Sunday, February 19, 2012

We're In Good Company

We work with some wonderful missionaries.  All of the young women missionaries are on other parts of the islands so we only have young men and they are hard working, dedicated, and love the Fijian people whom they have been called to serve.

Like most missions, we regularly review things that direct our attention to the fundamental purposes of why we are serving.  For example, our mission scripture theme is from the Book of Mormon: "Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life" (3 Nephi 5:13). And when we're together in groups, we sing the mission song.  Here are the missionaries we have served with in the "burning west" (the hot side of Fiji), singing:
After the song, two Elders let us take a picture of their legs which evidence one of the joys of serving here -- the incessant mosquito bites.  We are amazed that none of the elders seem to complain even though some react much worse to the bites than others:
We think of these little guys as "stealth drones" -- they are small mosquitos that make no noise and fly very fast.  It's rare to know they are biting you until after the fact and they are so quick that it's hard to kill them.  But oh do they enjoy our white flesh!  Sometimes the bites drive us crazy and we wonder if the Fijians are getting as many as us or are we just particularly tasty. When we inquired, one Fijian friend told us that he spreads coconut oil on himself so they "don't smell the blood," and that seems to work but we're not processing coconuts often enough to make this practical!  While these little guys are annoying, we are so fortunate that on our island there is no malaria so we're spared the double discomfort of bites and medication.  Missionary on some other islands in the mission are not so fortunate.

The young missionaries do not have cars in our area so they bus and walk through mud and water into remote areas each day, covering many miles a day -- and their feet take a beating.  Elder Walton and Haiman stopped by our flat the other day on their way home.  Their feet told the story of another long, dirty day.

Elder Walton has been out for something over a year.  His feet show the tell-tale signs of
sitting cross-legged, Fijian style, on the cement floors of every home.  Nice callouses!
Although missionaries come with the same desire to serve the Lord, they also come from very different backgrounds and circumstances.  Here's a brief sketch of the variety just in our area and some of the diversity we've become acquainted with:

  • an elder who was on track to become a professional surfer but left it behind to serve because he hopes his love of the Lord and example of service will strengthen his family as well as the Fijian people.  His detailed notebook is a reflection of his desire to seek quality and to organize his life to be most effective.
  • an elder who left his own little island country to serve on this island where he has been called to learn two languages - Fijian and English.
  • an elder from a family of 16 children who learned early how to be responsible and do his part to make the family work.  The mission president has recognized his ability to patiently help others succeed and often assigns struggling missionaries to serve with him.
  • a super enthusiastic elder who can make lemonade out of any lemon dealt him.  Perhaps this comes from his Jewish background as he blazes the way as the first missionary from his family.
  • an elder whose mission was delayed after a severe water-ski accident where he learned the patience and perseverance through a difficult recovery and that has made him a great leader in the mission field.
  • an elder who has observed and lives the Fijian ways that he easily becomes a friend and teacher to all.  He just plain knows how to relate to these people on their own level and style. They respect him and open their doors and hearts as he shares the message of Christ and the Restoration of His gospel.
All of have left family, friends, jobs and schooling to serve a mission.  Each is paying a hard earned price to learn the language and willing to put away the comfort of their native tongue. With genuine love and respect for the Fijian people, they are helping to fulfill the scripture that "every man shall hear the fulness of the gospel in his own tongue, and his own language, through those who are ordained to unto this power. . ."  They also exemplify the admonition: "O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind, and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day."

We count it a privilege to serve with them.  Being in their midst has heightened our admiration for our own children who served missions, and of the thousands of others who serve our Heavenly Father's children throughout the world.
Neither rain nor flood daunt our faithful missionaries 


emily a. said...

Wow, that bunch can sing. I've never heard such an involved mission song with all of the parts. Beautiful.

That bunch of elders is impressive. I'm glad you are just adding to the incredible group there in your area. You two are a great addition to such a strong, loving district.

Ditto Family said...

Mosquitoes? You haven't mentioned that yet...are you saving any more surprises for our visit : )

So neat to hear how each missionaries has made decisions that have brought them to this place in their life.

Matt said...

That's a great video of the elders singing. Really brings back that missionary pride. And....ummm, mosquitos. How is it that's never been mentioned before? Sounds not fun!

Strahls said...

Enjoyed hearing the Elders sing - I can't wait to be a missionary Mom! The mosquitos are one more trial when you have endured so many others faithfully! Guess missionaries don't wear out shoes in Fiji, just their feet! :)

Running Rinnes said...

Sometimes I wonder about those "small and simple things" like mosquitoes. Maybe it is a blessing not to hear them coming at you!!