Sunday, October 28, 2012

Bula Vinaka every one!  It's been crazy busy week but we've enjoyed every minute. We had 6 Elders leave this week. Elder Myer (far left) has served as an Assistant to President Klingler and will be sorely missed.  His challenge is to return home to a new state (Reno Nevada)  his parents moved from Idaho this year. The second Elder Kaneko is from the Marshall Islands, but his parents moved to Oklahoma and his father is ill,so he headed to Oklahoma and this will be his first visit to the United States.  Next is Elder Walton, who had an accent that made him sound like an Austrailian, but he's from Texas!, Last is Elder Hawk the new AP in the office.  He was here last week for a zone meeting,  flew back to the island where he was serving and returned back to Suva on a boat that took 12 hours.  He gets our patience award this week.. 

On the left is Elder Tareti (pronounced Taress the T in their language has an S sound)  He lives on an Island Kiribati (pronounced Kiribiss) On the right is Elder Seila who is from Lami, Fiji.  It must have been hard for him to watch the other 5 leave for their flight to the States.  He is 30 years old and it took him a year and a half to get his paperwork and special permission to serve, after the 26 age limit.  He was a great asset in our mission.

Elder Estill  is on the Left, he will be heading home in Dec.  He asked me again this week if I had his flight yet and when I emailed Don who arranges for flights and he said he was still waiting on Elder Estill's parents who are still trying to decided whether or not to fly out and see his mission.

President Klingler, Elder Myer, Sister Klingler  Sister Klingler dropped by the office on Friday to let me know about the help she will need next week.  Our menu says it all.  Monday FHE dinner with the Sisters we're making 2 kinds of soup + homemade rolls.  Tues special training with the sisters.  Thur special training with the elders we'll prepare bacon, eggs, hashbrowns, pancakes, & juice for 20 each day.  Friday dinner for 40 (Lautoka Stake Leadership Meeting).  Saturday we'll serve the leftovers from Fri for 3 new missionaries that will be arriving. Sister Whiting and I have been asked to do the shopping for food, I'm hoping they will have the 180  hash brown patties at Cost U Less we need because it means a lot less work for us. 

We took pictures for the Klingler's because their camera was on the fritz. Elder Hogge was teasing Elder Kaneko about his height and said "David and Goliath" Elder Kaneko is pointing at Goliath.  Just kidding President Klingler!

Friday night we had a stake social event where each ward prepared some dances. The sister's from our ward did a beautiful Fijian dance.  They had live green plants on their wrists as part of their costume and the hand movements were    beautiful and very expressive.

Some of the Indian sisters taught the young women a Hindi dance . Their arm and hand movements were also very exprerssive and flirtacious.

They had a wide variety of ages for the boys and I loved watching the shortest boy in this picture because he had such an infectious smile as he tried to keep up with the movements and follow the lead of the older boys

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Hunter, knowing how much you love bugs, especially big fat juicy ones, this is for you and all our other grandkids who like gross things. This millipede or centepede (I'm not sure which it is) was found squished on our driveway.  It was the length of my hand from my wrist to my finger tips and as big a round as a hot dog...yuck.... but better squished outside then alive and crawling in our flat, right?

We were waiting for the 3 sisters who attend our church and needed a ride so I took this cat's picture. We see a few cats on the island, but there are far more dogs, but I didn't have a chance to take any pictures of them.   

This is a common site in Fiji, it's a rack where people stack their garbage, and most Fijian's bag their garbage in the plastic bags they haul their food from the store in.  I think they try to have the rack high enough to keep dogs and cats from rummaging in the garbaqe, but the cat was eyeing it when I took it's picture.

Elder Hogge and I were asked to fill a speaking assignment this Sunday,  that President Klingler couldn't do, due to his needing to be at a meeting one the other side of the island. We  both spoke in Stake Conference today (a first for us both).  After speaking in church last week, we're both hoping to move on to new challenges.

Tuesday morning we will be leaving early, 6 am for a drive to the other side of the island (4 hour drive) to try to lease a new flat for the sisters. They have been told by members of their ward that their current flat is in a bad area and the Stake President is pretty insistant  about their moving.  After finding some nice flats over there and their only living in it a month, we were disappointed to hear that we need to find them another flat.  We will also be driving back to Suva the same day, so I've bought some snacks for our trip because unlike the USA,  it's difficult to find any kind of convenience store along the way here.
Sometimes I have to sit and wait for Richard when we're out doing errands and we both came up with a few terms that are unique for Fiji:  Lay by=law a way,take away=take out food,  car box=glove compartment overtaking lane=passing lane, lift=elevator, flat=apartment, palangi=white person, boss=friendly endearment Indian people use to address an old guy like Elder Hogge.  ahrei (pronounced R-A) Indian term meaning whatever, watanavu (sounds like wan navoo)=awesome in Fijian.
We went to the Post office the other day to mail a letter.  The Indian man who was helping us said something so fast to us that we couldn't understand what he was saying.  I leaned in and finally understood that he was telling us the cost for a "fast post"  but by then Richard  had pulled out the copy of his passport !   It often takes two of us to try and understand what people are saying.  My phone has been on loan to some elders who needed a phone until Elder Hogge could get them a new one.  When I got it back I stuck it in my purse and forgot about it because I use it so seldom.   As I was getting dressed one morning I heard a phone ringing and thought it must be the gaurd outside who often walks around the outside of our flat complex.  When it started ringing for the second time, I thought why don't you pick that up? then realized it was my phone ringing,  and when I picked it up it was some elders trying to get a hold of the elders who had borrowed my phone and didn't know their  number had changed.  At our Saturday lunch yesterday we heard a loud sound that seemed to be outside of the restaurant we were eating at.  It sounded like a fire truck honking, and we thought there must be an emergency near by.  It was Richard's phone!  He explained that he gets different signals from each set of missionaries that call him multiple times during the day and evening so as you can see, we're still dealing with getting older and often get the giggles when we finally figure out what's going onl

We drove to the Nausori airport early Monday morning to drop off  Elder Trent  for his flight to another island where he has been transfered .  He was wearing some flip flops, but I didn't say anything thinking he was just bending the rules while he flew to his new destination.  After several days of doing some serious walking out in the bush, he realized the wisdom of the mission rule not to wear flip flops and  called and pleaded with Elder Whiting to buy him some decent sandals and ship them to him because his feet were getting sores on them.  He has been serving in Suva for the last 5 months but didn't get around to buying some decent shoes.   Elder Hogge and I are dealing with similar situations with these young missionaries, they are doing well preaching the gospel, but we are often reminded that they are still young and experienced in many ways.  I'd better close we hope all of you are doing well and hope you have a good week.  Mothe  Elder and Sister Hogge

Monday, October 22, 2012

Hi everyone,
     Well we went onto Fiji daylight savings time, set our clocks ahead one hour, and it's only for the next four months, and then returns to normal time in February.  We spoke in church today, and I was going to us the excuse of changing times, and show up an hour late, but Mary wouldn't let me out of the assignment!  I guess I should thank her.   In two weeks we will be speaking in Stake Conference as representatives of the mission, and our topic is "save the one", so I'm going to talk about myself.  Do you have any suggestions that I can use?  I know that Mary has been working all our married life to save me, so I hope I can pull this off.
     We have been working 8-5 M-F as our callings have evolved.  Now a lot of Sat. are used for some details that are not completed during the week.  Even some evenings are being used too.  The interesting thing about doing all this work, is the blessings we get.  I've been happy to do the extra work because associating with the missionaries has given me much joy.  The harder the work and longer the day, the better I feel.  As long as Mary can have a lunch and dinner on time, she goes right along with me, a real trooper.  Elder Bednar said it well,  The Lord walks beside the missionaries, and angels are round about them bearing them up.  Often I see this happening throughout the day.  The Lord has His hand in all that goes on with the missionaries.
      I was set apart as a veil worker on Thurs.  Each week we go and do a session in the temple, and often there isn't enough workers to help, so they need temporary help whenever we attend.  I can only do the part in English, so they are kind enough to make sure I don't have to do Fijian.  It would probably take me the rest of my mission just to learn the necessary Fijian to get through the first sentence.  Mary waits in the Celestial room for me to finish.  The temple president, Elder Davis, set me apart and his blessing was beautiful.  This only adds to how great a mission we're having.
      We are losing one of our Assistants to the president, he's leaving for home this next week. He is originally from Idaho, but now his parents live in Reno.  I think he's in for a shock about life styles.He is a very talented and friendly Elder, and all the missionaries respect him.  He plans on attending BYU-Idaho, but I won't hold that against him.  I told him a solid education is found at the U of U or Weber State, but he won't listen to an old man like me--to many jokes played on him.  We are going to miss him.  The new AP is Elder Hawk from Gilbert, AZ.  so I get to harass him a little about High Schools.
       I've got to find a new flat for the Sisters nearby in Nasinu.  The flat they are in right now has been rented by missionaries for over 10 years and the neighborhood is changing enough to make the Sisters feel unsafe when the sun goes down.  So this week is a move week for furniture and stuff.  The ZL's and DL's are getting great experience preparing them for being part of an Elders Quorum.  "Have truck will travel" is their motto.
This young man helped us at Chicken express and followed us out to our car. We gave him two pieces of chicken he we had leftover and he told us he didn't go to school this week because his dad left.  There are many challenges of poverty and single parents here in Fiji.

A president and his wife from one of the outlying areas on this island

I bought a coconut and cracked it open to find a seed pod in it. Our guide on the village tour said the seed pushes out of the 1 soft eye of the coconut shell and sprouts leaves and that's how you get a new coconut tree!

these are sections of a long narrow tapa cloth I bought from our village visit. the figure that looks like a curvy T is a depiction of a neck breaker used in earlier times when cannibalism was a common practice.

Many of the fans people take to church look like this

This represents the houses in the village

A local artist who is a member came in the office and I bought this tapa cloth depicting some ofthe animal life here.

We had a young Indian woman approach us and beg for us to buy this rug she had made. She was a single mother of 4 and trying to feed her family.  I liked the orange colors in it because it goes with the color of our wall.  We had another smaller black and white carpet that I didn't care for because of it's colors so we donated it to the Sisters to use in their flat.

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This is the ice cream boxes we use for everything from storing food, to sending home leftover with elders, sisters or senior couples.

Our neighbor's empty yard.  It once had lush bird of paradise plants, trees etc I guess it was time to really give the yard a good trim.  The large heart leafed plants are Dalo a dense starchy root plant that is a real staple food in the Fijian Diet.

river that runs through downtown Suva

A big cruise ship stopped in town on Saturday and there were tourists everywhere for a good part of the day.

What we call Fragi Pani but in Hawaii it's known as Plumeria. It smells heavenly, doesn't have many leaves and comes in several colors here.  

The beautiful Fragi Pani growing in a parking lot next to a dark and dingy building covered in mold. 

I had to capture the crazy stairs to the Elders flat. One stair is about 9'' tall the next 7" and the last about 12" it makes for strong leg muscles after you climb a few.

The beautiful flowers growing in the front yard of the Elder's flat.

The dump pile in the back yard that will be lit and burned that creates a very unpleasant smell. When our neighbors burn, we close all our shutters to try and keep our clothes and flat from smelling.

I had Elder Hogge stop at one of the many fresh produce stands so I could buy some fruit and veggies for the week. Each stack is called a heap and cost $2.00 each.  The pineapple was $4.00 Fijian.
        Give our love to everyone, hugs and kisses to the grand kids.  Loloma, Dad and Mom

Saturday, October 13, 2012

     Bula Vinaka everyone, this week has been watanavu! (awesome).  We were invited to go on a one day river trip with President and sister Klingler and thier daughter Aimee and her family (her husband and 4 older children{the 3 year old and 1 year old stayed at home with grandma and grandpa}) They came for a 1 week visit)  Two senior couples had planned on coming but one had to cancel due to being sick.  We drove for an hour to Nauvua and then boarded the long narrow boats with a small motor, that took us up the river to a village.  Our guide spoke english very well and had us gather in the main building where villagers normally meet.  There were some benches around the perimeter of the building and large woven mats covering the floor.  The ceilings were decorated in tradition Fijian art work and there were two large pictures of ancestors in two corners of the room next to the small couch where the chief sits.  We were asked to sit on the floor with the men in the first row and we women behind them in the second row.  I'm happy to report that all of us managed to sit cross legged on the floor the whole time (Richard was worried he wouldn't be able to do it but he did fine)  They chose a volunteer to be honorary chief and participate in the official Cava ceremony.  He was advised to do a loud cupped hand clap at a certain point in the ceremony and was told if he did it incorrectly (clapped 4 times instead of once etc) they would continue to pour cava (considering it has narcotic properties we were glad he did it corretly!).  Our guide knew that our church has told our members not to participate in the cava ceremony so they are careful to ask someone to volunteer to participate.  They asked if anyone else wanted to try the cava and two women in our tourn group volunteered, but we could tell it didn't taste very good by their reactions when they drank it.  The village had a small circular garden with one Cava bush in it and it takes 5 years for it to reach the mature stage to harvest it.  They keep a cutting and stick it in the ground to grow a new bush and pull the bush out and prepare the roots for the cava drink that looks a lot like muddy water.
     We next went to a colorful little building they use for a preschool.  The children and their teacher sang us 3 songs and then they returned to class.
     The next we went to had women who work on weaving mats and doing tapa craft work. The oldest woman was 89 and still going strong.  Long thin leaves are harvested from a tree that grows here and they roll and boil the leaves for a day to dry them out.  Next they scrape them with clam shells to make them pliable and then they weave the mats.  They dredge some of the leaves in dirt mixed with charcoal from a fire to dye them and use them to create designs in the mats they weave.  The tappa cloth artwork used to be created by carving stencils in a big broad leaf, but they have created a better way to do it using old ex ray films that the men occasionally have when they need to have an x-ray taken from getting injured in a rugby game.  It makes for a more lasting stencil and is  better for the environment. We then went to where the lovo (pit cooking) was being done for our lunch.  They typically do this type of cooking for funerals or weddings, but have included it in the tourist, village experience.  For lunch we had rice, chicken, dalo (dense fiberous root plant a little bit like a potatoe) a noodle dish, a spinach like vegetable cooked in coconut milk, pineapple, and a drink.  Many of the guests sat on the floor but Richard and I chose to enjoy the confort of the bench that had a padded cushion.  The rain had been drizzling up until then and then started pouring.  Our guide told us that they get 11 inches of rain a month which is more than we get in a year in Arizona.  After lunch used the restrooms to change into some get wet clothes for our waterfall experience.  By the sinks there were fresh Fagi Pani blossoms (Known as Pulmeria in Hawaii)  In Fiji they come in various colors pink, peach, and cream.  Richard and I were slow in getting dressed and hurried down to the boats where everyone was waiting in the boats.  They had some heavy plastic drapes for us to use to try and stay dry.  Richard of course didn't want or need a drape so I wrapped it around my head and back and created a poncho.  Everyone visited and anticipated the waterfall and chose to ignore the pouring rain.  Because it was raining the waterfall had a heavier flow than usual and was quite striking. When we plunged into the water we were surprised how cold it was.  Our guide said it's cold even in the summer when it's hot and sticky.  The rain started coming down pretty hard on the way back, but we stopped and transferred onto some rafts and our guide explained how villagers often cut and lash bamboo into rafts to travel down the river to take vegetables they've grown to Navua.  It's an 8 hour trip for some of the villages further up the river.  When they get to Navua they lay out their vegetables in a stack and sleep on the ground until the next day when they can sell their vegetables.  They unlash the bamboo and take the rope to use again and catch one of the boats that are scheduled to travel back up the river.  It was a great day in spite of the rain and it made changing back into some dry clothes at the end of the tour all the sweeter.
     One of the Fijian employees who works down in the service center (Brother Magoon )came in to the office and when he heard about our river trip he shared some history about the village with us.  He said his cousin lives in the village and the two pictures we saw in the building were of his ancestors One a chief and the other a missionary who was from England and lived in the village for many years.  When the chief was getting older he wanted to give an inheritance to two white men who have lived with them in the village a long time.  He gathered his 17 wives together, turned to the two men and told them to pick one. The first man declined saying he already had a wife, the second one (missionary) chose one of the wives whom he already was having an intimate relationship with. Brother Magoon then said the missionary was his great great great grandfather and that the chief had also verbally given his grandfather 1000 acres of land that started in the village and spread out to the ocean.  He said unfortunately it was never written down and officially documented and now all that is left of his families inheritance is the three acres of land his current home is on in Magoons Lagoon near the ocean which is quite a ways away from the village and river that we visited.
Richard is staying busy dealing with the many calls he gets from missionaries with broken bikes that need repairing, news of missionaries that will soon be arriving and needing a flat to live in etc, etc.  He got a call from an unhappy landlord that requested he come and see the condition the flat that 3 elders are living in.  I went with him and it was pretty bad.  There were books and shoes on the bars and tables while 3 nice size bookshelves that are provided for storing materials sat empty.  There werer also 3 plates with food left on them on the bar (which can create a bug problem in no time), grease and grime on the stove dirty floors that hadn't been swept or cleaned in a long time and a bathroom that smelled of mold and other unpleasant things. Before we left I opened a plastic bag on the kitchen bar and saw what looked like black mold growing on 6 grayish objects.  Richard said "no those are just rocks Mary", I closed the bag and squeezed the objects and they squished, and told Richard "those are rotten dalo!" Part of the problem was that several missionaries from further out stayed with these elders overnight so they could attend a regional meeting the next day.  They stayed up until 2 am and were so noisy that the neighbor complained to the landlord and then Richard got the call.  The flat was probably not in good shape when they arrived and then they left a big mess rather than clean up after themselves.  Richard gave them a week to get things in order before he returns to inspect it again and  reminded them that leaving a bad impression with their landlord and neighbors doesn't help the work to move forward.
      On Friday a senior couple dropped by and said it had been a hard day.  I told Richard to tell them about the Kennerly's to try and put things into perspective.  They are a senior couple out in the bush in Ba where things are pretty challenging and there aren't as many choices for food, eateries or comforts as we have here in Suva.  Brother Kennerly had called earlier to tell Richard that his washer was in bad shape and shimmied so bad on the spin cycle that he and his wife had to sit on it to keep it from moving around the room! That made sister Tennis smile.  Then he told him how their dryer also malfunctions and they have to remember to interrupt it or it gets so hot that their clothes melt (that made everyone get the giggles) and then brother Kennerly called again while we were all still talking.  With his Austrailian accent, hew told Richard that the washer that was up on a pedistal type structure just fell off of it and died!  We couldn't stop laughing.  Not because we can't feel their pain but we've all learned to find the humor in the crazy things that happen while you're on a mission.  This same couple were in town last week and we had them over for dinner.  They told us how they went to a social gathering with some ward members and how they brought big platters of food and set it down on the ground where they were sitting and began encouraging them to eat.  Brother Kennerly did okay but sister Kennerly felt strange, looked down in her lap and saw large ants swarming up her waist and across her chest and she was calmly trying to brush them off of her and be social but had a hard time having any appetite that night.  They have served 4 missions and sold their business and took their young family with them the first time they served. You meet amazing people on a mission and come to appreciate how the Lord has blessed them with special talents as you get to know them and hear their life stories.  We're grateful to be serving a mission and are learning so much about the special people that live in Fiji.

I love the rain even if it does fog my glasses up!

Children sang and said bula as we entered the village

Cava ceremony

Early Fijian chief who had 17 wives

Brother Magoon's missionary great great great grandfather

These patterns were printed on the ceiling of the village meeting building. The I bought a tappa art piece from the same woman who did these patterns on the ceiling

Village cava plant

preschool children singing songs to us

grandpa doing a fist bump with one of the kids

school house

the woman who did the ceiling stencil work in the village meeting house

grating cocomut

pit where our lovo lunch was cooked

early villge houses made of palm frongs and woven materials called a burne

recent burial of loved one.  Deceased person buried above ground and it is often draped with colorful material 

these young men came and invited each of us to do a group dance.
Even Richard danced!

farewell song

path to the waterfall

Sister Whitehead loved the cold water because she's from Canada

We rode rafts made of bamboo part of the way down the river. It was interesting to learn that bamboo is a grass and has water tight compartments that make it ideal for using in rafts because it floats so well.

President Klingler and his grandaughter