It seems that the institute has a revolving door. As soon as we say goodbye to those we’ve come to know and love, others come to join us. This week we welcomed home three newly returned missionaries — Peni, Ulai and Catherine, and welcomed Tandra, an LDS College student who turned 18 and has graduated from seminary. We are so happy to have them join our institute family!
Wednesdays are one of our favorite days now because we get to spend it in the temple with these wonderful YSAs doing baptisms. Our group this week was smaller, but it was still a great experience!
What wasn’t great was seeing so many of our YSAs providing business for the medical profession! One needed stitches in his head (FYI: it’s dangerous to dive at Colo-i-suva), another had a finger broken playing basketball, another was in the hospital for dental surgery, but to beat them all was Lario having surgery for a broken bone, torn ligament and a dislocated ankle. He’ll be in the hospital for a week.
Saturday morning the Suva Stake Relief Society had a sunrise devotional on the sea walk. The sunrise was absolutely beautiful. Pres. Varea encouraged us to not make this the only morning we arose early — but to do it often so we could receive impressions when our minds (and the world) were still. It was an experience getting there (I made the mistake of deciding to drive through downtown, not realizing that 5am is when the night clubs close) but I am so thankful I went — it was definitely worth it, and an experience I will treasure. Plus it was fun to be with these wonderful ladies:
Saturday night we had a farewell dinner for the Nielsons. The power was out all over town, and we wondered how the restaurant was going to be able to feed all twenty of us missionaries, but it worked! We ate by the light of two candles and cellphone light. It was hot without air conditioning, but the cook had a gas stove and the food was delicious. It was especially nice to hear the Nielsens share the highlights of their experience giving eye exams and donated glasses to those who need them. For some, receiving those glasses has changed their lives.
Sunday night we had missionaries over for dinner. One of the missionaries wants to join the military, so it was helpful for him to listen to Elder Whitehead’s experiences.
Happy Palm Sunday! The stores were packed with people buying white dresses and shirts It was almost as if the whole town was buying new clothes on the same day. There may have been more shopping than normal because of government disbursements on Friday to help people in Fiji recover from the effects of cyclone Winston. Many have been unable to work, so the government made money from retirement accounts available. We spoke to some members in Lami who are still homeless and living in the chapel there. I asked when they would be able to return to their homes, and they did not know. But, we see people everywhere wearing these tee-shirts:
We hope that is true!