October 17 – 23

77fe347e718f59eb412e64ae9c2a8440.jpgWe thought seeing a sun dog in North Dakota was fascinating.  Last week we were introduced to another unusual phenomena: a wet moon. Tradition is, it fills up with water, then pours out for the rainy season.  It was stunning to see — like the smile of a Cheshire cat in the sky.  Not your normal view of the moon!

We learned about another tradition this week from these wonderful people from Vanuatu. They were at the church to celebrate a granddaughter’s first birthday (A person’s first birthday and 21st birthday are very important here). I watched them put on their face paint, which is part of a tradition to celebrate someone’s first birthday. For other special events, or for honored people like a chief, they paint different designs. Such a fascinating culture! This woman was so sweet. She told me her son died in last year’s cyclone.  IMG_3045.jpg

IMG_3030.jpgWhat an eventful week! We always love visitors, especially when three of our original YSAs come in – Sean, Lini and Joey.   We also had some surprise visits from some fine feathered friends, who flew through our open lady’s bathroom window to build a nest! At first we couldn’t figure out where all the dirt and sticks came from that were on top of a storage cabinet and all over the bathroom. Then we caught them in the act! We closed the window and put up a no vacancy sign.

One of our blessings here is listening to beautiful singing. This group gathered before class and did an absolutely gorgeous (and extemporaneous) rendition of “Brightly Beams Our Father’s Mercy,” inventing their own harmony as they went. What a treat!IMG_3027.jpg

For class on Thursday, Sister Stanford put together a matching game about the prophets. The competition was intense, but they sure had fun.IMG_3035.jpg

Below is a common scene at the institute. Who needs chairs when you can sit by a friend on the floor?!IMG_3041.jpg

Saturday was a special day, not just because we were able to get ready for Sunday, but because Joti was baptized (my hand is on her shoulder). She just graduated from a nursing program she attended with another one of our YSAs, Lyanne. Lyanne invited her to church, and pretty soon, Joti was the one dragging Lyanne out of bed to make sure they didn’t miss a meeting. She bore a simple and sincere testimony about the peaceful feeling that came to her when she  attended church for the first time.IMG_3044.jpg

Going over last minute instructions before she was baptized…IMG_3046.jpg

Saturday afternoon we went to the mission home and put together gifts for the junior missionaries. For some junior missionaries, our small gifts will be all they will receive. We listened to Christmas music and had fun trying to practice what we try so hard to preach:)IMG_3050.jpg

Today we visited the Nausori Ward.  I sat next to a woman who had a huge bandage on her leg because she had been bitten by a dog.  I feel so blessed to have been safe here on the mornings I have gone walking.  A few times I have come to groups of dogs who have, in unison, turned their heads away from me. Maybe it’s because of a cat, but I have felt to say right out loud, “Thank you.”   We know we have been blessed in many ways here, and are grateful for help from those who are seen, and for help from those who are unseen.




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