Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Nov 21 - Dec 2, 2011

We are in Fiji waiting for the plane to go to Hawaii. We will leave at 9:00pm and arrive in Hawaii at 6:00am and we will relive Dec. 2nd! We are very excited to get to Hawaii because our son Paul and his wife Kellie will be meeting us there. We will spend a few days there with them and then fly to Majuro together. They will be staying with us for about four days and we are excited to show them around.
Now I need to fill you in on everything we have done since the 21st of November. We arrived in Nadi, Fiji and then at 6:00 pm we flew to Suva. We had an extra day and so we decided to go to the Suva Temple. President and Sister Klingler of the Fiji mission invited us to stay with them. Their home was right on the Temple grounds. Right after we got there they had a dinner at the Temple Presidents house who is President Eb Davis and his wife-they had been the Fiji Mission President about 25 years earlier. They had only been there about three weeks; they were having a home evening with all of the senior couples to get acquainted. There was also a couple, Elder & Sister Ronnenkamp, from Church Education who live in New Zealand. They were going to speak at a graduation of a church school in Fiji and then fly to Tarawa on the same flight as us to speak at the Moroni High School graduation in Tarawa. We had heard about them as my sister’s husband Kurt served as a counselor to him in a Stake Presidency in Layton, Utah. So it was neat to meet them and to get acquainted.
We had planned to go to the Suva Temple the next day and we were looking forward to that. When we first arrived we asked a few people if they knew two our former missionaries who live in Suva, Elder’s Moimoi and Vesikula. Some knew them and we asked if they saw them if they would tell them that we were in Suva and that we would love to see them. That day as we were waiting to get our clothes who walks in but Elder Moimoi. We said you must have got the message that we were there and he said no that he had no idea but he had decided to go to the Temple that morning and he just happened to pick the same session that we were going on. It was so great to see him and he was very surprised to see us! Afterwards we talked to him and asked if he knew where Elder Vesikula lived. He said that he lived very close to the Temple and that he would call him that day and that they would both come and see us the next day. Elder Moimoi took us to the Church’s Primary School that day just so we could see it. While we were there we told him the name of a sister who would be coming to our mission from Fiji. We told him her name and he knew her and he saw her at the school. So he went and he introduced her to us. She was so cute and so excited to meet us. We were able to tell her that she would be going to the Kirbati side. She has a Grandma who is from Kiribati and so she can understand Gilbertese and can speak it as well. She was so happy to find that out and she will be coming out in January 2012. Her name is Sister Balenacagi don’t even ask me how to say it! That evening we went to dinner with the Klinglers, and other senior couples.
The next day, Elder’s Moimoi and Vesikula came to see us. We told them that we wanted to take them to lunch. We also ran into Elder Kariti from Christmas Island; he was waiting in Fiji for his Visa to go to the Dominican Republic. So we all went to lunch and had a great time together. Sharon ordered Fish & Chips; there was a little salad that came with my lunch. I took one bite of it and I thought I was on fire! Fiji is well known for having the hottest red peppers anywhere and it was in my salad. I poured water as quick as I could but with no relief! I tried salt nothing helped! Then they told me I should try sugar. I had tears streaming down my face, and Elder Moimoi said, I was going to tell you that the peppers were hot! They were all entertained until it finally got better. It was great to be with them and to update them on the mission. That afternoon the Fiji Assistants took us to the airport so we could fly back to Nadi. The missionaries there all wear sulu’s which is the dress lava lava’s.
The next day (Thanksgiving) we left for Tarawa and the Ronnenkamps were on the same flight. We arrived in the morning and the senior couples were busy preparing for the Thanksgiving dinner for the mission. It was great to meet the Bonnemort's. They are the new nurse and husband for Kiribati. We had it in the cafeteria of Moroni High School. Everything was delicious and all the missionaries seemed to enjoy it. Some of them had never tasted turkey before, so that was new to them. We had the turkeys and some hams sent over earlier in the year for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners on the small plane.
Friday, was Moroni High Schools graduation for the seniors and the Form 7 (Freshmen in College) students. They all had blue and white graduation gowns and hats for the ceremony. The Form 7 group who are one above High School had on suits and ties and the girls had white dresses on. It was very organized and they marched in and took their seats in the chapel. They sang some songs throughout the ceremony and they were really nice. At the end they sing a song, “Fare Thee Well” which was very emotional for them. Some of the students had been to this school together all the way through until graduation. Some will go home to other countries or islands, some of them live on campus and others live at home. They have become very close so it will be hard to part. After the ceremony they fed the guests outside. The graduates and their families ate on the soccer field and the guest’s ate in an area in the center of the school, complete with pig and lobster. Yum yum! After that they had a dance for the students. The kids came out in several different groups with matching outfits for everyone in each group. They were all in couples of boys and girls and were introduced couple by couple and seated at a table. They looked really sharp. We thought that they were going to dance in those groups but they never did. This was outside on a basketball court. They started a line dance where they had the guest speakers (Ronnenkamps) be the leaders. Later, they have a dance where the students would ask family members to dance with them. Also one where they would dance with the faculty members. The faculty also performed a dance for them. They all seemed to be having a ball, and they had decorated the court very nicely with balloons and a stage and streamers. We left at 9:30pm and they were still going strong.
On Saturday, we had some training for the Zone/District leaders, and Trainers. They were taught some of the things that we learned in our Mission President’s seminar. The brethren feel that most missionaries are skimming over the part of teaching about God is our Heavenly Father. We talked about the Gods and went over attributes of them all. Some of the Elders did training also and we also had some role playing. It was a great training and we think they learned a lot. That evening we went with two of the zone leaders, Elders Anderson and Anderl. They taught a man whose wife is a member; he had attended church with her sometimes. We didn’t understand but we later found out that they were applying what they had learned in the training. He seemed interested. They had him give the closing prayer after which they brought out some water and punch. The spirit was definitely there. We went to a baptism in Bouta, that evening. There were seven people baptized. It was a good evening and we enjoy going so much. This is Elder Finau, and Elder Flynn with those who were to be baptized.

On Sunday, we attended a branch meeting in Temaiku. It was not a chapel it was a Maneabwa. They are going to build a church on that property and it has a beautiful view and they will become a ward when the chapel is completed. Later in the day, we spoke at the Institute Graduation. We are so happy that they have the opportunity to learn more and more about the church. On Monday we had a Thanksgiving luncheon for the service center. We also invited the faculty of the school. They all seemed to enjoy it. They don't celebrate Thanksgiving there so we wanted them to have that opportunity.
Monday evening Moroni High Ward had a Family Home Evening. They had a talent show and a potluck dinner. It was fun and again we had a good time. They divide the students into home evening groups and assign a senior missionary couple to be the Mom and Dad.
We had a zone conference on Tuesday. Elder Tu Tu and Elder Tiree bore their final testimony as they will be going home before we go back to Kiribati. They both are from Kiribati so we hope to see them as we go to visit. We saw a lot of growth take place in them. Now they can strenthen their own wards and help them with missionary work in their areas. We will miss haaving them in our mission. It went well and we had lunch and also a testimony meeting for the Missionaries to share what they learned and how they felt as they read the Book of Mormon with a specific topic to look for and underline, such as faith, repentance, the spirit, or whatever they chose. They said they learned more about their topic and that they really enjoyed reading it that way. After the conference Tom had interviews with some of the missionaries and the rest of them on Wednesday. We have such great missionaries and they are enjoying the work. That evening we spent time with the senior couples. We are so grateful to them for doing so much for the mission and missionaries in Tarawa.
On Thursday, we flew back to Fiji. We were getting excited to meet Paul and Kellie in Hawaii on Friday. We hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We have much to be thankful for. We thank our Heavenly Father for this opportunity to work in this part of his vineyard. The islanders are wonderful and we love them so much. A big Happy Birthday (#30) to Paul on November 28th. We love you Mom & Dad / Nana & Papa / President & Sister Shaw.

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