Elder Dawson

Elder Dawson

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Week 14-December 27, 2015--Christmas and Dead Indian Men

This letter has been edited to include a few short explanations and stories that we enjoyed during our Skype on Christmas Eve, which was absolutely a delight.  I am happy to report that his irreverent sense of humor and contagious laugh are ever present and thriving!




Yadra Vinaka,

Man this week did NOT go by fast. At all. It was all good though because I had my boys down from RakiRaki keeping us company. (Elder Ogden, his dear friend from the MTC and his barber!)
Before

After
Answers to Mom's endless questions:

I'm all good on shirts. Some new ties would be sick, and also a new pair of glasses, or maybe contacts (*gasp* yes he said it). A watch would be cool too. I haven't had a watch since the MTC.

No Nativities in the mail yet, but I'm still looking. 

We are going to the funeral today for Papa.
(Papa is the grandfather of a family that the Elders have been working with.  He was "ancient" and Elder Dawson  personally changed his diapers and carried him to the shower.  Papa loved the missionaries and they loved him.  A few weeks ago the family called the Elders for emotional support due to a death in the family.  The Elders assumed that Papa had passed away.  When the Elders arrived at the family home to offer support and love they found Papa alive and well.  The family's dog had died.  In their laments, the family asked God why it had to be the dog to go and not Papa.  The missionaries were a little taken back by this but recognized that each grieve in their own way.  The Elders helped the family bury the dog in the yard and prayed for them.  On Christmas morning, the family called again to let the Elders know that Papa had also passed away and wondered if they could stop by to help with the shovels.)
 I'll let you know if we actually bury him or not. His son was way mad at all the Elders for not dropping everything (on Christmas) and going to console him and his wife right away. He acted the same way with his dog though, so...

The main industry in Ba is sugar cane.  There is a huge sugar mill.  Most of the Fijians either work in the sugar mill or have sold land to the sugar mill and live off of the proceeds.  The Indians own and run all of the other businesses in town.

For Christmas dinner Elder Ogden and I went home and made some sick fried chicken and mashed potatoes and listened to High School Musical music. It was way turnt.

The area of Fiji that Elder Dawson is serving is called The Burning West. The area has gone without rain for the last 9 months.  For the last week or two they have gotten a lot of rain.  He and his companion walk all over the town in the rain. He said it's not that bad and the more mud he walks through, the prettier his wife will be.  Sacrifice=Blessings.

So, yesterday (Sunday), I got to participate in the baptismal service of an entire family that we've been teaching since I've been in Fiji. It was so great. They were all smiling and happy. Sister Buna bore her testimony after her baptism and it was so special. I'll never forget it.  (One of the daughters of this family needed to marry her live-in boyfriend or break up with him in order for her to be baptized.  They chose to be married and Elder Dawson met them at the court house and was one of their witnesses!)

Not much else happened. I got to Skype home which was the bomb diggity.  Seeing everyone was awesome.   But other than that it was a way normal week.

video

Man, sorry, this week's letter kinda stinks. Noqu ca. Well, I love you guys lots! Like a lot, a lot. I'll write a lot more next week!

Much Love,
Elder Dawson 

-
Peace Be Still
Keep it Real

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Week 13-December 20, 2015

Bula Vinaka!
So straight up, this week like zipped past. I feel like I was just emailing you. Crazy! Anyways, it's been a pretty rad week. 
So my answers for this week. 
The women in Ba really dig na kei valagi (I like the white guy). Especially when they learn I can speak Fijian. I've had a few date invitations, and I accidentally accepted one once.  She was way disappointed when I showed up with my companion and a member present. 
Speaking of women, thanks for the picture of Sister Smith. Oh, *chuckles and leans over super sly like* I remember her. *flicks nose-winks* She was really nice and I remember thinking, I wonder if she will be serving in my family's area. It's obviously meant to be.
Elder Ogden cuts my hair because he's a stud.
The Elders here get transferred when President Layton feels inspired I guess. From what I've heard and seen, President likes to leave people in their areas for a long time. (I'm also crying about Sister Smith's transfer. #emailmelol) 
In Fiji Star Wars is just as big as anywhere else. Which low key stinks because I won’t be seeing it until I get home.
There aren't too many animals here that we don't have in America. Except maybe Mongooses. Are there Mongooses (mongeese??) in America?
I am picking up little things in Hindi. I try not to learn too much because I feel like President would call me to an all Hindi speaking area and I’m working really hard on Fijian, which is coming along. I read from the Fijian Book of Mormon at least once a day. 
Fijians love Christmas, but they don't like visitors on Christmas. Yay...
I am indeed getting Dad's emails. I love them! 
I do get to Skype, if I can get a camera. But Elder Ogden and I are looking way hard. We'll Skype you guys on the 25th here. So Christmas Eve for you guys. So we'll probably call at like 3 your time. I'll email you an hour in advance for all the nitty gritty details, so make sure you check your phone.

So this week seemed way short. We had transfers and Elder Kumar died (which means he went home, don’t panic) and the two sisters in Tavua both got transferred to the North. So, Elder McLeod and his trainee Elder Akaiti are up in Tavua now, and they took the car from the Hindi Elders. Dang no more rides.
This week we've been focused a lot on Sister Lusi and her family. I love this family so much. Sister Lusi is basically my mom here in Ba. If I have a problem, I call her. They are scheduled for baptism on this coming Sunday and I couldn't be more stoked. We just need her oldest daughter to get married or leave her boyfriend, but we are working with them. 
So, when we aren't out teaching, we do a lot of studying. Recently, Elda Visawaqa has really been in to role playing scenarios. They suck. He will talk as fast as he can and come up with the most ridiculous questions. My Fijian has improved though, so I guess it's working.
Yesterday the RakiRaki Elders came down so we started a fire outside and roasted two whole chickens. Yeah, it was the white guy’s idea. That's right, we're straight savage. It was way good. I'll have to do it for you guys when I get home. 
Before I end I just want to say a quick thing about this season. I used to love Christmas, because of good food, presents, family, presents, friends, eggnog, presents and all sorts of stuff. Lately though, I've been feeling discouraged, homesick, and honestly angry at times because things won’t be the same for Christmas this year for me. But as I turn my heart to the true meaning of Christmas and think of that mild and meek child, wrapped in swaddling clothes, everything gets a little easier because I know that because he was born, there is always hope. Because of Jesus Christ we can live with our families forever. Because of Jesus Christ we have an advocate for the final Judgement. Because of Jesus Christ, we can live again. For that I am eternally Grateful. I love my Savior, and that's why I'm in Fiji. That's why what I'm doing is important to me. I hope you all take a few moments this Christmas to really remember our Savior. I love you and I miss you.

Check out this awesome Christmas video.  It's only 2 minutes but it will get you in the feels!  Merry Christmas!
Much Love 
Elder Dawson

-- 
Peace Be Still
Keep it Real


Sunday, December 13, 2015

Week 12-Cakacaka Mana!! (Working miracles)-December 13, 2015

Bula Vinaka!

So in response to your questions:
I'm good with food. They don't utilize the churches welfare programs the same here, it's to isolated. I'm just going to have to learn to say no.  And, no, I haven't gotten desperate enough to eat a rat...even though they are big enough that I could probably eat for a week.

I won't be getting onto Facebook anytime soon.  I am weak but I want to be focused.

I received a way sick package.  All the candy and that sweet scripture Christmas tree advent calendar thing is way sweet.  Thank you!

Also, Sister Smith, is she cute?  If she's cute, I want her to be there when I Skype home so she can see how manly and dark I am. LOL
My week, has been full of miracles. Like jam packed with miracles! So we had this sweet Zone Training Meeting and in it, our Zone Leaders, Elder Johnson and Elder Thomas, told us to look for miracles. 
Chocolate Chip Cookies and Coke
So that night we had an appointment with one of our investigators Weni. She was scheduled for baptism that Sunday so we needed to go finish the lessons, and most importantly, go ask her non-member dad if she could be baptized because she is under 18.
The lesson went perfectly, the Spirit was there and we knew this girl was ready for baptism. Then her dad came into the room, we greeted each other and Elder Visawaqa, being way sav, just went for it and asked if Weni could be baptized. Then he kicked it up a notch and asked if Brother Josua would come to the baptism with his family. He got way quiet for a while until finally he said, "Yeah". We were stoked!  So after talking through some details and what not we left. 
Now Weni lives at the very edge of our area in a place called Vaqia and there were no more buses coming so we were going to have to walk back to our flat at 7 at night. We also had a dinner appointment with one of my favorite families, the Tamanis. We were both bummed because we were going to have to cancel the dinner because there was no way we would be back into town in time.  When we got to the top of Weni's hill, there was this Indian man just standing in the road with his car. He saw us and said, "Hey Brother's do you want a ride?" We told him thanks but we couldn't afford a taxi because we had no money. He told us that he was just going to work and he was headed to town. He gave us a ride all the way to FSC and we were able to make it to the Tamanis' house!  
Looking manly and dark...kinda!
Then on Sunday we had a baptism service for Weni and a girl name Abishna that the Ba Hindi Elders had been teaching. It was so special. I've never felt the Spirit so strongly. I felt like all the stresses of life just vanished. 

We had the busiest day after the baptism, but it didn't bother me at all. When I pulled Weni out of the water, I realized why I'm here. It's not to learn Fijian. It's not to live in a "Tropical Paradise". It's to bring my Father's children back to him.  I feel like I'm on fire here in the Burning West. I love Ba and all of it's African like qualities. I love my Father who lives in Heaven. I love my Savior, Jesus Christ. I love my companion. I love my family.  I love this Gospel and the hope it brings to this word. I bear testimony that the message I'm carrying and that all the set apart missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints carry forth is the true word of God. 
Cherish it.
Much Love,
Elder Dawson



--
Peace Be Still
Keep it Real

Week 11-December 5, 2015

Bula Vinaka!

Answers to Mom's crazy questions this week:

*I sleep on a bed, the floor, the couch, my chair. Just whatever I'm feeling that night.

*Elder Visawaqa just hit his 9 months mark, he's going to start dying soon.   That means that he will be on the down hill slope of 24 months.

*Diwali, is the Festival of Lights and the Indian people love making sweets.  That's as much as I know.

*Sulus are worn as more of a respect thing, so for like schooling or church. Business people, they wear sulus. But then there are the nightwear sulus, which are way sick. I have two. The women though, always wear sulus around Elders, as a sign of respect.

*I remember Sister Smith in the MTC (but not her face :/ so definitely send pictures). So does Elder Ogden, we are laughing about it.  It's funny that a girl I met and talked with is now serving her mission there in San Clemente, having dinner with my family.  Small world.

*It's great to hear about Ashley's mission call to Hong Kong. Tell her that I wish her luck and that she needs to write me while she's gone.  She will be my wife, after all!

*Our flat is so gross. We have rats the size of small dogs, spiders the size of large rats, and roaches everywhere.

*We've been paying for people to take carriers and buses, and we buy people groceries, so I don't have hardly any money, and we have nothing but flour, rice, and breakfast crackers at our flat. Lately, all of our dinner appointments have been canceling so we haven't been eating much. We shared a bad mango that I found on the road, and it was the best.
Pork and Bean Sandwich...yum!

Oh man this past week has been way sweet! So we've been having a lot of meetings in Lautoka for our zone, which means on Monday's we do Zone P-day. We crush some rugby! I love it. 

I experienced my first mission tour and our general authority was Elder Grifford Neilsen. He gave such awesome instruction. He spoke about the importance of the Sacrament, which really hit me hard, because in our little ward, we don't have high sacrament meeting attendance.  Oh, something way cool, I got to see ELDER GREEN!!!! He came to our zone's Mission tour. Oh it was a joyous reunion!

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday just seemed to fly by. Sorry this week there isn't a lot of way cool stuff. I did however come across a way cool chapter in the Book of Mormon that I really dug into this week. 
This chapter is extremely close to when Nephi dies so it's almost like his last testimony. Man, it is a way cool chapter. Read it and really think about what Nephi is saying in each verse, especially about Heavenly Father and The Savior.

If you don't have a Book of Mormon, you can order a free one on line on lds.org, or on the same website you can use the online Book of Mormon. And while you're there, check out the Christmas message, it's beautiful. Anyway, I love you and miss you a ton!

Much Love 
Elder Dawson

-- 
Peace Be Still
Keep it Real

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Week 10-November 29, 2015

Bula Vinaka,

Phew, what a week. 

SO this week seemed to drag on forever.  I had a lot of fun down in Lautoka, we had Zone Qito and we played Rugby and Ultimate Frisbee in the rain which was way sweet.  I think I'm getting pretty good at Rugby. I think I would be a little better if I could just have people try and tackle me instead of tag me, but I think I'm getting pretty good.
We stayed down in Nadi, the city with the airport that we flew into, for Zone conference on Tuesday. Zone Conference was pretty cool.  I got to see my "Grandpa" Elder Lemalu. I love that guy. Seeing guys from the MTC is always good.  This past week has been way awesome! 
Zone Conference

We got to go on splits with some of the Elders down in Nadi. I went with Elders Van and Carter. We met with some super old guy who was way cool. His Fijian was hard to understand but he kept saying "vinaka vinaka" whenever we said anything about Jesus Christ, so basically the whole lesson.

On the way back to Ba we stopped at McDonalds. When we were at McDonalds I met Bu Kini. She's super famous in Fiji, She's Fiji Rugby's biggest fan. She was way bomb and no Mom, I am not checking out hotties in McDonalds. She’s not what you think!
Bu Kini

On Wednesday, we just had a super weird day. It started raining way hard, which was a miracle to the people of Ba. It stayed way hot, but it was raining. Most of the roads in Ba are dirt, which quickly turned to mud. Yes, we were walking. We received a referral to a family who lived on top of this hill, and on the way up we were slipping and sliding all over the place. When I got to the top I was covered in mud and soaking wet. The husband was outside sitting on the porch and when I saw him I said the only thing I knew how to say in that situation. "Au via wasea na itukutuku baleti Jisu Karisito." I'm sure that freaked him out a little. Just some white guy covered in mud, saying he wanted to share a message about Jesus Christ. He told us they were busy, but we are going to go see them on Wednesday. 

So, Thanksgiving is actually just as big here as it is in America. Which is cool, but at the same time sucks because it makes me miss home. We had a super rad dinner appointment set up for Thanksgiving.  They said they would make a whole chicken for each of us and they said they would make potatoes and curry and rice and roti and all other sorts of good stuff. Well we had had a really long day of canceled appointments and we had walked like 15 miles in around 39 C. So we were way stoked for this rad dinner. We got halfway up the hill that this family lives on, and they called us and told us that they were in Suva for Thanksgiving and they had to cancel. Well, what could I do?   I just sat down and adjusted my sandals for the 45 minute walk back to town and started for home. When we got back to our flat, my companion just went right to bed. I said to myself, I want something for Thanksgiving dinner. So I used what we had, and had a dope PB&J sandwich and some Mango Tang. (And I might have listened to Sia, Ed Sheeran, T Swift, and Iggy Azalea, but the world will never know.) 


On Friday we taught some awesome lessons to our investigators. One is named Akosita. She's way awesome and progressing really well. We committed her to the Word of Wisdom and she said she loved Tea and Tobacco, but we said we would help her by praying for her.

On Saturday I went on exchanges with my District Leader Elder Kumar. His half of the area speaks Hindi so I had no clue what was going on but they really loved the white guy. I'm actually kinda famous in Ba. I'm one of the four white people who lives here, and I'm the only American. I'll go into someone's home and people will say things like "I’ve heard about you, but I didn't know it was true."  

On Sunday as a ward we all went down to the stakes seminary graduation. We got to see some new faces, some familiar, and Elder Visawaqa even saw his Girlfriend, who was on holiday, oops. This week has been way bomb. Like way bomb. I love Ba, even though it's like 39 degrees here every day. I love the Fijian people. I love my Savior and my Heavenly Father. I love you and I miss you a lot. 

Much Love,

Elder Dawson   

Oh, I just realized I didn't answer any of your questions:

To convert Celsius to Farenheit just double the number and add 30.  So, for example, 39 degrees Celsius is 108 degrees Farenheit!  It’s freaking hot, dude.

We use Fijian money. Like ever 50 cents in  America is 1 dollar here. But everything here is basically just like home only twice as expensive. We live on basically $80 every two weeks.

Some food pics:






In my flat it's just Elder Visawaga and I. We often stay the night with Elders Kumar and Fitisemanu though. They have air conditioning. 

Our Ward breaks up into all the auxiliaries. All 40 of us. 

We drink milk all the time. There isn't a lot of cheese. Oh and get this, I eat ice cream now, like a crap ton. Miracles for missionaries.  (Please send me some Lactaid pills!)

I haven't bought a machete, because a young man in my ward is going to teach me to make one. 

The dogs are way mean. I've kicked two. They don't have homes, they're just chillin on 'da streets.

People laugh at me a lot when I try to speak and when I don't understand something. It bothers me sometimes, but for the most part, everyone is always way nice.  

I killed my first rat this week. It was the size of a Chihuahua. I went to go get my camera but before I could two spiders, the size of normal rats in New York, dragged it way.  I feel safe here.

Anyways, I love you guys and I miss you way a lot.

Elder Dawson

-- 
Peace Be Still

Keep it Real