Thank you too much for all the birthday wishes! I offically feel old. I love my singing birthday card! You always send creative things! I am glad that now that I am 21 I wont be carted off to prison when I get home. I was a little worried there for a second. Police hate me for some reason. Galll you and your young women live the life....movie night, pizza, cookies..please I am dying! No just kidding, I am happy with my banana and breakfast crackers the ship brought in this week! Tell Benny to keep up the good work. And Liz looks like she is quite the cheerleader now. I bet she will kill it at tryouts. I bet things get a little boring on your walks now because Bella doesnt really sing T Swift too well...But keep up the hard work mama. I can no belief that Sista Schusta messaged you! Awieo she was a great friend of mine out here! Crazy how people that I knew out here are already home…weird. It sounds like things are great at home. This email will be pretty short because I am sharing one internet cord with three of us sisters...life in the islands...haha.
This week was busy busy busy! We have been teaching a former NTM Elder (big man in the NTM church here) his name is Kampol. He knows the Bible like the back of his hand, but Papa God has been softening his heart for a long time now. He left the NTM church because of some fight and since then he has come to our church every single week. One something that I have bin learn about teaching pastors or big men in other churches, is that the spirit is absolutely vital to have when you teach men that have a lot of knowledge about different churches. I have found that "bible bashing" is never the way to go. The best way to go about it is to build upon the knowledge that they already have. Fan the small flame that they already have. We have spent weeks trying to truly understand what his beliefs are, and this week we saw the fruits of our labors. We were teaching about baptism and I felt like I should invite him to be baptized. When I first got the prompting I was like..."that is not going to be happen. I am too scared" But it came again and again and then I finally just invited him. He then told us that he had already been baptized 3 times, but now he understands that the men that baptized him did not have any authority from God. I was dying...He accepted the invitation to be baptized next month. Papa God is definietly a God of miracles! Kampol already acts like he is a member of the branch. Every night him and 2 other priesthood leaders in our branch get together and story until late so none of them go drink kava at the nakamal He is even going with all the priesthood to the bush this week to cut wood for a new church house of branch of us.
This week was transfer week. It turns out I will be staying in my area and training two new sisters...my companion backegen and one new sister from Tahiti! I will be teaching her Bislama bekegen as well. I have also been called to serve as the new sister training leader for Malekula island. I am pretty excited for the new adventure of training two and helping with the sisters on the island. It will be quite the adventure! The work never stops moving here. I just hope and pray that my two trainees get along. And that I don't get beat up by any of them! No, jeek nomo, it will be great!! A learning experience for all three of us. I am excited too much that I will be staying in my area. I seriously love all the members in my area, they are just like family to me now! I love being a missionary! I love and pray for each of you every single dei. Thank you too much for all the support! Have a great week!
You no worry! I am alive and well! I am proud to say that I survived my first cyclone and not even a tear was shed. Okay okay...a few times I got close to tears.I just told my companion about the food you all ate at the young woman breakfast and she is dying...she had a little break down this week about the food here..haha.
This week the work was a little different than usual because of the cyclone. But it was still amazing! Lots and lots of opportunites for service! On Thursday we went to our neighbor Mama Wendy's house because her HUGE nambalanga tree got blew over in the cyclone. She is a young widow in our branch and has two cute kids! When we went over in the morning I kinda thought that we would just leave the tree and rake around it, but then she brought out an ax and bush knives. We spent the next three hours cutting all the HUGE branches off of the tree, breaking them and putting them into a pile. Usually I don't use bush knives because I am scared I will chop my hand off, but I could see that if I didn't help we would be there until dark. I took the ax and started trying to cut some of the branches and everyone that past by stopped and stared. It was hilarious. They were ded of laughing at me. They kept saying, "Woman Vanuatu! Small woman but big knife!" hahaha After the first hour we got tired so we came up with a new "white man" program. My companion and I would take turns hitting the big branches with the ax and then the other one with mama wendy would go and jump and swing on the branches so they would break. It was kinda fun! :) After three hours the entire tree was naked and we used some man's truck to try to stand it up back again. That was definietly the hardest service I have done out here, but it was kinda fun that she trusted me to use the big knife! (Everyone else is too scared to trust me with it!) haha.
Today we have two activies for the birth day of the Mama Relief! We have one at our unit and one at our branch. We are pretty excited because we went and saw every single less active mama this week to invite them to come. We have a bunch of activities we are doing and then a combined family house night. We are expecting almost all of our investigators to come too so we are excited! I never realized the importance of Branch activities until I came out here. Activities are a great way to pull all of the "lost sheep" back into the herd and to nourish the new ones!
My companion and I get along great!! I love her to ded! I am trying my best right now to help her adjust to life here. The hardest thing for her has been the food. She wants to eat real food bad. Every time we go to the store and the shelves are a little naked she just gives me "the look". She tells me that she dreams of the food that she had in Fiji and every time we come home at night she looks into our plastic box where we keep our food and says, "Sister Brown, I am so hungry for real food". I told her that after awhile she will get used to it, but I don't think she believes me yet! haha. She is used to eating meat every day and food that has flavor and so it is hard to switch. Her bislama is really coming along well. She can teach in Bislama and she can understand when they talk slowly. It is crazy to think that I was the exact same when I first came out. Man time flies.
I am the happiest I have ever been in my whole life and I know it is because of the great work I am able to be a part in. Every day of our lives we will face challenges and hardships, but every day we have the choice to change and become better than we were yesterday. It is never too late for someone to change. We must never lose hope and give up on ourselves or those we love because Papa God will never give up on any of his children. He wants every single one of us to go back to him. Always remember the words of President Monson, "There is no time like the present to rededicate yourself" Become the person that you want to be by changing yourself and becoming better every day. I love my mission. I thank Papa God every single day for the chance I have to be out here serving him. I love all of you!!! And I hope you all have a great week!!
Wow it sounds like things at home are busy as usual! I can no belief that the Braves took state...it is about time! They always got soo far, it is good that they finally took state! It sounds like the tradition of going to all the games is still going, that's great! Okay that is nuts that all of these young kids in our ward have their mission calls!! They make me feel old too much!! Sheesh! that is amazing! They are going to kill it out here! Poor Liz! I am terrified of dogs now! They are soo freaky! Especially the big ones! I hope her leg is doing better! We have tons and tons of dogs around our house and sometimes they are nice, but when we come after dark they always try to attack us! I am terrified and so now I always break a big stick before we try to cross the yard. Whenever they get too close I whack them and run for my life!! (My companion and I decided that when it comes to dog attacks every man for himself) My advice to Liz is to do the same! Carry a big stick! :)
Another great week here in Malekula! Our main focus this week has been on trying to strengthen our branch. The church is still pretty new here and so we are working to try to train all of the leaders of the branch on their callings. Our goal is to help this branch to function properly like a ward. We have been meeting with our Branch President almost every day to try to help him understand what his work is and what our work is. We are slowly but surely making progress with him. We had our first real "Auxillary" meeting this Sunday. It went a lot better than our last "Auxillary meeting" This time I made sure that there was an agenda drawn and I politely kicked out anyone that was not a leader in the branch. We were able to sit down and go through each auxillary and figure out what we could do to improve. The main issue is that the leaders do not understand their callings. You have to keep in mind that all of these leaders are recent converts themselves and do not know a whole lot about how the church works or is set up. This week we will be meeting with the Relief Society president to explain what visiting teaching is and to help her understand her calling a little bit better. In our meeting one thing that I discussed was time. Oh please, my patience has gotten SOOO big. Our church is supposed to start at 9. Yesterday we started at 11:30 and my patience was wearing VERY very thin. So yesterday in our meeting we discussed ideas on how to be on time. Every auxillary kept making excuses that they don't have a watch or clock to watch time and so finally I said, alraet this is what is going to happen: we are going to get someone's cellphone and set an alarm for 9,10, and 11 and when that alarm goes off the Elders quorum president is going to go and beat bamboo on the copper so we know that it is time to start the next class. haha. They all were a little surprised at my proposed solution, but now everyone is arguing over who will get to hit the copper with bamboo next Sunday..haha like I said it is a work in progress still! :) But I am so excited about the small spark of progress that we have been able to make in our branch. I know that in order to help missionary work progress in this area we must have a stable, healthy branch first! Slow and steady wins the race eh? haha
I really could not be happier out here! I love the work and I LOVE the people here! They have seriously changed everything about me and I could not be more grateful to have the opportunity to serve here! :) I love all of you and I hope you have a great week!! :) :) Keep chuggin through 2 Nifae!
First of all can I just tell you that my heart is full too much! Today the couple came back from Vila and they carried all of our packages home. I was shocked that I had two from all of you! I feel spoiled! I about died when I saw all the candy!! I have no idea how you all knew that the past 3 nights I have been dreaming of twizzlers and sour candies. I am not even lying...how pathetic…but don't blame me, it is my subconscious. Thank you big wan! All of our neighbors wanted to pass a big thank you too! We all opened my packages and the kids went nuts!! I taught them how to roast starbursts in the fire and they think it is so neat. The best part is, they hate the sour candies. They close up flattened every other candy, but the sour ones are "too salty" for them. They put them in their mouths and spit them out. haha. Thank you too much!!! I am excited too much to use the scar cream. The best news of the week, my rash is close up finished on my face! It only stings when I touch it. Before it was a lot of pain, but now it is close up finished. No more oozing face. Awesome! I can not wait to use the medicine to see if I can look semi normal! Mother those pillow cases are adorable!! I am going to try to send a photo of us with them, but the internet here is not very good. We love them!! Thank you big one!! I loved all of the pictures that you sent this week. Everyone looks old. Mase is so big and I could barely recognize all of our deacons in that picture. I am glad that you and Mase got to have a day out on the town. He is the cutest! Tell Ben congrats about winning the games. He has always been a great ball player. I am glad too much that you all are doing so well.
Our area is a whole lot of hard work, but I absolutely love it! There is zero time for rest, and a lot of work to be done in organizing the branch and unit that we look after. The church is still pretty new here, so part of our jobs as missionaries is to teach the leaders how the church is organized and teach them their callings. The other week the Branch President asked me to call a Branch Mission Leader and interview him. I kindly told him that I didn't hold the priesthood. He looked a little confused. This week we were able to meet with him for a few hours and explain how sister missionaries can't make callings, or give blessings etc. We are making progress though. One thing I have learned out here is patience. Oh boy is this something I have had to pray and pray for. You all know I am not a patient person, but I am getting better every day. Sometimes it gets hard out here, but every hard day that we have we try to look for the "small progress." By small and simple things great things come to pass. I know without any doubt that is true.
This week we found one young girl at a school, her name is Ann Rose. Papa God has prepared her to meet us. We sat down and talked a bit at first and she shared with us about how she felt like something was missing in her life. She told us that she wanted to change. We shared with her about Papa's plan for each and every one of us and she just lit up. She is really, really, smart and she asked us if we could come see her every day. We have seen her about three times this week and she is progressing like crazy. We are planning on, asking her to be baptized this week and I could not be more excited! Louisanne and Marilyn are great! We are having to teach Louisanne a little slower because she is younger. I really want her to understand what we are teaching before we introduce any more material to her. Her sister Marilyn brought all of her kids to her lesson and she had already taught all of her kids what we had taught her the time before. She told us the sweetest experience she had when she prayed and asked if Joseph Smith saw Papa God and Jesus Christ. These are the moments we live for as missionaries. Now for the hardest part: This week I am determined to talk to her husband to see if he has any interest at all. This is always the hardest part, but I will not doubt the abilities of Papa God to soften the hearts of these great people.
There is also this new church that just came to the island. It is a"group" of youth that get together every single day and they have"gifts" (prophesy, healing, etc) they yell prayers until the wee hours of the morning and they fall down and see visions and angels. All of the people here are amazed by this new religion. EVERYONE is attending (members, investigators etc.). We are facing a hard hard time because everyone is so excited that a church is seeing angels and visions. It is interesting because half of our members follow this group and the other half want to fight with them. Needless to say we have been working a lot on trying to strengthen the members of our branch.
To answer some of your questions: My companion is Sista Tenge she is from Fiji and I love her! She is more blunt than Becky Parry:). Sometimes it is a good thing that she can't understand Bislama, because she would have something to say about what some of the members say. My car is amazing, but one of my wheels got eaten by this dog. Funny story: So we were going to go and visit an investigator and we saw a dog sleeping on the ground in front. When it saw us it started running for us and barking. The dogs here are pure evil and so I reached down, picked up a stone and threw it at him. He stopped chasing us and was acting like a good dog. After we took off our shoes and went into the kitchen to give a lesson. When I came back out only one of my shoes was there. I looked over and the stupid dog had eaten the whole back of my shoe...haha. Everyone was dying laughing. The little girl said, "He (the dog) always does payback" hahaha. Man, it reminded me of Bella and her attitude. Like I said my face is slowly getting better. It isn't as swollen, and no more oozing. Everything here is great!
I am glad that you are trying your best to make family scripture study. I know that it is super hard on the weekends but try your best to do it in the morning. I promise you that as you all try to read every morning it will change the whole course of your day. It will give you a shield against all temptation and hard times you will face. There is full up strength that comes from scripture study. One advice for Benny is at the distrubution center they sell these Story Books of Mormons. I bought one in Bislama in Vila and they are amazing. They have pictures and they tell all the cool stories from the Book of Mormon. Something to try.
Thank you too much for all of your love and support!! I love you all!!! Have a good week!!