Sunday, July 31, 2016

Week #51

Bula Vina'a everyone! It’s been a pretty interesting week! Monday night we had another amazing family home evening and now Sakaraia's mom wants us to come over and give her the lessons! Sakaraia's uncle, Miti, had us come over on Tusiti (Tuesday) and he is so cool and ready to receive the gospel! Sister Ana (who was baptized last Sunday) came up to us on Wednesday night and told us 3 more people she had shared the gospel with that want to join the church and need us to come over and share the lessons! It's insane..... It is literally the best when recent converts are doing missionary work! Samisone's 2 grandchildren started taking the lessons this whole past week and are doing awesome! They are scheduled to be baptized August 14th! The Lord continues to amaze me out here! Wednesday we were planning on going to Moturiki and then I got pretty sick....I couldn't drink anything or eat anything without my body rejecting it right away and throwing it up. I had to stay in all that was a bummer. Thursday morning I tried to tough it out because we had some awesome service projects planned that I didn't want to miss. Before I begin to explain this next part, I just need to add that it was the weirdest service day of my entire life....hahaha! So we were told from the Marama (an elderly woman) that she wanted us to come over and help her make Ibe's (traditional weaved fijian mats made from an ibe plant). I was way pumped to get over there and learn how to make one. When we arrived Marama walked up to us and was holding this big pair of rubber boots. In fijian she said, "Let's go!" I had no idea where she was wanting to go, but if there's one thing I've learned in fiji it's just best to go with it and not question anything and enjoy the adventure hahaha! So off we went and we ended up at this sewage drain in the middle of the village. Elder Ruwhiu and I watched her slip on her boots and jump in..... At this point I was starting to question some things but just went with it.  Until she bent down and reached her hands into the muddy sewage to pull out these ibe plants covered in the stinkiest mud I have ever smelled.  She told us that the mud is supposed to dye the ibe black!  She had us carry the ibe around the village back to her house and all the villagers were laughing at us because it's supposed to be a woman's job. So that was fun. After that we went to the next village down to help another lady. We had met her on a truck ride earlier last week and asked her if we could do any service for her. Elder Ruiwhu was the one talking to her at the time and he signed us up for some service...... he had no idea what he had gotten us into! So we show up to her house and told her we were ready to serve and she was like, "Okay wow, you guys actually came! Just let me go grab my gloves!" I asked Elder Ruiwhu what she said we were coming to do and he said boroboro (Painting). She started walking so we followed her and as we followed her we noticed we were walking further and further into the jungle and I kept looking back at Elder Ruiwhu like, "WHERE IS SHE TAKING US PAINTING!?!?"  Eventually, we saw these tomb stones and this old catholic graveyard.  Now I was getting scared hahaha.  When we entered the graveyard she asked us if we could say a prayer. So we did and then she told us to weed around the graves. It was actually pretty peaceful but my companion completely mis-translated her. She said Bulubulu (graveyard) not Boroboro (painting).  It ended up going all nice and dandy.  We're still alive and didn't do any grave digging, just some weeding :)  When we got back to the flat I could barely move. We called the nurse and I was told I probably had an intestinal infection and that I should stay inside all day.  That night was pretty hard.  My body was losing water fast and wouldn't keep it in so I had to take some rehydration salts. It lasted till Saturday, but I'm all goods now!  So no worries. It was a bit discouraging but the members were there to help me so I was all good! Sunday night we went out and worked and it was a really good day. Many of our investigators came to church. The work is exploding and I'm learning a ton. Recently I've been reading in Alma 50-63 and trying to find the importance of why Heavenly father added all the wars into the Book of Mormon and what we can learn from it. It's meaning to me is about being prepared.  In every way possible.  Choosing how you are going to react to temptation or trials before they even come.  And when Satan comes, picking up the javelin like Teancum and just stabbing temptation through the heart!  People like Captain Moroni, Teancum, and Helaman with his 2000 stripling warriors didn't let anything take them down. They were diligent and they trusted in God to carry them from day to day. They are the biggest examples to me.  God called us to serve his children and to cry repentance.  Because the Savior is coming again and He wants all of his children to at least have a chance to return back to live with Him again. I'm so grateful for Jesus Christ. He gave us the way back and paid what we couldn't. I love the Savior and want to grow my testimony in him. I love you all! That was pretty much my week! Can't wait to tell you all about next week!

Much love, Elder Jonati

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Week #50

Bula Vinaka Kai Vulagi! All I have to say is........This week went by WAY fast! So much has happened and there's so much to look back and reflect on! Elder Ruwhiu and I have just been trying to give it our all. It's been really good to have this 1st week to work together. Monday night was one I will never forget. Family Home Evenings here have become a hit! I remember my 1st family home evening here was just with the Betchu family and us....THAT WAS IT.  Last Monday we met in Natokalau village and over 40+ people came and President Liga had us share the spiritual thought. We decided to share about how our works should glorify our Father in Heaven and be examples to those who don't have the restored gospel. What was supposed to be this small short message turned out to be this spiritually empowering testimony meeting. Most of our investigators went to the family home evening and they testified to the church members that they knew what we shared with them was true! Just sitting there in our Branch President’s home watching our investigators and members bear testimony hit me pretty hard. That night made me open my eyes a lot more to how much of an impact this gospel has on us... It was a pretty fun night.  We all piled up in this small truck and sat in the back and all of the youth were getting along and the investigators got to be even better friends with the members! The majority of this week was preparing Sister Ana, Sireli, Timoci and Theresa to be baptized. We visited them non-stop everyday last week making sure that they were absolutely ready. They are so amazing....Friday night our district leader came out and on Saturday he went to go do the baptismal interviews. The night of the interview Timoci's mom and Sireli's mom didn't want them to be baptized. We were praying really hard for them to soften their hearts. Timoci was crying and I know it was because of how badly he wanted to be baptized. Then a MIRACLE HAPPENED! Sister Ana went and talked to both of their parents and they agreed to let them be baptized. They were both so happy and it really was a tender mercy from the Lord. On Sunday I had the opportunity to watch them all be baptized and MANNN I am so happy!  Later that night we went back up to their house to have some “tea and crumpets” (herbal tea and tang pie hahaha). While we were there another miracle happened! Sister Ana's great-uncle wanted to take lessons. He had told them after he saw them get baptized that he wanted to be baptized as well! Hoorah For Israel!!!! After that we went to Theresa (Samisone's grand-daughter) He told us that his other two grandchildren Viliame and Kalina want to take the lessons as well! Hoorah for Israel AGAIN!  I just feel so blessed.....The Lord truly does place those who are ready to receive the gospel in our path! That night I was talking to Samisone and he told me that the branch is going to get 200 this year.  At first I didn't understand what he meant by 200 but then it hit me and I was like.................... He said, "Elder Jonati, the work is hastening and this island is ready!  We are going to work hard and find all we can.  I want a chapel!  HE HAS SO MUCH FAITH!  The work is hastening so fast out here.  If I could, I would serve these people for the rest of my entire mission.  I wish all of you could just come witness one day in the life of being a missionary out on Ovalau island at this time.  So much is happening.  My favorite scripture of the week is Alma 13:24 - "For behold, angels are declaring it unto many at this time in our land; and this for the purpose of preparing the hearts of the children of men to receive his word at the time of his coming and in his glory."  I testify that Jesus Christ is coming again. There is a way for us to enter to be prepared to meet him and our Heavenly Father and the first step is baptism.  I know Jesus Christ lives. The rest of the week was way fun!  Last P-day we went to the rugby field and played soccer with the kids.....they kicked my butt.  I was feeling sad about the choices of one of our investigators one day while walking through the village and this random 4 year old little girl walked up to me and grabbed my hand.  It was pretty cute and it made me feel way better hahaha!  Heavenly Father has billions of different ways He sends comfort to his children.  I love being a missionary and am excited to work harder this week. Love you all!

Elder Jonati 

me and Juju

good ol baba

Sister Ana and her kids

Everyone on the way to family home evening

Everyone at family home evening

All the kids! Batidredre

President Liga

All the youth hahaha

They stole the camera and took all these pictures

I got way sick on Tuesday so our investigators gave me this fancy umbrella for the rain

Sister Ana, Theresa,Timoci and Sireli

Walking down!


I lost a game and had to eat this....

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Week #49

Bula Vinaka Everyone! I'm guessing you’re all curious about transfers.....I think it's hilarious that you guessed I was transferred because you saw I pulled out some money in Nausouri.....I have good news! My prayers were answered and I'm still living out on the good ol' island of Ovalau! Elder Bond was transferred to Rabi and it was sad to say goodbye to him. We got to be really good friends! But he is going to do awesome out on Rabi and I get to stay here and witness more miracles with my Maori companion from Sydney, Australia, Elder Ruihwu (pronounced Roof-you). I had to go to Nausouri on Thursday to pick him up and drop off Elder Bond. It was a long 2 whole days stuck in the Zone Leader’s flat and a lot of just sitting and waiting. I got cabin fever but Elder Ruihwu finally showed up Friday afternoon and we had to stay another night in Nausori because we missed the bus and we finally made it back Saturday night. I don't really know where to begin. Before Elder Bond left we went and said goodbye to everyone and we went to our investigator's house... Adi and kenchi. We've been teaching them for awhile and it's been a slow process but they committed to be baptized on the seventh of August and I'm happy I get to be here for it. When our mission president called us to tell us about transfers he had the best news ever. VILIAME! He finally went to Suva and was interviewed by our mission president concerning his desire to be baptized. I saw Viliame my first day in Levuka and we've been trying for ever to get him to interview with president. President Layton said that he came to his office and Viliame was waiting there to meet with him. He said Viliame has promised to come to church every Sunday. It may be 3-6 months until he can be baptized but he's determined to do what he has to do because he knows it is true! To me that was like the best news ever! On Sunday I had the opportunity to give Sereima Teci Vugakoto the gift of the Holy Ghost. Samisone was supposed to receive it as well but he got sick and had to stay home and will be receiving it next Sunday! It was one of the coolest experiences ever.  Sereima stood up after the blessing and you could just see how happy she was. The whole chapel was filled with the spirit and tears were flowing.  I'll never forget it! I'm way excited to work with my new companion Elder Ruihwu! He's a way cool guy and we both have the desire to work hard and I'm praying that we'll be able to do what the Lord needs us to do these next 6 weeks! I apologize if this email is a little shorter! We haven't been in our area for 3 days this past week so I don't have as much to report. Our district leader is going to come out on Friday and do our baptismal interviews and we are preparing Ana, Timoci, Isireli, Thresa, Joe and Sister Nanise to be baptized this upcoming Sunday.  I'm praying that they will be strengthened against Satan as they get closer to this Sunday. It has been interesting to see as a missionary how evil Satan is especially when our investigators get closer to the gospel. Our job as missionaries is to visit our investigators as much as we can and share with them words of strength that will protect them and help them stand strong against temptations. This week is going to be super busy and I appreciate all of your prayers.  I'm going to have lots to tell you all next week. I love you and miss you all. I'm excited to see why Heavenly Father kept me here out on Levuka! 

Love, Elder Jonati

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Week #48

Bula Vinaka Fam! LEVUKA IS ON FIRE!....I don't feel like I deserve any of the miracles that occurred this past week but that's because it's not about me it's about Heavenly Father's children. I don't even know where to begin! The miracles just keep coming. Obviously this week wasn't perfect because that's impossible but the good really does outweigh the bad. Our flat has been robbed twice in the past 2 weeks and I've had 2 people come up to me this week and tell me I don't believe in Jesus Christ or that I shouldn't. But I don't even care! I feel just so full of love and gratefulness that none of that even matters.  On Tuesday night we returned back from Nausori after having an awesome ZTM.  Wednesday we went to go see one of our investigators, Joe.  He's planning on being baptized on the 24th of this month and he is so close. Like many of us, the word of wisdom is just a struggle for him, but on Wednesday we had an awesome lesson with him about the atonement and how because Jesus Christ did what He did for us, we never have to do anything alone. He will always be there with us. We're praying for him to have the strength to stay strong! Later that day we went to go share a lesson with Samisone and his family. As we walked up to his house Elder Bond and I could here him teaching his family.  As we walked up closer we saw him holding up the Book of Mormon and all of their kids and grand kids were holding a Book of Mormon as well. He was saying, "Look at Nephi! He was obedient to his parents! You all need to be like Nephi!" When he saw us at his door he was like, "Oh hey eldas! Just let me finish up this lesson from the Book of Mormon."  I love this guy so much hahaha!  We shared a lesson about the gift of the Holy Ghost and it was really powerful. Samisone has this small shop at their home where they sell Top Ramen and cocoa. He said, “did you see the sign on the shop door?” We said no and after we left his house it was clearly written...."Closed on Sundays". HAHAHA I wish every family was like this FAMILY! Also, another one of Samisone's granddaughter's,Theresa, decided she wanted to take lessons and so we've been visiting her a lot this week. A few days ago we taught her about the Restoration and about Joseph Smith and we invited her to pray. On Friday we followed up with how her prayer went and she said she got a really good feeling and knew it was true and then fell asleep right away and she committed to baptism and is preparing to be baptized July 24th!  After her we saw Sakaraia's wife, Sister Ana, and her nephew's Isireli and Timoci and they told us they all know the church is true and are planning to be baptized on July 24th as well! Sakaraia was interviewed at church this last Sunday for the Aronic priesthood and he will be receiving it next Sunday so the following Sunday he can baptize his wife and his two nephews. We are way excited for them! In that lesson Sakaraia told us that his parents and another one of his niece's wants to start taking lessons too......literally this is all Heavenly Father's doing..... All these people who are ready to be baptized and have been baptized are all from the same village. Baba Koro. Slowly but surely the Lord is changing Baba and others are following and it is a miracle.  After seeing Ana and her family we went to go see Mary and Arthur (these two kids who are brother and sister 11 and 8 years old) and that was a pretty powerful experience..... Like Teresa we had committed Mary and Arthur to pray together to know if Joseph Smith was a true Prophet. We asked them how it went and 8 year old Arthur said, "I prayed and this huge feeling hit me and my heart was beating so fast and it was soo weird and I just knew it was true!”  I was really touched and Elder Bond and I felt the spirit very strongly. I'll never forget it.  As we were walking back to the flat from their house this guy in town called out, "ELDAS!" So we walked up to him and he took off his hat and asked, "Do you know me?" we had never seen him before so we said no. He said "my name is Josaia and I live in Baba. I want to hear the gospel from you guys....I'm interested!"  We were like, okay...YES! We ended up visiting him the next day and it was really good. We are going to go do service for him and his wife this Thursday! I can't stress it enough that this is the work of the Lord! He's leading us in every way. People literally come up to us and ask us for the gospel....Baba is a changing village and the Lord has a plan for all the people who dwell there! I know it! I don't want to leave Levuka because so much is happening here. I love the people here. Tomorrow is transfer calls and I'm praying I can be here longer. I love you all and want you to know your prayers are working miracles on the small island of Ovalau! Until next week!

Much Love, Elder Jonati

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Week #47

Bula Matavuvale! It's hard to describe the happiness I am feeling right now! This week was a combination of hard work and miracles. So, Monday night after I emailed, we gathered with the Betchu Family and had a family home evening with Same and his family! Elder Bond and I taught the family home evening and it ended up going super well. The blessings of miracles just keep coming....I literally am just so grateful right now! This past week has been an everyday walk with the Savior. There's no way to describe it other than Jacob 5! The Lord truly is helping us harvest his vineyard here in Levuka! There's no better feeling than just letting go and working as hard as you can and the Lord leads and directs everything else. On Tuesday we went to Natokalau to visit Simione. Simione is this pretty old guy who has taken lessons from elders in the past and has read the entire Book of Mormon. He told us last time he just thinks it’s a book about wars and fighting. So we decided to teach him the restoration and just start from square one. Before we sat down with him we tried to see some other people but everyone we tried was busy or gone. When we sat down with Simione we told him about how he was the only person available for us to see and he said he knew it was because God planned for us to come that day! We told him that that was true and that we had a message for him and that if he would listen he would know why God wanted us there. The rest of the lesson was 100% led by the Spirit and afterwards he committed to trying to pray and re-read the Book of Mormon! The spirit unlocked his heart. On Wednesday we boated out to Moturiki! It had been forever! All of our investigators were way happy to see us. I don't know if you guys remember Siti but we were told by our member Sister Vuki that we should go visit him because his wife had left him since we last saw him...We went to his house and found him lying face down on the floor. We were about to walk away when I saw the Book of Mormon opened up in front of him! Seeing that stirred up a lot of emotion inside me. Later that afternoon we returned to his house to find him awake and reading the Book of Mormon. He was way happy to see us and told us to come in! He said, "Elders, I have been waiting for five weeks for you guys to come back!" We told him the reasons why we haven't been able to make the trip in so long and then he said, "I've been reading the Book of Mormon everyday since you guys left!  And it's a really good book. I've been feeling pretty sad and old but this book gives me peace and energy.” He had read all the way to Moroni 7. Elder Bond and I were way happy! After visiting him...all the other men were out in the forest farming so we decided to do some service which consisted of raking up trash and then making this huge fire and burning it :) Thursday through Sunday were amazing....So much is happening in Levuka... We consistently met with Same and his family helping them prepare for baptism. We saw Satan work on their family hard. We told them they could find power from the Book of Mormon. They said ever since family home evening 2 weeks ago they have been reading the Book of Mormon every night as a family. Same went out to Makogai (an outer island) to resign from his position as a preacher. I could tell it was not easy for him. Saturday morning our District leader came out and interviewed them all. For awhile I've been serving out on the island of Ovalau. I remember when I first got here I had no idea where to start or who anyone was... Now Seven of my strongest friends Akuila, Sakaraia, Sisi, Same, Sereina, Seriana, and Meli are baptized.....Levuka is my treasure. It has not been a walk in the park nor will it ever be, but I love Levuka. Sunday was Samisone's (Same) and his family’s baptism. I can barely write I am so happy! Satan could not beat nor will he ever take down this family! All dressed in white we drove down to this beach about 30 minutes away. As we walked into the ocean the waves were big and it was rainy. I watched as Samisone gathered together his family holding hands in a circle in the ocean. No temptation or evil could enter that family as they stood there! Same spoke to his family and they prayed together and then he told them,"This is it! We devote our very last breath to serving Christ and building up his kingdom!" They truly understand the meaning of enduring to the end! After the baptism Same threw his hand up in the air. They were so happy it lit up the entire beach and continued to do so as we all gathered back into the chapel for them to share their testimonies! Samisone said as he came up out of the water that he literally physically felt all his sins washed away... This family is going to endure to the end! The power of the atonement is real. Our sins CAN be washed away. And by baptism we make the first step to the Celestial Kingdom!  After Church Brother Betchu's daughter came up to me and said, "Elder Jonutz, I want to start taking lessons!" She asked if we could come over everyday and see her at 5:00 P.M  Of course I said YESSS! I love this feeling. God has been with us from the start even when we felt alone and discouraged. These people have been slowly preparing to receive the gospel this whole time Elder Bond and I have been here. I love my Heavenly Father. I just want to keep giving my soul to this work because there is no greater work! I testify that this is the work of a living God. I love you all and can't wait to tell you what the Lord does out here next week! 

Much Love, Elder Jonati

My favorite picture!

Walking out...

Samisen (Dad), Sereina (Mom), Seriana (Daughter), Meli (grandson) BAPTIZED

You can't do weekly planning without your pillow hats

Moturki boy caught a bat. His name is Wesele