Sunday, April 24, 2016

Week #37

Bula Matavuvale! I don't think I've ever worked harder or learned more in just one week in my entire life. To be completely honest I think it's going to be impossible for me to convey to you everything that this past week has meant to me.  I could spend some of this limited time telling you all about how I almost died on a cliff or how I almost converted a dog, but I'd rather share some more personal experiences that have changed me a lot this week! Maybe it hasn't been apparent in my emails but the past few weeks have been a struggle for me.... I never thought it could be so hard to be a missionary! I'm not going to lie to you all and say every day as a missionary is perfect. I'm pretty sure you all know that’s not how it works. What I will tell you is that every day Heavenly Father is perfect. That not one day will go by that He isn't with us. Everything He gives us is for our good. The past week I felt weak in my speech and a lot of hard things were being thrown at me that I had yet to experience. I would ask myself sometimes when days weren't going as planned......why?  I'm doing all I can to try to do what’s why am I having such a hard time? Personal studies are our only time as missionaries to study our scriptures for an hour a day. Last Friday, I decided that instead of studying for myself to find an answer, that I would study for all of the people we had planned to see that day. I was studying for one of our less actives and my study led me to Proverbs 3 in the Old Testament. While trying to find something meant for him I found what I needed. Proverbs 3:11-12- "My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth."  After reading this scripture I had one of those moments where I felt Heavenly Father talking to me directly through scripture. I realized how Perfect He is. Everything that is thrown at us in this life is to make us stronger. Despise not the chastening of the Lord. I now look at afflictions and trials with a whole new perspective. Not to be weary or afraid of their coming but to have the knowledge that these things we are being put through are to strengthen us. We signed up before this life to face the challenges that would come on this earth. To become the sons and daughters that our Heavenly Father wants us to become we are put through challenges. If we need to grow He is going to give us opportunities to grow. I can testify that I know every hard thing I have faced on my mission has been for my good. No matter how hard it was or discouraging I am now a stronger person because of it. Now, having this knowledge to myself is great and all but what about all the rest of our brothers and sisters in this world who are facing similar challenges and have no idea it’s for their good and they have a loving Heavenly Father who is there to help them?  By realizing my own growth from challenges it has increased my desire to let more people know about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This gospel is so perfect. Our Heavenly Father is so precise. Whether it's going through challenges or witnessing miracles it is the same. Because in both, the Hand of our Savior is present.  I cannot see him. But I know He is with us. He is our Savior and if we just "try" He will bless us for our efforts and help us through this life and guide us back to him. Elder Bond and I had a week of miracles this week. Sakaraia, our investigator who is going to be baptized, came to church this last Sunday and Loved it. When I got on my email this morning I saw that my investigator back in Sigatoka, Vilikesa!, the one who told us all those crazy visions...was baptized. I am so happy for him!  Akuila and Kula's marriage got pushed back to this week but both he and Sakaraia are going to be baptized on May 15th. Along with Sisi, this nine year old girl we have been teaching. Miracles are happening everywhere every day. When I face challenges it’s a miracle to me. To be able to see the hand of the Lord correcting me and shaping me into the person I'm going to need to be in the future and after this life. I want all of you to know that a mission is hard. But I love how hard it is. Because I know it is helping me become who He's preparing me to become. He's making me stronger for other people and He's humbling me every day. To me that is a miracle. I love this gospel. It is so true. No matter what we face we can grow.  He is always there and if we endure it well our testimonies will grow.  I love you all so much and wish I could convey to you all just how Perfect our Heavenly Father is. I can't wait to email you all about next week. I miss you all. This week I will send some pictures. My camera broke so it’s been hard but I found a way haha!

Much Love, Elder Jonati

We did a ward baptism this last Sunday. Our investigator's son, Malcom, was baptized! 

here's our room from our new flat

The kitchen

This is the view from our flat!

These are the never ending stairs up to our flat


See that mountain right there....I climbed it. Never again!

View from the trail that didn't even exist

One of our new investigators. Super excited about the bible!

This little boy is way funny. He's one of our investigators brothers

Chilling with some members playing "Samario"

The view from one of our less actives house

Mr. Crabs

Monday, April 18, 2016

Week #36

Bula Matavuvale! I finally made it back to Levuka last Tuesday night after the longest boat ride in the history of the world! The AP's never came out because the boat never came.....I was pretty bummed but our District leader came out instead and it’s been a pretty exciting week full of a lot of hard work. Sakaraia, the first investigator I met here in Levuka is getting baptized next month. We had an awesome lesson with him Thursday night where he told us how when we first told him that this was the only true church on the earth he didn't believe us. He said he hadn't been reading the Book of Mormon but finally he did and now he knows for sure. Just testifies that the Book of Mormon has divine power. Sakaraia had his baptismal interview last Friday night and is scheduled to be baptized the first of next month. Our other investigator, Akuila, is finally getting married this week. His wife is a member and he's had all of the lessons and all he needs to do is be married this week and then he is ready to be baptized as well! I'm way excited for them. They have two way adorable kids and I know this choice they are making to be married will open them up to receiving more blessings from Heavenly Father. Our district leader was only supposed to come out for one night but the boat has been delayed the past 3 days due to stormy weather so they've been chilling here the past few days! It’s been fun but crazy! We moved into our new flat and lets just say it is WAY MORE SPACIOUS THAN THE LAST ONE! It's pretty old and I'm pretty sure it has bed bugs so that's gross but it’s a lot better than staying trapped in one small room of the chapel. So I am grateful! We finally have a fridge and microwave. We don't have to eat just tuna anymore we can ACTUALLY COOK STUFF!  I can't believe tomorrow is already transfers! You can bet your bottom dollar that I am for sure not going to be transferred this time! Knock on wood hahah! This week has been a week of ups and downs. Not everyday is a perfect day in fact 99.9% aren't. I've had to realize that as a missionary. There isn't anything more rewarding then being able to wear the saviors name on my chest and walk through rain and storms to serve people. Yesterday we went to Lovoni and I took my district Leaders companion on splitz with me there. When we arrived the person we had planned on seeing was sa yali tu. He was out of town. It was pouring rain and we went from house to house to try to find people who were interested. It was hard work but the whole time I just felt so lucky to be able to serve! On Wednesday we met this awesome guy named Manasa who wanted us to come over and share the lessons with him. The next day we showed up at his house and his little sister was outside and we asked if he was home and she said yes and that he was inside. Right after that his dad walks out, who we had never met yet, and is all, "Manasa isn't home! you guys can leave! He already has a church and we cant be a part of two churches!" I tried telling him all we wanted to do was share a message about Jesus Christ but he couldn't hear me because he was yelling pretty loud. It was pretty discouraging. It’s not that often that you see Fijians reject you like that. Because they are always so nice. I like to tell myself that he just wasn't a true Fijian hahaha! After that we went to go see Malcom. He's our investigator’s son who just turned 8 last Sunday and he is going to be baptized next Sunday. On Sunday they invited us to lunch with them after church for Malcom’s birthday. It was way fun! Our district leader and his companion were still here so they got some free cake as well haha. But to be honest....Fijian cake isn't as good as cakes in America hahaha! Malcom's dad Viliame is the man! He has been coming to church every Sunday so far and this week we sat down with him and he told us how much he loves the Book of Mormon. His wife is a member but has been less active for awhile. She tells us she comes home and sees her non-member husband reading the Book of Mormon and he always makes them say family prayers at night and he has been encouraging them to all read the book of Mormon as well. Even investigators can be the biggest examples. Viliame is awesome. He's waiting on his interview with our mission president. It’s really hard to watch him not be able to be baptized for awhile. His baptism has to be approved by the first presidency. He knows it’s going to be a long process but he also knows how true this church is. It just amazes me how much this gospel changes people. And I know it’s because it is so true. This week I have had a lot of personal reflection and things I've realized I need some more work on. As a missionary I experience tough things. But the knowledge that Heavenly Father is always with me and watching me is something that means so much to me. He has been leading Elder Bond and I every day to help grow this area and I know He is a part of this work. Because it is His work!  As always satan works on missionaries every single day. He knows my weaknesses but thanks to a Loving Father in Heaven I can make those weaknesses my strengths. I'm so happy to see some of our investigators making the steps to be baptized. I can literally feel how happy Heavenly Father is for them. I testify with my whole heart that this church is true. Sometimes it takes work to know if it is true. Sometimes we have to spend hours on our knees begging for help and answers but I testify He always answers us. He is ALWAYS WITH US.  He is our Father.  I can't imagine what it must be like to not have a knowledge that we have a Father in Heaven. I know that if we keep our covenants and make certain steps in this life we will receive the blessings of exaltation. This life can be blurry and hard but that's why we have the gospel of Jesus Christ. To help us return to our FATHER IN HEAVEN. Au lomani na kosipeli oqo kei lomaqu kece. Sa sivia na lotu ena vurvura oqo, ia na Lotu I jisu karisto ni yalododonu endaidai na lotu dina ga en a vuravura taucoko. AU VAKADINADINATAKA,na kosipeli rawa ni veisau noda bula kei vakararamataka keda. Kevaka keda surety o Jisu Karisto ena noda bula, o koya na vakasinaiti kei vakakaukauwataki keda. I miss you all so much but I’m trying my best out here and I love the Lord and His children. Talk to you all soon!

Love, Elder Jonati

Andrew is on Levuka island

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Week #35

Yadra Matavuvale! Sa dede sara ga! Au lomani kemudou kece kei sa marautaka me'u rawa ni vola na ivolavola ogo vei kemudou! Before I start my email I just need to say that I haven't been in Levuka (my area) for the entire week!  We were supposed to return back last Tuesday after our Zone Training meeting but then the cyclone happened. They told us due to the storm our boat wouldn't be leaving until today :(  So we are praying all works out today and we will be able to catch the boat back to Ovalau! So now the question is....What have I been doing this past entire week? Well, I've gone on splitz with the zone leaders and my district leader. I was pretty bummed I wasn't going to be able to make it to my area this week but I've made some awesome memories and have learned a ton from these exchanges. It's fun to see what other missionary’s areas look like! This week I did some baptismal interviews with the zone leaders and it was way fun. The Zone leaders are masters in missionary work and in the language so I was like in heaven the whole time we were with them because I was able to just learn a-ton!  After being with the Zone leaders, I went on splitz with Elder Sarufa (Noqu District Leader). It was way bomb! Elder Sarufa and I were together in Taveuni. He was in my first district when I first got to the mission. He's from PNG and is like the funniest guy I have ever met! We had some pretty awesome lessons together. The area he serves in is literally in like the middle of's strait BUSH hahaha! Literally we hiked through the jungle to get to this one Koro and we had to cross this river so that was legit! When we got to the village we sat down with one of his investigators and had like one of the most powerful lessons ever!  We were talking about how baptism is the only way we can obtain the highest degree in our heavenly father’s kingdom and when we testified of this the spirit was so strong. We both felt it and knew for a fact she had felt it as well. We asked her if she would be baptized and follow the example of Jesus Christ and she just said no. It's in moments like these where I realize people really do have their agency. She felt it. Elder Sarufa and I both knew she did. He said they are going to go back and try again so I'm just praying she softens her heart and listens to the spirit! Since it was Elder Sarufa's birthday we burned one of his shirts and all his members threw this big'ol sogo (Fijian party) for him. They made this cake and this huge fijian feast. They did all this cool traditional fijian stuff as well and it was just awesome!  After spending three days with Elder Sarufa, I went out with the Zone leaders again and stood as a witness for their baptisms. There’s a strong spirit at baptisms and I know it's because our Heavenly Father is proud of the people promising to follow His Son for eternity. It was a great baptism until one of the little girls was terrified of the water.....When she was 6 she almost drowned so she was like....deathly terrified. It was pretty sad. When her dad tried to put her under the water she let out like the loudest scream and crying I have ever heard. This little girl was not planning on getting under the water. It was really sad to see. They had to cancel her baptism! Hopefully she'll face her fear of water and eventually be baptized haha :(  On Saturday I GOT TO WATCH CONFERENCE! IT was AMAZING! Man! I honestly think I stayed here so I could have the opportunity to watch it because they didn't show it in Levuka. On Sunday 6 elders, including myself and my companion, went and stayed at Elder Sarufa's flat. We listened to Sunday's session of general conference and it's my favorite session of conference ever. I honestly think Elder Oaks and Elder Holland’s talks were some of the best talks ever given. In Elder Holland’s talk I just wanted to re-testify and share my own witness of something he said! He said no matter what, in no circumstances ever will our Heavenly Father ever abandon us. He said it is impossible for him to do so. I just wanted to share that he hasn't left me entire mission so far. There are days when I feel like he has but when I look back I realize he has never left nor will he ever. I know He lives and He loves us more than we are capable of loving and even understanding. Not only do I know he loves me but as a missionary I've been able to sit across from random people and feel his incomprehensible love for them as well! Missionary work is Love. I love Missionary work. This week the AP's are coming out! I’m nervous but excited to see what we can do. They are bringing out a truck for the three days they will be staying with us. So we are going to do all the work we possibly can! The Lord is going to show us what to do just as He always does. I love you all and am just ready to get back to Levuka and go to work.

Love, Elder JOnati

Have no idea where Elder Sarufa is taking me ahah

Crossing the river in korovou

This huge tree fell down from the cyclone

ELder Sarufa burnning his shirt BURNNN

Elder Sarufa about to burn his shirt

Fjian Feast! Sunday Lunch after conference

Someone drew a picture of me hahaha

Monday, April 4, 2016

Week #34

Bula Fam and friends! This week was a tough one and probably one of my biggest adventures yet! I've been sick the whole week and am still doing my best to recover. Despite being sick, I still worked as hard as my physical self would allow. I don't even know where to begin this.... So last Wednesday Elder Bond and I went to another island called Moturiki! It was about an hour boat ride in a pretty small boat hahaha.....but we're still alive so all is well! It was pretty funny how we got there! On Tuesday night we felt like we just needed to go to that island and start finding people there! We found a phone number of a guy who lives there and gave him a call and he told us to meet at this village and he'd come and pick us up in his boat at 8:00 in the morning. So we woke up and headed over there. We were looking off out at the sea trying to see where the boat was when we saw this dinky, small thing barely coming into vision. We had to walk out into knee deep water to get to the boat and then we hopped in. Next thing we knew we were headed to Moturiki. Since it's a ways out we packed clothes and supposedly there is a member who lives out there and we'd be staying with her and her husband for the night. When we got there the guy who was driving the boat stopped pretty far away from the island because the tide was way low and the water was too shallow for the boat. So we had to walk in ankle deep water for about 30 minutes until we arrived to Nacabecabe. It's a small village in Moturiki. When we stepped into the village it was way awkward. I think it had been awhile since the people there had seen a couple of white guys because they all just stared at us haha! We had no clue where to start until this guy came up to us and said, "Mai, Au na liutaki kemudrau ki na vale ni Turaga ni koro!" Which meant, "come, I will lead you to the chief of the village." It was kind of scary not gonna lie haha! So we followed him and the chief ended up not being home so he took us to the chief's brother's house and we sat down with him and they fed us lunch. The lunch was interesting. I've never eaten raw corn beef and leaves before so that was fun. We were able to teach him a lesson and he seemed to really be interested. After about 10 minutes we had walked around the entire village. Like I said, it's pretty small hahaha. We literally talked to everyone. To be honest, when we first got there I was pretty stressed about where to start and what we were going to do with ourselves until the next day. The family we were supposed to stay the night with was currently gone and we were lucky they showed up later that day! Despite our lack of knowledge of this brand new area the Lord showed us what to do! He helped us to find 5 new investigators! It was a miracle. The people in this village are my favorite. They have a little bit different of a dialect but it wasn't extremely hard to pick up. Later that night we had to go fetch firewood for the family we'd be staying with. The Vuki family is awesome. Sister Vuki is a recent convert and is one of the 3 members on Moturiki. She is so obsessed with the gospel it makes me way happy! When we went to gather firewood for them her two sons went with us. Long story short...going to gather firewood meant going to a hidden beach and having her two sons climb coconut trees and cut us up some coconuts! It was pretty legit. We had a way fun time with them and their family and Moturiki is literally my favorite place. That night we shared a spiritual thought with them and their family and the spirit was so strong. I was sad to leave but we had a lot more work to do back in Levuka! We have a Baptismal Date! Sakaraia! Right after we got back to Levuka we went to go help him build his house and he committed to baptism. I’m way excited for him! This week our district leader is coming out to the island to give him a baptismal interview! We got an unexpected call from the AP's and our mission president is sending them out to Levuka with us because Elder Johnson served here and he's going to go help us open up a new village in Moturiki. So these next two weeks are going to be insane. Levuka is about to catch fire in the gospel! On Sunday ALL of our less actives came to church and even some of our investigators from Moturiki....It was awesome! This week I learned a lot about how we can't run faster than we have strength. I've had a pretty bad cough and migraine this whole week and it was hard for me to force myself to go back to the flat and rest. I love this work too much! This morning we had to catch a boat to Nausori and the sea was pretty stormy. There's supposed to be another cyclone coming so keep Fiji in your prayers. We're hoping it’s just a rumor. I've seen miracles this week. I see them every week. I just want to be more like the Savior. This week my ponderizing scripture was 1 John 1:7  "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light. We have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Christ his son cleanseth us from all sin." The gospel of Jesus Christ is the light. When we follow him and bring ourselves closer to him our lives are filled with his light love and peace. It's not always easy to walk in the light because sometimes we can't even see it. But I testify that He is the light. And if we search for it and live every day in need of it eventually we will find the light. The Savior is my reason I serve and cannot sit still. I'll never come close to what he suffered but I will do my best to help all that I can realize this life doesn't have to be so hard. He went through it all for us and I want to devote my whole life in Gratitude of him. I love you all and miss you all. I hope I start feeling better so I can work for him harder. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Love, Elder Jonati

Usaia collecting coconutz

Gathering the wood

Matching hats, ties and sulus is important haha

I've been collecting shells

Add caption

Getting On Dinky Boat to Moturiki 
Aboard the Black Pearl  The green place is Moturiki

Riding the boat into a storm this morning. Sa REREVAKI SARA GA

The captain of the black pearl

Moturiki's hidden beach pretty torn up from the cyclone but still way pretty!

My Bed at Sister Vuki's house

His name is Koli

Life's a Stormy SEA