Sunday, July 28, 2013

Bula Bula to Hailey, Hunter, Eli, Adriana, Lydia, Laney,  Joi, Alex, Emery, Reven, Mason, Jesse, Roxy, and Raylee from Bose levu (big boss) as the elders have named him and bubu (Grandma).  We love you all so much and look forward to when we will see you again and can give you a big hug and a kiss.  I know my grandsons are wincing at the thought of a big kiss from grandma, but I may have to give them one, since I kiss women I know here on the cheek all day long in the office or at church on Sunday.  We also want Darren-Jenny, Stephen-Natalie, Justin-Lindsay, Rob-Lexie and our extended family and friends to know how much we love and miss you too.  We're kind of at a crossroads in our mission with many new couples coming each month and ones we've grown close to leaving for home.  I've loved following the blogs of the Jameison's in Africa and Morgans in South America an who have both gone home.  We love reading your experiences (those who have blogs) and appreciate those of you who have taken time to send us an email.  Those of you who are going through difficult trials and challenges, please know that we take courage from your courage and faith and pray the Lord will bless you with his tender mercies. 

It's been another eventful week.  Tuesday our new senior missionaries the Walkers  arrived after a long delay on Elder Walker's approval letter from immigration. They are a wonderful loving couple and will be a great support to the work in Savusavu.  Sadly, there was a last minute change to their flight plan and despite being reassured by the airline, their luggage didn't come for 2 days!  They were surprised to learn that Cost U Less or any other store in Fiji doesn't carry wheat or brown rice, but she found it comforting to see some familiar name brand cereals and other products that she recognized.
There were three training meetings this week with lunch to prepare for 20.  One was out of town, so the support couple helped on that one, and we prepared an easier menu of soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. 

Sister Whiting, Walker and I caught a taxi and went shopping for a few more items after Sister Walker understood that the things at Cost U Less aren't available on the island she is going to.  We got word that the new truck they will use was ready and Elder Hogge suggested they lock their food and extra luggage in the cab of the truck that will be coming up by boat on Friday as you are only allowed one small suitcase and a light cary on on a plane.

Elder Hogge flew up to Labasa with the Walkers Thursday and drove them down to Savusavu in the ZL's truck.  He  called me last night to let me know that there are 2 flats to choose from one is the flat with the steep driveway we looked at on our last trip, and the other is the Muir's old flat which we held and paid rent on for several months for Howard's (Welfare couple) to use.  They decided they didn't want it, and found their own flat, causing hurt feelings with the landlady.  The AP's just let me know that the Walker's rented the Muir's old flat, so maybe that will help mend our relation with this previos landlady. We've found that many people know LDS, and value us as reliable renters. 

With Elder Hogge gone, I walked to work on Friday and an hour later our new office help Sister Newsom and Lindburg arrived.  Elder and Sister Whiting picked them up at the airport and are trying to make use of the week they have left to train them before they head home.  Sister Newsom's approval letter for her visa was also delayed.  We had a meeting with 2 immigration workers this week and found out that immigration is now trying to do some of the processing electronically, but sadly one of the managers who should have done the work was either out of town or in a meeting most of this week, causing a big headache for us in trying to get our senior missionaries to Fiji.

Our landlord Avenish came over last week to let us know that he was having both the Jackson's and our flat painted.  He let us pick out the colors and we both chose a neutral cream colored wall meaning no more dark burnt orange accent wall, bula! While Sister Jackson kept the front door and window trim the same (charcoal grey); I asked for a one shade darker than the wall color and love how fresh and light it is.  Avenish also let us know that our upstairs neighbors (wife is an embassy employee) will be moving at the end of this month.  The husband has been a real nit picky complainer and never seems to be satisfied.  What cracked me up was when Avenish said "life is too short, I'm glad they're going" due to all the grief he gave him and ended by saying, here he has a $4,000.00 flat with a deck that gives you a view of the ocean and they never used it! and suggested when they move out we'll have a party up on the deck to celebrate.

When I got up this morning, (Sat) I realized that these painters could arrive at any time, so I locked the bathroom door, quickly showered and dressed and by 8:00 am they were knocking on the door.  They have one bedroom completed and they have rehung the drapes.  I discovered a greasy dirt stain on the backs of all our drapes and will have completed washing 12 panels of drapes by the end of this weekend which is quite a feat in my little washing machine.

I grabbed a book to read and walked up to the mission office.  Then I remembered that I had taken my electronic key out of my wallet yesterday so the new sisters could use it and left it there!  I sat in the waiting area of the building until President Klingler came over and let me in.  I decided to work on my blog until Elder and Sister Tennis come by to pick me up to go to lunch with the Seniors at 1 pm. and look forward to Richard's return tonight at 6 pm. 

Well that's our week, we hope that all is well with each of you and your families.  

Love Elder and Sister Hogge

This is Joeli Kalougata and his daughter.  He is the man I wrote about who lost 2 brothers and his parents when they were all traveling by boat to Suva to be baptized and the boat sunk
in a Cyclone.  His daughter will soon be leaving on a mission

This is Elder Leeren and Sister Beverly Walker who just arrived in our mission.  President and Sister Klingler went to pick them up from the bus station (there were no flights from Nadi to Suva so these brave souls took the bus).  Sister Klingler greeted Beverly by saying "well hello Sharon" because her voice and manerisms are so  similar to her sister Sharon whom we both know from the Arboleta ward.  They are both so warm and loving and will be a great addition to our mission.

I realized I haven't taken a picture of Ana Rarawa who comes in every Tues and Thur to clean our office

A one last time shot of the burnt orange wall.  This is our drying rack that we dry out our
 towels and other stuff, by running a fan on it during the day when we're at the office.

A pretty pink flower I discovered when I walked to work this week.

I think this is the common variety of  Hibiscus that grows here.

This is the hybrid type of Hibiscus that blooms in front of the gaurd station entrance to the temple/mission office/service centre.  The gaurds gave me a funny look until I reassured
 them I was just taking a picture.

I looked out back and realized that not only did they paint the walls, trim and all the doors, but they painted the decorative bars to our flat which is nice because they have begun to corrode and rust.

The trim around our windows used to be a dark gray and are now a light cream which has made them blend with the walls better and lighten up the room, which is a welcome change for us.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Bula, to all our grandchildren, their parents, and our friends.  I didn't take many pictures this week but had to take a few down at the dock.  Richard had to load a few things on a boat for missionaries on Vanua Levu, and I jumped at the chance to get out of the office.  I thought the name of this boat was interesting  LIAHONA.  It made we wonder if the captain or owner of the boat is LDS.  To the right of TCM machine was a man laying on the ground welding something on the plank that is lowered on the boat to load things onto it.  Elder Hogge typically goes on the boat with the bundles and delivers them to a man who puts them in a caged area to the side of the boat before cars and trucks are loaded on and then passengers.  

We use the Lomoviti Princess a lot to send things up to other islands.  The stores in the smaller towns don't have some of the things we need..  When we went up to Labasa and Savusavu recently, the elders told us a sad story about the new bed frames we recently sent up.  When they went to pick them up, the box was soaked in sewage water that had leaked from a bathroom above the storage area.  Fortunately they were able to clean them up and leave them in the sun so they were usable.  Richard said when he loaded them on the boat he asked where he could put them, and the workers probably knew about the leak, but didn't care enough to tell him about it.  

Elder Hogge is the man who gets things done.  Many of our flats in outer islands don't have the basics that missionaries are entitled to have.  He flew up to Labasa Wednesday and walked around town most of the first day while the car from the elder's that he was borrowing was being serviced.  The two stores he deals with regularly in Suva, were also in Labasa, so he ordered some things from Courts, then walked to the other end of town, and ordered $900.00 worth of products at Rupts, went to pay for them with the church charge card and they said "oh we don't accept charge cards".  So cancel that order and he walked back to Courts and ordered what he needed there.  A funny note to his trip was he didn't pack until the morning he left at 6 am and doesn't like me to remind him.  He forgot to pack a few items...A comb or brush, blow dryer (thinking there would be one at the only hotel in town...not) shampoo and shave cream.  He said he did a dry shave with his razor, washed his hair with bar soap and raked his hair with his hands, then went outside and stood so the wind would blow the right direction to dry it! 

While Elder Hogge was away Sister Hogge walked up to work and took pictures of some pretty flowers on her walk back home.  I put my camera through a linked fence to take this and then walked down the path.  A woman from that house came out to the sidewalk and gave me a strange look, I guess she was wondering why I was taking a picture of her yard.

Orange Bouganvilla

Here is something that's different here in Fiji.  They put cement Telephone poles
right in the middle  of the sidewalk where pedestrians walk.  

This is the same flowering bush that I took walking home from work, but this was at the
 restaurant where we seniors got together for lunch on Saturday.  
Today at the end of church we sang God Be With You to Brother Taito who is leaving for Syria.  He will be gone for a year, so this is the last time we will see him.  He joined the military when he was younger and has been the administrator of the government owned War Memorial Hospital.  He recently tried to retire from that position, and had been hired to work in our church Service Centre.  He had really done a good job at the hospital, and was told by the military that he couldn't retire, and that they needed him to return to the position at the hospital.  Then the turmoil in Syria happened and they requested help from Fiji, so he is now assigned to go to Syria for a year.  Everything isn't perfect in the United States, but how grateful I am for the freedoms we do have.

We also had brother Inoke (who is in the military) leave recently for Aphghanistan for a year.  Both of these brothers have families with older children and I can only imagine how hard it is for all of them to be separated for that long.  They are both stalwart men in the church, and their strengh in our ward will be greatly missed

Many older parents and grandparents here have children who serve missions in the states, then stay and work, get married and become citizens to have a better life.  They are happy for their children, but it's hard on those left behind.

Brother Joeli came in the other day.  He is the man who as a youth lived on one of the Lau islands (very far out)  His father used to read the Bible to his family, but wouldn't let them join the Methodist church because they didn't do things like Christ did in his time.  When he heard about the church from a friend they were all eager to join but there were no missionaries on their island to baptize them.  The three children and their parents were on a boat heading for Suva where they could be baptized.  A Cyclone hit and sunk the boat, and Joeli saw a man clinging to 2 clumps of coconuts.  He gave him one to float on and Joeli's mother saw him, swam to him kissed him and told him to hold onto the coconuts and swam to try and find other family members.  It was the last time he saw his mother father and two brothers.  He had a married sister who lived in Suva that he lived with, but struggled with the great loss of the rest of his family.  At that time President Davis, who knew about this tragedy asked his missionaries to try and find Joeli, but to no avail.

Years later after some years of struggling, Joeli did join the church, married and had a family and lives in an island North of Suva.  He became a President of the branch in his small village. He has two sons that served missions, moved to the US and have families.  His third son is attending Hawaii BYU, and his daughter is preparing to leave on a mission, soon.  Joeli's sons in the US keep telling their parents to come to live in the United States with them, where they could have a better life, and know their grandchildren.  He said one day he will go, but right now, he can't leave the members in their village, because there is no one who could replace him if he left.  Strong, faithful leaders are also few in numbers in Fiji so I admire his faith and dedication to the Lord.  A sweet addition to his story is that President Davis who was a mission president here in 1972-75 is currently serving as Temple President here in Suva.  Joeli came to the temple and walked up to President Davis and asked him "do you remember me?"  (Joeli is now in his 50's and President Davis an older man and 28 years had passed)  He said "I'm sorry I don't" he told him his name and President Davis and he hugged each other and the tears began to flow.  Both of these men have such great faith, and I marvel how the Lord puts people together after the trail of their faith.

Elder Hogge says it's time to go, so take care and know that we love you,  Love Elder and Sister Hogge

Sunday, July 14, 2013

What a Week

Hi everyone, I have to title this one WHAT A WEEK!  We finished up our trip to Labasa/Savusavu and even took a little time to shop on Monday.  I bought a Nautilus shell for $10.00 Fijian, now if I can just get it past customs.  I asked Meme the hotel manager why they called our hotel Hot Springs?  She walked us out on the hill and pointed to a small stream near the base of the hill.  We walked over and saw three areas that were encircled with rocks and had hot bubbling water like mini geysers you might see in yellowstone.  I chose this picture because the marked off area to the left had a pot with heavy plastic over it, held down with rocks.  The women in the neighborhood bring out a pot of pudding and put it on the hot springs to cook.  in the small stream we were surprised to see more hot bubbling water.
 It was great to finally understand how our hotel got it's name.

I found this big chunk of coral about 9" in diameter when I was shelll hunting in Savusavu for a few minutes,
 a picture will have to do... it's too heavy for my suitcase, but it was fun to find a whole piece of choral
rather than the bits and pieces we usually see.

Inside the Justin Hunter shop, these little brown lip clams are what he grows the pearls in

Here are some black pearl/diamond pendants and white pearls.  We asked how much they cost and there were several categories ranging from $400.00, to $600.00 and then jumping to $1,000.00 and up from there.
 Fun to look at but we're not willing to pay that much money.

We've read about Justin Hunter in the airline magazine on our flights, he grows world famous pearls and in colors unique to Fiji.  We nearly missed it because the sign (tourquoise) is so small and the building very ordinary looking.

I had to take a picture of this very narrow, long canoe that I can't imagine someone riding in
out in the ocean, but I'm sure it would be easy for someone young and flexible.

Here's a real tongue twister, but we were happy to see that this was the future sight of a women's resource center.  There are many women on Fijian islands who marry, and then their husband leaves them and the kids for another woman.  These centers help the women get on their feet and find work to support their children.

Front= Sister Tuahivaatetonohiti, Trammell, Crowell, Wright
Back= Elder Motuliki, Tenney, Morgan, Tafuna'i, Moka, Moantewa

We came to work on Tuesday expecting to greet the 11 missionaries due to arrive that day, and found out Salt Lake sent them a day early (Monday) and made an exception to the rule that the missionary must have the visa approval letter before coming (we hadn't received the approval letters for Sister T and Crowell)  The Whiting's were great doing orientation and helping them feel welcome on Monday.  We cooked a big welcome dinner for them Tuesday night.  Sister Klingler asked me to do a quadruple batch of brownies from scratch in her Bosch Mixer. I have done that before, so I took off the lid and carefully measured the wet ingredients, then turned on the mixer; and kawush! a huge wave of egg mixture flew out of the bowl landing on the bar, all down the front of my blouse and skirt and onto the floor.  Sister Klingler lent me one of her skirts and  blouses and I'm pretty sure I won't ever forget to put the lid on a Bosch Mixer again,before turning it on.  Realizing I had lost part of the ingredients and needing to get the brownies baked quickly so Sister K could bake her homemade rolls, I added the dry ingredients and some extra wet ingredients to try and compensate for what I lost in my tsunami of egg mixture.  The dough seemed stiff but I went for it... and you guessed it, when we later tried to cut the brownies they were like two very hard gigantic brownies the size of a cookie sheet.  Elder Hogge gouged them out of the pan, we put lots of ice cream on them and added homemade fudge sauce.  The Cherry on the top was when Sister Klingler came over to me and jokingly said do you think you can duplicate that recipe again for me?  She has a great sense of humor, and a way of helping me feel a little less inadequate, expecially when I realize Sister Whiting is leaving August 3rd and I will be Sister Klingler's " most experienced" helper, and the one who will try to help the two new single Senior Sisters who are coming, to learn the routine we have when helping in the kitchen.

I steppde out of our flat this week and surprise our neighbors must have earned enough money
to add the roof boards to the house they are building.

Friday it was time to say goodbye to 6 missionaries we've really come to know and love.
This is Elder Hawk and his parents who came to pick him up.  They live in Gilbert Arizona, so Elder Hawk has already made plans with us to  go out on the lake with the boat and meet up  at Dave's Barbeque for Dinner.
He's the Elder that found the rat under his washing machine in Kedavu 

L-R  Elder Stock,Neider, Hawk, Nawaqasema, Sister Tiakia and Zajac
Each of these missionaries gave such beautiful testimonies,  and after the closing song, I was asked to give the prayer...
I had a hard time making it through, lots of tears...we will really miss them.

Funny story...Sister Whiting grabbed the passports that go with the envelopes I prepare for each missionary and we handed Sister Tiakia her passport, she looked inside and said "this isn't my passport"  it was Elder Tukia's (similar spelling but pronounced differently) .  I was relieved she caught the error before leaving for the other side of the island.   

I snapped this at the sister's flat, I think it might be like the ones I took a few weeks ago out in the bush.
Well the rest of this" crazy week" was spent trying to get approval letters.  For the two sisters, I started last Tuesday before they came, and they told me to come back Friday.  Knowing I would be on our trip I asked Sia who works in the service centre downstairs to follow up.  She asked Salote from downstairs to go to immigration, and she went and sat for a good part of the day on Friday, only to be told to come back on Monday.  After going 5 times to immigration we got 1 of the two sister's letters, one of the letters for the Walker's (a senior couple that were due to arrive this Monday but have now been delayed) and one of the two single senior sister's who are due to arrive and work with us in the office in two weeks!   Frustrating...Sia said the letter's were processed to a point and need the final step to be completed.  They're sitting on an immigration employee's desk  and he had a meeting Friday. By Friday  afternoon immigration employees start leaving early to go home, so there's no choice but to start again on Monday.  We're all praying and hoping the letters we need to get everyone here on time will be completed this week.

Well, I'll sign off for now.  We are keeping you all in our prayers, we love you, and hope you have a good week      Love Elder and Sister Hogge

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Savusavu trip

Bula Vinaka
We had to go pick up a bike.out in the bush and drove on this dirt road that was so full of deep pot holes that we were bouncing around in the van we borrowed pretty good, so I grabbed the loop and leaned forward to save my back.

These three Elders are staying in one of our very nice new flats.    Elder Swerling on the right has played professional  rugby and is built pretty solid.  He complained of his tush hurting with the narrow seats on the bikes so we
 bought him a saddle style seat.  Now we're dropping off a heavier built bike for him because he stripped the
chain on his current bike pumping so hard.  Bike repairs is a regular task that Elder Hogge has to deal with.

LABASA/SAVUSAVU TRIP.... We flew to Labasa Friday morning to look for two flats one in each area.  The Terry's  drove us around and this is the chapel in their area.  They live in a flat that is older but it's so hard to find flats in this area, that we're going to hang on to it  for a couple coming in September that will repalce them.  If they are unhappy with the flat, we'll let them look and see if they can find a flat they would prefer to live in..

Sister Terry loves to cook for the missionaries and has two pet Gecco's that  climb on her appliance's when she
 is in the kitchen, patiently waiting  for her to put a dab of whatever sweet thing
she is cooking on the bar, then slowly lick up every bit of it.  

The Terry's found one flat that would be good for the sister's to move in, but the current renter  who hasn't paid rent for some time, refuses to leave, and the landlord will have to serve papers to evict him, which typically takes a long time,
so they basically said other than that there's nothing else available.  They left to run an errand, and we were feeling down and decided to pull into a car wash to get the dirt off of the truck we borrowed from the ZL's.

This is Siste Aoina and Ongesel.  Their flat is on top of a big steep hill and the flat is built on the side of the hill  which means a lot of steep stairs to climb down.  The water seeps up into one of the bedrooms, and the walls are always wet creating mold problems, so we need to find them a healthier flat to live in.  When the tenants above them have cava parties, they lock themselves in their flat to try and feel safer, also not a good situation.

This is how dirty the truck was.  The car wash area has two workers with a power  washer and to the
back of the lot were some young men working on cars with old sheds and car parts. 

This is the nice looking clean truck.  I remembered that we had seen a small sign  on the front of the car wash entrance saying flat for rent and reminded Elder Hogge to ask about it.  They had us follow them to the back of the lot and down a trail which opened up into a complex of 3 homes, nicely kept and the son of the owner of the flat showed it to us.

Sadly the other flat we needed to check out is a big flat near town that the Elder's live in.  It needed a good cleaning and the couches (this one looked like a smashed cake) have got to go.  There were also very old mattresses (had to be twenty years old) that we told them to put out on the curb, sometimes people will take them, and recover them, but they definitely needed to go.  Elder Hogge will arrange for some new ones for them along with some cleaning supplies.  We asked the Terry's to find someone to make drapes and paint the walls.  It's difficult getting around to these other islands and keep a handle on the condition of the flats, but now that we know we'll get the things more livable for them.

Back to the flat we found for the sister's, it has a nice new interior and we will be the first renter's.  The landlord has had other people interested in renting it, but wanted good renter's and wouldn't rent to them.   They like LDS renters because they know we pay our rent and also we do not drink or party as other people sometimes do.  The other two renter's are a policeman and his wife and baby and the other a fireman.  The landlord takes good care of the complex, so we truly felt like the Lord helped us find this flat.  As Elder Hogge said "the Lord takes care of his missionaries".

Living space where we'll put table and chairs for studying.  The two bedrooms are painted a bright pink.

The Landlord is Indian and his wife Fijian and  this is their cute little daughter

Outside of the sister's new flat.  

We drove down to Savusavu from Labasa that afternoon after signing a contract  for the sister's flat

We're staying in the same hotel we did last time.   There seem to be more sail boats in the lagoon this time.

We headed up to drop off Elder Read (L) who we picked up at the Labasa  airport and  dropped  him off  at  the flat  where he's been transferred to.  I can't remember this other Elder's name, he's here on
temporary assignment until his visa comes through to serve in the Phillipines.

Elder Hogge flew up by himself to arrange the contract for this flat, and Elder Trent was given the assignment to find someone who would make some drapes.  He did a great job, I think we ought to have more Elders find drape makers.

As we were leaving I saw this, you may remember it was hanging above a door entrance at the "purple  palace"  They brought it to the new place and it's now decorating the porch!

Elder Trent, Read, Hogge, ---

View from our hotel room

From the beautiful view pictures you may think we're spoiled, but we still have to iron our clothes on a table with  a  folded sheet, there's no tv in the room, and the showers are cold, but it does have a wall unit air conditioner...Yes!

We shopped for some things the flats needed and I took this  picture of town.    The poles in the
 background are the masts of all the sailboats docked at a favorite hang restaurant.

Tide is out

flowers on the shoreline

I went shell hunting for a few minutes while elder Hogge tried to get a phone signal  to call Elder's on another remote island.  I was excited to find a small piece of the deep red coral.  There is such a beautiful variety of shells in Fiji 

There are so many steep mountains on this island, that the only flat space is along the outer perimeter of the island.
I tried to capture  the depth with this picture.  Each of the  5 houses is built on a higher level than the one below it.

We had lunch on Saturday with the Howard's (welfare couple serving 6 months here)
 They even had homemade ice cream for dessert, it was such a treat.

We have a new support couple arriving on the 15th who will be assigned to Savusavu and we  checked out a flat that's built on a very steep hill with a small landing space to park their top at the top.  This driveway was so steep that Sister Howard and I volunteered to walk back down then be in the truck with Elder Hogge backing down it.

Flowers at the side of the new flat Howard's found to live in.

unusual bush in their yard.  Green leaves, white leaves (look kind of like leaves on a poinsetta) and yellow star  stamins.  

laundry area outside the Howard's bathroom, I was impressed with how nice the tile floor was.

Beautiful wood floor..Elder and Sister Howard

I've found a kindred spirit, sister Howard loves shell like I do.

This little boy was having an apple before church started.
 In fast meeting a young Fijian man bore his testimony and  shared that when he was a missionary in 2002 there was no transport from Savusavu to Labasa and how hard it was to walk the steep mountainous roads to get to Labasa.  It took us an hour by truck driving on steep winding roads to get from Labasa by truck,
so I can't imagine how hard it must have been to walk all that way.  

Sister Howard found this beautiful delicate shell on the beach it's a light lavendar color,but so fragile
 like an eggshell, so I don't know how she will be able to take it home.  I have only found pieces of it
so it was fun to see what the animal looked like.

Well we fly back to Suva tomorrow and 11 new missionaries will be arriving Tuesday morning, so I'll close
Take care, and know that we love and miss you.  Love Elder and Sister Hogge