Na Tinaniviritalawalawa.

So, I’ve only got about three weeks left until I leave for Fiji.  Wishing I could go sooner, but I am extremely grateful for my teachers and fellow sisters.  The people make the MTC experience worth it.  I’ve got some bad news though.  All my friends (the Samoan, Marshallese, and Kiribati districts) are leaving in the next few days.  Sister Su’a, the Kiribati sister, is stopping in Fiji on her way to the field, but we couldn’t figure out a way to get me on the plane.  I’m glad I got to spend so much time with them, but it’s definitely going to be a bittersweet goodbye.

Every night, we have a highlight/lowlight session.  We started it with the intention of sharing meaningful experiences and deepest desires, but I always talk about food.  One day, I ate six cookies, and I couldn’t decide if that was a highlight or a lowlight, but it wasn’t entirely my choice.  One of the Tongan elders decided that I looked hungry and gave me two of his cookies and an ice cream sandwich.  He won the nicest person award for the day.

I still love Fijian.  I’m working as hard as I can, but the MTC isn’t the best place for speaking Fijian, especially with a two-person district.  My teachers can understand and correct me, but that’s about it.  I’ve finally reached the point where I can express my feelings in Fijian when I pray.  I’ve got a whole bunch of Fijian vocabulary just floating around in my brain, but connecting it all with 100 percent accuracy is nigh impossible for the moment.  I get the general idea when my investigators express their thoughts and concerns though.  The best Fijian language leaning moment I’ve had so far was when I finally figured out how to roll my r’s.  I didn’t think it would ever happen, and I considered sticking with my painfully American accent.  I spent a great deal of time flicking my tongue against the roof of my mouth.  Finally, I tried to speak with a Scottish accent instead of a Fijian one, and my r’s rolled beautifully.  Then I transitioned into the Fijian r-roll.

Since I’m living my life as an exactly obedient missionary, I sometimes have to get creative when expressing myself.  Or, really, I have to be creative in order to express myself at all.  I discovered the leftovers line in the cafeteria, and now I like to pick and choose the amount of food that I eat and the way it’s arranged instead of grabbing the pre-prepared plate.  I also hide bagels and things in my room so that I can snack when I want to.  That’s about it.  Not a whole lot to do when they hand you a schedule that’s completely packed until 9:30 at night. {I sent her a box of Kind nut, dried fruit and chocolate bars, so she is not starving – Susan}

After I’ve finished my mission, I want to know that I’ve done my best.  My service will hopefully be defined by how hard I work.  It’s easy to live the rules, say spiritual things, and just go through the motions, but  I want to know that I pull all my energy into serving the Lord and the people of Fiji.  I think I’m doing it right because I’m tired almost all the time, and I seem to be making lots of progress.  Right now, I’m focusing on developing the skills that I need to serve the people in the field.  My hard work is an outward expression of the love that I have for those people.  If I didn’t love them, there’s no way I could be studying and talking as much as I do.  I want to be able to specifically address their concerns in their native language and serve as an instrument in the hands of the Lord.  It’ll take time and lots of work, but I know it’s worth it.

Sister Hawkins

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