Happy Thanksgiving! We celebrated ours with the senior missionaries and some guests at the mission home on Saturday. We may have had chicken instead of turkey, but it was almost like home. Reading and contemplating Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Day Proclamation gave it extra meaning. We have so much for which to be grateful! And we know from whom our blessings flow.
Elder and Sister Harper invited Bro and Sister Creamer to join us. Sister Tami Creamer wrote the music to the Primary song “I Know That My Savior Loves Me.” As we sat across the table from her at dinner, we listened to the story of how that song came to be. When she spoke to the group later, she showed how important our individual gifts are by playing a hymn without using two of the piano keys. She then played it as it is written using those keys, and it was beautiful. We all have something to contribute. She ended by accompanying us as we sang “I Know That My Savior Loves Me.” Moved to tears, I could hardly sing the words, “I did not touch Him or sit on His knee, Yet, Jesus is real to me.” What a beautiful experience!
Monday night we had our exit interview with Pres Layton, followed by our farewell dinner. It is so hard to say goodbye. Pres. and Sister Layton have been wonderful. We will miss being with our fun fellow missionaries!
Elder and Sis Clark, Stanfords, Olsens, Elder Willis, Shavers, Andersons, Sis Alldredge, Greenburgs, Sis Willis, Elder Alldredge, and us.
Afterwards we stopped in Fatburgers to snap this picture, since this is the year we’re both 66. I used to wait for the bus when I was a kid along the side of Route 66.
We also said goodbye this week to Bale, who is on his way to Australia to play rugby with a professional team. We wish him well!
What do we say to someone we think we will never see again? I have been asking some of the YSAs to tell me what I should tell people at home about Fiji. Joey said, “Fijian smiles are as warm as the sun. So true!
Avinesh and Shammi came to say goodbye, too. They have been fantastic landlords, and we are so thankful we’ve had the opportunity to know them.
Tetika brought his younger brother and sister over to say goodbye before they left for Tavalu. Elder Whitehead shared his tie with Tibau, and taught him how to tie it, so he could wear it when he becomes a deacon and passes the sacrament.
Sunday we attended Tamavua 2nd ward. It was the first ward we attended when we arrived in Fiji, so it seemed fitting to make it the last. We spoke, then stood and bawled our eyes out as the ward members sang “God Be With You ‘Til We Meet Again” and put beautiful shell leis around our necks and kissed our cheeks. What a treasured memory! We learned so much from the people in that ward — especially from the YSAs, and their YSA adult leaders, Frank and Susan Stanford.
This will be our last blog post.
It is hard to believe, but it is true. I don’t know how it can be, but this really is the week we go home. We will teach our last classes, lock the door, and get on a plane. We will count on having the joy of seeing our family warm our hearts enough to help us adjust to the freezing winter cold at home. We have loved this tropical paradise, but are excited to see our family. Family and friends are what make this world a paradise for me. We are so thankful for their love and support.
This has been the most wonderful/challenging/rewarding/frustrating/humbling/incredible experience of our lives. For the rest of our lives, when we take turns going around the dinner table on Thanksgiving Day sharing what we are thankful for, we will include the blessing of this mission.
It has been a sacred experience to consecrate a small portion of our lives fully and completely to the work of the Savior. He is the light of the world! The beautiful video #LIGHTtheWORLD motivates us to try and follow His example as we prepare to celebrate His birth with our loved ones. Surely that will help fill the hole in our hearts made by leaving our wonderful friends in Fiji.
Moce, fair Fiji! Vinaka. Vinakavakalevu from the bottom of our hearts!