Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Diabetes Screening, Tender Mercies, Baptism

August 24, 2016

We have been busy this past couple of weeks, going with the elders and sisters when the visit in-active members in the area. We get the introduction to them at that time and then we make appointments to come and visit them later. Most have a family with children, some are young and others are older. We give lessons, usually by way of videos we have found on and they love them. We aim at the children first, because if we can help them get a desire to attend, mother's will follow and then we pray for the father’s, that they will want to return also. Many times we see mothers with children walking the roads going to church, any church, but not many fathers are there.

We have had rain for the past two weeks, almost nonstop, and our garden has suffered the consequences. It has drowned, rotted in the ground or whatever else might happen to crops with so much rain. And this is the dry season for them. Today we have sun, blue skies and I don’t see clouds in the sky, but it can change in a short period of time.

This quote was shared by Nila Briem on Facebook; “We are all faced with a series of great opportunities, brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.” She didn’t have an author but it is a wonderful thought and we know in the church, that, if we are in tune, we will see these moments for what they are.

We were very fortunate Saturday of having spent the day with a senior couple, Elder and Sister Clark, here working with the Fiji Ministry of Health. Here in Fiji the area medical personnel are very territorial about the medical needs of the people. They do not like outsiders coming in and start doing their job. That is why Elder Clark must work with the Ministry of Health, Area Nurses, and the local nurses when doing the education and screening. They are working with them to educate the people about the problems of diabetes. 30% of the Fijians have diabetes. They perform 2-3 amputations daily in the hospital in the city north of us, Labasa. They gave a presentation in Tukavesi Village on how they can help reduce the sugar in their bloodstreams. The people in this village were quite knowledgeable about it how they can live healthy. But with traditions and customs many do not seem to be using what they know to make the necessary changes for better health. The ladies were talking about healthy eating and zucchini entered the conversation. We had some zucchini bread in our lunch for the day, so we shared it with the ladies and they liked it very much. Sister Roberts is going to give them a baking class in making zucchini bread and they are going to teach her some of the native Fijian dances.

A young sister came to the doctor to ask if he could visit her mother in a nearby village. He explained that he was not allowed to do that without the permission of the area nurse. But after some pleading we finally consented to visit her because it was on our way to the next village.We then visited Sister Whippy that had her lower right leg below the knee amputated a few weeks ago. Sister Whippy has her granddaughter taking care of her. She is only 10 years old. When the nurse took her blood sugar it was about 400. Since she had had an amputation due to diabetes, they called the area nurse and she asked if we could get her to the hospital ASAP. We had to go to Naweni Village to screen all those who wanted screening, but particularly those that had been tested years ago and were of concern to the medical people. That took about 1 ½ hours. We then went back to Sister Whippy and checked her blood sugar again, it was now over 400. We put her into the truck and drove the 45 minutes to the hospital to have her admitted. By the time we got there, her reading was over 600. She is still in the hospital today, 5 days later. Today we visited her and her sugar was up. They are having a difficult time getting her regulated.

When we were in the MTC, Elder Bednar spoke to us about coincidences. He explain that if we listen to the Spirit we will always be in the right place at the right time. For Sister Whippy, we know that we were there at the right time and had the ability and expertise to help her. 

We had just gone through a similar experience with Cassandra in Phoenix. Blood sugar very high and three nights in the hospital. She missed the first 3 days of school at her new school, but she felt good enough and wanted to get to school on Thursday. She came home very tired, so she just went to bed. Friday was much better and no one would have known how serious she was when she was admitted to the hospital. 

Miracles happen to us every day, change your perception of what a miracle is and you’ll see them all around you. (Jon Bon Jovi)

Our mission president traveled to the island of Rotuma, several hundred miles north of the main islands. There hadn't been a mission president visit that island for over 10 years. It is such a remote island that his wife was not able to travel with him. He traveled with Brother Vito Qaqa, from the facilities department of the church. They were expecting to be there for 4-5 days, but we have had rain every day for the past two weeks and more. Some days the rain is just a mist and other time it is a torrential downpour. When it was time for their departure, the grass runway was so wet and boggy, the plane could not take off. This postponement went on for 4 days. Their next option to get back to Suva for the new incoming 24 missionaries was to take a three-day boat trip. Finally, they received word that a plane would take off. They rushed to the airport and waited for a boarding pass. There were over a dozen people waiting for the flight, but the plane only could carry 6 people. President Layton and Brother Qaqa were two of the six to get on the flight. He related the following story when he returned.

After Branch Conference on Sunday, the spirit prompted me to go outside on the porch and visit with Aleksio Jone, a non-member who had been investigating the Church for 10 years. He shared with me his story, including how he had been spared from death 3 times, and felt that his life had been preserved for a purpose. During our visit I felt prompted to invite him to be baptized during the week. He was quiet for a moment and then he said “yes” he would be baptized. He said he knew the Church was true and planned to be baptized in 3 years. As I interviewed him a couple of days later it was obvious that he had been well taught by the missionaries. During the week he went to his village meeting where he had not been very supportive in the past and asked the village members to forgive him of his faults and if he had offended anyone. He truly showed a changed heart. Thursday morning the Branch gathered together to witness President Farpapa’u baptize him in the ocean.”

The work of the Lord goes on in Fiji. The missionaries are finding, teaching and baptizing those that repent and want the gospel in their lives. We teach Temple Prep classes, and yesterday help 17 of them board a ferry for the 12-hour boat ride to Suva so they could enter the temple. They will be receiving their endowments and families will be sealed for time and eternity. Attached is a picture of a family in an outer village that we had to pick up and take to the boat, because of the holiday and no buses were running. We were also fortunate enough to make contact with their son, who is attending BYU-H. We informed him what was happening with his family. He was so happy for them.
Aleksio Jone

Aleksio Jone baptism

Naweni Village - Fijian love to cook. Stir fry at it's finest

Naweni Village Diabetic screening

Brother Sepo's family boarding the ferry for the temple

Vunavesi Group

Sister Whippy and granddaughter

A new friend for Sister Roberts

We pray for all those who are searching and feel lost in the world. The Lord will bless and guide them to the missionaries. Today is also “transfer day” in the mission. 14 new missionaries coming and 8 leaving. The next few days will be hectic for them as they receive companionships and begin the work. We have both the sisters and one elder and one of the zone leaders being transferred from the Savusavu area, which is really the Tavenui Zone. We will miss this sisters and elders, but we will learn to love those that are new and coming to our area.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Neighbor Movie Nights and more

Sister Roberts is helping tutor the branch presidents daughter in English. She is in the 7th grade but doesn't read or write English. She speaks it quite well. We are not sure how she has gotten this far without those skills but she is working hard to learn them. When she comes for the session, her bothers and sisters and cousins come to watch a movie. They particularly like princess movies, but almost any Disney movie will work. We never know how many will show up, sometimes between 2 or 3 and other times between 6 or 7. They are all cute, friendly, respectful and love the movies.

Our major assignment now is working with missionaries, those getting ready to go on a mission and those returning home from missions. And we are teaching the Temple Preparation Classes in the branches and groups.

We will finish our first group in Savusavu Branch and will have 9 going to the temple in a couple weeks. Two missionaries and 7 adults. Some have families and they will be sealed at that time also. We have just started a class in a village 2 hours from us, Tukavesi, and we have two families and three missionaries preparing to serve. I also had a young man find me in town and he wants to go on a mission. We are trying to find out if he has had the needed interviews, and is worthy, but he is working on getting his birth certificate so he can get his passport.

We are now assigned as "floating" for our church attendance. This means we are to travel to the other branches and groups in our area to get to know the saints there and, if necessary, present the temple classes. In these small villages, most do not have power except for a couple hours in the evening, so all we can do is show the presentation on the computer. In the daylight is is not the best for viewing and we are not in a room that we can pull curtains to make it darker. The chapel in Tukavesi is an addition to the branch president's house and it has open walls. They are so eager to learn and the anticipation of going to the temple and being sealed for eternity is a great blessing for them. The branch president interprets into Fijian for them. Even though we do not understand him, they do and you can see the smiles on their faces as they understand the principles being taught. They do speak English but don't always understand what we are saying. They read the scriptures, sometimes in English and other times in Fijian. You can feel the spirit so strongly when they are working hard to learn and understand.

We have one prospective missionary that comes and helps us in our garden on Saturday. He is so willing to help us and so we pay him a little for his mission. They must have 3 months worth of finances, $195 Fijian ($97 US), in the branch account before the mission president sends in his completed missionary application.

Brother Aseri Family

Brother Solo family, Tevita is preparing for mission

Elita is preparing for mission

Lasalini is starting mission papers


Tukavesi Chapel

Aisake working in the garden

Help International students that have been here

Brother Sepo's daughter, beautiful eyes

Farewell lunch with the Help people before they left.
New Stove

We had a gas leak this past week and finally found that it was the stove that was leaking so the landlord bought a new stove for us. Kurt bought a new tank of gas and within 3 days it was gone.  i told him there was a leak.  The Elders and the Sisters could smell the gas.  We are blessed that nothing happened to us.  Our landlord is great, he is not the typical landlord we have known over the years.