Elder Vitiarai. We've been having way fun. He's already taught me so much about Fiji and the culture. The other night we were returning from a dinner appt. and it was pitch black and rainy and he decided to tell me about cannibalism in fiji and the history of it! Pretty scary stuff. After he told me the stories he said..."I could eat you right now"....Not going to lie that was a little scary. I sang church songs the rest of the way home. Hahaha This whole week we spent most of our time in Qeleni! We walked from matei to qeleni twice this week because there are no buses during new years. It's about a 3 hour walk. I've never done so much walking in my life. I told you guys about Brother Lagi. We were working with him on trying to help him become worthy for a calling. This Sunday he had his interview and received a calling as the branch clerk! He was our returning member. I was so happy to see him have his interview with president. When he came out of the office I shook his hand and you could just tell he was so much happier inside. I was so happy for him. Yesterday at church I had a bit of a surprise! Our branch president President Bautarua came up to me and asked me in Fijian if I could baptize 2 people after church... Of course i said YES! I was way pumped. Yesterday I baptized two kids. They were member baptisms but I'lll never forget the experience. It was kind of sad how it all happened actually. The little girl, Elenoa, was going to be baptized by her dad and had me baptize her because her dad had to leave after church to go to work.  And I Baptized a little boy name Penijamini Oimaile! The branch president handed me a white sulu and tie and the next thing I knew...the whole branch and I were walking straight through the jungle, hiking to this spot in a river! Coolest thing ever! It's not everyday you get to baptize someone in the middle of the fijian a a FIJI! Having the opportunity to do these baptisms made me really excited for when I have the chance to baptize one of our investigators. One of our investigators, Jese, is doing really well right now. On friday we took the branch missionaries teaching with us (Brother and Sister CZIEP). We sat down with Jese and taught her the plan of salvation. All of the sudden she just began to cry. She said in Fijian that lately she's been wondering why she's even here and if she even has a purpose and that our message helped her to see why. I realized how amazing the plan of salvation is and how powerful of an effect it can have in peoples lives. I think I kind of take for granted sometimes the knowledge of the plan of salvation. It's definitely my favorite lesson to teach. We are planning on giving Jese a baptismal invitation next week. I've seen so many miracles in the lives of the people here in Fiji this past week. Roberta, one of our progressing investigators is now super excited to read the book of mormon. We went to see her on tuesday planning to just teach about the book of mormon because we had assigned her some passages to read. But she wanted to know more about Joseph Smith. When she said she wanted to know more about Joseph Smith I got so excited to just bear my testimony all about him hahaha! She said she saw a post on facebook about how Joseph Ssmith saw a vision and how visions are like dreams and how he was just hallucinating. I told her that Joseph Smith was not dreaming. That he truly saw our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I felt the spirit so strongly as I told her this and after Elder Vitiarai and I taught her more I asked her if she had any questions. She said "no, everything is so clear, I JUST WANT TO READ THIS BOOK  NOW!" BULLLAAAA YES! I’m so excited for her. Dipika one of our other investigators has been praying to know if she should be baptized and we found out at our last visit she’s moving to Suva. I’m bummed but we can get her set up with the missionaries there! All of these people here are so ready to receive the gospel. This week was full of the spirit for me. I need every week to be like this. I'm so grateful for Heavenly Father helping me help these people! I love the people here. On thursday the mission office sent us a text about a cyclone warning. Thursday was way windy and rainy and pretty scary but no cyclone ever came so we're all good. Mom, to answer you about if I’m eating enough our branch president set up meals for us every night. I don't know if you were praying for me to get more food but now I’m getting too much food. And it's all my favorite. Fijian food YUMM hahah. I really do love it. I think my taste buds are changing. It's weird. I think there’s double meaning to the gift of tongues if you know what I mean hahaha! Every one of our members have been telling me my fijian is way better. It's good to hear that but I know I also need to work harder at it. I’m pretty much still leading this area and it's stressful but, when we sit down and have a lesson and the people thank us for coming because we helped them it's all worth it! I love this gospel with all my heart. I get to bear my testimony every day and I feel of it's truth every time I do. I can't wait to email you guys all next week. I love and miss all of You!

 Love, Elder Jonati

we hiked through this to get to the baptism

Penajamini Oimaile

Me in my white sulu. Marika a member photo bombing. My shirt is a little darker than my sulu

my favorite fruit in fiji is a passion fruit