January 31, 2016

Navua - Week 13

Isa vale tabu.

Bula vinaka everyone!
Another great week in Navua!  It was transfer week this week but no changes in my area.  Two members of our district were transferred though, Elder Miller and Sister Lokotui, both up to the north islands!  I'm way pumped for them!  And we got Elder Grey (from Missouri) and Sister Teupoorautoa (from Tahiti) in our district which is gonna be way fun.  I also got to see a few people from the MTC who I haven't seen in almost a year.  Elder Davis is now in the same zone as me and I saw my MTC comp Elder Tera at the temple open house!  It was so good to see them after such a long time.

This week has been awesome because of the temple open house!  People are flocking to the temple in Suva to have a look inside, and everyone is amazed how serene and beautiful it is inside.  It is such a good thing for Fiji because the first time the temple was built, what was supposed to be the open house was closed because of a big coup.  People weren't even allowed to see the dedication of the temple.  But this time it's great!  We have been twice so far with a few of our investigators. 

First we took Barney Holmes on Thursday, and it was so cool to see him literally change while walking through the temple.  He couldn't believe the fact that you could do baptisms for your ancestors!  He thought that was so cool!  He said he definitely wants to come back and do that for all his ancestors and find a wife so he can get sealed to her!  Way cool time!  

And then we took Jerry and Emma and their 6 kids (most of them really little) which was a bit hectic but they loved it as well!  It was cool to see them look through the mirrors in the sealing room and see how it never ends!  They're doing really well and came to church again!  We're trying to encourage them to get married and it's looking like they will this week, so everyone pray for that!

The temple looks way good inside!  So beautiful.  The mural painting of a typical Fijian mountainous coastline in the instruction room is awesome, and I was pretty proud when I saw Tagimaucia flowers carved into some of the walls.  Gorgeous temple for a gorgeous place.   We're going to try and take as many people as possible this next week.

A pretty sobering but good experience we had this week was a funeral we attended.  One of the members in our ward had a baby grandson who was born with defects and died.  We went to the funeral that they held in their house, and it was really sad but powerful to see them hold on to the hopes of the Plan of Salvation!  It really touched me and deepened my testimony of the Savior's power over death.  That's the only thing that we can hold on to when times like that come.

Hopefully you all can have a great week! 

Elder Harris

January 24, 2016

Navua - Week 12

Sili mada!

Bula everyone!

We had a great week this week!  Definitely the highlight of the week was our baptism that we held.  We were able to see the Waqabaca family and Api get baptized on Saturday!  It was an awesome experience.  We scheduled our baptism at 4 on Saturday, but with a bit of Fiji time we finally got everyone we needed there around 5.  

Everyone was dressed in white and super excited!  It was an absolute gorgeous day in Navua.  Our chapel is up on top of a hill that looks over the lush Navua river and all the farmland, and the sunset just made everything look so good!  Elder Giacalone, another guy, and I were able to perform the ordinance between the 8 being baptized, which took a while but was definitely a fun experience!  And everyone was just so happy and enjoying the moment!  

My favorite part of every baptism is hearing the recent converts bear their testimony, and it was for sure my favorite this time as well!  I was just so happy to see everyone making that important step in their life and how much it meant to them.  A miracle for sure!

Unfortunately Ciri, the oldest one being baptized was having some health problems the next day.  Her leg was all swollen and she wasn't able to walk.  And her husband was sick as well so the others had to stay home and take care of them.  So only Api was able to be confirmed the next day.  Hopefully she will be able to get her leg better so we can confirm them all next week.  They were really sad to not be able to come.

We also saw some progress with a few other investigators this week.  We have been working with Jerry and Emma and their family for a while now, and it just hasn't progressed too well until the past few weeks.  Jerry is a less-active member, and his wife is not a member.  But recently they have been feeling that they need to come to church!  So we have been visiting them trying to help them get the drive to go, and they came this week!  It's great because two of their daughters really want to be baptized, but they were just waiting for their mom.  But now the mom wants to be baptized as well!  So that's another little miracle we saw this week!

I'm super excited because the open house for the temple starts today!  We are way pumped to go and see the new inside.  We are trying to organize times with our investigators so they can come and see the House of the Lord.  It's going to be a great time for the church here in Fiji!

I'm just super excited for the work right now.  Too bad we're still waiting for that car haha.  We have been walking a ton on these dusty Navua roads; our feet get pretty dirty every day.  But I'm too scared to wipe it off my sandals!

Loloma yani,

Elder Harris

Waqabaca Family and Api Baptism

Dinner after the Baptism

January 17, 2016

Navua - Week 11

Sa yawa
Man another great week here in Navua.  This has got to be one of the best times of my mission so far!  The Lord is giving us so many blessings down here and we're just trying to keep up.

First off a little miracle that I saw this week which wasn't even in my area but I got to be a part of.  The Lami Elders met this guy a week ago on Saturday, and they found out that he had been going to church for about 3 months and really enjoyed church.  They taught him a typical first lesson, invited him to be baptized and he accepted.  I went on exchange with Elder Miller the following Tuesday to follow up and continue the lessons, and it went really well!  But after the lesson he told us that he worked for a fishing boat that takes him away from home for 3 months at a time, and they usually called him to go out with only a day's notice.  He really wanted to be baptized but was worried that he might get called out before his baptismal date.  We thought about it for a second, found out he was living the worthiness requirements already, and then invited him to be baptized the coming Saturday! We then proceeded to teach him all the rest of the lessons in one sitting which took almost 3 hours!!  He was ready and I was able to do the interview for him a few days later, which was so good!  

Everyone was excited for his baptism on Saturday.....until Friday night when he got the call from the fishing boat that he needed to board about an hour before his baptism was scheduled.  To make matters worse, their entire bishopric was too busy to do the baptism earlier in the morning.  So the Elders had to call him and say that it would have to be cancelled.  But then this man made a huge decision that showed a tremendous amount of faith!  He called the fishing boat, his livelihood, and quit.  And he was baptized and confirmed this weekend. 

We also saw some great things out in Navua!  The Waqabaca family and Api are scheduled to be baptized this weekend!  I'm so pumped to see them make that step; they have been progressing so well and it is so great to see them so happy from applying the gospel in their lives.  Ciri, especially, has progressed so much and bore such a powerful testimony at our last appointment.  It's going to be a great day on Saturday!

We spent a lot of time out of our area this week between exchanges and a meeting at the mission home for all the people training.  Also we found out that our car should be coming soon, so we really needed to get my license.  We have been trying to get it for the past month and a half, but every time something went wrong and I didn't get it.  So this time we were really hoping that everything would work out.  We went in to the Fijian version of the DMV with a determination to stick it out until I got it.  I'm pretty sure everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong, but 6 hours later I walked out of there with my Fijian drivers license, and I'm not planning on going back.

Another cool thing that is happening is the temple open house.  All the sisters from the whole mission are way lucky and get to go be tour guides for the temple.  This week is the VIP tour for government officials and stuff, and next week it is open to the public for two weeks.  We are excited to go and bring our investigators with us!  And right now all the members in Fiji are going crazy handing out invitations.  It's gonna be awesome!

Loloma levu from Fiji!

Elder Erisi (that's how they spell Martin Harris' name in the Fijian BoM, so I might steal it.)

Elder Giacalone made pasta for this family!

January 10, 2016

Navua - Week 10

Sa yawa

Bula vinaka!

This year is starting off great!  Our theme for the mission this year is "A Year of Miracles," and that is exactly what is going on!  The Lord has prepared so many great people down here; we're just trying to keep up! 

First off we have the amazing Waqbaca family who is loving the fact that they have found the restored gospel.  We visited them a few times this week and everything is looking great for them to be baptized in two weeks time.  They love the gospel and reading the Book of Mormon and having us over!  Our last visit, at the end they said they had a surprise for us, and all the kids went around and bore their testimonies to us without us teaching them at all!  They're great.  The only small problem we had was at church when they came up to the front of the chapel 5 minutes before sacrament was to start, pulled out a triangle and started a somewhat aggresive beat, and started singing a song (they were 7th day before so maybe that's the norm?).  I thought it was great!  But we'll probably have to talk to them about getting permission before their next musical number:)

Api, our other investigator, is doing really good and excited to be baptized in a few weeks time.  She is loving the Book of Mormon and the lessons.  We were teaching her the Plan of Salvation, and it didn't seem like she was getting it too well after we spent a lot of time explaining it.  We gave her a pamphlet, and then came back a few days later to review, and she repeated to us every single point of the lesson in detail!  Let's just say we're going to make sure and use all of the pamphlets with her.

As I was talking about last week, our investigator Barney just got back from prison in Australia.  And now he is so humble and ready to change his life.  He said he'll do whatever it takes to be baptized and change his life around!  We're taking it slowly with him on the lessons, because after 15 years in prison he is a bit awkward socially, but he is doing really good and enjoying the lessons and church.

This week we had a zone meeting which was great!  It got me super pumped for the work!  I was assigned to give an insight on attitude, which was way fun.  I had my district act out a bunch of "bad attitudes" which were basically lazy missionaries whose attitudes ruined the work.  I talked a bit about how hope is the inner driving force for a good attitude, not the word hope we normally use but the one they talk about in the scriptures.  Hope is a trust that Heavenly Father will deliver his promised blessings to us, and our attitude towards obedience and hard work is a good measuring tool whether we have hope or not.  Hopefully it helped everyone keep a good attitude!  If nothing else it got me excited!

On a more random note, Fiji is in watermelon season.  This may sound amazing to you all back in the freezing north, but I'm getting watermeloned out.  We get it at like every appointment.  If anybody wants some I'll send you some.

Elder Giacalone is doing wonderful in only his 4th week in the field.  I think I might just let him start teaching all the lessons and I'll sit back and relax.  Vacegu mada.

Have a great week!

Elder Harris

January 3, 2016

Navua - Week 9

Yabaki vou.
Bula vinaka!
Man it has been another fantastic week here in Fiji.  We have so many blessings down here and amazingly prepared people to receive our message!  I had my year mark.....can't believe how fast time flies.  And we had a cyclone!

To start off we'll talk about our amazing people that we are teaching down in Navua.  First of all the Waqabaca family is doing amazing and is preparing for baptism in a few weeks!  Maciu, the grandfather was baptized back in July, but throughout the whole time his wife didn't want anything to do with it.  But his daughter and 7 of his grandkids were taking lessons with the sisters in Lami, getting ready to be baptized, when they suddenly had to move back to Navua because of house problems.  But when they came back, all of a sudden Maciu's wife wants to be baptized as well!  Turns out she has been studying the Book of Mormon and read it all!  She finally made a decision to come to church yesterday with everyone, and she loved it.  It's been amazing to see the change in their hearts by reading the Book of Mormon.  It's been such a blessing just to get to know this great family!  

We found another guy this week named Barney.  He lives with his brother who is a less-active member.  We found out that he just got back from Australia after being in prison for 15 years!  He is so humble right now, and wants to be baptized and start over, and we got him and his brother to come to church yesterday, so we'll start visiting them more regularly.  I could write more about other people, but the bottom line is the Lord is helping us find so many people who are ready for Him!

Poor Elder Giacalone got super sick from something (possible this chicken curry we had), and celebrated New Years Eve by throwing up all night.  So we had a sick day on New Years, just sitting in the flat.  But it worked out well because there was a cyclone warning all of New Years, so it would have been a crappy day proselyting.  It was just really windy and rainy all day, but nothing too crazy and definitely not as bad as the storm last year.  So that was fun.  We burned my shirt to celebrate my year mark, and that was that. 

I can hardly believe my mission is halfway over.  The time went by so fast.  But it has been so good so far, and I have learned a ton!  I've met so many great people and learned so much from them.  And especially I have grown closer to my Heavenly Father and learned that when we are obedient to Him, He will bless us!  I'm looking forward to another great year that hopefully won't fly by so fast.  Ciao.


Elder Harris

Elder Harris with a member, Cecil

Elder Giacalone and the Brown Family 

Elder Harris and the mission tradition of burning a shirt on his year mark.