Sunday, December 30, 2012

Bula Vinaka, We hope you all had a good Christmas. We seniors decided to go to a beach near the Pearl (a resort) and had a swim (our first since coming to Fiji) on Christmas morning.  It was a warm sunny day and the water felt great.

Some of us swam and got a little sunburned.  

Others sat on a blanket under the palms and enjoyed the shade.

Fijians don't wear swim suits but just go in the water in whatever they are wearing.

Going in the morning was good timing because more people began to arrive just as we were leaving.

Some people dug a pit to begin cooking their food lovo style, while others brought ready to eat food.  

L-R Elder Whiting, Elder and Sister Wells, Sister Tennis Elder and Sister Hogge

I had to capture this dressing area.  I brought some dry clothes to wear  on the hour drive
 back to Suva.  When I shut the door I realized there were several large holes in the walls,
 but figured if anyone decided to peak they would just get a scary eye full of an old woman!

Later in the afternoon we went down to the Whiting's and Whiteheads place "the deck" for  a Christmas dinner.
Sister Whiting gave us each a small gift that had small treats like in a Cracker Jack Box and included a party hat.

We had a white elephant gift exchange after Sister Tennis told us about the  one  they did back home and how
someone got a real ugly vase and how over the years it would keep showing up as a gift.

Then the last ones to open their gift was brother Tennis and  surprise it was an ugly vase from our flat, that we
wrapped up as our white elephant gift!  Everyone laughed and now the ugly vase tradition continues.

The Fijian's love to decorate for Christmas. I took my camera downstairs and captured some of the decorations.  They used paper from the shredding machine to make snow.

lots of sparkles and lights 

tinsel, and red and green balloons

here's the mission office simple decorations.  I used some scraps of colored paper to make a chain and
brought a small decorated tree we found in our flat and we bought one string of lights to go along the edge of the bar.

Some of us went to the movie on Saturday Les Miserables (3 hour movie,sad story)
and then we had  lunch at Tappoo City mall that has eateries
This is a view of the harbor from the 3rd floor window.

After lunch we headed up to Singatoko, when we stopped for gas I took the following two pictures. These two houses are next to each other on the same street and are a typical example of the contrast of homes you see in Fiji.

The truck we drove was the one that was in the accident in August.  It was supposed to be done Thursday, then they said come in at 11 on Saturday.  They then asked for another hour and when they finished hooking up the wiring and tried to turn on the air conditioner it started smoking!  Elder Hogge and I needed to get it to the elders that day, and it was getting late, so he told them he needed the truck now and told the elders they would need to have the air conditioner worked on when they get back to Lautoka.  The drive up without air conditioning was a trial, but we
made it in time for the elders to leave and get back to Lautoka before it got too late.  We rode back with the AP's who
had returned from checking out a remote village that's a three hour drive into the mountains on a rough dirt road from Singatoka,  President Klingler wants to reopen the area, because there are 70 members in a branch there who are attending church regularly and more wanting to be baptized.  The village is excited about the possibility of having elders in the area again. There's no electricity or running water and the elders will have to bathe in the cold river.  As you may have guessed, many of our adventuresome elders think it sounds like heaven and hope they'll get assigned to go there.

This dog belongs to the landlord of the Elders in Sigatoka.  He's one of the healthier dogs I've seen.
Some dogs roam around on the streets and get hit by cars.  We see some dogs limping who have  injured legs
 that have healed wrong.  I don't think there are many people here who can afford to take them to a vet.

This is the surprise I woke up to Sunday morning.  We had a heavy rain storm and 1/4  of the floor was covered with
water.  I'm getting pretty good at sweeping it into a dust pan and dumping it into a bucket.  It looks clear when it's on
the floor but when it's collected in the bucket I can see that some of the dirt outside is also coming in, but
as the saying goes... into our lives a little rain must come.

We hope you will all have a HAPPY NEW YEAR and the righteous desires of your heart.
Love Sister and Elder Hogge

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Yandra Vinaka Friends and Family,  Mary and I took a drive around all of Fiji this past week, playing Santa Claus little elves.  We took all the Christmas packages from the missionaries parents and delivered them to all the missionaries that are on Viti Levu (the big island), and it also gave me a chance to check on the damages to any flats, or problems that occurred during the cyclone Evan that passed through.   There was lots of trees down and flooding that happened, but all the missionaries are safe and happy.  There's lots of service work to be done now.
Some of the villages are still without electricity and some without water, but that will be ending soon.  A lot of resorts have backup generators, as well as some stores and gas stations.  The missionaries all think it was exciting and now they are "camping out" in the bush.  They all have resilient spirits.  These first few pictures show only a little of what happened.
This shows our back yard and how the wind stripped the palms on one side of the trees.  Also, we had a huge shade tree that snapped like a twig, and if you look close, you can see the trunk left where it snapped in two.  A big old bull frog used our porch to stay on until the wind subsided.  We called him Fred.

These are the two Mango trees that is at the sisters flat in Nadi that Mary got big mango's from the last time we were there.  I think there are some earlier pictures on our blog with her standing in front of them.  She and the sisters are very disappointed now.  Those other trees are at a park nearby.

We also got together with another senior couple and bought some farm grown prawns from Navua, and then had dinner together.  As you can see, the men get to prepare the prawns before cooking, and the wives got to cook them.  They were so good, we are going to do it again soon.  I think all boy scouts should learn to shell and cook these critters, right Hunter?

Here I am at the Sigatoka Elders flat, two of the tallest and strongest Elders in the mission.  Boy can they eat!  Elder Diloi is on the left and he's from Fiji, and going to the U.S. to play football in January when he;s released (6'7"and about 390 lbs).  Elder Heath if from Utah and played football and basketball in Logan.  He is a rookie here (6'7" and 250).  Both are great missionaries, and have strong testimonies of the gospel--I love to hang out with these Elders.
Typical way of transporting furniture in Fiji. Do you like the all pink bed and mattresses?
Here we are at the sisters flat in Latoka.  These ladies don't have running water yet, and their electricity has been shut off for about 4 days.  They haul water from the church and hand wash everything.  The Elders are the ZLs of the zone.  They all are from Samoa, Kiribis, New Zealand, and Fiji.  All know three languages.  Below is Mary's beloved bread fruit that she always talks about.

I've got to have my hot bread--it's now my staple here.  We stayed in a small town in the only hotel available named the Tavua Hotel.  It was clean and mostly bug free due to the geckos that stayed with us. Mary struggled some, but I loved it, and would do it again in a second.  She's a trooper!  I had to treat her to a decent breakfast, so we ate at a resort about  a 45 min drive from Tavua, the place is called Wananavu (means awesome), and you can see why.

Some of the villas at Wananavu.

The scenery was awesome (wananavu), so were the employees.  We will be back again.

As we traveled around the island, the mountains and rivers were inspiring so we took our time traveling. Reminds me a little of fishing on the Green River.
This is our church in a small village--isn't it great!  The Elders who cover this area sleep in the part on the left, and serve three other areas besides.  This is just off the main highway so everyone can see it and visit.  They have about 40 active members from that village.

The Stream is nearby this chapel located in Korovou and sits on top of a hill overlooking all the area.  This is a ward and has over a 100 active members.  The scene below is from this vantage point.  The church is growing fast here and we are loving it.  People are not afraid to open their mouths about the gospel, and it shows.
We hope everyone stays close and united.  May the Lord watch over all of you my good friends, and loving family.  Vinaka,  Grandpa