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)

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

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Makalesi (neighbor and 13 yrs)

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One More by Manueli

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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

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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.


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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.

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Sunday, June 11, 2017

Tapa (Fijian paper) and Masi (printing)

Making of Tapa (Fijian paper) and Masi (printing)

We went to one of the villages and found several different ladies in the process of making Tapa, Fijian paper. It is quite a step, by step process and it takes many hours and several different skilled ladies. I hope this blog will be informative and interesting as I explain this process.








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Video of the 1st stage of pounding the Tapa "paper"








#1 They cut branches, about 3-4 feet long, from a tree. They must be collected a day or two before hand. (I do not know the name of the tree). Then they cut the bark off and unroll the material inside. They might get a piece that is 2-3" wide. They soak this material in water for a while. Then they start pounding it with a wooden mallet that produces a very thin "paper" of about 3-5" wide. This might take as much as an hour to get one piece.

#2 They take several pieces of the flattened paper and continue to pound it on the edges of another piece and soon it becomes one piece of twice the size. This goes on for several hours or days, to get something large enough for their purposes. They have to also connect the ends and join them in the same way. Eventually they might have a piece of paper 5-6' long and 2-3' wide.

#3 Then the printing process begins. They make the colored dye, brown, black, etc. from the dirt or by cooking down plants into a black mixture. This is the "ink" they use. They use stencils they have made for the designs or may use a stick/brush to write on the tapa.

When they are complete, they make it into a wraparound skirt or sulu or a piece to make a wall hanging. They might weave other dried plants into it or colored yarn. They may make a tapestry that can be framed and hung on the wall. They can be large or small, but they are always given with love and are considered a great gift. The sacrifice in time and labor that it takes, might be several weeks, by many different women and girls. They usually make one of these as a farewell gift to visiting dignitaries or special visitors. We see these made for elders and sisters when they are returning from their missions. Even though they may have been in several different areas of the mission, their last area is the one that usually makes the Tapa/Masi for them. They present it to them in a celebration and feast before they leave.

You will see these in different gift shops around the islands for sale, especially to tourists. We see these when the cruise ships some into Savusavu. They are very plentiful in Suva, at resorts, and other areas that are visited by the tourists. The workmanship is amazing.

A gym Around Every Corner

A Gym Around Every Corner

We have a "gym" just down the street behind one of the small local stores. It has all the needed equipment; universals, benches, bike, orbital walker, exercise ball, free weights, etc. We go there about three times a week and spend 45 min to an hour. It cost $2/hour ($1/hour US).


Universal Gym
Pool Table outside








Orbital Walker
Stationary bike


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

"Let the little children come unto me."

April 2017

We are nearing the one year mark for our mission and are feeling a bit nostalgic. We knew we were going to be here for 18 months, but the time goes so fast it seems like we haven't really been here long, nor been doing much. We spend most of our time now working with inactive and part-member families and their children. Especially the children. They are so friendly and open to us to visit them in their homes. We bring with us smiles, lollies and games. We act like a grandparent. But most of all, they like the "lollies" we bring and the cookies that Jackie bakes and delivers.

This past week we had our zone conference in Labasa. It is always a joy to meet with the missionaries and listen to their testimonies. Getting instruction from President and Sister Layton is always a spiritual high. They are truly inspired to deliver the messages they have. It just happened that we were the last zone to get the training, so they have five other "rehearsals" before ours. The assistants to the president (AP's), also have a portion of the training for the entire mission. They will be great leaders in their home wards when they return. For the conference, the training is not all that the missionaries leave with after being filled. Sister Petero, Sister Cziep and Jackie always prepare a meal that the missionaries love. The baked cakes, cookies, etc. that Jackie makes are treasured. So I can safely say that zone conference is a "spiritual and temporal feast." All the other zone conferences have pizza. Purchased and brought. It is safe to say that the Taveuni Zone eats the best of the mission.

After the conference as the missionaries in our Tukavesi District, came by the flat to celebrate a birthday of Elder Amisone. We had our 6 elders and 2 sisters but we also had the mission, Sister Trainers, coming to do splits here in Savusavu. So this was a "bake and go" week for Jackie. We also got a call that they would be transferring the sisters here and they would be no one replacing them. We have to clean the flat of all mission owned items and store them with us or the zone leaders. Then a decision will be made as to who might need what we have that can be taken to other missionaries in the zone. Never a dull moment here if Fiji.

As we travel to the different villages, Jackie and I have a great deal of time to read, listen to conference talks and music and to discuss what we are doing here. We feel very blessed to be here and pray that through our efforts people will have a desire to hear more about the gospel. I tell the missionaries often that we "should make sure that we leave the people better than we found them." That is what the Savior expects from us. We may not see the "fruits" of our labor, but we must be content with the "planting of seeds". We found this was what we did in China and that we are doing it here also.




We know the gospel is true. The Book of Mormon is the word of God. Jesus voluntarily gave up His life so that each of us has the opportunity to repent, be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost and endure to the end, to live with the Jesus Christ and the Eternal Father in the Celestial Kingdom. Anything less than that and we have not taken full advantage of the wonderful Plan of Salvation that was provided for us.


We have our release date of November 6th. We will tour New Zealand and be home for Thanksgiving. We pray that all are well and those that are recovering from surgery, injuries, ill health or a dip in their testimony will be buoyed up by the Spirit.

Elder and Sister Roberts
Kurt and Jackie
Pop and Grandma
Mom and dad



Monday, April 3, 2017

Serving the Children of the Lord

March 2017 blog

We have started to go to a small village, Vunavesi, to help the elementary students with their English and writing skills. There are 12-16 of them in grades from 1 to 6. There are also 5 secondary students in grades 10-12.

When we were asked to help by the members of the branch, there was only five or six students there. Imagine showing up prepared for 5 and having 17-20.




 Impromptu School at Family Home

The group leader is always there because we meet in the same building they have for church and he has the keys. Some of the ladies that have children being tutored always brings some treats and makes some lemon tea for us. We tell them each week that they do not have to do that, but they keep bringing it. After an hour of instructions for each group, we have a movie for them. They have do not movie theaters in their village and have very few televisions. We don't even have a theater in our town. We take our TV and computer or USB drive for the movie. They are movies we have seen many times, but for them it is exciting and different. They laugh, giggle, and are genuinely surprised as the movie plays out. We have watched, "Swiss Family Robinson" and "Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief", "Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters". Jackie gave a short lesson on Greek myths to prepare them for the things they will seeing in the movie. We show Disney cartoons sometimes and go adventure movies; "Goonies", "Here Comes the Boom" are just a few.

We have started to teach a part member family. The father is a member but inactive. His wife and kids are not members. The children's ages are 8, 6 and 4. We are not actually called to teach the gospel, but do so to assist the missionaries in preparing them for their lessons and the all important "baptismal challenge." We visit them once a week and have spent one morning a month ago, painting his newly built home. When he gets some more paint we will put the second coat on and be done.

                                                                                                                 When visiting a family
There is another inactive family with two children that we have been visiting. The little girl was accidentally run over by her father. She broke her femur, thigh bone. They didn't take her to the hospital. A village elder, "Doctor" came and put some local herbs on it and told them to not move her or let her try to walk for a month. The elders came by the next day. When they heard the story, they asked if the parents wanting a blessing. The father was very appreciative that they would do that. After the blessing the girl have very little pain, and was able to sleep at night. She is progressing more rapidly than we would expect. The family said they would come to church this coming week for the first time a over a year. We will wait and see.
Let's read together

President Layton, asked all missionaries to start reading the Book of Mormon and focus on "heroes" we find within those pages. We are to see what legacy that they left. Here is his quote; "As you read through The Book of Mormon we want you to find men and women who became heroes and think about their legacy. A hero is a person who, in the face of obstacles, combats adversity through impressive feats of ingenuity, bravery or strength, often sacrificing his or her own personal concerns for some greater good. What legacy did they leave with their own family, those around them and future generations."     Young Women in Branch

We have been so blessed being here and we see His hand in the progress of the church in this area. This last transfer cycle (6 weeks) the missionaries had 186 "saints" return to activity or be baptized into the church. "Saints" could be those that return to activity and receive a calling the branch where they live. The goal for the mission during that cycle was 144. It was the largest number since President Layton arrived in July 2014. He and Sister Layton go home in July.

We hope you feel our testimonies through this blog, either in word or pictures. We love you all and pray for each one daily.

"WHAT LEGACY ARE YOU LEAVING?

Elder and Sister Roberts
Fiji Suva mission
Savusavu Town

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Fijian Customs Experienced and Enjoyed



Bula from Fiji. I know it has been a while since I have posted to the blog, but we were busy walking, bussing, or taxiing to get around the area. When we lost the truck after hitting a horse so we were very limited in getting to less active members homes, etc. But we now have the truck back and are getting back in the swing of things of visiting members, etc.
We had the opportunity of attending a Fijian funeral at week ago. The group leader of one of the small congregations (Group), died from his asthma. He was 52. He was the only active member of his family. So, the funeral was under the direction of the minister, I think he was Methodist.
We stopped to get directions from the Elders as to where the funeral was taking place. Two members accompanied us, one was the counselor in the branch, and a sister. Jackie was very grateful that she was there to help her through the different rituals that we were expected to participate in.
We were told that we needed to pay our respects to the family. The coffin was in the home and they were sitting around as different visitors came to pay respects. We were told that we should remove our shoes, kneel on the mat where the coffin was laid and “crawl” to the coffin and bend down and kiss the deceased. As you might guess, we asked for an explanation. Jackie was not going to kiss a dead man she had only met once. We were then told that it was to kiss the coffin. That still was more than we expected, but we learned that the coffin was closed but had a small window so we could see his face. Jackie still closed her eyes and bent down and got close, but did not kiss the coffin. I felt that same way but did kiss the coffin. We kept our heads lowered and “crawled” back off the mat and out of the house.
We sat on the porch of his brother’s house and talked with the elders that were with us and others. Jackie, in her loving way started a movie on her iPad, for a little 2-year-old girl to help pass the time. After about 20 minutes, the family carried the coffin to the church for the services. Songs were sung, speeches given; one was by the counselor in the branch. The songs were by an a ‘Capella choir and it was beautiful. All of them were in Fijian so we didn’t understand what was said, but it lasted about 45 minutes to an hour.
When it was time for the procession to the grave site, I was invited to walk with the minister and the counselor in front of the coffin. I was going to dedicate the grave. We walked to the grave site where many men and others were waiting.





They had dug the hole and placed some bamboo poles across the top and covered the poles with a grass mat. The coffin was placed on the mat and poles, then they took the poles away and lowered the coffin, using the mat, into the grave. One man jumped into the hole to fold the mat around the coffin. He had to pound some of the corners of the mat to get them to lay flat. Then the men started shoveling the sand back into the hole. The man in the hole started stomping on the sand to pack it down. After about 15 minutes they placed large stones around the grave site and put more sand to build it up and then the women came and placed a mat over the sand, on which flowers were placed. A make-shift canopy was constructed and decorated. When all of that was complete, the minister gave his final remarks and turned to me so I could dedicate the grave. Afterwards, we walked back to the village, about 150 yards and spent some more time with the brother of the deceased.
As is the custom, we brought food to give to the family for the feast after the funeral. Jackie had a meeting with a head teacher so we didn’t stay. It was quite an experience.
The longer we are here, the more we find that these saints are much like the early saints must have been. Testimonies are weak and fragile, but sincere. Culture and traditions still have a big influence in their lives. They have not yet been able to understand the organization and workings of the church. They think that the church should take care of them, build them homes, provide clean water, food and even get them to church at the churches expense. They are very easily offended when they think someone got something from the church and they did not. They have difficulty understanding why the LDS Charities gives so much to the villages but not to the church members. Explaining that the humanitarian services of the church are not funded by tithing or fast offerings doesn’t seem to register with them. They do not see how helping an entire village get water, food, or repairs on the school house, etc. helps them. Feelings are hurt, testimonies are shaken and tested and longtime friendships are strained.
With all of this going on, we still know that the work we are doing is appreciated by those that accept it. The gospel is true and Christ lived and died for each one of us. His love is all accepting, all encompassing, all eternal and He is at the head of this work in these islands as He is in the rest of the world. May God bless the people of Fiji that they will come closer to Him and that they will see the need for them to love everyone and try to do Christ-like serve to their neighbors.

Elder and Sister Roberts

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Best of Times, the Worst of Times

I begin this post with a heavy heart. Many of you have probably seen Facebook posts and maybe even a Deseret News article about the passing of two returned missionaries in New Zealand on February 3rd. One of the elders, Timothy Amai, had left the Fiji Suva mission on December 31, 2016. Jackie and I had a nice FaceTime visit with him a week or so before this accident. We were planning to visit New Zealand after our mission and he was going to be our guide. We will still visit and make our personal condolences with his parents.





Elder Amai was a zone leader here is Savusavu when we arrived, then a district leader, and for all but 12 weeks when he was transferred to another area, we have been working with and learning from him. We spent many hours facilitating self-reliance classes with him and other missionaries, both going home and those that had returned to Fiji.

He was an amazing young, valiant and a "soldier" in the Army of God, Gone but not forgotten. The hymn, We Are All Enlisted, has been running through my mind since we heard the news. Tim was truly in the army of the Lord. He was always positive and loved what he was doing. Those around him were infected with his enthusiasm and drive.

He was the subject of a YouTube video about preparing for a mission before he left home in 2014. Here is the link of that video;  https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=WmvV4mPfJz4&feature=youtu.be

The same man that did the video before his mission wrote a wonderful tribute to him and the other RM, Tim's uncle, that was killed in the accident also. Here is the link to that tribute:  http://www.mormonnewsroom.org.nz/article/two-latter-day-saint-men-remembered-after-tragic-accident

We are truly thankful for the plan of happiness and the opportunity of living together as a family forever in His presence. We love you all and pray each day for your health and strength and to remain faithful and live the examples life for your families.

Elder and Sister Roberts