Sunday, September 23, 2012

19 new missionaries,  AWESOME

Sister Gounder after her baptism

Study are for the South Pacific University

If you look close, there is a farmer working on the side of the  hill in his crop
Getting  a bike off to Rabi on the ship

little guy, big boat
Hi everyone!  Well, this week has been a exciting week for both of us.  We got all 19 new missionaries in to town and gave them all a bunch of things to do.  Mary explained to them about the accuracy of baptismal forms, how important it is to be correct on everything since it is a permanent record for the church membership.  She also had to collect all their passports and take them to Fiji Immigration to get work visa's for each missionary.  Since Mary doesn't drive, guess who gets to go along.  The first time we got there, just to give them the paperwork, it took an hour just to talk to someone.  The worker told us to come back tomorrow to get all the papers signed.  Three days later (they kept putting us off), we stopped there for two hours to get the finished paperwork.  I was walking outside, making phone calls, texting (yes I learned how), trying to keep patient.  You know me, I can't stand to even wait in line for groceries.  Mary was very patient, much better at working with people, she even took a little snooze there. What a saint!  Now all she has to do is get the visa's to the proper missionary (wait until next week for the conclusion).
         I talked to the sisters about being in safe areas, following the Spirit about walking in places not for ladies.  I also told them about the 240 volt electricity that burns up so many sister's hair dryers, and how our bug killer solution is really a friend to them.  They are all very talented in singing and teaching, so they will love it here. The Elders are quite different.  I had to collect their driving records from home, grade them on how well they drive, and how to clean and care for a flat (apartment).  Many of them don't care how their flat looks or smells,  they just want to teach and baptize. A lot of those Elders had big eyes, and were very excited,  I'll wait for a month and then see what they look like then.  The calibre of young men coming out now is awesome, so ready to testify and learn and teach.  Parents should be very proud and thankful for their "stripling sons."
          A funny story about Elder Wells and his wife that went to Kiri bis last week.  He said it was so humid there that he was doing an audit with a stake clerk, and he looked down and noticed his tie was soaking wet, and dripping water onto the floor beneath him.  He then stood up and noticed his pants were a darker color, and a puddle of water on his chair where he was sitting.  All he could do was laugh!  Thank goodness its not that humid here, yet.
             We attended a baptism of a single mother attending our ward, Seema Gounder, a Hindi woman with two sons, 10 and 8. She started taking the lessons six months ago, and loved the church teachings about family and prophets.  She told us at the baptism that her ex-husband had not paid any maintenance for the sons, so she took him to court. She didn't have employment at the time, so instead of paying support for the boys, the father took over custody, and left with both sons.  She kept on with here baptismal date, and has the hope to get her sons back in the future.  That's the kind of faith the people have here.
My rental truck
          I LOVE BEING BUSY WITH PEOPLE AND MISSIONARIES, IT KEEPS ME ALIVE AND HAPPY.  I wish everyone could experience a mission as a senior. Give our love to all the grandchildren and family and friends.  Love ya,  Grandpa (Tutu)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Bula Vinaka everyone, it's been another busy week.  We just completed our last two zone conferences this week.  The one held at President and Sister Klingler's was eventful.  While we sisters were finishing preparing lunch Elder Hogge was in the living room speaking about car safety with the Elders and his phone rang (a very normal happening for him) I had come into the room to check if it was my turn to talk with the Elders about writing big enough on the baptism forms so I can see the names to record them! When I saw Elder Hogge would be a few minutes I jumped in and did my presentation.  Later we learned that One of our Fijian Elders who was practicing his driving on the way to a district  meeting that was in an area with less traffic in order to qualify to drive for his mission, got into an accident and did some major damage to the truck!  It turned out he had a provisional license meaning he tested on an automatic car and was only supposed to drive an automatic car when practicing, and didn't know about this provision when he got his license and of course the truck was a stick shift.  The police really gave him a hard time when they came on the scene of the accident, and sadly he probably won't be able to drive for the rest of his mission.  Thursday we traveled for about a half hour with all the food for the last zone conference held locally at a ward building.  Unfortunately the kitchens are usually in bad shape and Sister Klingler had to do some major scouring before we arrived and prepared any food, and after lunch we headed back to the office.

Friday we had a senior couple over for dinner and to hear of their adventures in Kirabis, a small island North of us. They said it was a long and narrow island  and how scary it was to land on it because the plane barely stops before the runway ends at the edge of the island.  The land was only about 10 feet higher then the ocean which creates a challenge for fresh water. Their wells are only about 6 feet deep because if you go any deeper you'll hit sea water.  When the tide came in the waters edge was at the first step of the church. The people are nice but very poor.  They often eat cooked rice and raw fish because they can't afford the cost of propane to cook it.  The Wells went to a small shack that was the island's store and many of the shelves were bare except for 25 lb bags of rice and a few canned items.  The boats that bring food in aren't always consistent and when they do bring food people stock up and the store empties quickly.  A church member gave them 3 cups of rice to cook and eat for the week they were there and they had some breakfast crackers (the not so good ones I described earlier) with peanut butter on it.  There was no jam or honey so they put a little sugar on it.   They were worried about offending the islanders when they offered them some rainwater to drink, but luckily there was some green coconuts too and they chose to drink the coconut milk rather than risk the water.  They said that the coconut didn't have the coconut meat we're used to eating but rather was a jello like consistency that they would scoop out and eat with their hands.  There are two senior couples on this island and I really admire their strength to serve on such a small island.  The Wells came back with a new appreciation for Suva and how good we have it here.  

The next big event coming this Monday is the arrival of 19 missionaries.  We needed some flats for sisters that will be sent to the other side of the island and were able to find and rent them when we were up in Nadi and Latoka the week before last at their zone conferences.  The Zone leaders were assigned to check out the possibilities and we were so grateful to find one in each area that would be appropriate for sisters.  The challenge was that one was unfurnished which meant Richard had another 4 hour session at Courts ordering beds, a bookshelf, kitchen table and chairs, 3 chest of drawers etc.  The landlady is an Indofijian who is a widow, but it is a newer apartment with nice drapes and is a beautiful bright pink color for the sisters.  The second flat in Nadi is owned by a retired couple who sold their home in Suva and moved into their daughters home because she and her family moved to New Zealand for better schooling for their children.  The couple didn't want to rent to a large family or young people who would be noisy, so when we explained the sisters would be quiet and wouldn't even need the TV that was included they seemed happy about their renting from them.  The couple kept the yard in good order and it's nicely furnished.  So the challenge for brother and Sister Hogge?  We needed to take the other stuff needed for a flat up to Nadia and Latoka this weekend like bowls, ironing boards, pans, dishes, rice cookers etc and managed to stuff them in our small car and head out Saturday morning.  We met up with the Elders (the ones who had the accident ) in town where they got off the bus and they asked "have you had lunch yet"  We of course offered to take them to lunch after we dropped off some stuff so we could fit us all in the car.  Then we headed to Latoka to meet the second set of Elders who were supervising the Courts delivery of furniture, what good timing. We followed them back to the church where they were going to pick up President Klingler and his wife and drive them back to their hotel in Nadi.  We had plans to leave our small car with them and take their van to the elders in Nadi so we offered to Drive the Klinglers since it was late in the day and we were able to find a room at the same hotel as they were staying in.  The Nadi Elders are assigned to meet incoming missionaries at the airport and help them catch their flight to Suva.  They had fun reminiscing how tired we looked when we got off our flight a few months ago!  Their having a van is crucial in transporting the many missionaries and their luggage that are arriving Monday.  So, everyone was set with a car but, you guessed it, us.  Richard had left for this trip with two Bula shirts and some shorts since all his white shirts were dirty and we didn't have time to do any wash, so we decided to have a true Fijian experience and ride the express bus back to Suva.  It was a nice air conditioned travel type bus but the pot hole roads felt about the same as when we drove it in our car. We will be renting a car until we get word on whether or not the truck is repairable.

Can you tell that we love the ocean?

Mary has always loved horses, this one only speaks Fijian

This is a typical ranch, and it's always wash day

Trucks like this are always hauling sugar cane to Lautoka

These two are pictures of the new flat rented for the incoming  sisters
Good color for sisters, right!

A father and two sons headed for church, waiting for a bus or taxi
I feel like I'm doing a travel log of our experiences lately so I would like to share a little bit about the special people we have been blessed to meet or hear about.  A sister bore her testimony in Relief Society and told of a mother who woke her family up 4 hours before church started so they could make the long walk to church each week. Our landlord was talking to us and said people in Fiji are poor, but if they only have1 potato left to feed their family they are happy to share it with you.  Ana is a lady who comes in to clean our office and she always checks the garbage can for empty peanut butter jars, washes them and takes them home to use for storage or share with her neighbors, I also see her in the temple where she serves as a temple worker.  Milika Taito works next door in the distribution center where she helps people who come from distant islands to be sealed and do temple work.  She sweetly helps fit them for garments.  She comes in the office in the morning and reaches out her right hand which I take then bends down and puts her right cheek to mine and we kiss each other on the cheek.  She was asked to speak last Sunday and shared her temple experience.  She said going to the temple was challenging when she and her husband made plans to be sealed.  The nearest temple then was the Samoan.  Her husband had been less active but they worked hard, saved and the time finally came.  When they got to Samoa the leaders said it hadn't been a full year and they wouldn't be able to go through the temple.  On the last day of their 5 day stay, a church leader knocked on their door telling them the glad news that they had gotten special permission for them and they could be sealed, and how grateful she was to have a temple here in Suva now.  She has a five year old daughter and said she and her husband are working toward the goal of being temple workers.  Due to how small our temple here is,many of the people I see during the day in the service center, and family history center next to our office also give their time to work in the temple.  Well Richard's getting anxious to walk back to our flat so I'll close. We love you and think of you often and are happy serving in the Fiji Suva Mission.  Bye for now love Elder and Sister Hogge.    

Monday, September 10, 2012

The flat area is the local park for playing soccer or rugby

This is the resort we ate dinner at near Lautoka

Lautoka Zone lunch 

The Chapel in Lautoka, chapel on right and classrooms on left, the Bishops offices in between

The large Elder in the middle is Fijian and will play football for BYU after his mission.  His American companion is the third from the left.  

This is the ward kitchen where we all prepared the lunch

The view outside the hotel we stayed in

We wore out the Elder looking for the sister's new flat

An original Fijian home before the British made Fiji a colony

Fijians sell home grown vegetables and fruit next to the streets from these structures

This land is being developed for homes to be built  here
Bula Vinaka everyone.  We've had a great week full of new experiences.  Brother Hogge and I and another senior couple who are the second couple who work in the office (finance and medical specialists the Whitings) were invited to travel up to Latoka and help with that areas zone conference. President and Sister Klingler flew up north to the first zone conference with the Assistants.  They all flew to Latoka on Wednesday and we office seniors each drove a small car loaded with 2/3 of the food, coolers, etc and met up with the Kennerly's who are a senior couple that just transferred to Ba (a town that's out in the bush).  Sister Kennerly was assigned to bring the fresh fruit and veggies.  We closed the office at noon on Wednesday and drove up in a rain storm that lasted all day (it was coming down pretty good but sister Whiting said to me "oh you haven't seen a heavy rainstorm yet" that will come in Nov-Jan)  It took about 4 hours to get  there and we enjoyed seeing a lot of jungle growth, Patches of pine trees in areas that looked similar to northern Arizona with open rolling hills and mountains in the distance.  Then came the sugar cane fields.  As we drove along we thought it would be fun to write down the names of villages we past...ready?
Lami, Wainadoi, Lobau, Navua, The Pearl (a resort area that will let you use their stretch of beach to snorkel if you eat lunch there), Taunavo, Galoa, Korovisalou, Navutulevu, Namataukula, Navola, Komave, Korolevu, Votua, Nawavu, Vatualailai, Taqaqe, Namada, Vatukarasa, Malevu, Korotoga, Nayawa, Sigatoka, Volivoli, Yadua Semo, Yako, Korovuto just to name the ones we drove through because they are right along the road.  I'm sure there are a lot more villages back in more remote areas.  They all have similar four wall homes with corogated metal roofs and there's always clothes hanging out on the line.  I saw a little boy about 4 take off his shorts, pull some clean ones from the line and put them on. Due to the poverty I don't think they can afford luxuries like underwear.

Another reality is a limited variety of fruits and vegetables but what they are able to grow they use and try to sell the rest at road side stands to earn a little money.  The veggies are a thin tender type of egg plant, tomatoes, pumpkins (pumpkin shaped type squash that is a bit soggy when boiled) potatoes (not as flavorful as your Idaho spuds but edible) onions (smaller and stronger than our onions) green beans, carrots, a small leaf type lettuce, cucumbers and for fruit there's small watermelons, pineapples, and lady finger bananas.(also papaya and mangoes when in season for part of the year)  You may be thinking wow that's not much variety of fresh produce, and yes it isn't speaking for myself because that's all that's available for us too! We're slowly trying to adjust to it and make the best of it but I'm having trouble eating cooked cucumbers.  Wednesday night we and the Whitings stopped for dinner at Denarau on the West end of the island.  It's a nice resort that the tourists go to when in Fiji.  We checked all the restaurants and decided to splurge at a pricey restaurant that advertised Surf and Turf.  I mistakenly pictured something like the small Lobster that Red Lobster has and a small nice steak like you can get in the states.  When they brought out what looked like skinny lobster compared to the smallest one at Red Lobster that had 3 chunks of meat and a lot of sauce and a steak that was way under cooked and so tough that I couldn't chew some of the pieces even though I cut them very small, I think I finally realized that there isn't any place on this island that will have any food that is like what we are used to in the states, and decided not to do the high priced meals anymore.

normal Fijian bridge over a stream
Our zone conference started at 8am on Thursday and went until noon.  We had sloppy joes, fruit salad (fresh and canned fruit mixed) pasta salad noodle, frozen peas, cucumbers, tomatoes, with ranch dressing) and floats (red, orange, pineapple soda with vanilla ice cream)  President Klingler had Elder Hogge speak about car safety (one of our elders got in a head on accident and it cost 10,000 for their car and 12,000 Fijian for the other car, ouch) I spoke to them about accuracy in filling out baptisimal records (good news the lost 70 baptism records were found so I won't have to redo them, Wahoo!) Brother Whiting spoke to them about hygiene and then We women headed back to the kitchen to bake cookies.  About four the Elders had cookies and milk and then we heard testimonies and finished up with President Klingler doing interviews until 8pm.  The Whitings left about 2 pm so they could be in the office Friday morning and Elder Hogge and the rest of us headed to the hotel for a late night dinner.  We stayed an extra day because we had 2 flats to find for the sisters in Latoka and Nadi which they are opening up for sisters.  Elder Hogge had the zone leaders look ahead of time but the area the sisters will be in is a more wealthy area and most of the homes are for sale rather then rent.  When Sister Klingler heard about the situation she fasted and prayed hard that we would be able to find something and when we all went looking Friday morning we were able to find a good flat.  The only problem is it's unfurnished which will mean more 3-4 hour shopping days for Elder Hogge at Courts   , but we felt so blessed to find a flat.  There were 3 possibilities in Nadi but after looking at 2 that were not good we had to drop President and Sister Klingler at the airport.  We checked the third one out and it was perfect, and furnished.  Well I'm out of time and have more to write but it will have to wait until next week.  Take care everyone love Sister and Elder Hogge.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Yandra Vinaka (good morning),
        It is the old man's turn to blog today, so it will be shorter than Mary.  Mary has been busy this week with baptismal records, over 100 to record, so she enlisted a senior missionary to help out.  They got everyone recorded and pushed the transfer button on the computer to send to SLC, and when they got a hard copy printed, only 30 names were on the list.  She was pretty upset because if they can't get those names recorded, she has to do the 70 all over again.  They are in cyberspace somewhere--we'll find out where on Monday I hope--she's not a very happy camper right now, and when Mama ain't happy......
Mary loves the fruit here
         We had a couple of interesting things happen this week.  We went to the Temple on Thursday and found out that a Stake from Labasa (an area on an island just north of Viti Levu) were here doing temple work.  All spoke Fijian, so the ceremony was presented in the Fijian language.  That means Mary and I wore the translated recording for the first time here.  Their language is beautiful, and they had to speak it quickly to fit the same sentence into the framework of English, so now I know I could never have learned the Fijian language before coming here.  I'm amazed that the young missionaries learn it so quickly, and speak it so well, this old brain doesn't work that fast anymore.  Anyway, it was a joy to see all the happy faces and warm handshakes we got there.  Everyone here is so friendly and loving, what a great experience we're having!  The love of the Savior shows in their faces.

I think my hair is thinning in the back!

This barber know three languages, Fijian, Hindi, English
Like my new Bula! shirt?

This is the village car wash across the street

This is the Guard House for the house behind

A wonderful family of six lives here

I know that beautiful woman on the right, but the funny looking one on the  left?

          The second thing (and not on such a spiritual note) is that I got my first sulu and I love it.  I now know why women don't perspire while wearing a skirt!  I may not go back to pants at all. I also got my first Fijian haircut.  The barber shop had a waiting area that was walled away from the barber chairs by a chain link fence, I guess for protection and control of who he wanted to serve next (in Fiji there is no such thing as lines or being served in order).  I have learned to be patient.  The barber uses only electric shearers and a comb, nothing else.  He did a great job and then even shaved my neck with a straight razor, but without any shaving cream.  I'm surprised I didn't get any cuts!  All in all, it was a great learning experience, and costs only $5 Fijian ($3 US).  Oh yea, and you can buy coconuts from him too!
         We hope everything is well with everyone.  Give our grandchildren hugs and kisses from us, and we hope all are doing well in school.  Our good friends who have emailed us, we thank you for keeping in touch and love to hear from you and your family.  IT'S A GREAT LIFE SERVING OTHERS!
           Loloma,  Bubu and Tutu.