People frequently move around and live with other family members here and it's no big deal for either party. This was the case for Tuliana, she was living with her sister, Olivia and family. Directions to her home meant nothing to us at this point in time since Ba was a completely new location for us. We carefully followed the landmarks: bus stop, two little stores, tall coconut trees and very steep rocky road. There we found Tuliana waiting and her married sister had prepared an amazing assortment of treats to welcome us with. Such gracious hospitality.
|Olivia & her children with Aunti Tuliana at our first meeting|
And so began our weekly teaching appointments with two sisters we've grown to love, and they have grown to love the gospel. Along the way we've had setbacks in scheduled meetings with unexpected work conflicts, injuries, flood, missed rendevouz locations, holidays, etc. However, each meeting has brought heart to heart sharing of mind and soul and there's never a shortage of jokes and laughter. On the day we taught them the "Word of Wisdom" (health code advising against the use of alcohol, tea, coffee, drugs, etc.), we asked Tuli if giving these things up would be difficult. "No," she replied, and then received a big scowl and small punch in the side from Olivia who protested that they all would be hard! For the most part though, they have loved the teachings we've shared. After we had taught them about the "Plan of Happiness" (where we came from, why we are on the earth, and what happens after death), we asked how they felt about these truths. Tuli answered: "We have never heard these things before -- but we like them." In fact, she came to like them so well that many weeks we'd find that Tuli had invited a friend or two to join us for the lessons.
Not long after going to Fall #7, Tuli expressed her desire to be baptized on her 20th birthday (March 6th), and become a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Olivia felt similarly but her Muslim husband is not supportive of the idea. She shared that she has fasted and prayed for his change of heart but as yet things remain the same. They have been partners through this spiritual journey and Olivia was right by her side on this special day for Tuli.
On the morning of her baptism, Annie sent a text message wishing her a happy birthday and asked how she was doing. Tuli texted back: "Wel, wat greater gift cn be than babtised on yor birthday anywayz its a wonderful morning. i like the weather i told Oli i wish it rains ths morning n it did. we just see the rainbow, am so happy" (guess text talk has made it to Fiji!).
|Baptismal day on the banks of Namosau Creek|
|Off to the "changing room"|
Guess we weren't really shopping for a stove that day after all. We were on the Lord's errand and He was in charge -- a fact for which we have become profoundly grateful.