Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Last Mission Post

October, 2 weeks before we leave our island, Vanua Levu. We will spend a couple days in Suva, Fiji; meeting with the mission president and then a few days in Nadi, Fiji. We leave for Suva on November 1 and then from Nadi to New Zealand on November 7. After two weeks of touring New Zealand, we will leave on November 20th from Auckland and arrive a couple hours before we left. Isn't time an interesting thing?

We have been so busy these past couple of weeks, in taking care of the branches, missionaries and trying to make arrangements for us to leave. Mailing packages home, Jackie making items for the young women in the different branches, etc. But we are truly enjoying this time together and in serving the Fijian people.

We were present when a recently baptized family had their new baby blessed. We have been acquainted with them in several different ways, self-reliance class, so we felt we needed to be there for them. When we arrived, the father, Poasa, came and asked if I would bless the baby. What a great honor. The week before when we were there the mother, Delepina, was not a church, so we stopped by their house to see her and the baby. I had to ask the branch president what the baby's name was going to be. With the help of the elders, I was able to pronounce the baby's first and last name. The middle name was very easy; Raileijli Jacqueline Uluiviti. A namesake in Fiji. We were so humbled by this great honor.

We had a chance to take a hike to a waterfall with the group leader and three girls from the village of Vunavesi. This village is our destination every Friday night for English lessons and a movie. The hike was a 40 minute truck ride and then about an hour hiking. But, with the tremendous growth of the jungle our guide, Sepo, lost track of the trail and we found ourselves on the wrong side of the river. As we hiked down in the wet and mud, Jackie slipped and hurt her arm as she tried to catch herself. By the time we got back down, we were hiked out and decided to just put our feet in the water. The girls were so happy to be able to swim. This was their first time to come here. We did find a small waterfall. The picture shows that it is about 6". It was the best we could do at the moment.

This past week we went to
a village, Nakawakawa, for a celebration and a dedication of a new chapel. To put this in perspective, several years ago, maybe 5 or 6, there wasn't a member of the church in the village. I am not really sure of the details about how this miracle occurred. Today they have over 100 members and average attendance is about 70-75. It all started with an inactive, maybe it is better to say a "prodigal" member moved to the village after having been deported from America. He, as found in Luke 15:17 says, "he found himself." It is a great example of how the Lord uses "the one" to bless the whole. These people are so welcoming and fun. Note the pictures as proof of this. We made two trips with 2 hours on a dirt, bumpy road. The return and next day round trip was only 40 minutes on the bumpy road. (We were shown a shortcut) We even had some bridges that water was washing over the top. Glad all that travel is finally done.

This week we have made two trips to Labasa, 85 km (53 miles), all black top but there are many places on the road where there are more patches than original road. Monday, Jackie wanted to buy some Indian dresses for Amaya and Cassandra. Labasa is predominately Indian so there are more options there and they are getting ready by having sales for their Diwali celebration. Tuesday, we went back to Labasa and Jackie taught a cooking class for the ladies of the relief society and gave them 16 pages of recipes. She made a chicken, rice, vegetable casserole and a chocolate cake. Both dishes were great hits. It was also a Branch cleaning of the chapel day. Volleyball and basketball always are available to participate in.

Wednesday I had to take the truck back in to get it inspected and registered for another year.

Saturday we went to Tukavesi 75 km (46 miles), 1/2 on dirt roads, for a farewell party they had for us. Tomorrow we go to Vunavesi for their farewell party. We only have three Sundays left and two branches and a group to visit on Sunday. They sang a Fijian farewell song but the video is too large for the blog. Will post it on Facebook. The grandmother of the new mother made Jackie a purse and they bought her a set of pearl earrings and a necklace. They made a Masi print out of tapa (a cloth made from the mulberry bush).

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Cooking Lessons (carrot cake) and so much more

31 August 2017

Three weeks ago Jackie and I went to a village, Nabua. It is about 45 minutes away and in a remote part of this island. We always enjoy worshipping with the Saints there. They make us feel so welcomed. Several of the sisters asked Jackie if they could come to our flat and do some baking. Of course, Jackie said sure. Then we went to another village nearby, that is a 40 minute walk for them to attend church. For one family with little children, it is very hard to make that walk, so we went to see them and visit with them. One of the sisters in the village invited us to her home for juice.

These are pictures are of the cooking lesson, carrot cake. They all seems very excited to bake. They don't have electric ovens in their homes. Their cooking is done outside in an oven that gets its heat from wood. They get to "camp out" every day.

We have been busy the past several weeks, particularly this week. Monday, August 21st, we went to Vunavesi to deliver bibles to those in the village. We delivered 80 bibles to the villagers. We still have 10 more that are on back order that we will deliver when they arrive. They are so appreciative that we got these for them, we found that the Methodist church charges $20-$25 for the bible and we got these through the service center for $3.70 each. The Methodist minister saw the bible several weeks earlier and was amazed that we "used the same bible he did." We pray that there will be many that will have a desire to learn more about the church. If someone is interested, the elders will help them get a Book of Mormon or even a triple combination if they desire. We found out that the 1st counselor in the district presidency is going to try this in another village.

Tuesday, August 22nd, we went to Rabi, an island off the eastern end of Vanua Levu. It is a 45-50 minute boat ride between islands. The drive is 45 minutes on pavement and 90 minutes on dirt roads. The "dock" for the boat is in 2 feet of water that we have to wade in to get in the boat. The boat is a 16' fiberglass small boat. If the wind is blowing it is a rough crossing. We were fortunate enough to have a relatively calm going both ways. Jackie and I have been told by the elders that we are not allowed to stay on Rabi. Not because it is a violation of mission rules, there is no place to stay except the beach. We were ready to leave at 2:00 pm and our boat captain was to be back for us at that time. He was nowhere to be found. By 2:45 pm we're getting nervous and finally call him. He stayed on our island and was not coming to pick us up. The elders then spent another hour trying to locate the boat owner of another boat to take us back across. We arrived on our island almost 2 hours later than planned. But we finally arrived home just as the sun was setting.

Friday, August 25th, Jackie helped organize the first relief society activity that the branch has had this year. Today was a cooking lesson; chocolate cake, tie-dyeing shirts, and dance instruction; country line dancing. She made chicken salad, which was very different than what they usually eat. They all tried it but I don't think they will ever make it.

Sunday, August 27th, We had a baptism of a young lady from Tukavesi. The family was in Savusavu because her mother is expecting and they came here for the hospital. The mom and dad were just baptized 2 months ago. The father baptized his daughter. It was a very beautiful sight to witness. This family walks for 45 minutes every Sunday for church. They are great examples to us for the sacrifice they are willing to make.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Supplemental Post to July or 1st Installment for August

This is a supplement to the July blog, but because it is being done in August, I guess I should call it the 1st installment of the August Blog.

We have had 20-23 students that have volunteered with HELP International. They are an organization that send young people, usually college students, to under developed nations to help with the schools, hospitals, villages, and in any other way they can. We had about 14 last year. They come and work for 6-12 weeks. the last of these will be going home for this year on Friday. They are so helpful with many of the things Jackie and I have been doing; tutoring, activities for the youth, teaching self-reliance classes to villagers so they can qualify for and receive a grant to start a business in their respective village.

We had a farewell celebration for them last night. With every celebration, there was food provided and some entertainment. Then it is just "party hardy". Everyone danced, the old and the young. These videos are of some of the dancing done last night. The little boy, Manueli Nabose, is the cutest and his personality has been emerging for last several months. He is only 3. He seems to add a move or two with every celebration. Hope you enjoy as much as we did. Even Jackie got involved. I also danced but there was no one filming so the evidence is very thin.

Love, Kurt and Jackie.

                                                              Manueli Nabose (3 yrs)

Jackie and H.E.L.P. people (age ???)

Makalesi (neighbor and 13 yrs)

One More by Manueli

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Winding Down but Keeping Busy

Wow! We have passed out one year mark on our mission. It really seems to go fast. Looking back over the past 12 months has made me realize that the scripture Jackie and I choose as our "mission scripture", was perfect for us. Mosiah 2:17  "And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God."

As we have served here in Fiji, we have grown to love the people here. Especially those in the branches and groups we work with. We travel one direction 75 km and the other direction 20 km. We have 4 branches, Tukavesi, Nabua, Savusavu and Nuku, (a 45 minutes boat ride to the island) and 3 groups (small group of saints in a remote village), Dreikeniwai, Tacilevu and Vunavesi. Our assignment is to visit each of these branches and groups as often as we can. If we visited each area it would take us 7 weeks, over 500 kilometers (300 miles) to complete the circuit. That would usually also mean speaking in sacrament meeting 3-4 times. I know that every missionary says this, but we have grown to love the Fijian people, particularly those we have worked with in the Taveuni Zone. The people in the towns that we do business with are always so helpful in finding what we are looking for. We get lettuce and English cucumbers from Grace Road Kitchen. It is a Korean owned and operated enterprise. They have their own farm with greenhouses, etc. to supply vegetables to the public and the resorts. Jackie has become very friendly with the ladies working there. The one running the kitchen is from Southern California.

We go to the gym nearby and exercise. I noticed today, more than before, that there are three roosters tied up in front of the store. Can you say "watch roosters?". Not sure why but they sure are noisy.

We had a chance to "get off the island". Well, for a few hours anyway. We we invited by the H.E.L.P. International students to a 4th of July celebration on the island of Nawi. It sits in the middle of the Savusavu Bay about 300 yards from the pier. It seemed like a lot farther away than that. We sat, relaxed, read, walk on some sand and rocks and judged a cooking contest. They all leave in August.

We are still waiting for word from the mission president as to when we will leave Savusavu for Suva. We want to spend 4-5 days being tourists on that island before we go to New Zealand on November 7th. Then from Auckland to SLC on November 20th.

We love the people and the work but most of all we love the Savior.

Kurt and Jackie

P.S. Last night was the finale of the Savusavu Hidden Paradise Carnival. We had several branch members participating so we went there around 5:00 pm. Nothing was going on at that time so we had dinner, Chinese, and I put the "doggie bags" in the truck. We walked across the street and up behind a building to the park where all the action was taking place. We hadn't been there 15 minutes when one of our neighbors, an Indian lady, came up to us to tell us that someone had backed into our truck whick was parked on the street. Sure enough, there it was, damaged so the drivers door wold not open. I could be opened from the inside. There were several witnesses that gave me the license number of the car and that it was from one of the resorts on the island. Police had been called. 2 1/2 hours later, I had been to the police station, talked with the driver of the other vehicle, talked with his supervisor, exchanged phone numbers and I had listed by demands of the resort fixing the truck and if it needed to be in the shop for a period of time that they would provide me with a rental vehicle. The supervisor had to talk to her supervisor but she was more than accommodating. I need to get an estimate and they need to get permission from the general manager of the resort.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Backup the Video Use

Apparently I don't know how to download videos for the blog or I just take too large a video. Sorry for all the confusion. I will do better these last 5 months. I am sure we will have some more celebrations with dancing, etc.

Bula vinaka, from Fiji.

Kurt and Jackie

President Layton's Farewell Celebration on Vanua Levu

Savusavu Branch Dance #1 for the celebration. These are the young adults, YW and YM of the branch. These people are great dancers. They truly love to party and everyone dances. From 8-80, it doesn't matter, they all join in and sometimes even when they aren't part of it.

Savusavu Branch Dance #2. The video was too large to post. I will try an email later.

These two girls are Young Women age. The one on the right, Makalesi, is the girl Sister Roberts has been tutoring since last Novemeber. The other one is a non-memeber but Makalesi's friend.

Daisy, Jackie and Luisa in the green dress is her mother.

Daisy is the cutest little girl. Jackie tutors her older sister and she entertains Kurt. She just think he is her grandpa. She is so confident with what she does, she acts like she is much older. She is really only 2. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Video of the Tapa Pounding

Because it seems that the video didn't download for the previous post, I am posting it again. Hope this one works.