March 29, 2015

Somosomo, Taveuni Island - Week 7

Awesome Week!

Ni sa bula vinaka matavuvale!

This week has been so good, mostly because we had a baptism!  Yep, Naliva was baptized on Saturday and confirmed in church yesterday.  He passed his interview with President Harward on Thursday, so we just decided we might as well do it this week.  I had the awesome privilege of baptizing him; I feel really blessed to be a part of his conversion.  Afterwards he was way happy and was just saying "Lotu dina, lotu dina.."  (true church).  And then when Elder Hosea confirmed him yesterday it was just awesome.  I'm way happy:)  
He had such a sincere desire to be baptized, and we're gonna do everything we can to keep him on the straight and narrow!  Haha I'm just way excited if you can't tell:)

In other news I got my first Fijian haircut last week (it was actually from an Indian but same difference).  He didn't even ask how I wanted it haha he just started cutting!  It was way short but now it looks somewhat normal I guess.  

Also on Monday we got a truck for a couple of days!  We took the senior couple, the Smiths, to the airport and said goodbye because they were transferred back to the main island.  So we had the truck until the new couple came on Thursday.  Although on Tuesday I ended up riding bikes because we went on splits. I highly discourage riding bikes in a sulu (especially these crappy ones).  If it's windy you skirt flaps open and it's just way embarrasing! (Especially if you happen to be riding past a bus full of school children)  So hopefully I never go to a bike area haha!

But on Thursday, we were able to pick up the new couple, the Vermeerens from Canada, and also President and Sister Harward (the second counselor in the mission presidency over the north islands).  We took them all over the island and did flat checks which was actually pretty fun because it's a gorgeous drive.  

Also this week Elder Seniloli from our branch returned home from his mission in Papau New Guinea.  We were able to go to his homecoming dinner which was way nice!  I got to try octopus and a lot of other fish, it was way good!  I was so stuffed afterwards haha. 

But he was telling us stories about PNG: way crazy!  It's one of the most dangerous missions in the world.  No white missionaries--only islanders can handle it.  They usually have to be back to the apartment by 4 or 5 because it is so dangerous.  Haha a lot of Fijians get sent there because they're way tough.  But it was way fun to hear his stories.

Anyways, things are going great down here.  I love being a missionary so much.  I know this is where I am supposed to be.  Never miss a chance to share the gospel with someone or serve them.  That is where true happiness lies.


Elda Harris

All the guys playing Rugby!

Elder Harris and Elder Hosea waiting to pick up the Vermeerens
(borrowed picture from Elder and Sister Vermeeren's blog - thank you)
Elder Harris and Hosea (from the Vermeeren's blog)

March 22, 2015

Somosomo, Taveuni Island - Week 6

Another Beautiful Week in Taveuni!

Ni sa bula vinaka!

Drinking from a coconut
Well it's been another great week down here on the great island of Taveuni.  Good news: I am halfway done with my training!  Only 6 more weeks of an extra hour of study haha.  And hopefully I will be able to understand what everyone is saying by that time as well;)  

Man, I love it down here.  It is so beautiful, and all the people here are the nicest ever.  Sure, they have their faults as well, but nothing a little sit down with the Eldas can't fix!  Haha I am just way excited about this area.  We had so many less-actives come to church yesterday I was just way happy.  

And we finally got T____ (His real name is S______) to come to church.  He limped his way in with his oddly shaped legs, but it was way good!  N_____  is having his interview on Thursday because it got postponed, but hopefully everything will go well.  It's way frustrating with how long it is taking, but I guess everything will work out in the end. 

The sisters had two baptisms on Saturday which was awesome.  A lady in her 20s and a 10 year old boy whose mom just got baptized.  Elder Hosea was able to baptize both of them, and then I confirmed the lady while he confirmed the boy in church yesterday.  We tried to get the branch president to do it haha, but he just got way uncomfortable and pointed at us haha.

But it was a great weekend.  Especially because there was a big service project at the hospital here in Taveuni this week.  We got all the missionaries in Taveuni to go, and we worked with a bunch of other people to get it cleaned up on the outside and such.  It was way good.

Service Project at the Hospital

The view from the hospital we did service at towards the 
little island by Taveuni and towards Vanua Levu

Today I want to share a few of the different things about Fiji before I get too used to them (and stop laughing at them).

1. Everyone invites you to eat...all the time.  Total strangers will shout as we walk by "come eat lunch" or "come eat dinner."  It's just a way of greeting people I guess haha.  When we go sit and teach a lesson, they do it as well.  Rule #1, always decline.  If they really want to feed you, they will no matter what you say haha.  One time that happened at 4 different houses and I thought I was going to throw up I ate so much.

2. They usually give you a hot drink when they feed you.  This is slightly ridiculous, seeing as we are already dying from the heat and the walk.  But they always make this lemon-leaf tea (basically boiling a lemon-leaf in water with sugar).  It's way good, just way too hot for the current climate.

3. Fijians are way funny about the rain!  They believe that they'll get sick if the rain falls on their head, so they always are hiding under a shed while they watch us walk by, getting soaked.  If they have to they'll use anything to keep their head dry: a shirt, their hands, even a kitchen plate every once in a while.

4. Uh-huh means no, and uh-uh means yes.  Waaaay confusing.

5. If they don't understand you or don't hear what you said, to say "what?" they go "eh?" like a stereotypical old lady at a nursing home.

6. They are way good at talking from long distances.  I swear they can read lips, and they have their own little form of sign language.  It is way funny to see it haha!

7. They don't slow down or move over if you're on the road, so it's all up to the pedestrian to jump out of the way!

8. Breakfast Crackers.  It's like the only cracker you can buy here.  Just a square, plain cracker.  Fijians buy them like crazy!  They are everywhere.  You can literally buy a big bucket chuck full of breakfast crackers.

9. Afros.  Every Fijian marama (old lady) has a sick afro.  Perfectly fluffed and round.  It's way funny to see a bunch of them together.  Especially on the bus when its way bumpy and all their afros move back and forth to the bumps like a bunch of bobble-heads!

10. This is the best of all!  They treat missionaries way good in their culture.  Ministers/missionaries are up at the top of the social ranks.  We always sit up at the head of the table, or in the front of a celebration or such.  One time, we were at a big dinner and we were sitting right next to the Methodist minister and the head of the family.  Except I didn't know that he was the minister at the time.  Well apparently he was arguing with the head of the household trying to get us to say the prayer because he didn't want to (I learned this afterward from my companion).  They ended up asking me to pray and I gave my usual simple prayer haha.  I had no clue what was going on haha!  But we try to downplay this bit of culture most of the time so people will know that we aren't any better than them.

Hopefully that sheds a little bit of light on what it is like down here.  Thanks for all you do, I love you all!
Loloma levu,
Elda Harris

Elder Hosea and Koli
Up by Tui Cakau's house.  It's where our Investigator lives and keeps
 care of this  high up government official's house and estate. 

March 15, 2015

Somosomo, Taveuni Island - Week 5

Bula vinaka matavuvale!

Well this week has been interesting.  I'm sure all of you have heard about the big cyclone that happened down here in the Pacific.  The first time I heard anything about it was earlier in the week, I think Tuesday.  We were sitting in a less-active's house just getting ready to start the lesson, and all of a sudden a news broadcast came on the radio saying that a hurricane was coming between Fiji and Vanuatu.  It said it would be the worst on Friday, so that was pretty exciting, especially considering it was Friday the 13th haha.  

So we were all prepared for way crazy storms!!  But then Friday came and it was just a little bit windy haha.  It rained on and off all week, but nothing too bad.  We were pretty lucky to only feel the very edge of the storm.  We never had to stay inside because of the weather (we did get soaked a few times though), and there was no considerable damage here on Tavueni, especially since we were the farthest missionaries from the storm. 

I have heard that Kirabus and Vanuatu were hit the worst, so make sure you keep praying for them.  These tiny houses here on these islands would stand no chance against a big storm like that, so I can only imagine how bad it was. 

Fijians are funny about it though!  Even though it was like way nice since there was very little rain and wind, all the people we went to see would say, "Eldas what are you doing?  Don't you know there is a hurricane warning right now?"  I think one time the sun was shining when they said that too.  Haha they'll do anything to sit and relax in the house!  "Eldas! Sa lako mai na cagi laba (It comes the murderous wind)"  We just laughed at them and kept walking:)  

The poor zone leaders though; they came to Tavueni to do splits with the district leaders, and they got stuck here all week because the boat service shut down.  They got here on Wednesday, and they just left this morning.  Haha we did so many splits. 

So no worries here!  We are just continuing our work here.  N____ had his baptismal interview, and we had to postpone his baptismal date because of a few things, but he is still optimistic about it so it should be happening pretty soon.  He's a way awesome guy; he just has to work out a few things in his past before he can make this important covenant.  

We are really starting to get a lot of less-actives back to church.  It's way awesome.  We have to go pick some of them up, but it is all worth it.  Hopefully we can get this ward filled all the way up on Sundays:)

Scripture for the week: Helaman 5:12.  Make sure your foundation is solid in all things both temporal and spiritual so you can withstand the cagi laba:)

Elda Harris

On the edge of Cyclone Pam.

We bought a lot of tuna just in case the storm hit.
Kind of resembles a certain tower in Pisa.

Walked past this on my way to an appointment.  Time travel at its best.
(The International Dateline runs through Taveuni Island)

This is our neighbor, Sister Fisher, who just got off a mission from New Zealand.
She had her 21st birthday party which is a big deal here in Fiji.
This is one of the traditional things they wear.

March 8, 2015

Somosomo, Taveuni Island - Week 4

Ni sa bula vinaka!

Man!  Weeks fly by so fast in the mission life!  We are just always busy everyday, and for some reason it goes by way fast.  I can't believe it's Pday again already haha.  Is it still cold back home?  It's super hot here...  But the good news is that I'm getting used to it!  I'm just accustomed to being hot all the time now.  We have a fan on us at night which is pretty lucky for Taveuni, but still it is way hot at night.  Good thing I have a cold shower to cool me off in the morning;)  But honestly I am starting to like the warmth and the humidity.  The other day I had an interview with President Layton in an air-conditioned office, and I was so cold!  It was like a freezer in there!

Speaking of that....this week we had Zone Conference!  It was way fun.  It took up most of the week though since we are so far away from the middle of the zone.  We left Thursday morning (2 hour boat ride and 4 1/2 hour bus ride) and we had Zone Training Meeting that night in Labasa.  We stayed with the Labasa elders that night: 22 elders sleeping in one flat was fun haha.  

The next day we had our Zone Conference with President and Sister Layton and the APs.  It was way good to take a step back and reevaluate where I am as a missionary and what I need to do to improve. 

That afternoon and the next day were spent doing interviews.  We weren't able to go back to Somosomo on Saturday because the owners of the bus are 7th Day Adventists and their Sabbath is Saturday haha.  So we went to Savusavu and stayed with the zone leaders so we could take the bus and boat back on Sunday.  But we did eat at this really good place on Saturday night called Captains.  It was like right on the bay and it was way gorgeous!  

Then, we got back to Somosomo on Sunday in time for the last 5 minutes of church haha.  But it was a way exciting week:)  It was a ton of traveling in crappy buses, but honestly most of the time I just looked out the window and enjoyed the view because Fiji is just so awesome:)

Besides being away for 3 1/2 days, we had a pretty good week with our work here in Somosomo.  N_____ is doing so good in the lessons; he is asking a lot of good questions and just taking everything in when we teach him!  It has been amazing to see him change from the time I first met him.  He has a baptismal interview this week when the zone leaders come over, and his scheduled date for baptism is the 21st.  I am way excited!!  

We also have another hopeful investigator whose name is T__.  He lives way up at the top of this hill, and he has been listening to all the lessons with one of our recent converts, and he really wants to be baptized, but he has a hard time getting to church because he has way bow legs and his toes are always curled up (I think from 50+ years of sitting cross-legged and climbing coconut trees).  But we are trying to get him to come to church so he can finally get baptized.  

We still have a lot of work to do because none of our other investigators are following our commitments, but I am really excited about our area right now:)

One thing I learned this week is the importance of following the spirit.  Before my mission I thought we just kind of wait around and go through life, and if there is a spiritual prompting we follow it.  That is partially true, but there is a way better way!  If we constantly seek out the direction of the Spirit, in prayer or in our daily lives, we will be given so many more opportunities to follow promptings and help others!  As long as we are worthy and ask for promptings, our Heavenly Father wants to give us these opportunities to obey.

Au lomani kemuni!

Loloma levu,

Elder Harris

Waraka na waqa  (Waiting for the boat)

The Tavueni Princess

The life jackets were inside these wooden racks...not sure how we would get them if the boat started sinking haha

Taveuni Zone Conference

It was way good to see Elder Kintstone again


Sunsets are the Best!

Changed our water filter last week.  It goes through all three, which is really good.  The right one is white when you change it haha.

March 1, 2015

Somosomo, Taveuni Island - Week 3

Ni sa bula vinaka!
It is crazy how fast the time goes as a missionary!  This week has been super crazy.  Lots of work!  This week it has rained so much; I think almost every day it has rained at least once.  But it's super funny because while we are doing studies it is always sunny, but as soon as we are ready to go out for the day it starts raining haha.  So we take our umbrellas and then it stops raining!  It's even more bipolar than the weather in Utah. 

This week we have been trying to get some solid, progressing investigators.  There are a lot of people we are seeing but not too many who seem like they are moving towards baptism.  We need to do some more finding and sifting so we can help the people who really want to come closer to Christ.  But the work is getting better!  We just need to get the area excited about missionary work.  

Probably our top investigator right now is a guy that is 25, and his dad is a member who just recently started coming back to church really strong.  He is awesome; he has a strong desire to be baptized.  Right now his baptismal date is set for the 21st, but he has had a lot of problems with the Word of Wisdom and coming to church.  So we are visiting him a lot and trying to get him to do the things that will prepare him for baptism.  But he came to church yesterday, so we are hoping that he will be ready by then:) 

I'm really excited to be a part of this branch here in Somosomo.  It's an awesome place to be.  It is probably the largest branch in the northern islands, with the largest chapel of the northern islands to go with it.  There are over 300 members, but only about 100 come to church every week, so we have a lot of work to do in that area.  

They have a lot of good families here.  I think there are 6 missionaries out from the ward right now, and two that just got home.  And there are a few potential missionaries that we are working with to come out with us.  The branch is doing really good!  But they still need some help to keep growing and thriving, so I'm glad to be here.  

We had a crazy experience yesterday in church!  It was about time for sacrament to start, and the branch president pulled us into his office.  Apparently a recent convert family from the sister's area wanted to get each of their five little kids blessed in sacrament meeting, and he wanted us to each take a turn giving a blessing.  So I gave my first baby blessing yesterday! (Even though she was like 3-4 and sitting on a chair)  I was so nervous haha, and I totally blanked out halfway through so I did half of it in English.  But it was super crazy. 

I think I will end up doing a lot of that here in Fiji, because the members assume that because we are missionaries we know how to do everything, so they just ask us haha.  But it was a cool experience:)  I think it is going to be an awesome experience helping the wards and branches out in the places I will serve here in Fiji.

This week my ability to understand what is being said in Fijian has gotten way better!  During lessons I usually understand what's going on, and in other situations I usually can pick up enough words to get the gist of it.  It's amazing how much two weeks here has done.  I love this place!
Loloma levu,

Elda Harris

Somosomo Meetinghouse

Service with the Bataruas Family

Near where I live

Waicipoki, Cassava, and Curry - Delicious!

The Internet Cafe!