August 30, 2015

Tuvalu - Week 15

One year older and wiser(hopefully) too!

Talofa taina mo tuagaene i te taeao gali tenei.  

Man it has been one of those mentally exhausting weeks that ends up being really rewarding in the end!  This week was a pretty crazy ride.  The beginning of the week was way stressful!  Every lesson we went to, something would go wrong and it would fall through and we would be left with hardly anything to do.  We spent a ton of time just walking all over the island trying to find someone to talk to or teach.  To make matter's worse, one of our most solid investigators who was preparing for baptism like disappeared.  No one knew where she went or where she was staying.  We were pretty bummed out most of the week.  But towards the end of the week we started to see some results from our hard work and got some great lessons the last couple of days!  I think it was a bit of a test for us to see if we would keep working or not, so I'm glad we stuck it out!

S____ is still doing fantastic, and it has been 5 weeks since she has smoked.  She wants to wait for her husband though, so they can get baptized together!  The only problem is that her husband was one of our many fall-throughs of the week so we're going to have to work hard to find a good time to sit with him.  Haha island time is so stressful.

I turned 19 this week!  I wasn't sure exactly what day to celebrate because the 28th was actually the 27th in America but the 29th wasn't the 28th....  So I just celebrated both days!  Nah just kidding I just did the normal routine of missionary work haha.  But Elder Paki had his birthday two days after mine!  So we ended up just eating a lot of TimTams (this amazing chocolate cookie) because we didn't have any cake:(  But it was all good and fun! 

On Saturday night Brother Niko showed up and asked me to talk in church the next morning!  I was way excited (which doesn't make sense because I hate speaking in front of people) and also really nervous because I didn't have that much time to prepare for the talk and for my Tuvaluan.  I wasn't really sure what to speak on, so I decided to kneel down and pray about it.  While I was praying, an impression, actually a question, popped into my mind, "What is the meaning of a disciple of Christ?"  So I figured I would talk on that:) 

I studied a bit and came up with 6 principles of a disciple of Jesus Christ:

1. A disciple of Christ is willing to give up anything to follow Jesus Christ.
2. A disciple of Christ listens to His word and is obedient to it.
3. A disciple of Christ follows Christ's admonition to "love one another."
4. A disciple of Christ is completely loyal to Christ at all times, in all things, and in all places.
5. A disciple of Christ is a missionary!
6. A disciple of Christ is not ashamed of the gospel.

It really helped me understand what I can improve on to become a disciple of Christ and serve Him.  And I hoped it helped our branch members in Tuvalu as well (if they understood me....).

Have a good week:) 

Elder Paki and Elder Harris

Elder Paki at the bottom of the island

Riding bikes on the runway!

August 23, 2015

Tuvalu - Week 14

Isalei it was sad to leave Fiji last Thursday.  

We had to get up at 4:30 to go to the airport with the APs, and Elder Gregory, my previous zone leader in the North islands, said "Look, Fiji's blowing you a kiss."  And we looked out and it was a pretty epic sunrise out over Suva.  So Fiji loves Elder Paki and I apparently!  But it was great to come back to Tuvalu!  I missed this place for a week and I felt like I was coming home when I stepped off the plane into that blanket of heat (Elder Paki wasn't quite as excited about that).  It's good to be back:)

Actually rewind a bit before that we had zone conference last Tuesday which I was way excited about because I missed the last one being in Tuvalu.  So they held one almost a month early this time so Tuvalu and Kadavu Elders could make it.  It was really good.  All about finding investigators and keeping our recent converts active after they are baptized.  I learned a ton and hopefully will be able to use a lot of it here in Tuvalu.

Here in Tuvalu our investigators are doing really well!  S_____ is still smoke free for almost 4 weeks!  We wanted to have her baptism pretty soon, but her husband is coming to church now, so we might wait so they can be baptized's all up in the air still and stressing me out but the good thing is that S_____ is wayyyy happy now that she has overcome her addiction.  I can see how much joy it gives her just by talking to her.  It has definitely been a miracle.  

Also we are working with T____ who is still doing really good!  Unfortunately her grandfather passed away recently so she has been busy with the funeral (Tuvaluans go all out on funerals), so it has been hard to see her lately.  But all is going good here and we should be sorting out everything pretty soon!

Another way big thing happened while we were gone.  Our Returned Missionary/Elders Quorum President Tofikai got married!  Apparently it was like one of the biggest weddings Tuvalu has ever seen.  Tofikai is a pretty sharp looking guy and popular with all the ladies and his new wife is really rich so it turned out to be huge!  His wife took lessons with Elder Pomate and his previous companion, but then she moved to another island to teach school.  But now she is back so we are going to start teaching her again!

Anyways, it's pretty fun being here.  Elder Paki is doing really good with Tuvaluan so far, but he's at the same level I was when I first got here so I've been doing all the talking lately.  But it came for me so I know it'll come for him too!  

Toe fetaui tatou ite sua vaiaso!

Alofa atu,

Elder Harris

The plane through my fogged up camera

August 16, 2015

Tuvalu - Week 13

Ni sa bula vinaka and welcome back to Fiji! 

It has been one crazy week again.  Elder Pomate's time has come to an end on Tuvalu, so we had to come back to Fiji for a week so I can pick up my new companion.  We spent most of the start of the week saying goodbyes and making sure our investigators will be set for the week we are gone, and then we flew out on Thursday.  Tuvaluans went crazy and gave Elder Pomate so many seashell necklaces that almost went up to his neck, and a bunch of handcrafted fans as well; they must have felt bad for me or something so I got a bunch of necklaces too even though I'm coming back!  It was really nice of them though.  

And then we got on the plane and took off!  After a good 2 1/2 hours I started to see Fiji again below me, and we landed in the Nausori/Suva airport.  We stepped outside and...........IT WAS COLD.

I know.  I thought Fiji would never be cold, but when I stepped out it felt like a bitter fall breeze back in Utah.  I am still cold.  I'm not sure if it is the stark contrast with how hot it is in Tuvalu or just the season....   Super weird.

So yeah but then we got out of the airport and got in the zone leaders' van, and then we asked them "Do you know where Elder Pomate is going or who our new companions are?" because our phone has been broken for a couple weeks and we couldn't get call ins for transfers, and then the elder sitting next to me said "Oh, I'm your companion!  I thought you already knew!"  It was pretty funny.  

My new companion is named Elder Paki and he is half Maori from New Zealand (we were really shocked that they didn't send another Samoan).  He is like 3 years older than me but one transfer younger than me in the mission.   He is super cool and is already picking up Tuvaluan from the few materials I brought!

So after that we found out that we are staying in Tamavua for the week, which is funny because that is Elder Pomate's new area.  So I have been spending time with him and Elder Burgener from Pleasant Grove.  It's pretty good because both Elder Pomate and I speak way bad Fijian mixed with our Tuvaluan, so we have to correct each other all the time!  I can understand what the Fijians are saying, but when I try to respond it is pretty pathetic haha.  

By the way I saw President Maiwiriwiri from Taveuni at church!  His son is the bishop here in Tamavua and he is here visiting so that's pretty cool.  Maybe he can make me some waicipoki before I leave;)

Anyway I am super happy here.  I haven't talked to other missionaries in forever, and since us and Kadavu (another way far out island) are here they are having zone conference early so we can attend!  We'll be leaving to head back to Tuvalu on Thursday and then we'll hit it hard for another 3 months until I come back.  All is well!

Have a good week everyone!

Loloma levu,

Elder Harris

August 9, 2015

Tuvalu - Week 12

Well everyone it has been another fantastic week here in Tuvalu!  I am loving it here and enjoying every minute!  This week has been a fun one, especially since Elder Pomate is almost done here. We will head back to Fiji on Thursday, and I will spend a week there and then head back up to Tuvalu with my new companion!  It's pretty exciting.  I'm really nervous about speaking Fijian again....I tried to say a prayer today and kept using Tuvaluan words because I forgot!!  Oh well, it will be really fun to see other missionaries since I haven't seen any since May.  Everyone in Tuvalu will miss Elder Pomate!  That goes for me as well; he has been an awesome companion and we have had a ton of fun together.

The work is going good as well!  Our investigator S____ is doing fantastic with her smoking problem.  Two weeks and counting!!  I couldn't believe it, since so many missionaries have tried to help her to stop, including us for the past 3 months, but she says she simply has no desire to smoke anymore.  It's a miracle!  Unfortunately we will have to wait until I get back for her baptism, so Elder Pomate is a bit sad, but it will be good and she is still excited!  

We also have another investigator named T___ who wants to be baptized!  She is really smart and reading our pamphlets and the Book of Mormon even though they are in English, which probably makes her my first investigator from Tuvalu to actually read haha most of them don't understand the English in the Book of Mormon.

I am doing good!  I love the Tuvaluan people and I love being a missionary.  I feel so grateful that I am here in this place at this time.  I can see the hand of God working on this island nation and I know He loves us all!  Always rely on Him, because He knows what is best for you.


Elder Harris

Super Cool Purple Sunset!

August 2, 2015

Tuvalu - Week 11


Well everyone it has been another wonderful week in the island of Tuvalu.  It looks like our two weeks of "winter" are over and now it's heading back into summer!  

This week has been really good.  We have been working hard and we are seeing a lot of progress with the work.  We have quite a few investigators who have accepted the invitation to be baptized!  Now our only problem is getting them to really mean it and come to church!  Haha gotta love Tuvaluans:)  

Our investigator S____ is doing so good!  After more than 20 years of a smoking habit, she has quit for an entire week.  She is doing great and working so hard to quit, and she says that she feels better than ever by quitting!  I am way proud of her and all the work she is doing.  I know that she is putting her faith in Jesus Christ completely as she tries to get rid of something she has relied on for a very long time.  But it is great to see her truly happy and smiling now:)

We have a missionary couple from Suva doing an auditing thing here so we have been showing them around the island and helping them out.  Their name is Elder and Sister Martin and they are from downtown Salt Lake City (like so downtown they have apostles in their ward).  They had mopeds back in Utah which was perfect because they had to rent a scooter to get around here!  But they are way funny and it has been fun having them.

This week I took the time to ask the members about the history of the church in Tuvalu; turns out I asked the right person because he was the first member here!  So Brother Niko was born in Tuvalu and raised on the island of Niutao.  But he ended up travelling to Tonga for schooling.  While he was there he met the missionaries and was baptized!  Afterwards he went to Kirabus on a mission and was there when they built the first meetinghouse (today the church is HUGE in Kirabus), but then he came back to Tuvalu after his mission. 

Once he was back, he talked to the mission president in Guam and finally he sent missionaries to Tuvalu (I think in the 70s or 80s) and it has been amazing ever since!  It has had some struggles with members moving away from Tuvalu and missionaries being taken off for a couple of years, but Brother Niko has been leading the church through thick and thin, even if it meant having sacrament meeting in his house with just his wife and kids.  But his work has paid off, and now he has been blessed tremendously!  His kids have all served missons (his twin boys are serving right now) and are doing well, and the church is growing here!  His example has blessed hundreds and hundreds of people especially here in Tuvalu.

Love you all and have a great week!


Elder Harris

The skinniest point on the island of Funafuti

A bunch of member kids that we help read for our service project

Low Tide