Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Bula Vinaka everyone,  we flew up to Labasa Friday to do contracts for 2 new flats.   The four  Elders will be glad to have a space of their own.  The landlord of the large flat they are currently in, wants them to vacate it so he can rent it to three nurses.  We couldn't rent a room in Labasa the first night so we drove down to Hot Springs in Savusavu.  I took a quick picture of these school kids playing on their field day.  They loved not having to wear their uniforms.

This bay is always so pretty, and yes,Richard rolls his eyes at yet another bunch of pictures I've taken.

This is the beautiful Frangi Pani in bloom (known in Hawaii as Plumeria)  Notice how green and lush the foliage is.

Ironicall, right next to the tree above is this Frangi Pani tree.  Most of them
 look like this tree with few leaves and some blooms, I don't know why.
few blossoms and few leaves while others next to them are lush and green.

Interesting carving on the entrance walls to our hotel

The fish should look familiar, but I wanted to capture how they decorate poles here.  They take palm frongs and braid the leaves on the back side and incorporate pretty colorful leaves from bushes into the design.

More pictures of the bay.  I think I'm getting sentimental knowing that we're
 close to 10 weeks from the time we are finished with our mission.

This is a picture in our room second one down is the neck breaker and Perpendicular one is the club the women would use if neighboring enemy villagers would try to enter their home, others are war weapons for various uses.  In Labasa I bought a small wood cava bowl and turtle, the store keeper said I'll throw this in for free and asked if I knew what it was.  I said "yes isn't it used by Fijian women to fluff their hair?" and the shop keeper said "no that's a brain picker"
 (utensil type tool used during cannibalism days)

patterns seen in traditional fijian cloth

Yes grandma took some more pictures of the mosiac tiles  and this looks like....Nemo and his family in some coral

Sea turtle

No kidding, this is the true color of the starfish we've seen when snorkeling.

On our flight up toLabasa we saw all of these coral islands just beneath the surface of the water and some of them had mangrove trees (salt water loving trees growing on them) it made me wonder how long it takes for these to develope into an islet (very small island)  This map shows the structures on a map (dotted lines) I haven't seen a map like this before.

Elder Andrews, Rainsdon, Mabunga, Abplanalp, Hogge
We stopped by to drop off several fans to the Savusavu Elders.  Elder Rainsdon is from Odgen Utah and was adopted as a child.  He was born on a neighboring island  to Suva called Kiribati.  A wonderful  tender mercy was granted to him in his current assignment in Savusavu.  He was invited to an investigator's house for dinner who asked him where he was born, his island first name (which is different from the one he now goes by), and the date he was born.  When she heard his answer she began to weep and went to get some pictures, telling him that she was his aunt.  When her sister was unable to keep him as a baby, this aunt had planned to adopt him but something prevented it and his parents adopted him and immigrated to the US and now live in Ogden Utah.  How very aware the Lord is of our needs.  Before leaving on his mission, his mother counseled him to go and find his birth mother and a way has been provided for him to find her, and possibly visit her, before he leaves to go home.  He is one of our newer elders.  

This is one of the many coral islets you see on Vanua Levu that may have started as coral and grew big enough to
 support a palm tree another salt water tolerant tree.

I've made a deal with Richard, to give me a half hour to just roam on the beach and find shells on these trips.  This time he stopped near a village and stayed in the truck while I looked.  I soon discovered there were only old worn out shells and was about to return to the truck when a young boy came up to me and upon hearing  I was looking for shells, became my self appointed shell finder!  I smiled and thanked him each time he handed me more shells.  Then he showed me his margarine container with two shells the size of a golf balls in it.  He picked one up showing me the shazi (hermit crab)he would use to bait a hook to catch a fish.  I naively asked him what kind of fish he was trying to catch and he said "we just eat whatever we catch."which made sense to me.  Then remembering we were looking for shells, he grabbed the crab, pulled it out of it's shell and handed it to me! (worn pointed shell with the green moss above).  I wished him luck on catching a fish and Richard drove up the road a bit to a more promising spot.  

This interesting looking flower pod from a tree (about 5 inches long) was
on the shore at the next spot along the beach we stopped at.

here is the adaptable mangroove tree the upper part with branches and leaves the tangled bottom part are its strong roots that anchor it in the mud and sand so it can withstand the storms of life that come up.

As I finished my shell hunting, I saw three boys coming up the road.  They stopped and talked with Richard at the truck and I asked if I could take their picture.  They said sure and struck a fun pose... then said " dollar, dollar"  As they ate some peanuts from a can like the ones we had just bought (Richard gave it to them).  I told them  "oh my husband has the money" and jumped into the car.  Richard was on the phone talking and the boys were still hanging around.  I looked in my coin purse and decided to give them what I had.  When I opened the window a crack they went into a loud frenzy of "me, me, me'" so I quickly handed them my change telling them to share, because Richard couldn't hear the conversation he was trying to have with President Klingler.   Oi! I mouthed mothe (good bye) and they walked away.

There are large sections of land around Savusavu with a ton of palm trees that are evenely spaced out.
 I think this area had a lot of coconut plantations here in the early history of this island.

On our way back up to Labasa on Saturday, we stopped to say hi to the Seaqaqa Elders and took
 a picture of the home that's been converted into an LDS church for the members there.

large 3' x 3' fan in Grand Hotel we stayed at
We got a room at the Grand Eastern Hotel in Labasa (the only lodging available there).  We parked in the middle of town by Courts and did some shopping for a washing machine, refrigerator etc.  We wanted to find a few more things at Rupts but Richard couldn't remember which direction it was.  We asked someone and started walking to the left as directed.  After walking several blocks, we asked another pedestrian and she said it was to the Right.  As we neared Courts I suggested we take the truck and we drove to the end of town that direction, turned around and drove the
 other direction and finally found it.  It's sugar cane harvesting time and their's an unpleasant odor in the air..
.maybe rotting silage from the cane.

view of pool on our varanda.  Two guys were swimming in their shirt and shorts.
No swim suit required in Fiji, but I question whether there was chlorine in it.

These  historical pictures in the dining room were interesting.
 I particularly like the hair cut like this chief has.  He was a handsome man

What the Grand Eastern Hotel used to look like in the good old days

An Indian woman that was brought here as an indentured servant in colonial times

The Grand Easter Hotel today

While we were waiting at the Nausori Airport for Elder Tennis to pick us up, we saw this sign
So Richard went and bought a coke for us to split and wash down the last of the cookies I had in my purse.

Monday was our  seniors once a month FHE.  I was assigned to make two pumpkin pies with some canned pumpkin I found at Cost U Less.  It called for cinnamon, cloves and ginger.  I discovered I had Cinnamon and whole cloves and since it was 5 am in the morning and I didn't want to wake Richard, I thought of our native American Indians, took two smooth stones and hand ground the cloves between them.  We have plenty of fresh ginger, so I put some of it through a garlic press, mixed everything together and placed the two pies in our toaster oven.  I cooked it an hour alternating the heat from high to medium and hid the black scorched spots with a dob of  wipping cream!
Moral of the story :  If there's a will there's a way

We hope you all have fun on Halloween and enjoy the Thanksgiving season.

Love Elder and Sister Hogge

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Bula Vinaka all you soon to be trick or treaters out there.  We had transfers last Tuesday, and Elder LeDoux one of our AP's headed up to Vuna in Taveuni.  It was his birthday so we had a little office cream cheese pie celebration and then Richard and I had LeDoux and three other elders over for dinner Monday night before he left.  I slow cooked two chickens for a cafe Rio type burrito, and lots of taco spiced hamburger  for hard corn shelled tacos, mango salsa ,  4 layer bean dip with blue corn chips and chochlate cake with ice cream for dessert. I was amazed how fast they put it  away.

We had a beautiful sunny day last week, so I had to take a picture of the temple.  Elder Updike came up to us and told us to come to the temple for a surprise.  Richard said "we come to the temple every week." The surprise was that we now have the new temple film.  I was delightfully surprised when I saw the garden of Eden setting was filmed on an island, and saw the familiar Tulip tree, orchids, and palm fans we've come to know and love.  I've been told the couple who portrayed Adam and Eve are from Arizona.  Most of the senior couples I talked with loved how the dialog was portrayed with more emotion and feeling.  The Collins home teach a Fijian couple who had the opposite reaction and didn't like it saying it was evil.  In the Fijian culture emotion or signs of affection like holding hands just isn't done.  The man who portrayed Satan did a  powerful portrayal of Satan and I think that might be what they didn't like.  Elder Collins encouraged them to continue to attend the temple and see if they feel differently as time goes by. 

Elder LeDoux heading to Taveuni and Elder Palmer and Checketts will carry on in the office

lunch for Elder Hancock, Abplanalp (he's been up north on a smaller island for 9 months so it was fun to see him) Mabunga (goes home 14 Nov)Andrew behind him, Ruben (fromFiji) Trent, Singh (we just heard that his brother who was called to serve in India will now be serving in Fiji [small problem...both have first name initials of S so we'll have to make it SS and SK Singh to distinguish which Elder Singh we're talking about!])

We headed out to Korovou to drop off a charge cord to Elder Spackman and Wilson for their phone and I was surprised to learn they are living in a flat we looked at earlier when Elder Wilson was in the tin house up the street and the landlady got word we were looking elsewhere and did the repairs we had requested.  We have since rented a new flat further up the street and these elders are the second set in this area.   

This was a fun moment in the office,it was Elder Tausinga,s birthday and Elder Ohlson and Tremea surprised him with an extendible card with recorded guitar music.  It was a recycled birthday card (they blotted out the name on,and put made up notes from his family)  Tausinga thought for a minute it really was from his family.  We didn't feel too sorry for him, because his parents are coming in December to pick him up at the end of his mission and they all will travel to Samoa where his dad was born. 
What a day this has been.  We've been having all kinds of trouble with our printer and being told by the repair man well you're doing too many copies (175,00) showed up on the counter.  Elder Whiting averaged 22,000 a month and Sister Limburg has cut down to 5,000 a month. leading me to deduce that we have been using our old printer.  We have had repairmen coming back to the office for two days for various problems.  I wrote down all the pieces of evidence and went to confront the guys in the service centre.  Both were out on sick leave.  So George who was the next in line heard my evidence and said "I think you're right, they brought the new printer downstairs to check something and someone mistakenly set it up down here in the service centre.  I was skeptical of that explaination, but today the problem with the new printer George brought up yesterday showed up, the RICOH repairmen know me by first name and cringe a little when I call them yet again, but I'm hopeful it will be an up and fully functioning printer tomorrow.

Add to that, the unusual news we got on our email about a Tongan couple who immigrated to the US leaving their married children and their families behind.  Five of the cousins are currently serving a mission and 2 of the cousins families just recieved word that their paperwork they submitted here in Fiji after a long time has come through, to immigrate to the US.  This required special permission for 2 missionaries to leave their missions (Tonga and NZ) to come and sign paperwork here in Fiji.  The families then want to leave for the US in March and the easiest thing to do would be to have their children released from their missions to go with their families and possibly be reassigned to a mission in the US.  The parents assumed they could stay in the temple hotel (patron housing) but didn't make advanced arrangements.  I called Sister Updike and of course "there's no room at the Inn."   The parents have a flight to Nadi and will take a taxi to get to this side of the island, while the church arranged for the Sister (their daughter) to fly from Nadi to Suva.  Hopefully, one of the AP's knows of a family that are Tongan and has put Tongans up for the night when we are in this situation.  Luckily One of our sets of sisters live close by and have extra mattresses to put the daughter up for the night.  Tomorrow the second Sister and her family are due to arrive (give me strength) It's just tough when we get little or no notice and are expected to take care of everything.

Well I'd better close  Take Care Love Elder and Sister Hogge

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Bula Vinaka  It's been a busy week with two meetings and lunch for 30 to preparefor...
Sitake, Marsh, Higa, Heath, Banks
  Golson, Owens, LeDoux, R Olsen, Painter, Utaileou, Grotepas, Brower

The spread homemade french bread, spagetti/meat sauce coleslaw and a chicken casserole with our secret sauce (whipping cream, cream cheese, butter) without fail someone raves about the food whatever we put this sauce on  it.  

Sister Mauga Elderr Banks/Grotepas, Sister Laru,Alaegaelua, Maile (the appropriateness of the large print
twinsy outfits concerned us, but when we heard a member had made them for these sisters so we let it go)

Surprise, our neighbors are making some progress on their house or church.  The corrigated tin roof is done and they are putting up wood walls now.  This morning we had a lot of wind and rain and I heard a few boards crash, but it's still holding.  The father of this family can be heard practicing loud emotional sermons during the week, so we are wondering if this structure will be used for church gatherings.  It is quite common to see structures with roofs and many people sitting on the floor on Sundays.  Some people cannot afford to ride the bus so church has to be in walking distance.

I'll give you a clue this is a small shrine in Rupts that had incense burning, christmas type lights.....you guessed it, Diwali is coming once again.  We've even had some fireworks at night.  I guess in anticipation of Diwali an Indian  Celebration

This is the check out ritual.  First they rang up the many panels of drapes that we ordered for 4 flats on the cash register.  This man then counts each panel and places it back in the bag, while the girl by the cash register does a hand written receip,t before they help haul it to our truck.  If you are purchasing an appliance they take it out of the box, plug it in and make sure it works which is good, since so many of the products here are cheaply made and break easily.

We had 4 Elders over for a mexican dinner Monday, I think I was inspired to set the date when I did, since Elder LeDoux just got transferred.  He's heading up North to Vuna in Taveuni and leaving Tues morning.  He's been a great AP and will be missed.  This is his last area before he goes home in December with 4 other Elders that we've grown to love.

I've come to more fully appreciate you who have served missions, and  some of the challenges you faced as I go through my own challenges.  Your examples of staying strong, and moving forward in faith have helped me when things get tough here in Fiji.  I am humbled by the Lord's tender care of me as I experience problems that are beyond my ability with computers.  More than once a missionary with technical knowledge of computers has come in the office right at the time that I need help.  I have a greater appreciation of the many modern day conveniences we all take for granted.  Hot water to bathe in, do dishes and wash clothes with.  Having enough food to eat and clothes to wear (Several times I have heard members bear their testimony that they went without meat for a year in order to save the money needed to send their children on missions, or when floods come and wipe out their crops and having to eat mostly rice and maybe an occasional fish.  Having a car for transportation is such a blessing for us, but is a luxury many people in the Pacific Islands don't have.  I've also come to appreciate what a blessing it is to be greeted with a kiss on the cheek, in the temple, at church and in the office by islanders.  Where ever you drive you see people walking long distances along the side of the road, many are young parents carrying their children on their shoulders (strollers are also a luxury) men carrying cane knives, bamboo poles or wood needed to repair their homes, women and young people waiting long periods of time for the bus.  As you drive by, they consistently smile and wave.  They are a happy, loving people and we have learned so much from their example of what is really important in life.  We love you,  and pray that you are all  in good health and find joy in things that matter most in life.

P.S.  Please know how much we love you young parents and the wonderful things you are doing to raise your children
in the gospel.  Give your children the gift of your time and a hug and kiss for us.

Love Grandma and Grandpa Hogge

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Bula bula!  This is Freddy the frog who was on our porch waiting for us to come home.  The days are going by so fast and we seem to be getting more and more things to fit into our week, but it's all good

Elder Hogge and I went shopping for some gifts to bring home and I thought you'd enjoy seeing a little of the colorful city Suva is.  Note the wavy rail that must have been hit a few times by cars.

Yes, we have dollar stores here in Fiji.  Patel is a very common Indian name here.

Another Dollar store was advertised to be up stairs from this sign...I'll pass

The next pictures are from the lunch we had last weekend at the pearl.  Ya got to love the signs
What it's telling you is that there are coconuts that will fall from the tree.  They are so big and heavy, I'm told that if one falls and hits you on the head it can kill you.  So I guess this is a good sign, just funny way of putting it.

At entrance to The Pearl

Yes I found some cool flowers here too

Iris or Orchid?

This one is common here and used in a lot of arrangements at church on Sunday
It is called Parrot's Beak

Pretty Lily bloom in a pot near the hotel

This dancer posed for me.  He is dressed in the early traditional clothing Fijians used to wear (Similar to what Elder Johnson described when he told Sister Maiwiriwiri that her husband was needed on the other side to teach) 

These dancers really made some loud sounds as they performed

The gang who showed up for lunch.  Some of them came up at 7 am and went out on a boat to snorkel.  They said it was stormy and the water was choppy causing some of the guests to loose their cookies.

View from our table.  The Dr Zuess looking trees are called Pandan and their leaves are used for weaving mats.

I took this picture of the pool just before Richard kiddingly said I'll go take some pictures of the pool meaning see if there are any pretty girls over there, but his joke went right over my head.

Joyce, Mary, Pat, Leroy, Richard, Dick

This was in bloom right next to the entrance to the Service Centre 

I made a double batch of sugar cookies and a picnic cake for the missionaries who come in on Monday (P-day) to get mail etc.  We drove to Lami after work to drop off something to the Elders and this boy came up to the car saying Elder Whiting.  I told him I knew Elder Whiting, and he excitedly told us he just got baptized, then saw my Picnic cake, asking is that food?  I pulled off the foil, wrapped 3 pieces of cake in it for him, telling him congratulations and took his pic.

Lunch for 22 training meeting. I fake a few fruit pizza's for dessert.

Elder's Mabung, Ohlson, , Andrews, Treamea, S Smith, Tausinga, Palmer, LeDoux

Mabunga, Smith, Tausinga, Sister Fanene, Elder Palmer, LeDoux, Olmstead (techie who helps me with computer stuff)

President Klinger whipping up some lemonade Crystal Light, Sister Sua & Lavatai

Elder Hogge needed drapes for four flats so I was elected to go along and help him.  These are fancy Taj Mahal type drapes with beads... I don't think so

This is the Bula material I have used for 8-10 flats and I just vary the background color in each flat, cute material but
I'm tired of it, so we found this striped material that is suitable for either Elder's or Sister's as we have
had an Elder's flat become a sister's flat in certain circumstances. 

I had to smile when I saw this floor as I waited for the curtain calculations.  I think they laid the tile from opposite sides and came up short so they just added a sliver of tile to make it work, Fiji style.

Just outside Rupts is this interesting Christian Ministry The barrels are filled with dirt to shore up the rock wall.

One of several uniquely Fijian terms  Law-by = layaway pegs =clothespins,
twink=white out used for paper, china=bananas

We delivered a table from an Elder's flat to the Collins and found a big bowl of fresh fruit.  The big spiny one on the left is soursop, not only does it make you pull a face if you drink it but it looks uninviting (Elder Collin's loves it) 

These interesting flowers remind me Christmas is just around the corner.  There was a pile of
garbage to the side of them that I managed not to take a picture of.

The Wells went to judge some choirs at an all day stake event and when they came over for dinner and a game of Canasta brought us some raw sugar cane and this huge green coconut.  It was so heavy it felt like a bowling ball.

Sunday we had a spiritual feast at church.  Sister Irava chose the subject of Sacrifice for her lesson.  We broke into four groups, read and discussed certain scriptures then shared with the Sisters. One sister shared that she gave up custody of her children to her EX husband, because she couldn't support them and said  "I have sacrificed much to become a member of this church.  I'm alone every night, but have put my trust in the Lord."  Many other sister's shared tender testimonies and it was one of the best RS meetings I've attended.

Sister Meresi Talitoga, our Sunday School teacher taught us about joy in temple and Family History work.  She is an elementary school teacher and expresses herself well and is actively doing family history.  She shared the following stories to illistrate that special experiences come, when you are doing the work for you ancestors.  She was at the family history center with her mother and other family members and found the name of a man who she felt was a member of her family.  She needed something from her school room (which is just behind the family history centre) and hurried over to get it.  It was a calm night, all the windows were closed, and she entered the room in the dark because she knew right where the item was and sheets of paper on the walls began flapping vigorously.  She felt impressed to say "if you are happy about my finding your name shake the papers again, and they again began flapping.  This was exciting to her, but also a little scary so she quickly left the room and returned to her family.  Showing her mother the name, she asked  is this man someone in our family?" and in typical Fijian fashion (her words) her mother said "yes, he was a bad man, don't baptize him!" but she did pursued it feeling that he had been taught the gospel and wanted his work to be done.

She told us about a sister who was in the celestial room and several temple workers saw a woman behind her with her hand on her back , saying "help me" when the woman turned, thinking one of the workers touched her back, they said no but we saw a spirit behind you.  As they described her she knew who it was, but wondered why.  The spirit was someone she knew who had passed away three days earlier .  She spoke to the temple president to ask why this had happened to her and he counseled with her that the Lord sometimes opens the door for a spirit to find help in having their work done for them.

She also shared an experience a man whom she knows, who does a lot of genealogy.  He had gone to the library where very old historical books are kept and asked for a certain book.  The librarian was suspicious of him and said "unexplained things happen when you come and asked  why?  He told her that he held the priesthood of God and she told him she would be watching him from the desk she sat at a short distance away.  As he looked through the book he found many names and then two male spirits appeared to him telling him to put the book under his arm and follow them,  He said "I can't do that there's a door over there that beeps if you try to leave with a book.  They insisted and with one in front of him and one behind him , he obeyed walking past the woman as if he were invisible.  The person at the door was occupied and didn't stop them and no alarm went off.  When he returned to his home, he began recording the names in the book and continued working day and night without sleep until it was completed.  The two spirits left and the man and when he returned to the library and handed the book to the same woman, she was astonished and said that book had never been out of that room before then.  He explained that he needed he book to get names for genealogy and she took the book without complaint and asked to know more about the church.

We love and miss you all and hope you will find happiness in whatever work you are called to do
for the Lord at this time in your life.

Vinaka  Elder and Sister Hogge