Sunday, September 20, 2009


It is Sunday night here and I cannot believe that it has been almost a week since I last blogged. I cannot believe how fast the time flies by each day. Of course, last week was like a holiday week since we didn't get home from our Labasa trip until Monday night. We were only in the office for 4 days and to be more exact, we left the office early on Friday afternoon for our weekend adventure so we really only had 3 1/2 days in the office. Paul picked up a sore throat and what we thought was a cold right before we went to Labasa and when we got back to Suva it just didn't want to get any better so we had another "first"... our first trip to the doctor! Yes, that would be a local Dr. There are 2 main hospitals here in Suva. One is called the War Memorial Hospital and I'm not sure which war it is memorializing but it looks like it could be something like WW I because it is very old and decrepit and does not have the best reputation. Thankfully, the Church has contacts in the other hospital that is called the Suva Private Hospital. We drove over and walked into the "out patient clinic" and the waiting room was very full with a lot of very sick-looking people. I initially wondered if we'd come out sicker than we went in. But we checked in and they told us we'd be seen by Dr. Daryl. I liked his name mostly because I could pronounce it. His full name is Daryl O'Conner. I was liking him more and more. I was really caught off guard when we finally went in to meet him and he was a big, rugby-looking Fijian man! He was born and raised and attended medical school right here in Fiji. When we asked about his name, he said, oh his great, great, great grandpa was just sailing by and must have decided to jump ship when he got to this beautiful island. Turns out, Dr. Daryl is a super, competent Dr. He determined that Paul's little cold has turned into a sinus infection, gave him some antibiotics and we were good to go! Oh, and he also gave us an RX for the malaria pills that we needed to begin taking for our upcoming trip to Vanuatu! And the best part of the whole experience: $12 to visit the Dr (no insurance company involved!) and $22 for 3 cold/sinus RXs and 2 malaria RXs.

I mentioned that we left Friday afternoon for our weekend adventure. This involved driving to the other side of this island to attend the Latoka Stake Conference Saturday and Sunday sessions. I also mentioned that it had been raining non stop here in Suva since we flew in last Monday night and we were really getting tired of the constant precipitation. Suva is the "wet" side of the island. That is why it is so lush and green. Latoka and Nadi are on the "dry" side of the island. We were ready for a few days of sunshine. The drive is really an interesting drive. It is approximately 180K which is about 120 miles and it takes about 3 - 3 1/2 hours. It is very scenic but you can hardly look at the scenery because you have to pay such close attention to buses, pedestrians, unexpected speed bumps, dogs, horses, pigs and cows hanging out along the roadsides and crossing whenever they feel like it and the road is "paved" meaning most of the time there is pavement but there are surprising pot holes and destroyed sections around any corner. Very entertaining drive. Actually I consider it my abs workout since I am usually clinching all my muscles trying to not freak out Paul with all my "helpful, up ahead, road situation warnings". It was definitely worth the effort because Nadi was sunny and clear and just made us feel better.

We met up with 2 other senior missionary couples, the Seares and the Bothwells, and decided to treat ourselves to a really fun evening out and have dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe on Denarau Island!!!! Denarau Island is an area just outside Nadi where all the high end resorts are located -- like the Sheraton, the Westin and 4 or 5 others. There is this really nice shopping center and that is where the Hard Rock Cafe is.

On our drive to dinner, we had a minor (hugely annoying) encounter with a HUGE POT HOLE! The sun goes down around 6 pm here and there are NO street lights so it is not one of our favorite things to do to drive after dark but we can't always avoid it and we encountered one of the things we worry about the most...and unexpected, unavoidable pot hole! Paul was able to get the car off the main road on to a side road where we pulled over to the curb to get out and access the damage. It was not good!! The tire was shot and the rim was damaged too. As all 6 of us were standing outside the car, in our white shirts and missionary clothes, a really nice Fijian guy stopped to see if we needed any help. He just took over and with his Rugby-player body he had us taken care of in no time. We were so blessed by his service. We wives were very helpful too. We were spraying everyone with bug spray and taking memory-preserving photos!

The Stake Conference was so wonderful. We enjoyed ourselves so much. We have been really anxious to meet the members and leaders that live on that side of the island. There are 4 wards and 4 branches and the members came out in droves...especially for today's Sunday session. Latoka is the only other official city besides Suva in the whole country of Fiji. It is located about 30K from Nadi town which is where the International Airport is. That is it's claim to fame. Latoka is a very industrial city with a huge sugar cane processing factory as well as some huge wood chip exporting factory. It has a huge Indian population, similar to Labasa. The Stake Center is in Latoka so the Saturday meetings where held there but then today, the Sunday session was held in Nadi. There were about 8 people that we work with in the Church's service center in Suva who had come up to the Stake Conference for various assignment. There is a translation department in our service center (very busy right now translating the General Conference talks into Fijian and Hindi) and they had the responsibility of translating the English talks into Fijian so that members in the congregation could have earphones on and hear the talks in their own language. When the most important talks were given, a translator actually came up on the stand and stood next to the speaker and translated sentence by sentence. In the women's auxillary training meeting, the presenter would talk for a few minutes and then they would ask another woman to stand and explain it in Fijian. It fascinates me how well this works. Most of the people here are bi-lingual -- Fijian and English but some of the villagers from the remote branches don't understand English very well so it is important that they get this level of information in their own tongue.

One of the highlights of the conference was the presence of Elder Wakolo who is the Pacific Area Seventy. He is a local Fijian and he was just given this calling last April at General Conference. He is a spiritual giant. He is very sincere and compassionate and inspiring. Maybe that is why so many members were in attendance. They love having "their" general authority connection present. Pres. and Sister Woolley, who are the Suva Fiji Temple President and Matron were also the speakers at two of the sessions and they gave very wonderful, inspiring and personal talks. One of the stories that Pres. Woolley told was about one of his ancestor who was the contractor in charge of building the Laia Temple in Hawaii. He told how this man discovered that he was running out of timber to finish the construction of the Temple and he didn't know where he was going to get any timber. There was no timber any where to be found or used. He decided one day to go up on the bell tower of the Chapel that was on the property next door to the Temple site and kneel down in prayer and ask the Lord what he should do to deal with this complication. As he stood up from his prayer, he looked out to the ocean and saw a huge cargo ship had run aground on a reef and was in a serious situation. He could see the name on the ship of a transporting company so he called the company on the phone and told them of the situation with their freighter. The company was distressed and asked if he could get men to go out to the freighter in their canoes and remove the cargo of timber they were carrying. The company did not care what they did with the timber they just wanted their ship to be rescued. And that is the miracle that provided the timber to finish the construction. Then he continued talking about miracles that happen inside of the Temples as well. It was a sweet and moving talk.

So now I have just finished some laundry because we will be taking off tomorrow for our next adventure. We are going to Vanuatu for 2 weeks!!! This should be really interesting. Vanuatu is it's own country. It is about an hour and forty minute flight. They have a very unique currency there called Vatus and the exchange difference is huge, something like 10,000 Vatus equals $100 US. Paul says 1 Vatu is about equal to a penny. They speak a different language called Bislama which is something like "pidgeon english". And.... they drive on the RIGHT side of the road so we are going to be either so back to our comfort zone or so mixed up our brains won't know where we should be driving! Thankfully, I don't think we are going to do any driving over there. We will be going to 2 different islands to begin with and on the first island is a Senior Missionary couple, the Scherns, so they will be driving us all around. We may even fly to one or two more islands while we are with them. We have been told to make sure and begin taking some RX to help us prevent coming down with malaria. We have been told to pack up with the bug spray!! I'm OK with what we have been told, it is what we haven't been told that makes me a little anxious. I'll keep you posted!

So if you have stuck through clear to the end of this long narrative --- thank you for your patience. I feel like I have so much I want to share with you but it ends up being so much that I feel like I can't delve in too deep. I hope you can get just a little taste of the wonderful experiences we are having. We are happy and enjoying being in the Lord's service 24 hours a day!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Vanua Levu Weekend

What a great weekend we have just enjoyed! It was our first weekend away and it was very successful. Even before we got this assignment as our mission call, we knew that we would be traveling a great amount of the time. We thought that sounded like just our ticket but despite our adventureous nature, it was a little bit unnerving to take off to an unknown destination. Luckily we did have quite a few connections over there which included the young missionary Elders who live and work in the towns and villages on that island. We were given great direction as to where to stay and how to rent a car and we even knew a family that we had made arrangements to meet up with.

Our trip began on Friday afternoon when we were dropped off at the Nausori airport here in Suva. It was a pleasant afternoon; overcast sky but no rain. The airport is is small but runs and looks professional. They even scanned our luggage. They didn't ask for any identification like our drivers license or our passport (maybe our name badge was enough!)but other than that it was the same kind of traveling procedures. The airplane was a nice turbo jet and it held about 40 passengers and it flew at 16,000 feet so it wasn't one of those small puddle jumpers. The flight took about 40 minutes to get over the ocean and arrive on the upper island of Vanua Levu. Now the Labasa (pronounced Lambasa) airport was a whole new experience. It was very small. Just a one room building about 40' x 100'. Our baggage was unloaded onto a small cart, pulled over to the building by 2 men and everyone just pulled their own luggage off the cart. It was actually lots faster than waiting for it to show up on those rotating luggage conveyers! Our rental car guy picked us up and we were off into town.

There are 2 main towns on this islands and then lots and lots of villages. In the whole country of Fiji there are only 2 cities: Suva and Latoka. Even Nadi, where the international airport is, is not considered a city. Navin, our driver, was a great tour guide as he described every along the road into town. Labasa is on the dry side of the island and therefore it is mostly a sugar cane town. There are lots and lots of sugar cane fields and way too many huge trucks carrying huge loads of sugar cane that drive slowly and are hard to pass on the road.

Our hotel in Labasa was very nice. When I say nice, you need to think 1950s nice. It was a little old school but a kingsize complaints from us! Oh, except, maybe a little mention of the soccer stadium right around the block with a 10-day Indian soccer competition going on every night from 6 pm to well after we had gone to bed. But we could hear all the cheering and all the "Bollywood" entertainment and singing! Very entertaining!

We met a sweet couple last month here in Suva who had come from Labasa to attend the Temple. They are the Kumar family. She is the District Auditor and he is the District Audit Chairman so they met up with us and directed us to our training session which was held on the opposite side of the island in a town called Savusavu. Now the distance to the other side of the island is only about 90 Ks (about 54 miles) but it took us a good 2 hours because the road is unbelievable -- actually it is normal for Fiji! We had reserved a van but we ended up with a 4-wheel drive 4-passenger truck, thank goodness! Note: another first time: the first time driving a standard transmission shifting with the left hand! There were sections of the road that were very nicely paved and decently wide but then there were sections where I wish we were actually riding our ATVs. At the very summit of the mountains there is a 100 yard section that is continually washed out with landslides and it was only one land wide and rocky, bumpy and looking like it could be going downhill again at any moment. There were a couple of bridges that made me hold my breath until we got to the other side and it didn't help when Sister Kumar told us how her brother-in-law was almost killed when his truck went over the edge! But no worries... we arrived and returned safe and sound! (excuse me for a minute while I capture the gecko on our kitchen wall and escort him outside!)

Our training session was really a great experience. That too was our first training. We were expecting to have the Priesthood leaders from about 6 branches in attendance but only 4 branches showed up. But we had a great attendance of the missionaries assigned to these remote areas so all in all we had about 17 people in attendance plus us and the Kumars. Paul & Sister Kumar trained in financial matters and I trained in membership record keeping. These members had come from long distances to meet with us so we tried very hard to make it worth their efforts. The meeting lasted about 2 hours and then Paul did one on one interviews with each Branch leaders which was hugely successful in finding out how things are going in their specific areas. While Paul was interviewing, I drove into town and picked up 10 pizzas to serve for lunch. That was a huge success and they devoured them in about 15 minutes! I don't think they eat pizza very often. All in all we loved this experience and are so grateful for this calling! It seems to fit us.

On Sunday we went to Church at the Branch in Labasa. It was a really wonderful, well functioning branch. As usual, when we Senior Missionaries show up, we are immediately invited to speak in Sacrament meeting. I pretty much expect this to be the case and I try to come with something to speak about but it is hard to be completely prepared because sometimes they ask us to speak on a specific subject. This was the case this week. They asked us to speak on tithing. It was a good experience and I thought Paul did a very good job with his remarks. My memorable moment this weekend was visiting with a sweet grandma whose 2 year old grandchild had just died and the funeral had been held the day before, on Saturday. We hugged and wept and comforted each other. Very tender experience.

Our plane didn't leave to return to Suva until Monday afternoon. Our Monday afternoon is Sunday evening at home where our children live so we were able to get on Skype and join in on our cute little grandson Cache's 2nd birthday party! Technology sure makes living far away bearable! We had checked out of our hotel room in the morning so we were hanging out in the restaurant but trying not to create too much disturbance with our worldwide visit. I don't think the people at the hotel had ever seen skype before so it was quite entertaining actually. One man told me he had never even touched a computer! Boy, the things we take for granted!
Afterwards we headed for the "airport" to wait for our 3:55 pm flight. It had been raining harder than I have seen it rain over here and the roads were flooding and the sky was black and we could tell this was going to be a problem for air travel. This airport is visual landing mechanical support from the ground and when they clouds are so heavy and raining so hard, all flights just go on hold or get cancelled. Our flight was waiting for the plane to come from Suva and then that would be the plane that would take us back. We sat in the airport for almost 2 hours and finally the plane was able to land! It took about 20 minutes to get the passengers and luggage off and our flights passengers and luggage on and we were off! We flew above the storm where we could see fluffy clouds below and the sun setting in the west but when we landed in Suva it was raining almost as hard as it had been in Labasa. We were very happy to by on the ground again.

It was a very successful first trip but we were really happy to be back "home" again. Actually I need to remove the quotes, this is HOME!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Our new Best Friends

from left to right: Sis. Wooley, Sis. Seare, Sis. Erickson, Sis. & Pres. Ostler,
Sis. Larsen, Sis. Dalling, Sis. Stenlund, me, Sis. Stagg

from left to right: Elder Stenlund, Paul, Elder Dalling, Elder Seare, Pres & Sis. Ostler, Sis. Stagg, Elder Stagg, Pres. Wooley, Elder Larsen

Let me introduce you to some fabulous new friends we've met who are also serving here in the Fiji Mission. What a great group of dedicated and generous people.

First off I have to introduce you to the Mission President and his wife. They are President and Sister Ostler. They have been here for a little over a year and are doing a great job. This mission is a challenge. For one thing, it covers not only the islands of Fiji but the countries of Vanuatu and New Caledonia. There are about 140 missionaries that they are responsible for and their lives are made up of perpetual travel, meetings and challenges. They are very kind, concerned and nurturing 24/7. Paul & I are technically not under their responsibility since we are assigned to the Pacific Area but they have welcomed us with open arms!

Next are President and Sister Wooley. They are the President and Matron of the Suva Fiji Temple. They served here just a few years ago as the mission president and now they are back for another 3 years in the Temple. That is such a great example of dedication and service. There are 3 other Temple Ordinance Missionaries serving along side the Wooleys. They are the Dallings, the Hatches and the Larsens. Besides serving in the Temple every day except for Mondays and Sundays, all of these couples have been assigned to local wards or branches to support and strengthen as needed. It is fun to hear about their different experiences in these different little wards and branches. These couples have a lot to offer. I know that Elder Hatch has taken it upon himself to help add on to a family's tiny, little 8' x 8' foot home. He adding on a room about 12' x 14' and it will make a huge differenct in their lives. After he finishes this house, he has plans to keep building on to about 6 or 7 more villagers homes. He is a huge asset. I know that the Dalling have already served 2 missions. They are parents to 11 children and tons of grandchildren and they just heard about the birth of their 22 GREAT grandchild! Wow, we have a long ways to go!

There is one more couple that serve at the Temple and they are the Stanfords. They hae a very unique situation. I guess Brother Stanford resigned from his business but he isn't ready to retire yet but he has a 1 year non-compete agreement so he and Sister Stanford were looking for something meaningful to do for a year or less. They decided they would just volunteer themselves here to serve in the Temple. So they are not considered missionaries but just service volunteers. That doesn't mean they are working any less intensely than any of the other missionaries. It just means they are here at their own expense and they don't get to wear a badge! Sister Stanford is a fabulous cook and when they are not in the Temple she is cooking and feeding all of us other missionaries and all of their Ward members... especially the young men! I am so impressed with their desire to do this kind of service.

In the last post I mentioned Elder and Sister Seare. She is the mission nurse and he is the "get it done" guy! Next to the Mission President, Sister Seare has the most interaction with all the young missionaries. She gets calls day and night about stomach aches, head aches, tooth aches and homesickness. They are the parents of 4 boys so they are right at home with all the young Elders! Sister Seare has lots of brothers and Paul and I each know several of her siblings from high school and college. It is fun to make outside connections with everyone.

Another couple are the Stenlunds. They are educators and are assigned to the Church College here to help teach and train the local teachers. They have had lots of interesting travel and teaching experiences. They were actually in Beijing at the same time as Heidi's family and they remember her and her kids. They were teaching at a University in Beijing through the Kennedy Center that is associated with BYU. It was not a "missionary assignment" because missionaries are not serving in China yet but they went as volunteers at their own expenses as well. They are very competent and making a big difference here.

Sister Erickson is a Single Senior Sister Missionary and she is the office secretary. That mission office is a crazy, busy, intense environment. She keeps it calm and peaceful and running smoothly. She has been here since January. She doesn't have a companion but she does live with 2 other proselyting sister missionaries. One is a young, Fijian sister missionaries and the other one is Sister Reeves who is my age and is a proselyting missionary! She is the mother of 11 children also! She is up and out there each and every day! She makes the rest of us look like whimps! (BTW, the Church did announce back in June that they would not be calling Sisters this age for proselyting any more -- I have to say I agree!)

The other 2 couples are us and the Staggs and I have told you that the Staggs have gone home and we are their replacement. The Staggs did a wonderful job while they served here the past 18 months. Some one made the comment to us that we would not be "filling their shoes" but we would be creating our own. We agree with that.

Last night we had a Family Home Evening with all the Senior Couples. The Seares hosted the evening. They showed the new DVD called "On the Lord's Errand" which is about the life of President Thomas S. Monson, our dear Prophet. What a wonderful, spiritual experience. I would highly recommend that you find a copy of this DVD (I think you can get it at the Church Distribution Center) and treat your family to a very special presentation of the story of President Monson's life and how he has progressed through his inspirational life to get to the place he is today as our living Prophet on the earth in this the last dispensation. What a treat it was to share this evening with all these wonderful, special, dedicated servants of our Heavenly Father and what a privilegde it is to serve with them. If you are wondering if there is something important you could be doing with your life, I highly recomment that you consider sharing some of your time and talents to bless the lives of our brothers and sisters around the world in unlimited opportunities.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A few more Firsts

We are quickly coming up on our "4-weeks in country" and we are still amazed at how many "first time" experiences we are still having. I actually think this will keep on for quite a while. The funnest first-time experience this weekend was on Saturday when I got to step on a beautiful, sandy beach in Fiji and dip my toes in the warm ocean waves. I actually got in up to my mid calf! I was thrilled! The city of Suva doesn't really have any beaches near by. It is mostly a harbor town where large container ships and Cruise ships come to port but you have to go about 60 Ks to get to the nearest beaches at a place called Pacific Harbor.

We drove there on Saturday with Dave & Becky Seare and Alice Erickson. Becky is the mission nurse, Dave is the "jack of all trades" but mostly responsible for the apartments and automobiles of the whole mission and Alice is the Mission Office secretary. We had heard of a really nice resort in Pacific Harbor called The Pearl so we decided to go there for lunch and check out the beach. It is the same drive that Paul & I did a week ago when I was practice driving so we had been that way but not the Seares. It was a wonderful outing for the 5 of us. The Pearl Resort is fabulous. We have to figure out a reason to spend a couple of nights there! But for this trip we just enjoyed a delicious lunch. They even had chips and salsa on the menu! Ah, a little touch of home! There were quite a few tourists there and it seems like they were all from Australia and New Zealand. I don't think very many North Americans get over this far. But it is definitely closer to those other 2 countries. Like Hawaii is for Americans.

Another first that we experienced this week was our first meal "at home" here in our new apartment. It was kind of a shock to my system after having eaten out for the first 3 weeks to actually have to figure out something for dinner! I'm sure you are wondering what fabulous dish I made for our memorable first meal....scrambled eggs and toast! We even came home one afternoon this week for lunch. We treated ourselves to peanut butter sandwiches and ramen noodles. Yes, we are officially missionaries!

Tonight we got to enjoy the company of a sweet, young (17 yrs old) girl that lives close by who asked if she could come over and use our internet. I think she did this quite often when the Staggs lived here. We were happy that she felt like this was something she could continue to enjoy. Her family can't afford the internet and to go to an internet cafe would cost her $2 Fijian for 1 hour ($1 US) and she said that was way too expensive for her. She is Indian and she brought us an Indian snack that her mother had made. The snack was these little chips that were sort of like tortilla chips but smaller and thicker and spicey. I quite enjoyed them. Paul is having a little trouble with the curry flavors and ua kind of trying to avoid eating much Indian cuisine. I just happened to be making chocolate chip cookies while she was here so I sent her home with our favorite "snack" for her and her family to enjoy.

We had another wonderful Sabbath day today. We went to another new ward, Nasinu 2nd. We knew it started at 8 am and we knew it was about a 20 minute drive so we were trying our best to get up, get ready and get going so we wouldn't be late.
**quick side note: we have a solar powered water heater but when it is cloudy and rainy we have to flip a switch at least 30 minutes before we want to take a shower so the water will be heated by the electrical power and then we must always remember to switch off the power because it is enormously expensive to leave it running) We didn't even have time to wait for hot water to shower before we had to leave for church because we wanted to be on time. When we found our way to the Chapel it was 8 am and we were surprised to find the gate to the property still locked and no one was there. Of course, we immediately thought we had gotten wrong info on when the meeting began but as we sat there wondering what was going on, a taxi drove up and a man and his 3 children got out and walked over and unlocked the gate and welcomed us into the car park (that's what a parking lot is called here). Then we followed them in as they went around the building and unlocked all of the class room doors and began setting up chairs and tables and distributing hymn books. By then a few more people had shown up. They pointed Paul and I to the Relief Society room and the Priesthood room and we sat down in our assigned rooms and waited as a few more people trickled in. There were about 5 sisters in RS when at about 8:15 the sister who was conducting RS showed up. She then began the meeting and after inviting someone to lead the opening song and say an opening prayer, she "invited" herself to give the lesson. By then I think there were 8 of us in attendance. The lesson was very sweet and very well presented. I love the Spirit these dear members provide in all the meetings that we have attended. After RS we went into Sunday School and enjoyed another excellent lesson. Fast and Testimony meeting began on time and it was well attended. By then there were about 60 people that had arrived and it was another delightful, spiritual experience. Things here just seem to take a little while to get going but then they always come through in the end! Everyone just says "remember, you're in Fiji" and that explains a lot!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Be it ever so humble...

there is no place like home! And here is our new home!

The Staggs left last Sunday and so we moved into our new flat on Tues. We are really happy to be settled in and have our few belongings in drawers and closets and our family pictures hanging on the wall!

Our flat is just perfect. It is not too big and not too small. The last 2 couples that have held our same missionary position have lived here and they have left various things that have helped to make it more pleasant like a dryer and a DVD player! After sleeping here for 2 nights, we have decided that our contribution will be a new, softer mattress!

Our location is about 5 minutes from the Service Center where we work and in a very delightful neighborhood. Except for the 3 or so barking dogs during the night and the neighbor's rooster who likes to begin his cock-a-doodling about 5 am, we thing this is just the perfect location. Our backyard overlooks a very lush ravine. There are coconut and banana palms, a mango tree and a couple of trees with tiny little
1-inch oranges that I'm not really sure what they are. There are lots of plants with beautiful, colorful red, violet, yellow and white flowers. I imagine it looks a lot like the Garden of Eden. Our landlords bought us a new set of chairs and a cute little table for our outside balcony so we can enjoy the setting while eating our meals.

Inside our flat we have 2 bedrooms! Paul has his clothes in one of the bedrooms and I have mine in the other. It is really nice to have a lot of storage space. Of course, we don't have many possessions but it is nice not to have to cram together what we do have.

Most of the locals here hang their laundry outside to dry on clotheslines. I'm not sure how that works because it seems to rain almost every day. Maybe they use it for the washing portion also. We are very lucky to have a dryer in our flat! You might notice in my photo that it is located in the living room area. That is so it can be scooted over to the sliding door and vented outside while it is running. When it is not in use, it makes for a nice side table! We are just thankful to have one no matter where it fits in!

Besides moving in this week, I'm excited to tell you that I got behind the steering wheel of our car on Sunday and we went for about a 2 hour drive. It felt quite strange to be on the opposite side of the road but with a fair amount of concentration, it is doable. Sunday is a much less chaotic traffic day so that was a huge advantage along with having sat on the passenger side of the car for the past 2 or 3 weeks and getting used to the round abouts and the insane taxi drivers. The ultimate test will be driving downtown, during the middle of the day, on a week day! I can't explain it! You would have to experience it to appreciate the stress!

We are slowly getting a better understanding of our responsibilities and assignment here. We love the office where we work. We work with about 20 or so locals who have full time jobs and provide various services for the Church overseeing the whole area of Fiji and Vanuatu. We are the only missionary couple in the office. We pretty much figure out what we need to do and then go about doing it. We also get to work with all the Stake and District leaders in these same areas. We have gone to a lot of Stake meetings and met with a lot of Stake and Ward leaders so far. They are all wonderful, committed and competent leaders. It has been a privilege to meet them and work with them. We attended 2 different wards again last Sunday. We were invited to sit on the stand and speak in the first ward. It is always very humbling to stand up in front of a group of people we have never met before and get to share a thought or two and our testimonies. It is a huge privilege.

We have scheduled our first trip to another island for next weekend! We will be going to Vauna Levu so that will be another exciting, new experience! The next weekend we will drive about 1 1/2 hours away from here to a small, remote Branch to attend their Sunday meetings and then meet with their Bishop and ward clerk for some financial training. Then the next week we may head off to Vanuatu for 2 weeks. We also heard that we will be traveling to New Zealand the first part of December for some training for us so it looks like we will not be sitting around wondering what to do with ourselves.