This was the week we have all been waiting for! The temple open house began with tours for those who live closest to the temple, and for VIPs. The Prime Minister and the President came, along with about half of the ministers of government agencies. Religious leaders and CEOs also took tours. What a great experience! One government official, who had previously been antagonistic towards the Church, loved the peaceful feeling he received in the Celestial room so much, he said he didn’t want to leave. The Prime Minister was presented with a beautiful framed genealogy. A history of religion in Fiji was also prepared for him. He encouraged all Fijians to come to see the temple, and we hope they do!
All the young sister missionaries in our mission were brought in to help welcome visitors and to show the introductory videos during the open house. They’ve been doing a great job. They are staying in the temple patron housing, which is part of the Service Center. The Service Center is a remarkable place: Humanitarian Relief, Perpetual Education, Self Reliance, Financial aid, the mission office, a Distribution Center — it has it all.
Onesina and Kelemana are from New Caledonia and speak French. They were asked to help translate for a New Caledonian newspaper reporter who was covering the open house, and had a wonderful experience doing so. They were so happy to help provide positive news of the Church to their country.
Others, like Thomas Qima, Tetika and Anirudh, are serving as part of the security crew.
Manny and the Qaqa gang were lucky enough to get in on one of the last VIP tours Saturday evening. They were so awed by the beauty and good feeling inside the temple, they came to the institute just as we were closing to tell us about it.
Earlier in the week, Manny spent about four hours at the institute filling out his mission papers. It was fun to see him be so determined. He has only been a member for one year. Elder Whitehead did a great job helping him understand the questions on the forms.
In spite of all the extra activity this week, we had record numbers in our classes, and enjoyed seeing the institute full of YSAs wanting to relax in between. We are still in the middle of puzzle-mania,
learning how to hang in there with “Suspend,” and beating the best at Around the World ping pong.
Sunday we visited two wards in Nausori. The YSAs were very grateful to receive handkerchiefs for the temple rededication. We are always asked to share our testimonies with them, but we could sit and listen to their stories for hours!
One of the sacrament meeting speakers was Disrict President Joeli Kalougata, who told of being the lone surviving family member when a cargo vessel carrying his family to Suva capsized in a storm (His story is in the October 2004 Ensign). He held out his hands, and said “But look, now I am here.” His message was that obedience is the key to receiving blessings. He warned the men not to drink Kava, and encouraged us all to keep the commandments.
Sunday night we attended the rebroadcast of Pres. Russell M. Nelson’s Worldwide Devotional, this time with the Suva North stake. It gave us another excuse to be with some of the most amazing young adults on the planet, and even the second time around, it was good counsel. It always feels good to be where you can feel the Spirit.
Last week we saw this sign warning people of a low ceiling in a walkway:
Being in holy places, like where we go to be with all these YSAs, not only helps us mind what goes into our heads, it helps us mind our hearts as well. Pretty good to get two for the price of one:)