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.    

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