Classes are going well, stake institute classes and activities are building up, and multi-stake YSA activities are being organized under the direction of priesthood leaders, so life is good.
We have made every effort to help strengthen the stake institute classes, including changing the courses we are teaching so we don’t offer the same classes at the same time. If a YSA chooses to attend both their stake institute and the Institute of Religion, we want them to be able to receive credit towards graduation. So — Elder Whitehead is now teaching Doctrine and Covenants Sections 1-76, Bro. Stanford is teaching Church History in the Fulness of Times, and everybody’s happy.
We labored on Labor Day same as any other day, but Wednesday we closed the Institute and celebrated the nation’s first ever Fiji Constitution Day. An ex-British territory, Fiji became independent in 1987. After much upheaval and military coups, a fourth Fijian constitution is now in place, and was honored for the first time on September 7. This latest constitution is supposed to abolish old ethnic based provisions of the electoral system, lower the voting age to 18, put a check on seats in parliament, and the requirements of Senate.
Fijians used to honor this day by requiring those 21 years of age or new to Fiji to register to vote. I’m not sure if that still happens, but even in the rain, everyone enjoyed a day off.
We drove up to Pacific Harbor, marveling all the way at this glorious paradise.
I took Sister Jensen shopping this week for items the senior missionaries will put into little Christmas bags for the junior missionaries, and for material she needed to make a table cloth. Almost every other store downtown is a fabric store, which tells me more people here sew than those at home. We had fun going in and out of all the Chinese shops in the rain.
We have come to love some of the store clerks, especially those in the grocery stores we see as we shop each week. One we will really miss when we leave is Sarah, who weighs our fruits and vegetables in the produce department at IGA. We didn’t see her for a while after the cyclone because her home was damaged, so we’re especially thankful she’s back to work and doing ok.
Which brings me to the bitter-sweet news that our plans for traveling home have arrived! We had some glitches and difficult moments getting the itinerary right, but we will leave Fiji Dec 2. We love so many people here. I keep telling the YSAs I wish I could put them in my suitcase and take them home with me. One of our missionaries shared this quote:
“I wrote your name in the sand,
But the ocean washed it away.
I wrote your name in the sky,
But the wind swept it away.
I wrote your name in my heart,
And there it will always stay.”
We have 83 days to add more names, and will leave with heavy hearts:)