Sunday, September 29, 2013

Bula Vinaka everyone, we hope all is well with you.  These are a few more pic's from our trip to Wannanavu (means awesome and is one of Elder Wells favorite Fijian words, so Terry's had Elder Hogge make a missionary badge for him that they presented to "Elder Wannanavu"at dinner while we were all staying at the Wannanavu Resort) Yes, evenrn bougenvilla can be beautiful on an island.  Elder Hogge took this and he really doesn't like them because of all the scratches he's received from their big thorns when he trimmed them in Arizona.   

Next two pictures are the view from the deck where we had dinner and breakfast

There are a group of island in a U shape that can be seen from the deck where we ate our meals.

Yes, I love flowers and though this one was interesting with it's veregated leaves and small blooms

We were in downtown Lautoka which like most towns here have old dirty uneven sidewalks and alot of soot on the buldings, then I saw this charming little plant growing out of the border of a yard and had to capture it. I guess it's trying to tell us bloom whereever you are planted and in whatever circumstance you are in.

When we parted ways with the Wells and Terry's we got the last room at the waterfront hotel.  These huge masks (5 ft long) were hanging on the wall just off the reception desk when you first walk in.

I saw these historical pictures in the hall and was quickly taking a picture of some of them and the way Lautoka used to look, when a middle aged Fijian man came up next to me and said "wow, these pictures  show the way Fiji
used to be...this one is my favorite (a picture of Fijian women on a ship bare chested and with grass skirts on)
and I said I bet they are, a bit sarcastically.

In Lami we stopped to buy some bread, and I had to take a picture of the pawpaw (papayas)
next to the bananas they were the size of a football! The people often put plastic down and spread out what
they are selling.  We also see small wood fruit stands out in remote spots along our route with fruit or veggies stacked in heaps with no one there selling it.  The Wells said they stopped onc, and there's a sign with the cost and they trust you to take what you want and leave the correct amount of money on the table.

I had to go to immigration which is downtown and near the bus station terminal.  It's another dingy, dirty area but I was amazed to see this pawpaw tree loaded with the most papaya's on a tree that I've seen since we arrived.

The waterfront downtown Suvaand Lami Mountains in the background

Elder Smith and Saumaki were given a special assignment to go to the small island of Matuku.  The islanders have been asking for missionaries to come and these two will try it for a month and then report to President Klingler whether or not there is enough work their to make their staying worthwhile.  Suva is the big island behind Elder Smith.  

They had to take some new foam mattresses, a first aid kit, some medications, and a cane knife
 (the only tool most Fijian's men have) and they will be traveling on a boat for 3 days to get there.

Richard had a lot of things to deliver to Elders on the other side of the island, so we took trip two the next weekend.  I asked him if there was enough room for my small suitcase and he said "sure".  I discovered my seat had to be
moved forward to fit everything in and was a bit cranky when I saw the upper part of my seat was bent forward,
so Richard said just move your seat forward and then you can lean it back a bit.
Needles to say I was in a better mood as we made a few deliveries and I had more leg room.

One of the many types of water plants you see here in Fiji. This was growing in the ditch along the Navua Elders flat

We stopped at the new flat Airport Elder Johnson and Gadd have.  It was really nice pretty floor tile and the bath room had some beautiful ocean blue tiles.  I asked to use the restroom and burst out laughing when I told the Elders their flat had won the award for having the lowest toilet I've ever used.  I think they installed the toilet then laid the tile flooring and I kid you not as I bent to sit down I wondered if I was ever going to reach it!

Outside of the flat

We stopped at the Lautoka Elders flat and I saw this beautiful double bloom that I had to capture

After our weekend trip, it was time for Family Home Evening at the Hogge's.  We had 3 kinds of soup, salad, fresh fruit, ice cream and cookies for dessert.  We asked each person attending to come prepared to share a favorite scripture and tell us the significance of it to them.  The things shared were tender and we felt a sweet spirit.  It helped us to know and appreciate each other  more.  It was a wonderful way to complete our last FHE assignment while here in Fiji.

Along with flowers my second love is shells.  I had to take a picture in case some of these don't make it home with me.  Elder Tennis went snorkeling and found the lavendar striped (pincussion type shells) and gave them to me.  They're fascinating and I hope to find out what they're called before I leave.  They are fragile (Slightly thicker then an egg shell) and will have to be left here.  The Nautilaus I bought at Savusavu in a little shop where a women goes to remote areas and finds them.  It only cost me $10.00 which is about $6.00 in Fijian, and I will be praying hard that they won't confiscate it from me.  It's fragile too so I hope put it in a small and carry it in a cloth bag that will also hod my purse.

We've had some health issues with some of seniors.  Sister Howard got a bug bite that turned into cellulitis (a  bad  infection that suddenly made her leg swell)  She and her husband came to Suva and she was in the hospital on heavy antibiotics that cleared up the cellulitis but made her throw up a lot and swear she will never let them give her again.

Sister Leishman called saying she was having extreme back pain and when Sister Limburg checke her record it only said she had hearing loss.  She said she had an extensive medical record, fused disc and other surgeries so we looked up her record again and discovered her husbands medical record was with her info and vice versa.  She will be flying to Suva this weekend for an MRI because she experiencing numbness in one leg.

Sister McFadden has been struggling to get some needed meds and just received them when she began having trouble with her liver.  Sister Limburg said that's serious and if it get's worse could mean she and her husband might have to go home.

Yesterday some of the seniors went snorkeling at the Pearl and said the water was choppy and some of the guests were throwing up on the boat.  Some of the rest of us had other plans and just met up with them for a nice lunch at the Pearl.  It was out first time there.  As we were getting into our car Elder Christiansen asked Richard (the only person along with any kind of medical training to look at his arm.  He had gone snorkeling and had a wierd loose skin lump below his elbow the size of an egg.  I guess we'll find out the details on that tomorrow.

I'm very grateful to have my health and hope to be able to finish our mission without anything serious problems.

I just heard that President Volovolo passed away this week.  He served in the temple with  Sister Maiwiriwiri and Tilly.  I went to deliver some mail out in the lobby and saw them sitting quietly talking.  I greeted them, sat down and asked if they were talking about President Volovolo's passing and asked if they knew what had happened.  They said he had gone up to Labasa to do some surveying with 2 other men, and when they finished, he told them he was going down to the river.  One of them suggested he wait and take a shower when they got back, but he insisted on going to the river.  When he didn't return one of them went to look for him and as he reached down to scoop some water to cool his face
saw him floating face down in the water.

Sister Maiwiriwiri explained that this brought back a lot of sad memories of her husband's passing.  A group of them were on an outing and her husband and a young man went for sa long swim in the ocean and the young man got a cramp in his leg.  Her husband grabbed him around the chest and started swimming back, but began yelling for help from someone on shore.  Wen help arrived, and took the boy from him and started swimming back, he began dropping under the surface of the water and drowned.  as the other man swam with the boy to shore.  Sister Maiwiriwiri was on shore and saw that something was wrong with her husband and had literally watched him die.  She was beside herself with grief and only consoled later when an Elder Johnson serving in her ward, came to her and told her the spirit told him to tell her that her husband was needed on the other side of the veil.  This helped her to begin to accept her husbands death and the next day, this same Elder shared with her that he had a dream the night before about her husband and had seen him teaching people who were wearing the traditional clothing of the early Fijians (green skirts made of plant, and with black on their faces.  This Elder testified to her that he knew what he had told her was true, and I felt blessed that Sister Maiwiriwiri shared this with me.  I took hold of her hand and thanked her for sharing that with me and she pulled my hand closer and kissed it.  I have always felt that Sister Maiwiriwiri was s special woman and recently learned that her three sons are in various church leadership positions in the areas they live in .  She has a thin build and  short wavy hairy and is of Polynesian decent.   It's moments like these that make serving a mission worthwhile, in spite of the trials, sacrifice and stressful times that are also part of  a mission experience.

October is already upon us, I've made chart of the Missionaries with birthdays this month and tomorrow I will be going to immigration once more with 16 new lodgings for Work Permits.  Have a good week and know that you are loved and cherished sons and daughters of God.

Elder and Sister Hogge

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Busy Life

Bula, as you might guess it's been a crazy busy two weeks, and I have finally carved out a few minutes to caption the many pictures we have taken.  Our landlord Avenish and his wife invited us to attend his nephew's wedding.  The night we went was kind of like a ceremonial reception.  The tree like column in the center with a sprig of flowers on top represented a banana tree.  Avenish and other family members draped the hall in colored cloth and helped prepare food. 

All the women guests had beautiful sparkly dresses on, so I quickly asked a few if I could take a picture

I don't know what I did but this big picture is the groom's mother.

Paper garlands above

I quickly asked these two girls if I could take their picture

To the left of the structure was the musicians.  The two boys on the left did such fast percussive movements with their hands on the drums and a castanet type instrument.  The lady in the back sang typical Indian songs which are quite interesting, but after two hours of it, Richard gave us the lifted eyebrows that meant lets go.  

This is the mother of the bride and she posed with the bowl shaped pillow and then headed up the isle and out the door with many of the women in the grooms family following.  The Whiting's went to an Indian wedding and said the bride cried a lot because the tradition for Indian's is to sever ties with their family and the bride literally becomes a part of her husband's family and is expected not to do much with her family after she marries.
When the women returned the mother of the bride accepted money gifts that were placed on top of the bowl shaped pillow on top of her head

I kept wondering where the men were and as we left we found them out on the perimeter of the building. It was interesting how casually they were dressed in comparison to the women. So the wedding was definitely for the women.

Our 23 missionaries arrived safely (we had expected 22 but Elder Pence who left with a bad shoulder returned with this group.  His surgery was successful and it was great to see him return to Fiji).  We were asked with 4 other couples to attend the temple session with the missionaries and Pres and Sister Klingler so there would be enough couples for the prayer circle.

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This is Elder Raju (he lives in Canada where his family immigrated from Fiji).  While he waited for his interview he asked if we had any old mission books, and we were able to find a picture of his uncle when he served a mission here 37 years ago.  I made a copy of the page for him. Then he asked about Elder Ruben who is his cousin he has never met because his family moved and Ruben and his family lives in Suva.
Elder Terry (one of two couples heading home, Boso levu, AP's  (Elder LeDoux who will head home the 1st of December and Elder Palmer who heads home in January when we will be due to go home if we ever get a replacement couple for us)

Sister Lawenitotoka,  She had some bad migraine headaches during her mission, and when we figured out that she was eating a lot of junk food and American products due to her companions tastes we advised her to go back to rice and fish that she was used to and her health improved dramatically.  Her family had recently moved to Samabula but it took a little detective work to figure out where her family was now living because they didn't have a cell phone.

Elder Luke A Smith.  His parents came to pick him up and are from Australia.  He has a fun accent and I had to smile when I saw his passport picture with longer surfer dude hair.  He went to some remote areas and was a great missionary.

Sister Terry is famous for doing a lot of cooking for the missionaries up in Labasa (Vanua Levu Island).  She is also known for finding a skinny turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, having pumpkin pie filling shipped from the US (cost her $300) to make pies, her Heaven and Hell cake (chocolate and white cake), and huge peanut butter cup covered cake to name a few.  She is also a big fan of Magnum ice cream bars and got the local suppliers to bring in some of her favorite flavors or call her when a new shipment was in.  Elder Terry was the technical wizard and did many repairs in flats etc. 

Kennerley's are an inspiration when it comes to their can-do attitude.  Elder Kennerley served a mission as a young man, then Taimi and the Kids joined him for the 2nd.  Fiji is the 5th mission he has served and her 4th.  He found humor in the crazy things the people sometimes did, and when they failed to do something, he would start where they left off and encourage them with the next step like "okay, lets go get the materials so we can finish the project".

Welcome dinner for 23

I am so full picture after dinner

Sister Crowell, Sister Bahn (has worked for 15 years in mission home, 5 different President's wives) and Sister Alofoe.  It was so nice to see these two new sisters pitch in and help Sister Bahn with the endless dish washing.

By Friday it was time for a break so we joined the Wells and the Terry's for an adventure at Takalana.  The Tulip trees were in full bloom with bright orange blossoms.

This is a home on the property where our guides met us to take us snorkeling and to see the dolphins

Village down the beach from where we started.  I was delighted to see that it was a black sand beach and found some fun shells while we waited for our boat to arrive.  Before we left, our host had some small cake doughnuts, thin rolled pancakes and lemon tea for us.  The lemon tee is fresh lemon leaves bent a little, put in a cup and steaming hot water.  It has the essence of lemon flavor and with a teaspoon of sugar tastes pretty good.

A quick picture of our captain and the white leg wonders

The dolphins were fun and playful, and raced along side the boat and so fast they could cut in front of it.  Our captain took us to an area where they are known to go and rest after feeding.  He said there can be thousands of them because they are a protected species.  They are small about 4-5 feet long.  Just hard to capture in a picture.

When we left at 7am in order to be at Takalana by 9am a big rain storm dropped some water, but by the time we left it was sunny and warm.  This mountain is like many here on viti levu indicating how these islands were formed by volcanoes.

back safe on shore after a fun day

Terry's, Wells, Hogge's

Where we changed clothes (also the manager's home)

Tulip tree blooms up close

Two young men took us on the hike to the waterfall.  They said it would take 20 minutes and after about 40 minutes Richard said how much longer and the young man said were 2/3 of the way there.  All of us had red cheeks and were winded, but we made it.  Our guides grabbed this vine and jumped in. I knew if I tried it I would hit the rock hill and miss the water completely! So I eased myself into the cold water and cooled down.

The cold water felt great!

Our guide climbed up the sides of the waterfall for a picture.  This was our first and probably last hike to a waterfall.

On the way back it started to rain, and we passed a few newly ploughed fields.  This is a tool that is
drug by the horse to turn the soil over and prepare it for planting

Elder and Sister Hogge at Takalana

In the late after noon we drove another couple of hours to get to Wananavu where we stayed in some individual bure type units overnight.

The Swimming pool

The beach for goofing off

We are back in the groove of daily requests and duties now, but it was a wonderful weekend to unwind for a day or two.  We love you all and hope the Lord will bless you in your lives.  Love, Bubu and Tutu