Friday, November 17, 2017

Don't Let Life's Distractions Eclipse Heaven's Light

Look through a gospel lens and be vigilant not to allow insignificant and inconsequential matters in life to obscure your view.

As I read this quote by Elder Gary E. Stevenson, I thought how often I let the inconveniences of living in another country bug me.  I need to STOP!  Fiji is beautiful, the people are beautiful, it's just the taxi and bus drivers are a little CRAZY! 

We've moved from our first flat because it was not a clean place and a lot of creepy bugs.  We'd made arrangements to stay until the humanitarian couple left on the 17th of November and then we would move into their flat.  Everything was fine until the landlord asked us to move because she went ahead and rented it so we had to find a place for about 2.5 weeks.  We've been living in the temple presidency housing.  It's been amazing to walk out the front door every morning and see  this. . . .

Fiji Suva Temple

The last couple of weeks has been a beautiful blessing, to rub shoulders with the Twilight Missionaries who work at the temple and to get to see this beautiful sight.  We will be moving to the other flat next Tuesday, not too far away.  Yeah!!!  But I will be vigilant not to let the insignificant things obscure my view of this beautiful country.
Waterfall on the Navua River
The Twilight Missionaries (Senior missionaries) took a trip on the Navua River a couple of weeks ago.  It rained and rained and rained, but we were prepared, it was warm and we had a great time.

We're off

It was definitely wet

When we got to the falls those who wanted to could swim, I was so
wet that I figured as Sister Eliason said, "when in Fiji....."

When we got to the village, they welcomed us with the lali drums and coconut milk

Meke Fiji Dance


They fed us a traditional Fiji lunch, which was pretty good and then some of the village children sang to us.   It was a fun day.

The last couple of weeks of school have been a little crazy.  Last Saturday our humanitarian missionaries asked us to attend Diabetes Day.  The kids at the Secondary school were marching and singing.  This humanitarian couple were asked to come to Fiji and work with Diabetes.  He is a podiatrist and diabetes, prosthetics and wound care and amputations are his area of expertise.  In Fiji they do not know how to take care of wounds, and there are a lot of wounds to the feet here, because they don't wear shoes and the humidity is so high.  When a foot is infected, because it hasn't been treated properly, even by the doctors, they just amputate the leg.  Dr./Elder Clark has been working in the hospitals and teaching them how to care for wounds so that they aren't doing so many amputations. One of our senior missionaries was telling us about someone they knew who had sprained his ankle and eventually it was amputated.  Anyway so we went to the Diabetes Day Parade.
Students from Fiji LDS Church College

We met the President of Fiji
(It's always hot and very humid - makes for many bad hair days)

One of the teachers brought in some fresh warm (he called it bread).  Its grated casava, coconut milk and something else.  It was okay.  They'll eat it for breakfast but I think I'll stick to my oatmeal.

 We were just assigned to a new branch, a new district, to see if we can help them learn and organize their branches and auxiliaries.  Most are new converts and don't feel they can be good teachers.  They come from churches that have paid ministries where pastors and such have been to school.  This may be a new challenge for us.  This church is in the village of Korovou, a little over an hour from Suva.  It's a beautiful drive.  The last 1.5 miles we drive on a dirt road and come to the beautiful white chapel on the hill.  They had their first district conference last Sunday, our first time there.

View of the chapel coming up the hill

President and Sister Yee (Temple President) President and Sister Higgins (Mission President) President Tagidugu (Mission Counselor)
The chapel on the hill

 This last week I was asked to speak at the Primary School graduation, just grades Kindy - 3rd.  There was a few more people than I was expecting. But this is the garlands that Kent and I were given.  Before we leave I'm sure I'll know the different names of these different garlands.

The College (high school) had their prom and dinner.  It was quite an event.  Here are a few
pictures of the kids and the decorated gym.  The theme - A Night in Paris

There were boys there- most came with
dates, the girls were just more excited to get their pictures taken.

We have more adventures coming up.  Next week the teachers have a retreat at the Warick Resort that we understand is pretty nice.We also have some visitors from New Zealand coming who will be doing some training with the teachers. Also starting on Monday and going through December 22nd, the Fiji Technical College is coming to the church campus and holding some classes that we've been asked by the office in New Zealand to attend and give feedback and just monitor what's happening.  We were hoping for long break but it looks like now we'll only have about 3 weeks.

Unlike Nepal, Christmas is a big deal here in Fiji, the shops and malls are all decorated for Christmas, the kids at school have been singing Christmas songs, it just doesn't  feel like the holidays.  The missionaries will be celebrating Thanksgiving but that's when we go on the retreat with the teachers, and there is definitely no snow and no cold.  So I'll be looking through those lenses to find the Christmas spirit a  little different than I'm used to, knowing Christmas has really nothing to do with snow. I will be vigilant in letting the insignificant obscure my view of what really matters and what's truly important. 

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Glory of God Is Intelligence

We have been in Fiji for 5 weeks now and haven't seen much sun yet.  Lots of blustery days and lots of rain,  It's coming to the end of winter here and we're told that things will be changing.  The temperature has stayed in the 70's for the most part which is real nice being winter, and in the summer it warms up a little, in the 80's.  However it is very humid.

Our days are pretty much spent at the college preparing the course work for the teachers.  We haven't done any sight seeing yet but school is out for the year in November so we will get a chance to check out the island of Fiji, and by then there should be blue skies and beautiful ocean.

I mentioned in my last past how nice the college campus is.  It is really set up like a college campus with different buildings.  This school houses grades 7 - 13 and there are around 400 students, 90% are LDS.

                                                          Blustery Fijian Weather

We attend the Samabula 1st ward.  Our chapel is attached to the primary school and it's a fairly good size ward.  It is an English speaking ward.  The 2nd ward is Fijian speaking.  Last week we had an awesome sacrament meeting.  I learned a new word 'Nikauwa', not sure if I've spelled it right, but it means small but significant.  It's actually a Tongan word.  I'm learning that Nikauwa is exactly what Fiji is, small but significant.  Alma 37:6, Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.
The missionaries are seeing pretty significant success in Fiji.  There are 19,737 members, 9 family history centers, 49 congregations and 1 temple.
Fiji is a very Christian country, most things are shut down on Sundays, and you see lots of people walking to church with their bibles. LDS  Missionaries first came to Fiji in 1843.

We are teaching our class 2 nights a week, when I say we, I mean Kent is teaching 2 nights a week.  I sit at the computer and push the button for the power point, and that's only because the remote's not working.  I was told I needed to bring treats to class because the teachers will be hungry after a long day at school.  So I make treats, take the roll, keep track of grades, and communicate with our directors in New Zealand.  Kent is teaching SPED200, which he is very knowledgeable about since Special Education is where his career began.  And he loves Special Ed. and he's good at it, really good.
We have 8 teachers taking this course. The hard part of getting this going has been finding enough days to teach before the school years ends in November, so we've had to jump right in and get things moving.

Two weeks ago, we were asked to be the guest speakers at the Primary School for their conclusion of Library Week.  Yeah!  Something different.  It was very fun.  They had a character parade where all the children all dressed up as their favorite character, lots of superman, spiderman and princesses.                                        Sort of like the Halloween parade in the elementaries.

                                                                       Let the parade begin!

                                                       Lots of Spidermen and Supermen

Kent telling  story to the children
The 3 Questions?

The Program
I guess I was introducing the guest speaker (Kent)

The Primary School students, teachers and parents!

This is how we spend our Saturdays.

Kent working, working, working, while I clean our flat and iron white shirts for the week and figure out what treats to make for class  next week.

This is our flat and our car.  Our landlords live below us.  I've even been driving this week, a big out of  the comfort zone for me.

Last Sunday we had our monthly family home evening with all the "twilight" missionaries at the mission home.  We had a few brothers from Salt Lake come and speak to us about their review of what's happening in Fiji.  On Tuesday we had the Area President , Elder Halleck and his wife come fix the senior missionaries dinner and speak to us, he was here for a mission tour.   

This mission is so different than the last two.  I love having other missionaries to associate with.  It's exciting to see the young elders and sisters out working hard and sharing the gospel and loving the people here.  Today we met a brother who carves Fiji nativities.  He's Indian, from Fiji, and served a mission in Nepal in the 90's when missionaries were allowed to serve in Nepal.  One of his companions at the time is a good friend of ours who worked at the American Embassy when we were in Nepal.  They would invite the 2 missionary couples to dinner for Christmas and Thanksgiving, which was such a blessing to us. It is amazing how very small the world is when it comes to the gospel, to acknowledge and really understand that we all our brothers and sisters.

    Fijian Nativity

This last week we have had our directors here from New Zealand and have been meeting, meeting and more meeting with them and teachers and administration from both the Primary School and FLDSCC , the FLDS throws you off a little but it stands for Fiji Latter-Day Saint Church College.  It's been a good learning experience and spending and getting to know Bryce and Sherrie Holbrook even better, but it has been a very busy week.

These are pictures of the last few weeks:

Our Samabula Ward Building

Kent at the Temple

Temple at Night

We have had the blessing and opportunity of attending the temple a few times.  Wednesday nights are usually when the "twilight" missionaries attend.  This last week it was such a blessing to be in the temple with a group of brothers and sisters who had come from Papua New Guinea to receive their temple ordinances.  They were so humble and I was humbled to be with them for a few hours.
Church College

These girls brought us treats from the cooking class, trifle and berry smoothie

A couple of weeks ago the school had a TVET fair or a vocational fair presenting the things that they were learning about and had worked on during the school year :

Sisters Ward and Felsman at the Self Reliance Display (these are our Self Reliance Missionaries, there husbands were around also).

Cooking Class

Kent is with a tall Fijian young man, the crutches were built in the shop class for our Humanitarian Missionaries who work with people who have diabetes.  60 pairs of crutches were built and distributed to some of the villages

 A door that was built in the shop class

Self Reliance is a program the church is really advocating throughout the world
Doesn't quite look like my dad's Food 4 Less Stores

When we were driving home last week we saw this carnival being set up at a school near by our flat,  I don't think I'd be letting my grandchildren ride this ferris wheel.

Graduation is being held in 2 weeks and I'm excited because we hopefully get to go to the Prom.  Their trying something new this year, graduation before their final exams, which seems a little backward to me but then I remember, "my solution to your problem will always be wrong."
We'll see how that turns out.  We are continuing our first class until the middle of November, it will be nice to have 1 class finished.  It has been quite the learning curve for both of us to get back into a daily job and lots of studying and just the daily learning to live in a foreign country.  As the weeks go on we're starting to "get it" and hopefully not only getting but being able to "give" a little.  We love the people we're meeting and once again building eternal relationships in a new country. 

I know the Lord does truly know and love me as he calms my troubled heart sometimes.  I miss our family but I know the Lord will bless and watch over them and that brings me much peace.  I am finding joy in the journey and always remember "because I have been given much I too must give."

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

James 1:3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience...

I am pretty sure that every one, young and old who has served a mission has had their faith tried one way or another....... and yet I am pretty sure that what comes through that trial is PATIENCE.   We have been in Nepal for fourteen months, we have had to get 4 visas and in the next 4 months we will need to get 2 more visas.  If and when the government of Nepal is working, it is always at a snails pace, it's pretty much "when we get around to it."  They have been trying for over a decade to have an election and to be able to write a constitution.  Elections are once again scheduled for November 19th, it looks like it may happen.  The PATIENCE of the Nepali people is pretty amazing, not so much for Sister Janet Mendenhall.  I find myself walking out the front gate and having little patience with the laws or lack thereof of Nepal, the crazy drivers, the torn up roads, the "when we get around to it" attitude.  I have 4 or 5 more months left, there is still hope for me to learn patience, I need to remind myself that my way is not always the best way, I need to remember that the Lord did not send me here to change Nepal but to help and love the people and I think that part is easy.  I love their patient attitude with me when I get discouraged and frustrated.  They are a loving and kind people.  I need to remember that when my faith is being tried, it's not about me, it's about Nepal and it's about loving and serving and learning patience.  I'm still a work in progress and the Lord is kind and patient with me and molding me to be the daughter of God that He wants me to be.  I just need to remember that sometimes.

Greg and Carol are leaving to go home next week.  I am really going to miss them, they have become very special friends and we will never forget our adventure in Nepal without thinking of the many fun times we've had with them.  Before they leave we all wanted to make sure we went to see the Tibetan Rug Factory and one of the hundreds of brick factories in Nepal.

          Brick Factory
This is the smoke stack where the bricks are cooked, there are hundreds of these around Nepal, hence one of the reasons for the pollution in the air

Tibetan woman working her loom, they sit on the floor for 8-10 hours a day making beautiful rugs.  It was lunchtime when we went and most were on their lunch break.

This is the rug Kent want to bring home

These Tibetans are also called Sherpas, the aprons the women wear identify their Sherpa cast.
The man is holding a prayer roll. and wearing Buddhists prayer beads.  I think he probably sits all day twirling his prayer roll and thumbing his prayer beads.

We also wanted to visit the Burn Hospital.  This was a very nice, clean, German sponsored hospital.  It is so interesting to see the discrepancies of so many things in Nepal.  We sometimes visit places that are clean and modern, not sure why the standards can not be the same or even close all over Nepal, maybe those hospitals or facilities that are sponsored or cared for by other countries makes the difference. This is Kent talking with the doctor at the SKM Burn Hospital. 

We have a very cute friend that works at the Radisson Hotel that likes all of us and she invited the four of us to the October Fest at the Hotel.  We stayed away from the Beer Bar but had lots of great German food.

The Nepalis in the leiderhosen and dirndl, aren't they cute?

October Fest at the Radisson

I had talked in a previous blog about Rakesh having been invited to BYU to attend a Law and Religious Symposium, he also had the opportunity to meet with Elder Gong, Elder Hallstrom and Elder Holland, each separately to discuss the political climate of Nepal and hopefully the writing of the constitution that not only allows all religions in Nepal but will allow the Church to bring proselytizing missionaries here.  What an experience that must have been.  He just got home today so we haven't had a chance to talk with him about his trip.  Can't wait to hear about their experience, they also attended a sessions of conference and met with some of our humanitarian bosses at the Church offices.

Kent greeting Rakesh with a traditional Nepali khada (scarf)

Sunila, looking as beautiful as ever even after a 26 hour flight

When they were in Provo, our girls went and picked Sunila up one day for lunch, because she had met Tiff and Lauren when they were here she wanted to make sure she got to see them again. 

Sunila, Tiff, Teresa, Kason, Tricia, Lauren and Kristen, Cami and Alisha couldn't make it :(

She even got to hold our grandson who we haven't seen yet.  I was a little jealous when I saw this picture.
Today when she arrived in the airport she gave me a big hug and said "this is from your cute grandson."

One of the interesting things about Nepal is that they have more holidays or festivals than any other country in the world but unfortunately most of these festivals take money to celebrate, keeping these people tethered to their traditions and keeping them impoverished.  Some are more extravagant than others but there is a festival for every stage of ones life.  These pictures are of a festival that is celebrated when a baby starts to eat solid foods, in English it's simply called "The Rice Eating Ceremony".  The baby gets new clothes, families and friends are invited for a large meal.  This is the little son of our HBB monitor, Karishma.

Can't remember the baby's name but here he is all decked out in his new clothes and tika on his forhead with his dad.

                 With his aunt, I need to ask about the 
garland around his neck, not sure what the significance is of the grass, but isn't he cute?

Hope he likes his solid food

We have one of our cute returned missionaries that is married to an artist.  I asked him to paint me a picture of Christ with Nepali children.  It turned out so good!  I'm having a print made so I can frame it and leave it here and take the original home with me.  
Mala (the returned missionary) is also an artist, she did the drawing and her husband Roshan did the painting.

Mala, Roshan and baby Rohana

The best part of the month was when Josh and Kristen came to visit, arriving just in time to celebrate Dashain.

The first day of Dashain - planting lemongrass, it will grow anywhere even on the dashboard of the taxi.  They plant this and let it grow for 10 days, on the tenth day they cut it and use it in their worship.  When they receive tika (a blessing by giving a red mark on the forhead) they also put the blades of lemongrass in their hair.

Josh and Kristen arriving, a looooong flight, Kristen was ready to go home before she got here, not a great experience in India, but I think they had fun once they got to Nepal.

They came on Friday, we went to Church on Saturday and then headed to Chitwan to ride the elephants on Sunday.  Before we got to our hotel we stopped by to see a couple of our wheelchair peer trainers.  We took two of our cute Nepali sisters with us, neither of them had ever ridden the elephants in Chitwan.  They were very fun to have along.

We first stopped to see Bikash, he works in the admittance office of a hospital.  He is also a Nepali singer.  He played one of his recordings for us.

Bikash, Josh, Kristen, Kent, Me, Maya and Sajana

We then went to Nishwar's home where they wanted us to stay and have a meal with them since it was Dashain.

Nishwar is between me and Kristen

Josh and Kristen's first real Nepali meal

We then got to the Paradise Hotel in Chitwan and we got settled, went to the elephant breeding ground, had a bite to eat and then went to a Nepali cultural show.

This is the first time we've been to this program, we loved it but Josh and Kristen didn't see much of it.........

Still feeling a little jet lag.......

Don't ask them how the show was, they didn't see much of it .....

The next morning we got up early to ride the elephants and it was raining, raining, raining......

Kristen just gave the elephant a tip and the elephant is giving Kristen "Namaste"

We then went back to our rooms, showered and went to the hotel restaurant for breakfast where the manager fixed us a special Nepali breakfast, everyone else was eating the buffet but we were treated pretty special. We went down to wash with the elephants but there was a long line, since it tourist season, and things had changed since the last time we were there.  Everyone had to wear life jackets and the elephants hardly went into the water.  Some of the adventure from the last time was missing. 

 Kristen did take a swing on the swings they put up during Dashain.

It rained the whole time we were in Chitwan, rather it just drizzled.

  We took the long ride, scary ride home in the pouring rain.  Josh was a little nervous on the way home after seeing many buses and trucks off the side of the road, and some hanging over the cliff.

Rickshaw ride in Thamel

Kristen saying her prayers at Swayambhu (Monkey Temple)

We went to Dubar Square and had Panna and his daughter Priti come with us and gave us a history lesson. He quizzed Kristen after, she didn't pass. They are both members of our branch, Panna used to be the branch president and Priti served her mission in Salt Lake.  

Priti and Kent (doesn't her name fit)?

Which is more colorful Kent's socks or the god behind him?

Dubar Square

All too soon the week was over and they had to leave, Kristen home and Josh had to go to India for two more weeks for work. For a minute I wanted to get on the plane with them.

Cute Sajana came to the airport to see them off.  They became good friends, and now Facebook friends.

Another good Nepali friend, Tendu Sherpa our best taxi driver.  Thought it was so nice that he gave them khada's at the airport as they were leaving.  Nepali's are soooo nice.

More Dashain pictures

They only have swings during Dashain but boy are they swings!

The kids all fly kites during Dashain..... this little guy was very serious about his kite flying, wish I could have got the kite and him in the picture.  He's only about 7.

I loved this picture of these Sherpa women walking around Bauddha Stuppa with their prayer beads.

Our new missionary couple arrived on Monday night, they've been so tired I have not taken a picture yet.  We love the Rempps and will miss them but it looks like we're in for another adventure the next few months with Elder and Sister Wasuita from Mountain Green.  He's a dentist, I wonder if he could fix my broken tooth?
We have not yet heard from the couple that will be replacing us, thought we would have heard by now. But I'll patiently wait for our release date and know that the Lord knows best. 
Where does it say that patience is a virture?  
...glory in tribulations also; knowing that tribulation worketh patience
And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness. (Hopefully I'm  heading in this direction).
....continue in patience until ye are perfected....
..... for ye have need of patience that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.

The scriptures are full of direction and truths regarding the importance of being patient.  The one thing I have an opportunity to learn in Nepal is patience, it is a work in progress and I know that all these experience I'm having are teaching me patience.  I'm grateful and feel blessed for the opportunity.  This is a once in a lifetime experience, I have learned many things about God's children on the other side of the world, in many ways I want to be more like them especially when it comes to patience..................