Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Nakawakawa Water Tank Hand Over

December 13, 2016 (Tuesday)

Today we had a great opportunity to go with the humanitarian couple, Brother and Sister Stanford, to do a "hand over" of 10,00 liter (2600 gallon) water tanks to two different villages. The first village, Nakasa, was not ready. Everyone in the village was out on their farms. This kind of thing is very big in villages, they want to have a ceremony, with speeches and a meal. It is their way of thanking those that have donated items to the village.

The second village, Nakawakawa, was ready to go. They were cooking on the open fire, the community hall was covered with mats for sitting on. The children and village elders came out to greet us. Jackie and I got an escorted tour of the village from the 3 of the children. They were very happy to get their pictures taken and even wanted to help Kurt with his videoing of the celebration.

The road to Nakawakawa was so beautiful. Looks like Southern Utah

This looked like a stream you would see in the Rocky Mountains.

This bridge had been washed out in Cyclone Winston. This is the rebuilt bridge.

Brother Stanford gave a short speech, our district presidency 1st counselor gave a short speech. This was his village when he was young, so he got time to talk to them. He gave a very nice talk, in Fijian, about the gospel and how important Jesus Christ is in our lives, particularly at this time of the year. Then the village chief gave a talk, in Fijian, thanking LDS charities and those of us there individually for being there. We then had an opportunity to line up and shake hands with and thank the village elders for their hospitality. We then sat down to eat a "Fijian buffet". It was finger food, thank goodness, with sliced pineapple, store bought cookies, a deep dish pizza, and some flour tortillas that had been fried up. We felt very lucky because when they prepare cooked food; chicken, pork, rice, casaba, and other vegetables, we shy away because they don't keep any sanitary means for cooking.

From left to right: Elder Dawson, Branch President Elder Stanford, Me, Jackie

It is always a Kodak moment!

My assistant video man, Pita.

Afterwards we had photo time. Our dignitaries had pictures with the village elders and the official hand shake to make the "hand over" complete and finalized. LDS charities gave two. 2600 gallon water tanks to this village. While we were eating we had a very hard rain. With the rain they had received and what we got the tanks were more than half full.

The sound is really good.

In Matthew 25:35-40 reads, "35 ​For I was an ​​​hungred​, and ye ​​​gave​ me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a ​​​stranger​, and ye took me in:
​​​​​36 ​Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye ​​​visited​ me: I was in ​​​prison​, and ye came unto me.
​​​​​37 ​Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed ​thee?​ or thirsty, and gave ​thee​ drink?
​​​​​38 ​When saw we thee a stranger, and took ​thee​ in? or naked, and clothed ​thee?​
​​​​​39 ​Or when saw we thee ​​​sick​, or in prison, and came unto thee?
​​​​​40 ​And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have ​​​done​ ​it​ unto one of the ​​​least​ of these my ​​​brethren​, ye have done ​it​ unto me."

We have had the opportunity to literally "gave me drink", in these two villages and one family in our branch here in Savusavu. And with the "Light the World" program that was introduced this year, on December 7, "hungered (drink)", we have been literally given opportunities to work first hand in doing that. It is amazing how the spirit works on you here on a mission. Things that we would do because we want to help, now come to mind that it is what Christ did and asks us to do for Him before he comes again.
This is how they called the village to the ceremony. Note the hole in the middle rather than then as in Hawaii. 

Our travel for this day was over 300 kilometers, about half of it was on dirt, gravel and bumpy roads. One place we had to cross a river and the bridge had almost been washed out. I needed to be in 4 high for the entire dirt road. After two hours travel getting to the second village and spending 3 hours there with their celebration, then 2 more hours on dirt road to reach pavement in a town called Nabouwalu, I was tired. We had 185 km to Savusavu. We were following Brother Stanford, and coming up a hill I saw a horse running down a steep hill by the side of the road. When he got near the bottom of the hill, he jumped over the ditch at the edge of the road and continued to run across the road. Fortunately, I had been slowing down since I saw him coming down the hill, but when he jumped the ditch and continued to run across the road, I didn't have time enough to stop. I was almost stopped when I hit him. The air bags didn't deploy and by the time I had the truck stopped at the side of the road, the horse was already up and gone. I never saw him after I hit him. Everyone in the vehicle was fine except for the adrenaline that was pumping through us. After checking damage, we decided to try driving home, about 120 km. After about 5 minutes, I noticed the steam coming from under the hood.

A couple men came along the road to assist, and with the help of some of our party they got the hood open. It was then that I realized that we were not going to be able to drive the truck. We loaded everyone in one truck, 5 inside and 3 in the truck bed. To make things worse, it started to rain. We made it to an intersection for us to turn to Savusavu and by then President Vakalala and called a cab to take him to Labasa. Just then the elders from Tukavesi came by. They were returning from Labasa after have their truck serviced. So we went with the elders and the sister missionaries went with Brother Stanford and his wife and all made it back to Savusavu without getting completely drenched in the rain.

The truck was towed to Labasa the next day and they are now checking to see what the repairs will cost. I will be calling them often starting next week to see where they are with the repairs. If I don't keep asking they will think I am not interested in getting the truck back. Without the truck we are left with busses, taxis and walking to get around. Most of the work we are doing the families we are working with require us to have a vehicle to get to and from their homes.

But the Lord was looking out for us that day. I was almost stopped and the damage was not as bad as it could be, no one was hurt, other than my pride, and we all got home safely. Having a 1000 pound horse get hit and not get thrown into the windshield is a big blessing in itself.

We want to wish all who read this and very MERRY CHRISTMAS and a Happy New Year. We love you all and continue to pray for friends and family. May all your righteous wishes be granted according to your faith. May our Father in Heaven bless our lives and may we live in such a way that they will have a desire to come unto Christ. We are His hands and feet and mouths. We are asked to live and act as He would. Be the example of Him in all we do. We love you all. Until the next blog post, God bless you all.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Light the World

During this Christmas season, Sister Roberts and I have been trying to use the topics suggested by the Brethern in their "Light the World" project. We have help cleaning and weeding gardens, picking up trash along the roadsides, teaching the young women of the branch how to lead music, helping them bake cookies and many others ways to help others.

We went to a nearby settlement. A settlement is a group of homes that have been erected by family members in the same area. It doesn't qualify as a village because of a small number of people. All of the members in some way related to each other. They get their water from a 10,000 gallon water tank that is up the mountain from their homes. They have a pipe that brings it to the homes.

The tank leaks where the water comes out of the tank into the pipeline. The leak is more water than what comes from the natural well they get the water from. Sister Gadi (pronounced "Gandi") asked if we could help her with the leak. I realized that I would need to see the tank and the leak. She said it was just "through the bush and up the hill a little way," We started out and the first 50 yards was easy walking, but we eventually had to cross a small stream, use a downed tree to cross another small ditch and step over several fallen tree trunks. As we went it got steeper and more muddy. Jackie fell once stepping over a log and I lost a flip flop in the mud. As we neared the tank it was even more muddy due to the leak. The tank was probably 200-250 yards up the hill and through the mud. This is what was meant by "over the river and through the woods".

As I guessed, the leak was at the washer where the 2 1/2" PVC pipe left the tank. We realized that they would need to get a plumber to come and look at it and make the repairs. Right now they are without water for bathing, etc. in the settlement. As we were walking back from the tank and came to the small stream, a 5 year old boy who had been helping us started washing Jackie's feet and legs of the mud she had picked up from the climb. I was so cute and special that he would want to wash her feet. It reminded us of the Light the World theme for December 2nd, "Jesus Honored His Parents." He was showing honor for us as missionaries and as older people. It also made me think of the time when Jesus washed the feet of the disciples at the Last Supper, (John 13:5-8)

We took only one picture on our hike to the water tank and back because we didn't want to take out the phone and have it end up in the mud. As I looked at the picture it reminded me of a song,

"A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief". Verse 3 says,
"I spied him where a fountain burst
Clear from the rock; his strength was gone.
The heedless water mocked his thirst;
He heard it, saw it hurrying on.
I ran and raised the suff''rer up;
Thrice from the stream he drained my cup,
Dipped and returned it running o'er;
I drank and never thirsted more.

Here is the picture that made me think of this song and what we had just done, to help get water to the settlement. The picture and video is of them eating for their very first chocolate chip cookie. We take so many things for granted.

Chocolate chip cookie tasting crew.

We liked them!!!!

Helping Auntie with her hair. Sister Jesse had a stroke and has difficulty getting around, but she always has a smile on her face.

May God bless us all during this season of the year that we will think more of Christ and try to do the
things he did for others. We are His hands that must do His work on this earth. We may not be able to a lot but what little we do will be appreciated by those we serve and Jesus Christ and the Father will be pleased with our efforts.

We want to wish everyone a very merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year. We love you all and hope your desires of your heart be granted according to His will who is the author of all goodness and blessings.

Supporting the Branch Members and a Tradiitional Lovo

We have had a busy last few weeks and this next week is not any different. We have a Zone Conference in Tavenui starting Thanksgiving Day. The presiding authority will be Elder Cardon of the Area Presidency for the South Pacific. We leave on Thursday and come back the following Tuesday. Sister Roberts will be baking this week and while we are there to provide meals for the leadership of the District, the Mission, and President Cardon and, of course, the missionaries.

I hope this blog is easy to read and entertaining.

Makalesi is the young girl that Jackie is tutoring in English. She is now reading on a 1st grade level. She is 13 but never did learn to read or write English. She is a sweet girl and so much fun to listen to as she reads, with her new found vocabulary. She is using RAZ Kids from Alpine School District.

Sister Rabuka (pronounced "Rambuka"). She has been a member of the church for 35 years and lost her husband to a heart attack a few years ago. She is the relief society president in the branch. She was able to attend the temple last week for the first time. We were able to teach her with the Temple Prep classes this past month. When she was there and interviewing with the mission president, she discussed being sealed to her husband when she goes to America next year. President Layton told her that would not wait and get her sealed to him after she received her own endowments. Fortunately, her daughter had done his work so she was sealed to her husband last Friday. She called us after she got out of the temple with the good news. She could not hold it in and wanted us to know of her good fortune at the temple.

This is a “Lovo”. In Hawaii it would be called a Luau. A fire is started and rocks are placed in the fire. When the rocks are sufficiently hot, maybe 3-4 hours in the fire, the men move the rocks and dampen the flames. They then put palm leaves and banana leaves on the hot stones. Other men are fixing the pig, chicken, lobster, or whatever meat you might want. They add vegetables and always casaba, a very starchy root crop. They wrap the meat and vegetables with palm branches with whatever seasoning they want, usually soy sauce. It is then wrapped with banana leaves and everything is placed on the hot rocks and covered with palm and banana leaves. Then they cover with dirt so the entire cooking pit is covered. They leave it and let the heat cook all that is in there. We waited probably 3 hours. It is then dug out and brought to the house to serve. They it with their fingers.
Most of the food is very bland and we are very particular on what we take to eat. I did try the lobster and it was quite good. There was no chicken left by the time we got to the table. (They only cooked one chicken, but two small pigs).

Finally buried with dirt to keep the heat in.

Preparing the pit

Preparing the food.

Most of the food is very bland and we are very particular on what we take to eat. I did try the lobster and it was quite good. There was no chicken left by the time we got to the table. (They only cooked one chicken, but two small pigs).
Live here is very different but the blessings and rewards we receive from the people, especially the children, keeps us going and wanting to do more for those we meet. Learning about and enjoying the culture is also part of the mission experience. The Lord blesses daily as we exercise our faith in Him and speak any promptings that we have. There have been many times when we might be heading home for the evening and one of us get a prompting to go visit one of the less active members we have been working with. It is always a rewarding experience when we follow those promptings.