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

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