The Plagues.

Bula Vinaka!

Honestly, the weeks after the cyclone have felt a whole lot like living in Egypt at the time of Moses.  We’ve gone from a cyclone, to swarms of ants and flies, to flu-like illnesses, to famines, to pink-eye, to floods, back to the flu.  The past few months have been a continuing series of challenges.  Thankfully, Sister Mitchell and I have been completely protected for the most part.  I can’t say the same about our fellow missionaries or the people we teach.  The worst part of a cyclone is not the cyclone, but it’s what comes after.

The best part of being a missionary is not having to worry about what’s going on because we’re too busy making lesson plans or trying to figure out how to get people to want blessings that are in store for them.  We go around telling people every day what they can do to make life happier, what they can do to strengthen the bonds in their family, how they can overcome negative feelings.  Some of them listen, even fewer of them act.  When they do listen and act, they become completely different people.  They’re grateful to us and to the Lord.  Out most recent baptize-ee now insists on trying to feed us every day because she’s just that grateful.  Yesterday, it was dalo cooked in a lovo, half a boiled chicken, toast and lemon leaf tea.  Before that, she fed us dhal and all kinds of lovely Fijian dishes.  This week, she’s having a wedding and we’re helping her to do the cooking for service.  Missionary work gets us all kinds of friendships and blessings we never anticipated.

We had another cyclone, but I think it missed us mostly.  It flooded Nadi, but it was smaller than the first one.  It rained the whole week through, and I’m officially down another pair of shoes.  Fiji eats shoes.  I’m looking forward to that new pair of sandals in my package.

This week, Sister Mitchell and I kind of got a pet.  I say kind of because it does not stay in our house or anywhere near it.  It’s out on the road somewhere in the middle of Suva.  It’s a puppy, with all its ribs sticking out.  When we first say it, it couldn’t even lift its head.  We gave it a piece of bread we’d been carrying in our bag and came back the next day to give it a piece of dalo.  It looks a lot better after eating the dalo, so it must be a Fijian puppy.  It’s funny thought because we always complain about the dogs here (they’re pretty vicious, they’ll bite) but we’re feeding a puppy.  Hopefully, it’ll be a nice dog when it grows up.

We had a good week this week.  We’re still doing a lot of finding.  Always finding.  People talk to us all the time, and we’re just looking for people who are willing to keep commitments.  We’ve found some really great ones in the past month or so and can’t wait to see how far they progress.

We had stake conference, and I got to play the piano for it again.  Last time, I was in Nausori, with a smaller audience.  I was so nervous and not sure why they would ask a fresh missionary like me to play for hundreds of people.  This time around, I ended up playing an hour or two of prelude and about an hour’s worth of music and felt wonderful the whole time.  There were more people, but it felt like fewer.  Just me and the piano.  The stake choir did a fantastic job.  They sang with enthusiasm, and the chorister (she’s been working hard for a long time at many rehearsals) looked so relieved and grateful in the end.  Overall, it was an unforgettable, spiritually-uplifting experience.

I also wore my first sulu-jaba.  It’s got a delightfully tropical print with frangipani flowers and ferns all over it.

The most important part of having faith is doing the works.  It’s easy to testify, share and say truths, but it’s the actions that determine the results.  If you’ve got the faith, be willing to show it.  If you want to look great, you’ve got to work out.  If you want to feel great, you’ve got to read your scriptures, pray, go to church.  Don’t just talk about it.  Right now, Sister Mitchell and I are helping people understand how important this principle is.

Sister Mitchell is still an angel and I love her.  This probably is our second to last week together.  It’s been a joy serving with her.  She’s learned and grown so much, which is hard to believe since she started as such a spectacular missionary.  She’s ready for whatever the Lord has in store for her.  She loves these people so much.  She makes missionary work fun.  I’m going to miss her a lot, but thankfully, I don’t have to yet.

I love you all tons and tons.

Sister Hawkins

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