Sunday, August 28, 2016

Week #55

Bula Vinakers family! Well it’s been quite the week! A lot has happened and some new changes have been made. I'm sad to report that my adventures in Levuka have come to an end.....but nevertheless I am excited to report that the Lord needs me in a new area! We received the call from mission president on Tuesday and I had to leave on Wednesday morning at 3:00am to make sure I could be at the mission home to pick up my new trainee! Not going to lie saying goodbye to everyone in Levuka was not the easiest thing I've ever had to do and I am going to miss them all like crazy.... It was also hard to say goodbye to Elder Ruiwhu, but he's going to kill it in Levuka so all is well. You are probably all wondering where I got transferred!  So I am now serving in the city of Naulu! It's a pretty small area but I am so pumped to just get to know everyone! Thursday morning we had a training with President Layton and then we went to go pick up our new trainees!  I was pretty excited as we entered the mission home and there stood about 10 new missionaries and I had no idea which one was going to be mine hahhaha! It was pretty intense. They all got their new call letters to their new areas and read them out loud and read who their new trainers would be! It was quite the experience! So my new companion is Elder Payne from Logan Utah. I just have to say I am so happy I got him! He's the man. I was pretty nervous I was going to get some super hard disobedient missionary but NO! This guy is just the greatest. His Fijian is pretty dang good for just coming out of the MTC and he has lots of entertaining stories to tell from back home so it's been fun. So... something a little different is in my district it's all sister missionaries. I'm what the missionaries call the “Relief Society President” hahaha! I'm pretty nervous and extremely just relying on the Lord right now. We are whitewashing the area and have nothing to go off of. There was an area book at the flat but it wasn't really up to date.  So the past few days we have just been knocking doors! I never thought I'd knock doors hahaha! This area is pretty different from my past areas!  It's a city with residential homes and more people speak English and Hindi than Fijian.  I know the Lord is going to help us find some people who are prepared and I am so excited to just start from scratch.  Although it is nerve-racking, I know I am going to learn so much. I hope I can be the best example for my new "son" and perform this calling the way Heavenly Father intends for me to.  We already have seen some miracles in this area.  On our first day while waking around knocking on doors we came across this big, really nice house. We decided to go up and see who lived there and if they wanted to hear a message about the Savior. Turns out they did. They turned out to be this way cool family and one of the girls who lives there is actually a member. One of the mothers who is living in the house was really sick and we offered to give a blessing. The spirit filled the house and we invited them to be baptized and they said that they were already baptized into the Methodist church. So Elder Payne and I are way excited to explain to them the importance of the priesthood next time we go over! Something else that’s new is I am serving in a ward. I am going to miss my little Levuka branch. This Sunday was intimidating.  Over 100 people came to church and it's like an actual chapel.....with pews and it's like the chapel back home. It felt so weird! I'm pretty overwhelmed at the moment with many things but I know it's going to strengthen me and help me draw closer to the Savior. I love you all and hope that I can fulfill my purpose here.  

Love, Elder Jonati

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Week #54

Bula Vinaka Matavuvale tawamudu! Sa yawa sara ga na macawa sa oti kei sa vuabale na yaloqu ena reki ni noqu Kalou! The work of the Lord just doesn't stop here in Levuka! I am so happy right now and praying that when our Mission President calls us for transfers tomorrow that I will have the privilege to serve the people here just a little longer! So many amazing things have happened this week. I feel too lucky to serve in such an amazing area where many decide to add to our numbers daily! The faith of the Fijians is incredible. Last week on Monday night we had a BOMB family home evening! We talked about the Liahona and how it works according to our faith. When Lehi and his family became idle or lazy (vucesa) the Liahona would cease to work and they wouldn't progress in their journey. We talked about how at this time the work of the Lord is hastening and if we want to continue to increase as a branch we need to exercise more faith in Jesus Christ and we invited them all to go and ask their friends to sit down with us and to start being bold in sharing the gospel.  All of the members and even our investigators who came got so exited to share the gospel and they just started bearing their testimonies and it was so powerful. The rest of the week their testimonies showed through their works. The members this week have been giving us so many of their friends to go and visit! Tuesday we went to go visit Sister Nani. It had been a long time since we had last seen her.  During the lesson we could feel through the spirit her desire to be baptized!  We talked to her about the baptismal covenant and what baptism means!  Elder Ruwhiu and I both knew she was ready.  We invited her to be baptized on the 21st....(which was yesterday!) She was way excited! The only dilemma was that we still had 2 more lessons to teach her and we were planning on going out to Moturiki the next day. We decided that it was much more important to stay and help Sister Nani prepare for her baptism.  Our zone leaders came out on Saturday to interview her and it was pretty funny how nervous she was.  Our zone leaders told us that at the end of the interview she asked, "Did I pass...?" hahaha I thought that was pretty funny!  The rest of the week we spent preparing Aditabua and Diana to be baptized as well.  I can say with certainty that Satan did not want these three women to be baptized.... he worked hard on our investigators and Elder Ruwhiu and I had to push through challenges and work harder to help strengthen them!  It has just been a fulfilling week knowing that satan didn't win and all three of them made it to their baptism!  I am just so happy!  So you probably all heard Fiji won the gold medal for Rugby!  This morning we had this small town parade with the members and everyone from Levuka!  It was pretty fun. Today is a holiday in Fiji so we are having a ward sports day! The whole branch is getting together and we are going to play rugby, soccer and netball!  I'm super pumped.  I love everything about the people here. They are family!  Elder Ruwhiu and I are hoping we get another transfer together because so much is happening in Levuka!  As members of the church we cannot compromise.  The closer we come to Christ the harder satan works.  We cannot miss a day of prayer or scripture study.  I know that to be true.  I know we can strengthen ourselves everyday by praying and reading and allowing all of our decisions to be made through the gift of the Holy Ghost!  I love you all and am loving being in the  service of God! Thank you all for your prayers!

Much Love, Elder Jonati

The jungle life

Comp goals

We put up our flag

Found a starfish with Sisi while waiting for a ride back to town

We ate dear cury from Wakaya island

Baptism of Diana, Aditabua, Sister Nani

The parade! Toso Viti Toso!!!

Seru is still my favorite! Fiji Pride!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Week #53

Bula Vinaka Family! If I could only describe this week in words.....If I could just show you all every thing that sequentially happened this week, I know for a fact anyone who would read it would know that we truly do have a loving Heavenly Father! I didn't even realize it was my year mark until we wrote down the date in my daily planner Friday night. I can't believe it. If I were to be completely honest with you all I feel like I have been here for 6 months at most. I title this week the miracle week. Basically every single week has been full of miracles here and I have not ceased to be amazed by God.  Monday night we had family home evening and Diana came and loved it. Not as many people came this week but the spirit was much stronger!  After family home evening we were walking back to the flat. One thing I've learned to love on my mission so far is kicking frogs at night hahaha. Elder Ruwhiu and I were walking up to our flat when I saw a frog.  It was raining pretty hard and all the sewage gutters were flowing fast with water.  I spotted this huge frog just chilling right on the edge of the gutter so I decided to attempt to kick it..... Turns out my shoe wasn’t very secure and flew off into the water and the swift current swept it right away and it was heading out into the ocean!!  Elder Ruwhiu and I just looked at each other like...oh snAP.....Next thing you know we start booking it as fast as we can to get to the seawall where the sewage drains out into the sea. Within seconds my sandal floats out but the current is just taking it further and further.  Diana and Sister Ana and all the member young men saw me in a panic and ran over to see what the problem was. I told them I tried to kick a frog and now my sandal is floating out to sea. Sister Ana and Diana bursted out laughing calling me an "Ulukau" (Wooden head).  But Timoci our recent convert decided to SAVE MY SHOE! So we watched him jump in and grab it!  The members keep teasing me every time they see me now.  As funny as it was, it was a blessing to me.  I only have those shoes currently with me so it was a miracle that Timoci was there and willing to jump in!  Hope you all enjoyed that story hahaha!  It was pretty funny!  It's been raining here non-stop.  Baba's village rivers were flooded and it was pretty fun to cross them to get to appointments hahaha! ONLY IN FIJI!  So on Tuesday night we went to go visit Diana and she committed to be baptized!  She told us she knows everything we share is true and we were so happy!  This week Elder Ruwhiu and I saw how satan tries to slow down the work. With the pouring rain this week our phone got damaged and no longer works.  Brother Betchu is THE MAN and donated his phone to us for this week until our Zone Leaders come out next week to bring us our new phone!  Aditabua knows the Book of Mormon is true with a surety!  We were sitting down with her Tuesday night and she told us that while we were teaching her it just hit her.  She said, every night when I read my Book of Mormon I get super tired and can only read 2 or so pages and then fall asleep.  She said Satan really works on me when I read and the spirit just testified to me that I know it is true.  She said that after the time you guys first told me that all you have to do is pray and read to know if it is true that she only ever prayed once. She said just lately she started praying more and sacrificing more time to read it. The spirit was so strong as she testified to us, "It's taken me awhile but now I am so happy because the holy ghost has testified to me in this lesson that the Book of Mormon is true!"  The past few lessons we have been helping her prepare for her baptism this Sunday.  Diana and her cousin are both ready to be baptized together this next Sunday. Hoorah for Israel!  So I guess losing my shoe wasn't enough because while trying to run to an appointment Wednesday name tag flew off into the unknown.  For like 30 minutes we had people with flashlights trying to help us find it!  I was praying so hard for a miracle because it's the only name badge I have. We didn't end up finding it. The next day the detective, who has been helping me recover all my stolen items, came to our house and told me he found my name badge along with my speaker, ipod, sd card (with all my mission pictures) my camera, and my charger.... I have felt so blessed this week!... I can testify if we just forget about ourselves and serve God's children who are our brothers and sisters...God will take care of us. It is as simple as that! I love Heavenly Father so much! So Lai has been wanting to be baptized so bad. Only problem is we hadn't yet asked her mom's permission. So Thursday we went to her house and sat down with her and I called up her mom and her mom said "Elda's Kerekere kua ni papitaiso na Luvequ!" In English that means, "Elders, I’m begging you, please do not baptize my daughter."  When I hung up the phone I had no idea what to tell Lai.  I wanted to cry.  She wants to be baptized so bad... We told her that we'd pray harder and in a few days call again. The next day we had been praying non-stop. This time we had her aunt (another one of our investigators)-Sister Tukana, call her mom. People have their agency...This time her mom became even more angry and said absolutely not.  Last night we returned from sitting down with Lai. She was crying because of how badly she wants to be baptized. We told her how God works in His own time and that now is the time that we can strengthen her testimony even more in the gospel until she can be baptized. She asked for a blessing and we all left the lesson feeling content and happy!  God comforts His children when other's agency affects us. Viliame and Kalini were interviewed and baptized this past Sunday.  I was way proud of 9 year old Viliame! He had the choice of going on vacation with his whole family or being baptized with his cousin. He decided to stay.  Both of Viliame and Kalini's parents aren't members. Their parents were surprised at their decision to be baptized and it made them re-think a lot of things.  I know that in time their parents will be taking lessons as well!  I just can't explain all that took place this week.  All I can say is that I love the work.  Pain enables growth and because of the power of Christ...satan will never win.  The work is the work of the Lord and I'm just happy to follow His will and do my best. When we are doing what God wants us to do....there is absolutely no better feeling.

Much Love, Elder Jonati

Viliame and Kalini's Baptism!

Samisone and his wife were way happy to see their grandchildren be baptized. 

Member presents with Brother Betchu. This guy does so much for Levuka!

Proselyting in the rain is the best!

Brother Samisone and Brother Sauwamudu

Sovaya, Lai, Samisen, Sauwamusu, Sakaraia, Baby-Resina

A full chapel is a happy chapel hahaha

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Week #52

Dear Everyone! I cannot even think of where to start this email. So many miracles have happened this week that it would be impossible for me to write them all down in this email, let alone describe them all to you. I can truly testify that Levuka has exploded in the gospel. Day after day our numbers of those interested increase.....The lessons I am learning and the spirit that I feel here will stay with me for the rest of my life!  Something Elder Ruwhiu and I have been working on is continual communication in our companionship. Before every lesson we talk about how we want the lesson to go and after the lesson we talk about what we could have done better. We see goals we want to accomplish and we go for it the entire week. I believe we've seen miracles because we're willing to be obedient and we are working together! There's a reason we as missionaries are called to serve in pairs of 2!  We found 5 new investigators this week who all are so prepared. One of them is in desperate need of the gospel and when she listened to the message it gave her peace. Last Tuesday Akuila and Koula called to tell us that Koula's sister was staying out at their house and that she needed lessons. We walked up to their house and knocked on the door. There was a long pause and then someone answered the door and from the look on her face she looked pretty depressed. But she welcomed us in anyway and immediately went and grabbed her Bible and sat down and was ready to listen. We started the lesson and asked why she wanted to hear our message and she said this, "Last week I saw my husband killed when a car came flying down the road and hit him while trying to walk across the street......I want to come closer to Jesus and I need peace."  Her statement hit me....We shared with her about the plan of salvation and she loved it.....Especially Alma 40:11-12. When our mortal bodies die our spirits return back to our Father in Heaven, and those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness where they shall receive rest. Just being able to testify to her that I know where her husband is helped her feel peace. She told us that she had taken lessons before but didn't accept. She said she felt the holy ghost prompt her to take lessons again and she said she felt the same feeling again when we sat down with her and shared about the plan of salvation. She took the lessons all this last week and bore her testimony on the plan of salvation this past Sunday.  She's committed to being baptized the 21st of this month. It's the best feeling in the world to see the gospel help people!  We also found another lady, Seriena Tukana! She's a school teacher from Levuka and she loves the lessons so far!  We shared the message about the restoration and she loved it so much she took it home to her family and shared it with them. She said she wanted to sit down with us every day this week and has also committed to being baptized! We have another investigator named Lai. Recently we've been trying to get her to read the Book of Mormon and pray and this week she did! She said she got a small answer as if a whisper that told her Joseph Smith was a true prophet.  She wants to be baptized this Sunday. The Lord is helping us so much here. It has nothing to do with us. I know it is simply because He loves His children here in Levuka. I can feel it when I sit across from them in a lesson.  He helps us speak to their hearts through the Holy Ghost. Those who listen to the invitation and just read the Book of Mormon KNOW that it is true! That testifies to me how powerful the Book of Mormon is!  You just have to read the book and then you will feel the love of God and you will desire to feel more and know more! All of our members have been asking for Book of Mormons to give out. Our branch is on fire giving us referrals. They are invigorated in sharing their testimonies with others and not afraid to share because they know it is true!  If anyone has fallen away and just doesn't think this church is true. If they will just open the book and read.....and desire to know and ask God. He will answer your prayer and you will know because you will feel it.  Without going into too much detail I'm a witness to miracles this week. I know that faith in Jesus Christ can cause people to be healed. The priesthood is real and miracles have not ceased. I will never forget Samisone's words this week after giving him a priesthood blessing. He said he felt fire in his head work down through his whole body and the pain left him immediately.  His faith in Jesus Christ makes me want to strengthen my own. I feed off the spirit. To be honest I can't live without it.  To teach me lessons at times he withdraws his spirit from me to let me know that it is done by his power. This gospel, like stated in Alma 32, has become delicious to me. I wouldn't trade my companionship with the Holy Ghost for anything in this world. It's raining like crazy here but there's work to do. I love the gospel. Jesus Christ lives and it is engraved in my heart that this is His church. Anditabua, Laisana, Diana, Seriana Tukana, and Viliame and Kalini have all committed to sitting down with us everyday this week in preparation for them to be baptized. The work of the Lord is hastening. 

Much Love, Elder Jonati

The village kids from Natokalau are the best hahaha

Forgot to send this last week

This was at some members house and when I saw it it made me die laughing

The companionship tho

We caught a rat with rat glue and it gave birth. Pretty gross
(From mom: I refuse to enlarge this photo.  It's disgusting!!!)

This is our branch president's wife with her son Soula. He's a handful