Na Gone.

Bula Vinaka!!

I’d like to take this first paragraph to thank all those who have sent letters and packages in the last few months.  I got them all last Monday at sports day.  I was very, very grateful for all the love and care that came my way in envelopes and cardboard boxes.  It meant a lot, and I love you all.

Right, we’re working hard to strengthen the bonds and unity in our ward.  It’s there, we’re family.  We’re just getting even better at bringing more people in.  This month, we got to see one member come back, and it’s been a wonderful experience.  She’d been gone for years, after her family split.  One Relief Society visit and a month later, she’s been attending church every week, going to every activity.  The ward needed her, and they missed her.  It was great for them to welcome her back, find out how her brothers and sisters were doing.  We’re especially happy for her.  For her courage, for her faith.  For how much she’s changed and grown in this short time and how happy she is now.  She’s started filling her mission papers and plans on taking Institute, Preach My Gospel and self-reliance to help her get ready to serve.  She’s super excited and thanks us every time we stop by for a visit.

We got to see the power of members in missionary work with one of the youth.  She’s filling her papers as well.  We took her for whole day of missionary work.  The people we teach love missionaries, but they love the members even more.  They relate to each other, they share experiences about Fiji and life and school that we as missionaries don’t always know.  Our sweet member even invited one of the people we teach to go to religion courses with her every Thursday.  The invitation was warmly received, and it looks like they’ll be spending lots of time together.  Missionary work isn’t just about teaching.  It’s about love and service and helping people connect with each other and with God.  We’ve been sharing with a family that lives near the Rewa River.  We go over for dinner with them, we share spiritual thoughts.  We just found out their daughter has been reading the Book of Mormon and loves it.  She put it with all her story books, and her mom said she hasn’t been able to get it because her daughter reads it all the time.  “It’s just like our (family’s) stories”.  Her love for reading the book, and reading all about the prophet Lehi and his family, really shows how easy it is to connect with their stories.

We helped the primary learn a rugby anthem this week.  They had an activity at the church where each ward got to represent a country through music, and Waila was chosen to represent Ireland.  We sang their rugby anthem.  The kids really loved it.  Our primary only has three to five official members, so we all brought some friends from the neighborhood and ended up with about fifteen happy and eager participants.  This was on Friday, and they’re still talking about how much they loved it today.  The primary leaders in this ward did a great job of helping them all feel loved an appreciated and even took them out for snacks afterwards.

On Saturday, we got lots of love and appreciation from the children we teach in the settlement just down the road from our flat.  We went to go visit with them, and they ran towards us, “Seeesstttaaaaazzz!”  The youngest ones all ran up at the same time and grabbed my skirt, pulling me in different directions, and I fell over into the dirt.  The older kids thought is was really funny, and they all helped me up again.

We saw a miracle this week as we were filling the baptism record for one girl.  We checked with her mom before starting the lessons, and she said she’d love for her daughter to learn and be baptized.  We went back and checked again with her to get the record signed, and she was a bit hesitant.  We found out the uncle and head of the household was strong in another faith and uncertain about the baptism.  After the primary activity and after he got to meet with our members in Waila, he gave the final OK and said he was even willing to sign the baptism record himself.  We were so grateful and so happy for this little girl.  She’s been ready for a month, and came running to us with the paper and a great big smile.  There’s always plenty of blessings and good times here in Waila.

Love you all tons and tons,

Sister Hawkins

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