Sunday, March 27, 2016

Week #33

Bulaaa Family! I guess I can just stop saying my week was crazy because literally so far every week of my mission has been crazy hahaha. Last Tuesday we had our Zone Conference and it was exactly what I needed. We had awesome lessons by our zone leaders, mission president (and his wife) and our AP's! Something that really stuck out to me in the whole conference was that as a missionary I have been literally commanded to call people to repentance. I sat down with my mission president and we talked about that. I think every day Satan works on us. Something I've had to learn how to deal with is faith and confidence. Sometimes while sitting in a lesson Satan will try every little thing he can to make us lose confidence. It's something I've had to learn to get over. The saddest thing about satan is that he knows the gospel is true. He knows whoever comes to accept it will find happiness and become enemies unto him which is why he does every little thing he can to drag us further and further away from the truth. The gospel of Jesus Christ cannot be denied. I cannot deny what I know to be true. As I've sat down with people and bore to them my testimony earnestly my faith grows. Something I love about being a missionary so far is to be able to feel the spirit every day and to see others feel it as well. I've had to realize on my mission that the Spirit does not have to be this huge crazy powerful feeling. It is almost always just a soft, peaceful feeling that helps you feel love and know that something is true. On Tuesday night I went out on splits with Elder Harris. He's one of our zone leaders and he is the man! I went and saw these two guys with him and they were hilarious. They made us hash browns and eggs for dinner and it was awesome. I couldn't remember the last time I had breakfast for dinner. Oh I forgot to mention something about my interview with president. Me and Elder Bond have been working with this investigator who is dying to be baptized! President informed us that it would be awhile until he was baptized because of some of the things he has done in the past. Despite his past he is a changed man. We sat down with him on Friday and he committed to live the word of wisdom and prove that he is truly converted to the Lord. This Sunday, along with one of our other investigators, he came to church. His wife is less active so it was a win WIN BULLAA!  Elder Bond and I got back from Suva Wednesday night and so we haven't had a full weeks work but man we worked hard. I think we might of worked a little too hard because I started getting sick last night and today but I don't even care! Honestly, I just love going out and doing everything I can. I have a strong testimony that I'm serving Heavenly Father's children. My spiritual brothers and sisters. I feel guilty when maybe a few minutes are wasted because I know there’s at least one person who needs to see us. I told president in my interview that the branch called me to be 2nd counselor and he said the stake president never asked for his permission so he said as of now I’m not to be the 2nd counselor. We really want to focus on the branch using the other priesthood holders for callings rather than just relying on the missionaries. It will help strengthen the branch more! Anyways, it’s been raining a lot here! At first I thought it was awesome but coming home soaking wet every night is starting to wear thin on me hahaha! But it’s all fun! Saturday was a way awesome inspired day.  All of our appts fell through so we just decided to walk along the island and try to find people! We met like 5 people along the way. Some of them were less actives visiting Levuka and were wondering where the church was! If we hadn't been there we wouldn't have been able to tell them where to go. For service on Thursday we helped this family in our branch, the Swanns. She had us weed IBE plants. Elder Bond and I are hoping she's gonna make us both IBE's! It’s pronounced EEMBAYS haha. They are those way cool fijian mats made out of leaves from an IBE plant. We can only dream. Thursday night we had a lot of spare time so we just talked to everyone in town and passed out flyers. It was way fun. The work is still slow here but I feel the Lord helping us day by day. Next week we are traveling to Moturiki and are going to spend the night at a less actives house.......should be fun hahaha. Some of the things we are allowed to do in this mission still leave me in shock haha. I’m pretty positive I have the best mission in the world. I miss all of you and want you all to know Jesus Christ truly is our Savior. One of my favorite things about Fiji is that 99% of the people believe in Jesus Christ. My job is to help add on to their knowledge of Him and help them find a fulness in their lives. Missionary work is hard. Sometimes it’s hard to keep confidence but then I just remind myself that I have a Savior and a Loving Heavenly Father who walk with me every day. I would not have been able to get this far without their help. In fact, we wouldn't be able to do anything without them. I love this gospel so much. Every time I’m struggling and I’m studying for someone else instead of myself I find my answer. We truly do find ourselves when we lose ourselves in the service of others. I hope you all enjoy your Easter this year. If we spend this time serving others we will better come to know Jesus Christ. I share all these things with you because I know for a fact that they are true. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Love, Elder Jonati

The ferry back to Ovalau. "The Spirit of Love" haha

Ovalau Sunset 

Hiking up to do service in BABA

BABA. It's a Koro (village) in the mountains. Pretty coools
Hiking up baba
This is the swann Family! We do alot of service for them! They are awesome

The tallest peak in this picture Elder Bond and I are going to hike it for p-day!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Week #32

Bula everyone! What a week! I literally like always have no clue where to start! Life's been pretty crazy out here in Levuka. Like I said last week we are starting from scratch. This week I was kind of humbled.... I was pretty nervous about where in the world we should start and who we should go see. I'm happy to report that I didn't make that decision. We're lucky we have a Heavenly Father who knows a lot more than us and if we ask him he will show us what to do! On Tuesday we felt prompted to go to this village called Natokalau! We had no idea where it was or how long it would take to walk there but we just started walking. As we were walking some fijians would ask us where we were going. We'd tell them Natokalau and then their mouths would just drop open. We asked them how far away it was and they'd say, "BOH...SA YAWA SARA GA!" which basically just means, MAN! WAY FAR OUT! We decided to walk it anyways. Luckily, we have the hand of the lord in this work and we were able to catch a ride to Natokalau. Most of the villages here aren't like any villages I've ever served in before. They all are pretty isolated haha..... We started by visiting the branch president to see if he could give us some names of less actives so we could go and visit them. His name is president Liga. His house is one of the only houses that survived the cyclone. Out of the 75 homes in Natokalau I'd say 60 are destroyed. It's pretty hard not to hurt for these people here. Many of them are living under tarps right now or just half destroyed homes. President Liga is this short, really out there Fijian guy. He helped us find a few more people to go and visit. Before we left his house he asked us to help give his daughter a blessing. I won't say much about it but probably one of the more scary moments on my mission so far. We were able to find a new investigator on tuesday!! BULLLAA! I thought we'd be focusing a lot this week on just seeing the members and less acvtives but the lord provided us with miracles. Our new investigator's name is Poloni Vesi. She is this pretty old fijian lady but we found her while trying to find some members. Elder Bond and I sat down with her and talked to her about why we come out on missions and what the restoration of the gospel means. She was excited to start reading the Book of Mormon and we'll be following up with how she liked it later this week. Later that night Brother Bechu, who is the 1st counselor in the branch presidency  came to our flat to tell me that the stake has called me to be the 2nd counselor in the branch presidency....wasn't expecting that one haha. But I'm way excited to work with President Liga and Brother Bechu! I know I'm going to learn a ton! On thursday we went and did a lot of service for this guy in our ward. His name is brother Musuka and he is hilarious! We had to wake up early and hike up to is house. He lives in the mountains hahaha! We brought our seles thinking that we'd be doing some farming for him but NO! He had us move sheets of tin. The stuff they use to build houses here. His house was all torn apart from the cyclone and he decided that he wants to live down the mountain. So he had us carry these huge sheets of tin down and up the mountain like 12 times. It was some of the hardest work I've ever done haha! The day before me and elder Bond went running in the morning to these famous stairs in Levuka. There's a way cool spot in Levuka that has 190 step to the top of this mountain so we decided to work out there! It was way hard haha. So we were already sore from doing that so carrying stuff up and down a mountain was way hard. Elder Bond at one point was having a hard time and Brother Musuka walks by him with three stacks of tin stacked on his back and says to elder bond, "Do you know how old I am?" He was like I'm 68! I'm fit! And then he just walked on ahh haha! Elder Bond's face was priceless! He's the man. Elder Bond is way awesome. He's from Arizona and likes to ball room dance. I can't dance....but he's good! We get along way good and I'm happy i get to grow with him out here! We've been working with this investigator who was supposed to be baptized. The only problem is that he has failed his last two interviews with our mission president....So this week me and elder bond had to go and find out why he didn't pass. We had a way bomb lesson with him. He made it clear to us that he has had a criminal past but that he's all repented of it. He just never told president about it and I think that held him back. But he is way solid. He has a 7 year old son and he wants to be baptized with him next month because his son turns 8. We promised we will do everything we can to help him be prepared to be able to be baptized with his son next week. I'm way excited for him. On Saturday we go up to Baba. It's way up in the mountains and there is this huge river that goes down the middle of the village. Saturday there was a flashflood and the whole river was flooded way bad. The bridge that we take to get to our member's houses was flooded so we had to find another way around! It was crazy. On Sunday I was asked to teach priesthood to all the men in our branch. The lesson was on the atonement and I felt way happy i was able to share my favorite gospel topic to them! I've learned so much about the Atonement out here on my mission so far. There's no greater gift..... This week I've been trying to work on patience haha. Sometimes i find myself wanting immediate results. But I've found that it hardly ever works that way. Patience takes a lot of faith. I thought a lot about our savior in 1 Nephi 19:9. After serving our father in heaven's children with his whole heart they rejected him. They spat upon him, mocked him and he suffered through it without ever getting angry or speaking back....He is the ultimate example of patient and long suffereing. When i think about all that he did. It strengthens me. If he can do what he did then I can be patient and work through trials here on my mission. I just want to love the people. Please pray for me to find patience and faith. This week has been crazy. This morning I got up at 3 to catch a boat and a bus back to suva. We have zone conference tomorrow! Then we go back to Levuka on Wednesday and won't come off for at least a month. The lord is using me and Elder Bond out here in Ovalau. And I only pray that we will be willing to do all that he asks of us. I love you all so much.

Love, Elder Jonati  

The isolated village called Lovoni. Smack dab in the middle of the island

The village

I decided to try to make the most tourist looking photo possible. I succeeded har

Big Mountain woa

Our flat. Luxurious eh?

This was a long walk

The comp Unity

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Week #31

Dear Family and friends, BULA VINAKA. So, transfers happened........I'm kind of in shock right now. Let's just say currently I am not in Sigatoka anymore! In fact, I thought for sure I'd stay in Sigatoka! But the Lord has other plans for me hahaha.....The mission president called me last tuesday and turns out the Lord needs me in Ovalau, Levuka. It's a separate island....only 2 elders stay on it...It's just me and my new companion, Elder Bond. We cover the entire island as well as another smaller island called Moturiki. We go to Moturiki once a week on a small dinky boat hahaha. We'll be going there this Wednesday. You can probably tell that at this time I am pretty scared but way excited at the same time! It took 7 hours of bus riding and 2 hours on a ferry boat ride. The cyclone took it's toll on this island.....whole villages here are gone. Houses completely torn apart...One of which was our flat :) So right now currently we live inside the chapel which is just a house not a dedicated church building. It's pretty awesome! We sleep on the floor with foam pads. I knew this place would be crazy because when the mission president called me he asked me if I was ready for an adventure hahaha.... President called me as the senior companion. Elder Bond was from my same intake at the MTC so this will be fun haha! I never thought I'd be serving on an island with just me and my companion...But I guess Heavenly Father did! So...something you all should know is that Elder Bond and I are both brand new to this area. So there's no elder here who knows anything about the people or really about anything. We are sort of doing what us missionaries call "white washing the area". Our area book was lost in the cyclone from when the last two elders were here. So we have no current investigators except for like two that we might have. So we are starting from scratch. This is going to be a lot of hard work but I am so excited! From my last area I really learned to just have more faith and to realize that heavenly father is going to show us what to do and will be with me every step of this experience! So to give you guys an idea about what levuka is like.....It looks like an old western ghost town on a tropical island. It really reminds me of like monterey bay california but it looks way older than that. It was the first island settled by the english in Fiji so that's why the whole town is way way wayyyyy old looking. I've only been here for a few days but this place is so beautiful. It is known for it's old tuna factory so the whole island is kind of like that island in the movie cloudy with a chance of meatballs. It smellls like tuna tooo hahaha! So yesterday was Sunday and our room is the primary room so all I had to do to go to church was wake up, put on church clothes and walk into the meeting room haha! The branch president asked me if I could introduce myself and share my testimony during sacrament meeting. It just felt good to stand up in front of all these new people and share with them my testimony. But as soon as I sat down the branch president got up and said, "Thank you Elder Jonati, that will conclude our sacrament meeting." Keep in mind I only talked for about 5 minutes. I WAS THEIR ENTIRE SACRAMENT MEETING. We're gonna have to let them know that sacrament meeting needs to last a little bit longer than that haha... After sacrament they came up and asked me if I could teach the adult sunday school class. So I did. I was pretty nervous having to teach it in Fijian but after teaching the class yesterday I'm so glad I was given that opportunity! Because they had given me like no time to prepare it really made me rely completely on the Holy Ghost. It was just a huge testimony builder to me that the lord will give us what to say! I am extremely excited to serve here in Ovalau. I am extremely nervous but this morning I was reading in the BOOK OF MORMON and read about the 2000 strippling warriors. In Alma 56:46-47 Helaman says that never had he seen so much faith and courage amongst all the nephites. He said they had never fought a battle in their lives and had no experience in warfare but because they had faith and trusted in their Hevaenly Father he protected all of them. Not one died. It just hit me because here I am on an island with just me and my companion. We are both new to this area and have no idea where to start. We don't have a lot of experience. But I do have faith. Heavenly Father is going to show us exactly what to do for this island. It's going to be a lot of hard work but I'm confident the lord will be with us in everything we do. We might not get  a lot of work at first because what this area really needs right now is service. People are without homes. The lord has a plan here for me and Elder Bond. And we are going to do everything here that we can to make him proud. I love all of you. Please pray for me. I Know this is going to be crazy hard but the lord doesn't ask us to anything we won't be able to handle. And plus I have his hand in all this work! I can't wait to email all of you about what happens this week. Love you...your stranded on an island son,brother,cousin,grandson, and friend...
Elder Jonati

Saying goodbye to the district in Sigatoka

I drew this map of Ovalau so I have some general idea of what the island looks like haha

We hitch-hiked with this Indian family to get to the ferry for Ovalau

On the ferry

Levuka town at night

The trees are a little different here!  It looks like fall all the time

Leaving the ferry

This is what the island looks like everywhere, just stuff thrown all over the place from the hurricane

The view of Ovalau from the boat

Saying goodbye to my friends in Sigatoka. This was the Inoke family.  They made me one last dinner before I left

Elder Jonati

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Week #30

Bula Vinaka Family and Friends! What a week! I have many awesome things to talk about and so little time. But as always I will do my best! This week like every week has been AWESOME! I've learned so much about myself. The week started off alright haha... I got way sick on Tuesday and then Elder Stevens got sick too...But we pushed through it and were both better by Wednesday! There's a lot I've been learning this transfer. I've learned a lot about how to relax and not worry so much. When I first arrived to Sigatoka I was pretty nervous to follow up train. I feel bad now for my companion, Elder Stevens, who had a nervous wreck for a companion the first few weeks. What I have learned through it all though is that Jesus Christ is more in our work than we think he is. Satan wants us to worry. He wants to take away all confidence leaving us with nothing but stress. I've started to relax and learn more about faith. About patience. Some days this week people fell through and we had no idea where to go or what to do. But a simple prayer resolved all of that. The Lord told us where to go. I can say that Sigatoka is growing! We found 5 more new investigators. Ilami accepted a baptismal date on Friday! He is the man. Our new Investigator Vilikesa has been progressing like crazy. I've never taught some one who is already so in tune with the spirit! Like it is CRAZY. This guy’s questions are AWESOME. On Saturday my district leader, Elder Heins, and I went on an exchange. We felt prompted to go see Vilikesa. As we walked into his house he sat us down and said you guys must have come because you have something special for me. We told him the truth that we really just came because we felt prompted to. As the lesson went on we asked Vilikesa if he had read the Book of Mormon. He said he had but that he could not relate to it like the bible. I asked him how much he read and he said the first page. We explained to him that he has to dig deeper and desire it more. We explained to him and both bore strong testimonies to him why the book of mormon is so important and after the lesson he said that everything that made him not want to read the Book of Mormon before had all vanished. He said the reason we came that night was to take those things that were stopping him before. He said we made him feel way excited to read the Book of Mormon. People have been asking for blessings like crazy here. It makes me so happy because I love blessings so much. We have the priesthood for a reason. To bless and serve! On Sunday Elder Stevens and I witnessed miracles.... Lately I've been wondering if I've been doing all I can do. This Sunday proved how much the Lord is involved in our work! Sunday morning we showed up to church. Every Sunday before this one we had invited some of our investigators to come and they never showed up. But, this Sunday made up for all of those disappointments in the past! 4 of our investigators came to church and stayed for all 3 hours. Saisi, Vilikesa, Vodre, and Butadroka! Not only that but 30 less actives who never come (but we visited) all showed up on Sunday. The lord is progressing his work. Sigatoka is growing! Vilikesa told us on Sunday he'll be coming to church. But he told us not to be offended if he just gets up and walks out in the middle of the meeting. He said he's been to many churches and he will only stay if he feels what he is looking for. Well he stayed the whole time and he even wants to give the church his land so that we can build an actual chapel for this growing branch! He told us he is falling in love with the Book of Mormon! It just testifies to me that this church is so true! It cannot be denied. The truth is the church has the spirit because it is in fact TRUE! These are just a few of the miracles we have witnessed this week! An update on my fijian. IT’S TAKING OVER MY ENGLISH! I feel so uneducated when I try to speak in english hahaha! I'm starting to try to learn the dialect here! It's INSANE.  But it’s so fun because every time I say something in “Na Droga” dialect the Fijians freak out and laugh! Their reactions are the best! Some old lady came up to me and kissed my cheek in sacrament meeting. I didn't really know what to do...hahaha!  The same old lady told me my fijian is beautiful haha so I’m scared to go to her house now. I love the members here in Sigatoka. They are all so .....DIFFERENT! Some are pretty weird but they are all awesome. Me and Elder Stevens have this new investigator who lives like 30 min away from our flat. He is GOLDEN! He lives in this remote village way inland and he and his family are so interested. They already want to come to church. Tomorrow we get transfer calls.....Yep I know! How is this transfer already over? Time makes no sense hahaha. I’m pretty sure I'll stay. I see so much growth here and I want to continue to be a part of it. I just want you all to know I am serving with the Lord. He is with me everyday. He can be with you everyday. He is my savior and I learn so much from him. It's my goal to try to emulate him at all times. I've learned more than I've ever thought possible and everyday I feel more and more excited to teach. This church is led by a prophet of God. If you’re not sure about that, Pray about it! I love you all so much. I can't wait to tell you what happens this week! 

Love, Elder Jonati

Good Ol' Sigatoka
I found a midget dog

We walked in to our kitchen and this guy was there..... Not cool bro

Fiji got a Burger I ate some!