So what is Richard's calling like? He has a phone that rings morning, noon and night with calls from Elders and Sisters. Sometimes it's concerning a repair that's needed for a car the Elders in town are using or concerning bikes that need repair. We're finding that Elders often make do and don't tell brother Hogge that they don't have any pans to cook with, or the filters on their water system haven't been changed in a long time. Richard and I went shopping for some Elders who live a long distance away but have a store in their town called Courts. We go to the one in Suva, order the items and then Courts ships it up to them. Sounds easy, right? Well we took our list which included a dining table and 4 chairs, 2 mattresses (a 5 inch thick foam mattress with a colorful cotton cloth covering), cooking pans, a lamp for one set of Elders and a lantern,washing machine and few other items for Elders in another town who have been using candles up until now that's leaving a lot of soot in their living quarters. Then we bought a book shelf, a set of pans, pillows, and 2 mattresses for a set of sisters who are moving into a flat that has been used by Elders up to now. We were decisive and ordered everything pretty quickly which our sales person Nisha had wrote on a piece of paper. Then came the long wait. Management puts a lot of pressure on sales people to do things a certain way, so Nisha has to make sure it's done just right, and the computers are slow. Then they check to see if other stores in Suva had certain items that they didn't have in their store. Next the order goes to the one person who is allowed to ring purchases up. Nisha then takes the order back to management who gives us a discount on larger items since we are one of their best customers. The items for the sisters that we planned on taking with us were then stacked at the front of the store where I was sitting while Richard ran up a block where the van was parked to bring it over closer to the store. After everything was rung up and I thought we were finally leaving one more step needed to be done. A man at the front of the store who had the things we were taking with us went over the items once more and checked them off a printed computer list, put a few in bags and we were off. It only took us four hours! (I'm not exaggerating). If anyone knows Richard, shopping is not his favorite thing to do, so he's really learning to be patient through this part of his assignment.
What's my work like? One of the craziest things I first found out as I was struggling to learn and pronounce names like Elder Eparama Dakunimata, or Elder Inukihaangana and President Klingler mentioned that these Fijian Elders will sometimes change their names 2 or 3 times during their mission and go by the name of a favorite uncle or some other family member. Then there's transfer day when the pictures on the board get changed around and I have to start all over trying to figure out what area they're in so I can put their mail in the correct area. Everyday I get on Outlook a large email system created by the church. They range from messages to President Klingler, notification that flight tickets for outgoing or incoming missionaries have been finalized. Notification of missionaries who are due to come to our mission in about 3 months. I print up a copy of their visa application for their file (sometimes things can get lost at the immigration office). Next I make a laminated picture card to post on the board in our office and also one for President Klingler's office. I make sure everything is in order for their Visa applications and submit it 6 weeks before the missionary is due to arrive. If all goes well it's processed within the 42 day window that is allowed to get the visa accepted timing things so the missionary arrives and we can take their passport down to immigration to be stamped before the 42 day limit expires. Add to that Welcome Packets to the missionaries who will soon be heading to the MTC, packets, certificates and letters to parents, missionaries, bishops and stake presidents when the missionaires are leaving for home seems to keep me pretty busy. Another task I do using CDE is recording Baptisms. I was hopeful when I saw I had only 15 more to do last week, and then a package came in the mail. It was about 200 baptism records from Vanuatu (this island and Caledonia used to be a part of our mission before they split off these islands to create a new mission in June) They're struggling to establish a new office and haven't had the time or the program to record them so it was decided that our office would do all the baptisms for all three islands up through June! It took me a while to be as excited as Sister Klingler was when she saw that they had finally mailed them to us. Fortunately Brother Whiting our Medical specialist, who is also very good on computers is helping me when he can. He cranked out 46 of them for me last week. His wife is our finance person and often tries to help me when I'm stuck on how to do something in the office that wasn't covered in my one week training with Sister Barfuss (whom I replaced). We have a large candy bowl that sits on a bar above my computer and it's the first thing the Elders and Sisters pick through to find their favorite candy when they come in the office. Richard went on an errand and picked up a large bag of candy for the candy bowl. The only problem was he didn't read the package very well and they all had hot chilli spice in them, so of course some of the Elders had to try them to prove they were tough. After that a cute little sister who come into the Family History center often comes in and asks if she can have some lollies? I say sure, and she would take the chilli lollipops and now they are all gone. Our Elders come into town for a zone conference several weeks ago and The Elders from Levuka said there wasn't enough food on the island they're working in and the irregular shipments meant they couldn't be guaranteed of having enough food to eat. President Klingler had them double up here for a time until we got word that food was again being delivered to the island and the Elders took some supplies in a box with them when they returned. There is another small island in our mission that President Klingler doesn't go to visit because you can only fly in on Monday or Thursday but sometimes you can get stuck there for a month which is too long for a Mission President to be gone. President and Sister Klingler recently went to visit another island and visit a village chief to get permission to send missionaries in to teach their people. A gift of a whale tooth is offered (costs about $375.00 but helps to open doors for teaching the people). They have also had some success in offering a large amount of bars of soap as a gift. The Whitings went on a three day trip with the Whiteheads (a senior couple who live on the other half of the flat they're renting). Sister Klingler decided to have a Sister's Family Home Evening Night at her home and I helped with the food prep and discussion after. It was a special evening. We just had a Youth Conference at the LDS College and 700 youth came (some from some of the outer islands) They had the boys sleep in the primary school and the girls sleep at the College. The Jacksons, a couple that live in the other half of our apartment complex did classes all day long as part of this event and many of the people who work in the service center helped prepare the food for this event. Speaking of food. I woke up the other night at 1 am in the morning when I heard someone chopping something with a machete. Our Fijian neighbor has an older man in the household who comes out early in the morning to chop down the overgrowth of vegetation in their yard while it is cooler. When I peaked out the window to investigate there were three men chopping the husks off of coconuts and then another man scraping out the coconut! I think they were doing it so they could get up early about 5 am to go sell them.
Last story, Richard and I were heading to our apartment for lunch and a young woman came over and said Bula Vinaka, we introduced ourselves and when she told us her last name was Vuicandavu we knew she was our teacher Lokahi's sister. She just returned from a mission to Madagasscar and looks alot like her brother. She stopped by later and downloaded some pictures we had of Lokahi and his fiance Mary that she could show her parents. She will be leaving for BYU Hawaii next week, so we were glad we could meet her before she left.
I better close for now, I'll write more later. ....Moce (good night)
It's P day and we go to Wahleys (pronounced Wallys) for our meat chicken, pork and a few slices of ham, plus hamburger for a sunday meal with two couples. I made meat loaf and it turned out pretty good. You wouldn't believe how intimidating cooking can be when you can't find many ingredients you're used to using.