August 3 – 9

So we met one of our neighbors the other night: a millipede, out for a late night stroll on the walkway by our flat. Our Kiribati friend called it “Ten ta boua,” and says it is poisonous if touched.  I’m glad my foot wasn’t any closer to it! Some millipedes even spray like skunks. The mongoose,  fruit bats, ticks, cockroaches, sugar ants, and now millipedes, certainly make life here interesting — but we can honestly say, “It’s still a wonderful day in the neighborhood!”

Not the kind of neighbor you want to get real close to.
Not the kind of neighbor you want to get real close to.
Can you tell he's about as big around as a hot dog?
Can you tell he’s about as big around as a hot dog?  

We love it when the missionaries come to the institute — they are great young men and women!  This week at zone training meeting we were asked to introduce ourselves to the new missionaries.  They come from so many different places!  One sister was from Papa New Guinea (always referred to as PNG).

Zone Training meeting
Zone Training meeting

In a meeting this week, our Institute Council (David, Chelsea, Tetika, Sean, and Lini) helped us decide what classes to teach, activities to have, and how to enroll students for next semester.  Now we will offer a Thursday night class instead of one on Wednesday night so our young adults don’t have to choose between our Institute of Religion classes and institute classes offered by their own stakes.

We’ve had a bunch of sick YSAs the last week or so, and unfortunately Elder Whitehead shared in their misery.  He finally got some medicine from our mission nurse, and asked three of our prospective missionaries to give him a blessing.  It was a sweet experience to hear him coach them through it. They are such humble young men!  We’re happy to report he’s doing better now.

Friday I went to a Self Reliance conference with some other missionaries while Elder Whitehead rested. The conference was held at the beautiful Novotel hotel in Lami, and we learned “heaps” about the the Church’s Perpetual Education Fund, “My Path” program, and a Returned Missionary Scholarship offered by a private donor.   Now we will be better prepared to counsel our YSAs about continuing their education. The “My Path” courses are so impressive! That night at dinner I tasted my first taro and sago, and liked them both.

Foke, from the Self Reliance Center, Elder and Sister Vermeeran and I sharing laptop tips.
Foke from the LDS Self Reliance Center giving Elder and Sister Vermeeran  and I laptop tips.

Thanks to Sister Peterson for sending some taffy from Utah — everyone loved it. After our activity Saturday night, we sang “God Be With You” to Gabby and Seta, then had a big group hug. No one wanted to let go! While we still had our arms around each other, Mesake offered a beautiful Fijian blessing upon Seta and Gabby, who will leave this Wednesday for New Zealand.  Mesake mentioned our names at the end of the blessing, and it reminded me that three times this week I heard someone here in Fiji praying for our family while we are away from them. I am so grateful for those prayers.

Can you tell they liked the taffy treats?
Can you tell they liked the taffy treats?
Mesake's Fijian blessing
Mesake’s Fijian blessing and group hug

Gabby is in our ward, and after sacrament meeting on Sunday, was asked to stand at the front of the chapel. While the congregation sang “God Be With You,” people walked up and put shell leis and ties around his neck and kissed his cheeks. It was so touching I just bawled!

Gabby with his leis, ties and candy crown,  joined by friends in Tamavua 2nd ward.
Gabby with his leis, ties and candy crown, joined by friends in Tamavua 2nd ward.

Sunday night Brother and Sister Stanford spoke at our senior missionary Family Home Evening.  Bro. Stanford has been called to take Pres Yee’s place as the Fiji Country Welfare manager.  Sister Stanford helps make wheelchair donations for the Church, a greatly needed program.  Because of widespread diabetes in Fiji, there is an average of one amputation performed every 12 hours.

We almost always sing hymns a capella in our meetings, and I love it. The person leading the song sings one measure to give us the pitch, then says, “two, three” and we begin singing.

It’s been another incredible week in Fiji.  God Be With You, two, three…..!

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