We’ve been doing a lot of finding for a long time. It’s unusual for Fiji since in most villages the people just invite you in to eat and talk for a while. Here in Suva, we’re door-knocking all the time. It’s actually really fun. Going around meeting as many people as we can, searching for the ones who are interested or need help. I’ve met all kinds of people here, and I love them all. Each has their own journey, family and belief. We’ve been doing a lot of work with other missionaries and the ward to make a plan that will best benefit the area. Using unconventional finding methods, asking everyone for referrals. Things have gotten really creative here.
The ward loves us though, and we went from starting here in January with an empty dinner list to getting fed almost every night. Dinner appointments are my favorite. Not for the food, but I love talking with the members about their friends and family who might be interested. I especially love being at home eating dinner with a family. There’s a special feeling when everyone is sitting together enjoying food and good conversation.
Our friend who is getting baptized in April is still in Kadavu, but she calls us every day. She’s made a lot of changes in her lifestyle. She started reading the scriptures every morning and night, she’s become the peace-maker in her family, and she stopped drinking kava. She said that all her friends ask what she was doing right because she’s got a glow about her. It’s true, she does glow, she’s smiling all the time and absolutely radiates. We can’t wait for her to come back to us, but we know that she’s helping her family right now, especially her husband. She’s especially an example to us of faith, love and service.
There’s a lot of people here from the outer islands. They come in to do their shopping, purchase supplies, and they go out again. I wish I could go there and help, but we visit them when we can here.
I’ve been in the same area for Christmas and now Easter, and I’m very grateful. Being able to share so many messages about Jesus Christ with the same people has been a blessing. Seeing the positive changes in the lives of these people who I have served with for four months has been amazing. Sister Mitchell and I experienced our first real Fijian meal together on Sunday. I started off eating really slowly because I knew what was coming. I probably should have told her how much they were going to expect us to eat, and I feel a little bit like a neglectful trainer for not saying anything. The food was delicious though: rich, creamy tomato and chicken soup, dalo, buttery sandwiches, sweet, crumbly fruit cake. I took little pieces at a time, and she heaped it all on from the start. Of course, I did the same thing at my first Fijian meal, so I understood exactly how she felt. I finished my first tiny serving and she finished her first big one. I ate a second tiny serving and she ate a second big one. I ate a third tiny, tiny serving, and the marama that fed us complimented me on my ability to eat and asked why Sister Mitchell had eaten so little. In reality, she had eaten about twice as much as I had, I’d just had enough time out on the mission to know how to sneak past the insistent Fijian “kana vakalevu!” Sister Mitchell is a fast learner though, so I imagine we’ll both be daintily nibbling next time while talking as much as we can to keep our loving and much appreciated hosts satisfied.
Training has been one of the best times of my whole mission. I feel so lucky to get to work with such an amazing missionary. Sister Mitchell is dedicated, obedient, and it’s clear she has a strong relationship with the Lord. Her love for Him is what motivates her in the work, and so she truly enjoys it. She doesn’t go through the motions, she is earnestly serving these people she loves so much. They can feel it, and they love her for it. She even wore the traditional sulu jaba on Sunday, and we had quite a few people stop her and compliment her on how “local” she looks. She does, she’s a natural. I can’t wait to see all the miracles she helps bring about as a missionary.
Personally, I’ve been growing so much. I’m learning how to talk with anyone and everyone, and I always try and understand them, how they feel. I want to learn how to help all kinds of people work together in the spirit of unity. That’s the fastest way to get anything done. I’ve seen it in my districts and zones. When we’re all on the same team, things are easy and fun. Everything becomes a joy, and no matter how hard I work on my own, I could never accomplish as much as a good group could accomplish together. I’ve learned so much about patience and love from those around me. At the start, I was being helped by patient people as I began to understand the culture, language and lives of my new home. Now, I have seemingly endless amounts of patience and a burning desire to help those around me. That’s a gift from Heavenly Father given to missionaries as we sacrifice all our time and wants to lift His children. I can’t say it was easy, but I can say that the blessings and benefits are priceless.
Thank you to Sister Parata and Sister Tania Mitchell for providing me with the photo!