Sunday, November 29, 2015

LAMI - Week 7

First Baptism!
Bula Vinaka!

It's been a GREAT week here in Viti. (The actual name of the country) Sometimes it reminds me of Utah in the fact that the weather changes CRAZY fast. Like from scorching hot to pouring rain then back to hot in a matter of a couple minutes. It's summer here though, so it's hot pretty much all the time. Even while it's raining you're sweating. Haha. Sometimes I miss the cold snow back home and wish I could go skiing. But then I'm sure most of you in Utah would do anything to swap places and be here in Fiji, so I'm trying to be grateful for my time here. It really is an amazing place.

Thanksgiving week! They don't have Thanksgiving here so we didn't really do anything. The most anyone really talked about it was on Thanksgiving day, during studies, an Elder looked up from his desk and said "Hey... It's Thanksgiving today." I then said "Oh yeah... It is, huh." And that's about it. That night I thought a lot about my family back home, and imagined them sitting around the table eating Turkey and mashed potatoes. It made me happy. I'm so thankful that I have such an amazing family! I love you all so much, and think about and pray for you every night.

I had a really cool experience this week with a taxi driver that I got talking to. He's Muslim. Oh, I don't know if any of you are confused about this too, but Muslim is the person and Islam is the church. So if you associate with the Islam church, you're a Muslim. He explained that to me. Haha. Anyways, we got talking about our religions. He told me about what his beliefs are and tried to explain why they believe what they believe. He told me that he loves learning about religion. He also said that he never just believes what a preacher says, he always researches what they said so he can know for himself. Then I told him about our church. I told him about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Book of Mormon. I then asked him to research to know if what I told him was true. He was excited. I gave him the our phone number and a Restoration pamphlet and he said he'd call if he has questions. Who knows if anything will come of it, but it was a cool experience! Maybe one day, 5 years down the road he'll read it, pray about it, and want to get baptized! Planting seeds.

Ok now for the super exciting part of my week. MY FIRST BAPTISM!! It was this last Saturday, the 28th. I was SO excited all week. It's a family. Well, the mom, whose name is Iri, and 2 of her kids, Rusiate and Rusila. It went SO well. It was such a spiritual day for me! I was so happy, I'm still like beaming from it! I've become like best friends with the kid Rusiate, and he follows us around everywhere. He's only 14, and he keeps saying he wishes he could go on his mission right now!

Also that same night was the Ward Christmas party. I know, pretty early huh? But in Fiji, it's tradition to move back to your parent's village during Christmas-time, so they did it early. It was a BLAST. SOOO many people showed up. Lots of our investigators too! It was really such a fun time. Missionaries aren't really allowed to dance, so I wasn't able to hop into the circle when all the members urged me to come dance. But the song was just TOO good for me not to at least show off a couple of my moves. ;)

All in all, another good week! Time just keeps going by. It's really surreal. It's already December! I hope all of you are having tons of fun and making the most of every second. Life's a gift, treat it like one! Me being a missionary, I'll end on a spiritual quote. "Reading your scriptures is like brushing your teeth. You can't skip it 6 days a week and then say you'll brush 7 times on Sunday."

I urge all of you to re-evaluate your scripture reading. Read every day! Even if only for 5-10 minutes! It is the foundation of the Gospel, and is the true word of God. It can help you solve ANY problem you may face. READ!

I love you all so much! Thanks for taking the time to read about my experiences here on my mission! Keep on keepin' on! Au lomani kemuni!

- Elder Miller

An 8-year old baptism
My companion on the left, then Iri, then Rusila, then Rusiate, then me. I baptized the kids and my companion baptized Iri. Amazing day!
These kids followed me around EVERYWHERE at the party. Haha
TONS of food. Also, at most Fijian parties, they have this middle mat. Where little kids and their moms sit to eat food
The ward Christmas party. This wasn't even all the people!
A Fijian dance
Some Fijians dressing up in leaves... This mom was going crazy. Haha
We thought we were pretty cool at the time...

Sunday, November 22, 2015

LAMI - Week 6

Suva North Zone
Week 6 in Lami Finished! 

Another week come and gone as a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints! My mission is on the up and up! Every week just gets better and better! This week was a blast, I have no idea what to share about! I'll start off with a pretty embarrassing story.... Warning: If you find flatulence offensive, I advice you skip this next paragraph.

So Thursday we had exchanges. It's where our Zone Leaders come and we swap companions for a day. My companion went to another area while I led one of the Zone Leaders around my area. At the end of the day, we went to our dinner appointment. After the dinner, we wanted to share a quick lesson with the family about the temple. The temple here in Fiji is being re-dedicated in February, and everyone is getting SO excited here. They're going to have a cultural celebration in the biggest stadium in Fiji. It's gonna be AWESOME. Anyways, the lesson went really good. As we were wrapping up, my companion started to bear his testimony. Then all of the sudden... You can guess. I have no idea what happened. It all happened so fast. I didn't see (or feel) it coming. At first I thought nobody heard it and that I was in the clear. But then I noticed one of the kids communicate with his mom. In Fiji they have an unspoken language, using only facial expressions. The mom looked at her kid, and then looked at me with wide eyes. Then everyone started to smile. I looked over at my companion, and he started smirking. He then said, "I testify that my companion just farted."  Gosh, it took us like 5 full minutes to stop laughing. I was so embarrassed. Let's just say the spirit wasn't exactly in the room anymore. Haha.

So this week we also had Zone conference, where all the missionaries in the zone meet at the mission home and the Mission President teaches us. It happens like 3 times a year. It was cool! He talked a lot about the temple. It's going to be SO exciting. If you guys get the chance, find a way to watch it. It'll basically be like the opening ceremony of the Olympics. Way cool. They haven't told us how, but they said that us missionaries are going to be doing something in it near the end.... So I'm getting so stoked! Also, he told us that they're opening up a new island for a pair of missionaries to go to in December. It's called Rotuma, they have their own language and everything. Who knows, maybe I'll serve there one day. :)

We also have a baptism this coming Saturday! I'm SO excited. It's a lady and 2 of her kids. They are the best! I'll tell you about it and send pictures next week. I'm stoked!!

Ok, so this week during church, a white guy from Logan, Utah that's working on the temple bore his testimony in church. It was really cool and I want to share something he said. He talked about being Holy. To REMEMBER and HONOR the things that are holy. These are the things that are called holy in the Bible:
-Holy bodies
-Holy scriptures
-Holy Ghost
-Holy Temple
-Holy Priesthood
-the Holy Order of Matrimony

This was a good reminder for me. There are some things that Heavenly Father has given us that we must treat with honor and holiness. My favorite is the Holy Order of Matrimony. Because of what happens in the temple, I can be with my future wife for time and all eternity. Not only that, but I can be with ALL that I love and am sealed to for time and all eternity. I love my family more than anything in this world, and am so grateful for the knowledge that I have that I can be with them forever.

I love being a missionary. I have amazing experiences every single day. I learn and learn and learn. I love this gospel so much. Thank you everyone for the emails and well-wishes! It means so much to me! I love you all so much. Until next week. Keep on keepin' on! Au lomani kemuni!

-Elder Jaxson Miller
A view from the top of a village called Kalekana 
The 10 Commandments and Joseph Smith's First Vision in Fijian
A typical Fijian house. This is a village called Wailekutu
My attire when I'm not wearing missionary clothes 
Haha, Beats headphones being sold for $53 Fijian, which is about $26 American

Sunday, November 15, 2015

LAMI - Week 5

Lami - Week 5 in the books!

I know that I talked all about how crazy it was that I've already been in Fiji for over a month last time. But I realized that this week was my 3-month mark for my mission!! I'm already 1/8 done with my time as a missionary! And man has it been a SWELL 3 months.

I'll start off with kind of a weird story. My companion and I were walking from appointment to appointment one day. As we were passing a rugby field (they're EVERYWHERE) near the end of the day, the coach ran over to us and stopped us. He asked us to come pray with the team to end their training. So we walked over and joined their huddle. It was cool! Every single one of them seemed so excited to see us, and put their arms around us as if we were part of the team. We shared a quick scripture about faith. We told them that if they would read their scriptures and pray about their upcoming rugby game, that they would win. Haha. We'll see how that turns out! We then ended with a prayer. As we walked away, I tried to imagine that happening in America. But NO WAY. The people of Fiji are just the freaking best.

This week I also had my first vuaka (pig)! It's like the coveted food here. It's WAY expensive and rare, so it was a way awesome surprise! There was one problem though... Halfway through my serving I took a bite.... And almost gagged it all out. It still had the hairs of the pig on there... Yuck. Haha, the foods here are definitely different than back home. Although I definitely miss my Panda Express, I have already grown to love the food.

Also, on Wednesday was a big holiday here in Fiji. It's called Diwali. It's an Indian holiday, but everyone celebrates it. It was so fun! There were SO many fireworks going off everywhere every single night. We had a ward party that was a BLAST. Played tons of games that I've never seen before. Like one where they brought all the boys in, and tied their arms behind their back. The object was to grab an object on the ground by doing the splits, and without using your hands. It was HILARIOUS seeing the old Fijian grandpas trying to get all the way down. I was way worried they were gonna like break a bone or something! But this 30-year old WAY BUFF guy won. Holy cow he could go down SO far. Haha.

This week was also a good week for me as far as the language is concerned! I think I really turned a corner! I'm starting to really understand what people are saying to me, and I'm starting to be able to speak a bit faster! It's a super weird language, but I love it so much.

All in all, it was a super fun week. Time really does fly as a missionary. I want to end with a quote that I heard that I think is super important for us to remember:

"The Lord sacrificed everything for us, including his own LIFE. What are we sacrificing for Him?"

I testify that Jesus Christ truly did sacrifice for our sins. He went through all of our pains, doubts, fears, trials, and tribulations so that we can be saved. What are doing in return? I challenge all of you to ask yourself that question, and look to improve this next week. Sacrifice 3 hours to go to church! Sacrifice 10 minutes once a day to read the scriptures! Sacrifice a couple TV shows to help someone in need! The Lord loves us all SO much. Show a little love in return.

I love you all SO much. I love being a missionary. Keep on keepin' on!
Au lomani kemuni!

- Elder Jaxson Miller
Suva, the capital! A view of Suva from a hill in Lami
Rusi (on right), a 14 year old that's going to get baptized this coming week!
A Fijian ice cream sandwich. (Bread with passionfruit ice cream)
Sack race at the ward Diwali party
Rugby, my companion is the one with the ball on the very left
Net Ball, a Polynesian sport. Like basketball, except you can't take any steps when you have the ball
A view from the top of a village called Kalekana

Sunday, November 8, 2015

LAMI - Week 4

Ni sa bula binaka!

I've been in Fiji for one whole month. It's crazy to think about. I'm on a little island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, a 13-hour plane ride away from my family. It's almost surreal sometimes. But, as I'm sure you got out of my lettter last week, I love it SO much. 

This week was transfer week! It happens every 6 weeks. It's when the mission president moves missionaries around, assigns new companions, etc. I figure lots of you may be familiar with missionary lingo, so I'll define a couple things.

-So my companion and I are in charge of an area. Right now I'm in the Lami 1st area.
-There are about 3-5 companionships in a District. I'm in the Lami District. (It's called that because my companion is District Leader)
-There are about 3-5 Districts in a Zone. We're in the Suva North Zone. For us, each Zone is in charge of one stake. 
-There are 7 Zones in the Fiji Suva mission. About 140 missionaries. 

So this transfer week I stayed where I am. My companion became District Leader, so he's in charge of the 4 companionships that compromise our District. A new Elder got transferred into my district. He's actually the Elder who's blog I followed every week before my mission! Haha, it was weird seeing him after I'd seen him in all those pictures before my mission.

I played my first rugby this week! My Mission President was restricting my playing rugby before because of my surgery, but I'm all cleared now. It's actually really really fun! Rugby is worshiped so much here I figure I'll be a professional by the time I finish my mission. I honestly don't think there's been a day gone by where I didn't see people playing rugby. 

Another thing about Fijian culture is that it's a culture of sharing. (I can't remember if I've already told this before) If someone else likes something of yours, you give it to them. For example, a little kid walked up to me and looked at the watch I was wearing. He asked me how much it cost. Then he sat there holding my wrist in his hands for like a full minute, just STARING at the watch. Haha, he was basically BEGGING for it. So I asked him if he wanted it and he said "Ohhhh no no no..... Eh?" And looked up at me with big eyes. I laughed SO hard. Then gave it to him. Such is the way of all Fijians.

This week was kind of an eye opener to me. One Elder in my District finished his mission and went home this week.  The past couple weeks he's been bragging to all of us about how soon he'll be done and be able to watch all the movies and stuff while we're still out here. But then this week came. He became almost depressed. His last day was the longest day ever. He cried. He didn't want to leave. He told me it goes by SO much faster than he ever thought.
So it taught me that I need to take advantage of the opportunity I have. 2 years seems like a long time when looking ahead. But when looking back, 2 years becomes 2 days. I love the fact that I'm able to say that I'm a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I am going to make the most of every second I have out here in the most beautiful place in the world, doing the most beautiful thing in the world: sharing the gospel. 

I love you all! Send me an email if you get the chance, I'd love to hear from you. Pictures are the BEST.
...Ni sa noqu vu ni kaukauwa kei na noqu vu ni sere na Turaga ko Jiova. Sa yaco me noqu ivakabulai. -2 Nephi 22:2
Au lomani kemuni!

-Elder Jaxson Miller
My Navua District, minus a couple stragglers

Some Fijian kids in a town called Kalekana
Selfie - Elder Losia (holding the camera), finished his mission this week
District selfie (before transfers) - Navua District
The view from a town called Kalekana
Fijians making "sasa's" or brooms
A picture right before Elder Losia got picked up to go home

Elder Aguair. (Said he followed my blog before he left!) 
Our new District t-shirts

Monday, November 2, 2015

LAMI - Week 3

Ni sa bula vinaka!

I want to tell a story real quick. So earlier today, me and my companion were sitting and doing our studies. All of a sudden, there were sirens that started going off. Like those way loud scary ones that you hear on horror movies. Yeah. So I go outside to see what's going on. My neighbor was outside and I asked him what was going on. He said "I think it's just the Tsunami warning siren." Oh my heck I started freaking out. Here was this guy with his shirt off, listening to a Tsunami alert, and he just NON-CHALANTLY said it's "JUST the Tsunami alarm" like it's no big deal! So I called mission office headquarters to see what we should do. Turns out they were just testing the system to see if it worked. Haha. Literally a "False alarm".

Another week has come and gone way quickly here in Fiji! Time is flying by! Every day is a blast. This area is the best, I LOVE it here. Since I love Fiji so much, I figured I'd tell you some random facts about this place and the culture.

1 - The people are literally the nicest people on Earth. You can't pass a single person on the street without them saying hello. When you walk by houses, if the people inside happen to see you, they call out to you to come in and have some tea. (It's not REALLY tea, we can drink it)

2 - When passing on the street, it's custom for people to ask where you're going or where you came from. You usually just point in a general direction, or say "Rai vaoqo mada" which directly translates to "look this way please" but just means "Is it ok if I go this way?"

3 - The people WORSHIP rugby. The Rugby World Cup just ended yesterday. But everywhere you go that's all people talk about. New Zealand just beat Australia in the Final. My companion is from New Zealand and almost ALL of Fiji was rooting for Australia, so he's been giving them a hard time ;).

4 - Almost everyone is poor. The houses are so small. Rarely ever any furniture in a house. Just a kitchen with basic appliances in there, a mat to sit on on the ground, and some mattresses in another room. It is SO humbling to me. These people have almost nothing, but they give it all when they can. They feed us SO much food even though you know they don't have much. They walk for an hour and a half to get to church.

5 - Even though they're poor, they all have TV's. (to watch rugby) Haha.

6 - McDonald's is one of the most expensive restaurants here. Like $7 for a dollar menu burger.

I love this place so so so much. The people are so hilarious. It's so beautiful here. The members are way strong. The people are so open to the message. The food is actually really really good. I cannot say how much I love this place.

I just wanted to say how much I love being a missionary. I've already had so many amazing experiences. My testimony has been strengthened tenfold, and I know so much more will come. I want to end with a quote.
"If you really love someone, you'll forget about yourself."

I know this to be true. When you truly love someone, you'd do ANYTHING for them. I have experienced this on my mission for the people here. Seeing how much they're willing to do for me, a total stranger, makes me love them so so much. I am willing to do anything for these people. Including leave my family for 2 whole years of my life to share with them a message that I KNOW will make their lives happier.

I love you all so so much, and miss you tons. (But not enough to leave this place ;) Stay strong and strengthen your testimony! Build your house upon the rock that is Jesus Christ.

Taumana na vakabauta!

-Elder Miller

The Road to Togoru - This road is near a small village called Togoru. We walked about an hour each way. 

Walking along the beach to an investigator's house

A less-active member's house right on the beach

A member chopping up coconuts for us to eat

My first all-natural coconut!

Low tide, so a sand-bar appeared. Some kids were playing rugby on it. 

Ward activity in Navua (not my area)

A Hula

Elder Burgener and Elder Levasa