Elder Dawson

Elder Dawson

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Week 9-November 22, 2015

Bula Vinaka

This week was awesome!  I got food poisoning, which stunk, but all is well in the world. 

We got have three new investigators this week, which was under our goal, but it's still pretty good. Introducing myself is so funny. Dawson, for whatever reason, is SUPER hard for Fijians to read and say. Like super hard. So I spend like 2 minutes just trying to teach them my name. They end up just calling me Elder, or Elda. Elder Visawaqa said that there is a way to spell it so it would be way easier and I'm going to try to get my tag changed. Well see.  The spelling is Tosana.

I'm pretty happy it's P-day today. On P-day we do the same things we did in the MTC; email, laundry, shop, play sports, that sort of stuff. It's just more refreshing and relaxing when you're actually in the field. Having P-day in Ba is way sweet. 

Ba is pretty big, it's like if Suva is Denver, and Lautoka (my zone headquarters) is Boulder, than Ba would be Longmont. It's not big but it's not small. There are lots of shopping markets, restaurants, and stuff like that. Shopping is an experience here. 

There are a lot of different foods here.  Not very many different fruits and veggies. Lots of mangoes. There are mango trees literally everywhere. They eat a lot of kesava and rourou which are both pretty good. Kesava is a root and it's kind of like a crappy potato but it's good. Rourou is dalo leaves that are boiled and it's basically just eating boiled spinach.

I really like the food here. I can't really say what my favorite food here is, but I can tell you what my least favorite is. There is this small fresh water clam that they call nakai. I don't really know why, but I am just not a fan. All the other food here is really really good though. I think if I had to pick a favorite it would be Dal and rice. Dal is this like yellow mushy soup stuff, I'm not sure what it is but it's way good. 

Another thing they love here is Giblets. Giblets, for those who don't know, are the insides of animals.  So we got takeaway from a members house and we were sitting down to eat. After the prayer we all just started to dig into this food.  I thought to myself "this is like the grainiest chicken I've ever eaten." And Elder Visawaqa looks at me and says, "You know what that is right? It's Giblets." Than I here Elder Ogden form across the table, "This is straight up a kidney." This wonderful sister, had made us chicken kidney curry. We all kind of lost our appetite for curry that night. We all ate it, but none of us went back for seconds. So we went and put it in our fridge.  

Elder Ogden said he was still hungry so we decided to make French toast, because they made some that morning and I didn't get any because I was like way sick. So we beat some eggs, added cinnamon, some milk powder and water, and some vanilla extract. We were stoked.  It was going to taste way good. I had accidentally grabbed the wrong loaf of bread though and when I pulled out the first piece I quickly became aware of the ants that had colonized the half loaf of bread. My heart broke. I wasn't going to get French toast. I told Elder Ogden about the ants and after a pause he looked at me and said "I WILL get my French Toast." We reasoned that the ants would just be added protein and we cooked up the whole loaf. It was the best French toast I have ever eaten! My time with Elder Ogden was basically that. Just try our hardest to make American food that we miss. We made No-Bake Cookies, twice, and they were the bomb. 

We get fed here a lot. Like sometimes two or three times a night. The Ward is way awesome. My area, all of Ba, only has one ward. The ward is small but the members are the best.  My Bishop is so cool. He's an older Fijian man and he is covered in tattoos. He's way cool. 

So something I've learned this week, is that in Fiji there are not gangsters. Only dogs. At night we will see packs of dogs just chilling in the road, or fighting other dogs, like it's the Wild West here in Fiji if you're a dog. 

I love Fiji and I love Ba. I love being in the Lords service. He is truly always with me and I can see His hand in my life. I'm so grateful for my loving Heavenly Father and His Son. I'm thankful for the Atonement and the ability that we have to be forgiven of our shortcomings. I'm grateful for the Book of Mormon and the truthfulness of it's words. I highly recommend reading it. I'm grateful for my wonderful family, and all the support that I receive from them. I love this Gospel and I love my Heavenly Father.  I love you and I miss you so much. 
Much Love 

Elder Dawson

And this is a note that my Mission President asked me to send out!  I would add that I miss American chocolate and Swedish Fish.


·  Ask family and friends to follow the guidelines below and to address your mail and packages to:

Your Name (Example: Sister J Jones)
Fiji Suva Mission Office
GPO Box 215
Suva, Fiji

This will prevent getting mail lost when you are transferred. Mail will be delivered to you by other missionaries traveling to your area.
·  The package label should be a general description, such as “missionary supplies”, “confections,” or “missionary gifts.”
·  Packages are opened at the time of arrival by Fijian Customs Officers for inspection and a fee charged based on the contents. If you receive package in the mail, you will be assessed $5 per package if Customs processes your package. This will be done in $10 increments taken out of your support money. (i.e. 2nd package at no additional charge)
· If you are sent packages less than 4 pounds and a very minimal price declared ($10-50) they generally do not go through Customs. They are delivered directly to the office with no fee charged to claim the package.
· You should not be sent packages valued at $100 USD or more because Fiji may charge an additional $100 or more (the value of the package plus shipping) that you will need to pay to claim the package.
· Inform family and friends to not send any of the following products because they will be confiscated and you will be charged a fee:
·         Any meat products, including jerky, noodles, ramen
·         Any dairy products, including noodles and macaroni with milk and cheese products

P.S.  My spider-bit foot.  It's totally fine now!
Peace Be Still
Keep it Real

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Week 8-November 15, 2015

Bula Vinaka! This week...this week has been something. I'll start with answering some of Mom's questions first.

My flat is way nice. Like indoor plumbing nice.  All the water is hot, but I'm not complaining. Three bedrooms and one bathroom. It's pretty rad.

The walking every where  isn't that bad. It's all just really far, but not to hilly or anything.

In Ba it's a pretty solid split between the amount of native Fijians and the amount of Indians. But both are the nicest people, especially to the Elders.

Rugby is a huge deal in Fiji. I see at least 60 All Blacks shirts daily (All Blacks is a very popular team). I have had the opportunity to play rugby with the Elders in my zone, and it is way fun.

Ba is an awesome area. The people here are SUPER humble and they are so kind and charitable.

Elder Visawaqa is actually learning English, but he's dang good at it. He's such a great guy and an even better trainer.

I didn't get to see Elder Ogden until today, but man it's been great. We are staying the night in his area and then he is coming down to my area tomorrow.

I miss home but I love it here.

I haven't seen to many tourists, like maybe five total.

I've had a lot of curry and Indian sweets, because of Diwali, so I'm kind of curryed out.

So this week has been rather difficult. I started to feel homesick for the first time this week. Like, actually homesick. It was rough just thinking about certain things that I wouldn't be able to do for two years. I tried hard to shrug it off but I just couldn't. 

We've had a lot of appointments fall through this week. Like a lot! We have an investigator named, Usaia. He's 15 and before I got here he was progressing really well and he had a baptismal date set last week. Recently though, he's stopped coming to church and he never wants to meet with us. This seems to be the case with most of our investigators. They were all progressing and then when I got here they all seemed to just stop.  This whole week I've thought, "This is my fault. I'm the reason they won't come to church and they don't want to meet with us." I've just been beating myself up. 

So today for P-Day, we went to an area called RakiRaki and we decided we would hike a mountain. I didn't think to much of it, but then when we started our guide (a 16 year old girl) took us straight up the side of the mountain. It stunk. Like it was just super hard. All the miles I had walked all seemed to catch up with me and I started falling behind. I kept thinking to myself "I can't do this, I'm not strong enough."  Everyone just kept telling me to push on so I kept going. There came a very large rock that stood between me and the rest of the trail. It was massive and it was not going to be easy to get over. I thought to myself "I can't do this, There is no way I can do this." And then as sure as the sun shines, I heard a voice say " You can do this!  You can do anything, for I am with you." I made it over the rock and up to the top of the mountain.  

As I looked out over the ocean I realized, that the experience I had wasn't just for my hike. I know that my Heavenly Father gave me reassurance that no matter how hard my mission gets, or how dark the world might seem, that we can accomplish great things because he is with us. I know that my Father in Heaven lives, and I know he is with each and everyone of us. I love you and I miss you.

Luke 12:32
"Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."

And from one of my favorite hymns, Be Still, My Soul:
"Be still, my soul: The Lord is on thy side; 
With patience bear thy cross of grief or pain. 
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In ev’ry change he faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: Thy best, thy heav’nly Friend 
Thru thorny ways leads to a joyful end."

Much Love,
Elder Dawson
Peace Be Still
Keep it Real

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Week 7-November 8, 2015

Bula Vinaka! So I made it! I finally made it. The flight from LAX to Nadi felt like a lifetime...14 hours I think. When we arrived we were greeted by four Elders; Elders Johnson, Tomasi, Childers, and Robinson. They welcomed us to Fiji and then we embarked on a five hour bus ride to Suva, which also felt like a lifetime.
View from the bus!  Photo cred: Elder Forbush
Sticking with the smile!  Photo cred: Elder Forbush
Cramped much?  Photo cred: Elder Van Roosendaal

Honestly, the time I spent in Suva and at the Mission home feels like a blur. I know we ate Chinese takeout, bought some sulus, ate more food, had a lot of orientation presentations, and met President Layton, Sister Layton, and the Assistants to the President (APs).
The Newest Fijians
President and Sister Layton

On Wednesday we got our first assignment. I was called to serve in the Ba Area in the Lautoka Zone, and my trainer is Elder Visawaqa who is from Savusavu, Fiji. Ba is on the west side of Vitilevu (Fiji's main island). The best way to describe Ba is with one word. Africa. Ba is exactly what one would imagine Africa to look like. Super hot and dry. It's easily one of the prettiest places I've ever been though. There are huge trees everywhere full of fruits and flowers. Ba Area is huge in comparison to others. It takes like an hour bus ride to get from one side to the other, and the best part, we are a walking area! Oh yeah, all the flights of stairs in the MTC weren't to make my legs huge, they were preparing me for Ba.
Elder Visawaqa and Mari, one of our investigators!  She's 10.

My flat is pretty sweet, its in the same grounds as a cute little Hindu temple which is cool, because this Wednesday is Diwali, which means lots of sweets for the Elders. It does have indoor plumbing but zero air conditioning. The food in Ba is so dope! It's a sweet mixture of Fijian food and Indian food.  I had some Chicken and Pumpkin curry the other day.  Wow, it blew my mind!
The church building.

The sweet little Hindu temple that is right outside my front door!
Now, to answer some of your questions Mom:

The only way I can describe the smell of Fiji is with the smell of Seaworld in San Diego. Like, that's the only real way to describe it, wet, green and kinda fishy. Also hot, it smells hot. 

I love my sulus! They are a billiion times better than pants. 

The language is coming along slowly. Sometimes when I'm trying to think of what to say, I can hear Sister Trammell singing one of her songs. I thought they were weird and pointless.  Not so pointless after all. Elder Visawaqa has been very patient with me. I'm sure teaching me is similar to teaching a child. 

The bugs here are nasty. I spray myself with bug spray and they just find the one place I missed and swarm. The spiders here are way big, but they aren't to bad. I've already been bitten by one on the foot. 

The people in Ba are some of the nicest people I've ever met in my life. Everyone is so friendly and happy. 

Yesterday was my first day at church in the Ba ward, and I got here just in time for their Primary Presentation. It was way awesome. They made everyone a sick lunch after church too. So cool. 

After church, Elder Visawaqa and I taught three investigators that were brought to church. Then we took three prospective Elders out with us and proselyted for like 7 hours. The guys we had with us were way awesome. There was Junior, Temesi, and Joeli. They were way sweet. We taught five more lessons that night. Eight lessons, in one day. Elder Kumar (our District Leader)) said that that is the most he thinks he has ever heard in the Zone. Yeah, the Fijian Ba Elders rock!
Junior, Temesi, and Joeli

Tracting? Eh?

I thought that once I left the MTC I wouldn't feel the Spirit as strongly as I did while I was there. I was wrong. The Spirit is so strong with the Elders in Ba. I'm so grateful to my Lord for giving me this opportunity to come to Fiji and serve these wonderful people. I'm so happy I get to share his message of happiness with these people. I'm happy I get to teach these wonderful families that they can be together forever! In the MTC we were told:
 "A missionary leaves his family for two years, 
so others can be with their's for eternity." 

Man I'm so happy to be out here. I miss you guys so much and I love you tons. 

Much Love,
Elder Dawson
Peace Be Still
Keep it Real