Sunday, May 29, 2016

Week #42

Bula Vina'a Family and friends! Another crazy stranded week out here on Levuka! We've been out here for the past 4 weeks straight (and about 3 months total) and have almost lost our minds ;)! Finally this morning we woke up at 3:00 am to take a boat to the main island for Zone training meeting! I'm not trying to brag but who else gets to say they had to take a boat to get Zone training meeting hahaha! So, right now I'm in Nausori. Today should be fun! We are going to have a beach p-day today. It's going to be a duel Zone flag football game. It was pretty funny coming into Nausori today! I was kind of in shock! In Levuka since it is such a small town we see the same people every day hahaha. Nausori is A LOT bigger than Levuka so seeing all these random strangers was pretty fun! Tomorrow is transfer calls.....I don't get how 2 transfers went that fast. I feel like I just emailed you all last week saying I was transferred to Levuka! I've been in Levuka for as long as I was with my trainer Elder Barnaby.....3 months..... Days are long but weeks seriously pass by like nothing. It scares me! I'm praying I can stay here in Levuka because it is the best place on earth! Yesterday we were invited to a Fijian birthday party from the chief of the village in Baba! He and our newly confirmed member, Akuila, took us up to the peak in Baba last week. Now before any of you freak out....the peak was the actual peak not the crazy one.. but we died....from exhaustion because it was that high. It was way better than the other peak! This one had a nice SAFE SECURE SOLID trail that led straight to the top. From the peak you could see EVERYTHING! All of Ovalau and the surrounding islands. It was so pretty and I got some pictures that I will send! It's been such a fun week and I've been connecting with our members and Elder Bond and I have been working hard! This week we did a lot of finding new investigators! Finding is always fun because you never know what types of people you can run into! Last night we were walking around town just trying to talk to some people when we came across these two guys. They were way chill and Elder Bond and I spent awhile talking to them. One of them was extremely interested in the Book of Mormon and when I asked the other guy when we could come visit him I got the weirdest response ever haha... He said, "Well...there's no set time you can come over, I might not even be home tomorrow, it's even possible that I might die in my sleep tonight, so... just whenever you guys are free?" I had no idea how to respond haha! Our less actives the "Fong" family have been a lot more open to letting us come inside their home. Our first approach with them when we first started in Levuka was just to invite them to church by re-sharing all the lessons. That hasn't been working out for them so now we are just going to try to become better friends with them and invite them to start doing smaller things like read the Book of Mormon every night as a family. One of our investigators, Rolagi, had an interesting lesson on Friday.  It didn't go the way we expected it to at all. It was 99.9% lead by the spirit.  Rolagi is an older guy in his 80's. Missionaries have been visiting him for awhile and he's been telling us he knows the church is true. We've been inviting him to get baptized but he keep giving the excuse that his wife is Catholic and she will be too hard to convince. So we sat down with him on Friday and he told us that he talked to his wife and decided that his baptism from when he was baby was all he needed and that he no longer believed that he needed to be "re-baptized"! We both felt prompted to share Moroni 8 with him concerning the baptism of little children. After the lesson he admitted that he knew what we shared was right and we re-committed him to pray to know for sure if this church is the only true church. He said he would and I'm praying that he will pray to know! Please keep Rolagi in your prayers! I had a funny moment on Saturday night...and by funny I mean pretty embarrassing! I made a Fijian language mistake... So we were in this lesson with a brand new lady we met on the street named Mere (Mary). Since it was the first time sitting down with her and her family Elder Bond  and I introduced ourselves. When talking about my family I told them how I had 3 younger sisters and then I said “Keitou na yalewa kece!” Which in Fijian meant we are all girls (including me)! Their whole family started laughing and as soon as I had said it I realized that I had said it wrong! It was pretty bad, but funny hahaha! This week has been full of crazy things that I wish I had more time to write about. Levuka is the place to be and I love serving the Lord. I miss all of you! Till next week! Moce mada. Au nuitaka kemuni kunea cequ ena nomuni Siga Tabu nikua! 

Love, Elder Jonutz

Climbing (Just kidding! This was staged to scare you guys)
The top of the peak

Posing at the Levuka ruins


The chief of Baba

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Week #41

Bula Vinaka Matavuvale! Na yaloqu sa vuabale vata kei na yalo tabu!!! I love Heavenly Father so much...... it's been a struggle out here in Levuka sometimes but yesterday made every suffering moment worth it!  Akuila and Sakaraia were both baptized yesterday after church. The church was full of people there to support them and it was an amazing day. If you guys could have only been there to see the look on Sakaraia's face before he was baptized. He was so ready and dedicated. Same with Akuila!  Akuila has been taking lessons from missionaries for two years!  Sakaraia was our first investigator that we have been working with since day one in Levuka! I just owe so much to Heavenly Father right now! To be able to see and experience the joy that comes from seeing others accept the gospel and promise their lives to follow Jesus Christ...I’m not even able to describe! All Elder Bond and I did was talk and visit with these two guys. Heavenly Father and the Book of Mormon did the rest...Seeing their new found devotion to follow the Savior makes me want to devote myself more! This week has been probably one of the hardest most rewarding weeks of my entire mission... Last time I mentioned through skype that our mission president here expects us to teach about 20 lessons every week and have about 2 baptisms a month. The past two weeks have been a trail of faith for me and at times it was discouraging. This week we kept the faith and literally prayed for miracles. I just have so much thanks and happiness in my heart right now to Heavenly Father! We were able to somehow see 30 people this week....and baptize 3 people this month. I never thought that could be possible but that’s because I wasn't remembering whose work this is. When we recognize who we are serving and make our desires his desires and diligently strive to be obedient with exactness, that's when miracles occur. This work and everything my companion and I have given to this area had nothing to do with us. If I sit back and look at how these past two months have gone it shocks me....This work has been led in every detail. At points throughout the past few weeks sometimes I would have no idea what we were doing or why, but now it’s so clear! I testify that we have been led every day out here....from house to house, which words to say, people to greet and help, where to go and what to do.  LITERALLY this work is so led by our Heavenly Father it's insane. I've learned so much the past few months that I realized this week. I've learned to stay strong through every trial even when it’s not clear and doesn't look promising.  I've been learning about how to be tenacious.  I can promise that if we can be patient and endure all things with faith and fill our hearts with humility and charity we will witness miracles in our lives. Not right away. No miracles come until after a trial of our faith but he promises us that they WILL come! For those who are desiring to serve a mission, just a few words of advice. Not to scare anyone or discourage but, Satan is real. The hardest part of missionary work really does go on inside the head. In all things he will desire to discourage you and make you feel inadequate. He will use things like pride and jealousy to limit your potential of becoming consecrated. Unfortunately, I've suffered all of these things. Even through my own dreams he tries to discourage and my thoughts to corrupt. It is a constant battle and to win you have to be exactly obedient in everything and pray your heart out. I've learned that no matter how real Satan is our Heavenly Father is 1 billion times stronger.  As missionaries, we are doing His work so as long as you are obedient you can expect His powerful help. I went on an exchange with one of our Zone Leaders this week and some advice he gave me was critical. He said, "Never compromise Exact Obedience".  There are a lot of little rules we are required to follow as missionaries. Follow every single one of them.  Don't compromise. I can testify that being exactly obedient makes missionary work so much more fulfilling and fun. When we're exactly obedient it allows Heavenly Father to have more trust in us and we will be more susceptible to His help. This week has been so much fun!  It has been fulfilling and my companion and I are more united because of it.  Akuila our investigator killed a bat and ate it....and this morning we found a crab in our bathroom hahaha!  We found a shop that has macaroni and cheese in town and I about died!  It’s from California so I got a little taste from home. I miss cheese so much.... Oh, some of our less active members were walking around with T-shirts from Carmel, California and I was like duuuuuude, WHERE DID YOU GET THAT!? They were like some guy came from California gave it to us! It made me miss home a little bit hahaha!  Anyways, this week has been awesome and I miss you all. Thanks for all your prayers. They help! 

Love Elder Jonati

Seru! Akuila's son

Sisi's baptism a few weeks ago

Walking down to the way tui (ocean)

Akuila before his baptism! He's the man. That's his wife Koula and their two kids Seru and Ica

Sakaraia and his nonmember wife and kids (Soon to be members;)) I had the opportunity to baptize him!

Avete with a star fish hahaha

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Week #40

Bula Vinaka Matavuvale! Man this week has been one of the best trials ever! Recently I listened to a talk by Richard G. Scott entitled, "Transforming power of faith and character.”  One of the things stated in his talk is that we can convert the trials we face in this life into steps of happiness! Never really realized that until this week. This week a lot of the people we planned to see were busy and the majority of our lessons fell through. The first thing Satan wanted me to do was to be discouraged........ So I tried to do the opposite of that! On Wednesday we went to Moturiki only to find out that the member who lets us stay the night was yali tu (GONE). She was in Suva, which fried all our plans of visiting our 7 investigators in Moturiki. I will admit that it was hard to stay positive in this situation and it wasn't until the end of the day that I was a witness to a miracle. When I first heard that she was gone in Suva I had no idea what to do..... Her family was the only place possible for us to stay the night on the island and I wasn't about to let my companion and I get stranded on an island for the night. So we went to go and say a prayer. We felt like we should leave Moturiki because the Lord had other plans for us to do. We called Deni, our captain and he said he'd come by in about 2 hours to pick us up. So we used those two hours to be directed by the Lord where to go. We felt like we needed to see our investigator Siti first. In that lesson he told us he wasn't liking the ways of his AOG church and that he remembered what we shared with him and asked us if we knew of a way that he could come to our church. We were happy to explain to him how to get to our church!  After this visit we were confused where to go next. We weren't getting any solid promptings of where to go so we stayed put.  A few minutes later an older guy came up to us and started just talking to us about our church. He told us that he was from an outer island off of Moturiki.  We shared with him just a little bit about our church and he told us he wants us to come out to his island. He just has to get the chiefs permission first. The funniest thing about that whole conversation was that he had us sit on top of someone's grave and teach him the lesson.  It was cool haha NEVER DONE THAT BEFORE!!!  I can cross that off my bucket list!  Within our limited two hours of being in Moturiki the Lord showed us what to do. I should have never got discouraged.  Heavenly Father had it all under control! The rest of the day was led by the Lord. Trucks came by that picked us up at specific times that if we hadn't gotten the ride we wouldn't have been able to see those that we did. Our Wednesday was His Wednesday. The rest of the day our appointments fell through but Heavenly Father did not abandon us.  He told us which houses to go to and who to see and what we needed to say. We found 5 new investigators this week and I've never done more OYMing in my entire life. Our week was his week and because we were doing his work he was with us in His work! Trials strengthen our faith and if we endure them with good character it will make us even stronger later on in our service. That's probably the biggest thing I have learned this week. I've really been trying to give this work my all but sometimes like Nephi in Nephi chapter 4, I let my natural man and sinful state discourage me. This week has been so directed by the Lord I cannot even begin to describe it to you. Promptings from the Holy Ghost are real and the power of God is more than a feeling, it is a reality. On Thursday we did some service for one of our investigators who lives in Waitovu. We got to use our seles and trim his bushes. It was some legit hard work and my forearm kills! Now I know why fijians are so ripped hahaha! On Friday we were invited to feel the hectic emotions of trying to get married. On Friday at 10:00 in the morning Akuila and Koula were scheduled to get married. We sat outside the courthouse with them for about 2 hours until this guy came out and said that the guy who was supposed to marry them was in Suva! I was like NO WAY ARE YOU KIDDING ME. But Akuila was madly in love and set on being married on Friday no matter what HAHAHA. They started asking us if we had the legal authority to marry and we told them After trying to contact our Branch President for an hour he finally showed up. We asked him if he had the authority to marry and he said he didn't know. So we took it to a higher authority and called the stake president. He bought Akuila and koula boat tickets to come out to Suva to be married on Saturday. Long story short, Akuila and Koula got married. Friday night Akuila called us three times at 3:00 in the morning asking if he could take our camera to Suva to capture their wedding. It was a pretty stressful day....and night. He was going to be baptized this Sunday but since they were in Suva we had to push it to next Sunday. Which actually works out perfectly because our other investigator Sakaraia is being baptized next Sunday too. So they can be baptized together now! One thing I learned from Friday is that Satan really really REALLY did not want our investigator Akuila to be married! This work is the best and I love the Lord! I miss you all and will be excited to tell you this next week goes!

Much Love, Elder Jonutz

Pictures from Week #39 (no letter because of Skype call on Mother's Day) 

Sisi was baptized this past Sunday. She wrote a song for me and this is her writing it hahaha. 

This little girl is crazy!

Sisi's baptism

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Week #38

Bula Family! Another insane week here in Levuka! All is well and Elder Bond and I are still both alive and breathing! I’m way excited to skype you guys soon! Should be next week on Monday but we haven't received any information on it from our mission president yet so JUST BE READY hahaha! Elder Bond and I worked our hearts out this week. We came back home Sunday night just DRAINED. This week has been full of so much! We went out to Moturiki on Wednesday and that’s always an adventure! We met many new investigators there and Sister Vuki made us this dinner that we had no idea what in the world it was. But we were grateful for it and we ate it hahaha! I could almost swear it was coagulated pig’s blood.....I’m serious.  We usually go to Nacabecabe when we go to Moturiki, but this week the tide was low enough for us just to walk all the way to this other Koro we had not yet visited. The village is called Nasavuki and it’s way cool just like Nacabecabe!  We were only able to visit one person there because the tide started coming up and we aren't allowed to swim...haha, so we had to get out of there fast! We went to this random house in Nacabecabe and this old man lived there and he invited us in and when we sat down he went like crazy laughing and speaking the fastest fijian I think I have ever heard. We got to know him some more after sitting with him and it turns out his grandson was taking lessons with the missionaries and he's ready to be baptized. He lives in Nacabecabe but he was at school while we were there so next week we'll get to see him and I'm way stoked!  After Moturiki, we headed back to Levuka and had an awesome rest of our week there! Elder Bond and I have been blessed big time. Literally, this whole week was led by the Holy ghost. Speaking of which I'd like to share an experience I had this week. So, Elder Bond and I made it a goal  to stay out proselyting till 9:00 and sacrifice our hour of dinner which starts at 8:00. We definitely felt the blessings flow from making this goal! Thursday night we were working way hard and it was only 6:00 and we had already seen everyone we had planned to see and we didn't know what to do so we went to sit on the sea wall and decided to say a prayer on what we should do. We sat there for awhile praying and we both received the same answer. But at first the answer didn't seem right to us. We received a strong prompting that we needed to return to our flat for the night. I was pretty confused at this because I wanted to keep working. But we of course listened to the prompting and went back to our flat. Still confused I decided to pray again for understanding. As I prayed I felt like we had made the right decision. I know for certain Heavenly Father didn't want us to be out late on Thursday night. I'll never know why but I do know that we followed His will and we were blessed. It just proved to me again that Heavenly father will do anything to protect us. Saturday we went to Natokalau village to meet with our nine year old investigator, Sisi! She's going to be baptized this Sunday! BULLLAA! she is way funny and all was great and dandy after her lesson until a tribe of Fijian children came and beat up Elder Bond and I! This one little girl in the village is way funny. Her name is Livia! She reminds me of OLIVIA!  I sat her down and told her that my sister back home has the same name as her so she asked me if I had a picture of her. Luckily I keep all of my pictures in my side bag so I pulled it out to show her the picture. Olivia don't take this offensively! But when she saw the picture she busted up laughing! She's only like 5 years old so I asked her why she was laughing and she said “titoko kaukamea ena batina!” Which in fijian means “metal on her teeth”. She was making fun of her braces in the picture......I was like RUDE! hahahaha  Don't worry Olivia I stuck up for you and told her how pretty you are!  After that, we were trying to leave the village and literally 30 fijian kids marched out with us. They were being really loud and I was trying to get them to go away because the village and the chief were having a big meeting. Fijian kids are way funny. There was this group of kids who wanted to speak english so they just copied everything I said so I had some fun with that haha! On Sunday we sat down with Akuila. He is way excited about getting married this week and then baptized next week! He and Sakarai are both planned to be baptized next week so I’m way pumped. We helped pay for a little bit of their marriage so they wanted to feed us lunch on Sunday after church. They made this way good stew with yams and chop suey! He's way excited to be baptized! We'll be going to his wedding this Wednesday! Fiji is way fun. I can't describe the culture here but it’s the best thing ever. I'm sure I’ve shared this before but you literally cannot find a happier group of people in the entire world. Half of them are homeless yet so happy! I LOVE IT! I'm looking forward to seeing some of the people we have been working with for awhile be baptized next week and the week after. The district leader is coming out to do more interviews this week so that should be fun! So one funny story to end this email! Elder Bond and I were doing some finding in Baba village and we came to this house and they invited us in. It was this old fijian lady who was way funny and her whole family of 9! At the end of the lesson she asked us if we were available for marriage after our mission. We were both like umm noooo......hahaha! Some fijian ladies are just too crazy ahh hahah! I just want to end this email with my testimony! This week has been a hard one but a rewarding one! To see how far with the Lord's help Levuka has grown is awesome! I love you all and I miss all of you so much and am looking forward to skype! This church is so true!  Au na vosa vei kemudo na macawa mai oqo kei raitha na matamudou! Sa veivakurabuitaki na yaloqu!

Love, Elder Jonati!   

Sunrise in the morning (I call them second coming clouds)

The good ol' moturiki boat!

Deni our captain

Giant hermit crab

When the tide is way low!

Nasavuki village

shout out to koli. This face is priceless