Saturday, December 28, 2013

Bula! Yacway! Talofa! Mauri!


This week was fabulous.  I finally learned how to say hello in all four of our zone languages. Bula.... Fijian.  Yacway....Marshaleese.  Talofa.....Samoan.  And Mauri......Kiribati.  Oh, and it was also Christmas.  :) 

The rest of Christmas was wonderful.  It was very different from every other Christmas I've ever experienced but it was still wonderful.  We went to four events in the gym.  A talent show, a music program, a showing of last years Christmas Concert and an incredible Devotional.  David A. Bednar came.  He is truly an apostle! It was one of the most inspiring devotionals I've ever been to.  He passed out 200 cell phones and had us text "Inspired Questions" after he taught us about inspired questions. I was blown away at how well he responded on the spot.  One of my favorite thoughts was when someone asked "Why do I feel so inadequate as a missionary?" He responded by saying that it is a good sign.  It is because we have some sense of what we have been called to do. And it helps us be humble and successful.  So that was real good news. Another answer I really liked was about Sin.  He said that some people think it isn't a big deal to spend their whole life sinning and repenting.  But he said "If we are in the Cleaners constantly we have no time to perfect ourselves and progress.  No time to become more like our Heavenly Father.  We will miss out on so much." Really great insight eh?

Our Fiji Districts also did this adorable gift exchange for Christmas.  The sweetest Elder from Kiribati who barely speaks English drew my name and gave me the sweetest present with an adorable drawing on the front and it was taped shut with Halloween Stickers. Love it. 

 The language is starting to sink in better this week.  We have worked a lot harder on saying everything we can in Fijian wherever we go. My sentence structure is improving a lot. We also have an awesome substitute teacher this week for Christmas break..... BROTHER MATHESON! Yep. We're definitely related and he definitely rocks. I think his Great Grandpa is Great Grandpa Alva's cousin.  But he is definitely from Alexander Matheson's line that came from Scotland and lived in Southern Utah.  He is like 6'6" and reminds me of a combination of Grandpa and Lance Lamoreaux. Everyone says that as a Matheson, I have HUGE footsteps to fill in Fiji.  Literally and figuratively.  He is a Hero there. But seriously, what are the chances that TWO Mathesons will serve in Fiji within like five years? Look him up on Facebook, his name is Patrick Matheson. 

The sisters are as hilarious and sweet as ever.  Yesterday Sister Iro out of the blue said......" Uh. I wish leave MTC tomorrow. MTC make me so fatty and so shorter."  Ha. Cracked me up. And Sister Pauni was vigorously brushing her teeth yesterday when I came into the bathroom.  She had white foamy toothpaste bubbles dribbling all the way down her chin. She had the perfect Santa Clause beard.  I started laughing.  Then she said "Are you ok, Leada?" Like nothing was out of the ordinary.  She always calls me Leader too which is just funny. Sometimes it's rough to be the only Palagi for a minute because the cultures are so different.  Occasionally I feel like I'm babysitting.  Occasionally.  But in the end the Love outweighs the bad by a mile and a half and I feel so blessed to serve with them.  I love helping them and getting to know them.  Elder Bednar said that when we serve missions we are really serving two missions.  One to the people we are called to teach and the other to our companions and the other missionaries.  I have seen the truth of that and love every second of it. They have been my greatest Joy and Blessing here at the MTC. 

I love you all so much and hope you have a fabulous week! I will try and attach some pictures! 

Loloma Levu,

Sister Matheson

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Miracles, Blessings, and....... LICE!


What a week! I can't believe it's P-day again. So much has happened and I don't know where to start. I guess I'll start with Merry Christmas! I wish I remembered how to say Merry Christmas in Fijian.  Unfortunately it's about 18 words long. But Merry Christmas! It doesn't quite feel like Christmas here yet.  At least not the Christmas that I'm used to.  But it's such a blessing to be at the MTC for the Christmas Season because there are no distractions from the true meaning and message of Christmas.  Our Savior Jesus Christ. 

The Fijian is coming along.  It's exhausting to study so much all. the. time.  But, it is motivating to see daily progress.  My companion and I are teaching 100% in Fijian now.  Although I truly admire the teachers who play our investigators for not cracking up at our desperate and hilarious Fijian mistakes. But being able to teach lessons completely in Fijian, however crappy the Fijian is, is a huge milestone for us. I also was able to memorize my purpose as a missionary in Fijian and D&C18:10.  I'm so excited to actually get to Fiji and be able to teach real, live, adorable, FIJIANS! Yay! 

We had to say goodbye to three of our Elders this week.  So sad.  They will be missed.  But we welcomed 28 new missionaries going to Samoa, Kiribati, and Marshall islands.  There are 3 sisters and the rest are Elders. And they are HUGE!!! Most are from Tonga and Samoa. All of them are like 6'8 or so and at least 250 lbs..... except the five or so white elders. More guys.  It was a little intimidating to do the orientation and tour last night but they are gonna be a lot of fun.  

I also got to see a few missionaries from home! I saw Jake and Kaitlin in the cafeteria the first day then I saw Karley Williams last night.  So many missionaries came yesterday.  Which is awesome because Monday and Tuesday I feel like this place was deserted. But guess where Kaitlin is staying?!? Right. Next. Door.  So that's a blessing and so much fun. Literally, she couldn't be any closer. 

We had a big Lice scare this week.  Yep, Lice. I'm still scared.  So in class on Tuesday, no one was in District B was in class.  We asked the teacher where they were and he said that all of the elders were sick and the sisters went to the health clinic.  Because Sister Uate had Lice.  I'm seriously freaking out on the inside, because what's mine is everyone else's.  And sister Uate uses my straightener every day. And my clothes and everything else.  Then sister Pauga is like "Oh, ya that's right."  Turns out she found one crawling in her hair on Sunday and Sister Kaititi found one a few days before that.  How in the world do you find lice in someone's hair and then just go on with your day? Maybe it's a difference in Culture. But she did a treatment and no one else has said they think they have lice yet so I hope it will be ok. 

Miracle of the week: 

Saturday we got back from Gym and realized that all five of us had forgotten to take our keys, which never happens.  I was a little bugged that we had to go to the front desk to get a key. But when we got there guess who I saw? Joel Mortenson. I don't really know him, but luckily I recognized his name and asked if he knew Melissa, who I have been worried about all week.  It was the right Joel Mortenson and I got a much needed update.  Such a blessing!

Biggest blessing of the week:


Sister Iro. Hands down.  Last sunday I was really, really worried about her.  I didn't know how to help her or get through to her but I knew she needed help.  I tried to be her friend and bought her a simple pair of $2 headphones for the gym and left them on her dresser with a sticky note, because I knew she wanted some but couldn't afford them. But I knew I needed to do more and it was all I could think about.  I prayed and prayed that I would know how to help her and have the opportunity to help her.  The next day, everyone else was gone to Gym or to run errands and it was just the two of us in the room. I sat down and started asking her about her emails and such.  Then we started talking about her family.  And the church.  And her life.  And her struggles. She spilled her whole entire heart to me. For at least an hour.  Just the two of us.  I  was choking back tears the entire time.  And about half way through I was flat out BAWLING. I have never, ever been so touched by a story.  She is my hero.  I wish I could have recorded her story and kept it forever. She has been persecuted so heavily by her family for joining the church.  She is beaten, and starved and mocked, and punished for her beliefs daily. She kept saying..... "I am crying..... just crying..... so much.....I am crying."  My heart melted.  She had to walk 40 minutes each way to church by herself.  She told me about her conversion almost two years ago and the miracles that she has witnesses in her life. She told me about when she received her mission call and she had no money or posessions to be able to go.  She told me that she cried and cried and begged her mom to let her borrow $30 for a suitcase so that she could go.  And that her mom's heart was softened.  And she told me so much more. She said that her biggest trial here is that her heart aches for her family every time we talk about our supportive families and how the gospel blesses families.  She has a tremendous amount of faith and courage.  And I felt Heavenly Father's love for her.  Pure love.  She told me she could too.  And that she has been so blessed being here.  

But I am the one who has been blessed.  I think Heavenly Father knows we needed each other. She is a daily reminder to me that I am blessed beyond belief.  A reminder that through the Lord, we can do all things. A reminder that the Lord loves us individually and hears and answers our prayers.  Every day, she makes me cry.  This morning it was because after I got off the computer this morning after checking my 5 or 6 new emails, she logged on and stared at an empty inbox.  Completely empty.  She has never received an email. Yesterday it was when I was laying in bed thinking about all of the things I have to do and how hard it all is. And I hear her tiny, beautiful, broken english voice from the other end of the room quietly singing.  "Because I have been given much, I too must give."  I was so humbled.  She went on to sing "I have a Family Here on Earth." And "Love at Home." along with a few others.  Wow. I'm so glad we have each other. 

I'm so sorry..... this is quickly turning into a novel.  So I'll leave with one last thought. On tuesday, Elder Rasband spoke to us about Spiritual Gifts.  He challenged us to think of the spiritual gifts we have been given and to find ways to share them with others. Yesterday, when my companion was sick, I was able to really ponder it out and study a lot about Spiritual Gifts and the Spirit truly taught me so much.  I think the greatest gift that I have been given this Christmas is the little black name tag I wear over my heart everyday. It's the trust that my savior has given me.  He has trusted me to represent Him.  To spread His Gospel to the people of Fiji.  I can think of no greater gift.  

Merry Christmas! I love you all! 

Loloma Levu,

Sister Matheson. 

Saying Farewell to one of our missionaries that left for Samoa on Monday morning. 

Aimee and her companion Sister Pauga, Sister Training Leaders

Aunt Lael sent me cinnamon rolls yesterday and we LOVED them.  The sisters were so funny.  It was like a little feast.  They've never had them before and literally licked the wrapping clean. Ha.  So they were definitely appreciated.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Bula from the MTC!

Bula! Time is so strange here at the MTC! It feels like we've been here a month and yet I swear I checked in just yesterday. But it's fabulous! I've decided the MTC is definitely what you make of it. If you are determined to have a wonderful experience here.... you will! The spirit is so strong.  Especially when we sing. I love it. Here are a few updates on my life here.

The Language: 

Fijian is a blast.  I have never seen such long stinkin' words in my whole life. For example. The number 21 is ruasagavulukadua. Crazy. They also really like V's and K's.  This first week has been such a testimony to me that the MTC and the programs here are inspired! And also..... the gift of tongues is real. The ability to learn insane languages comes straight from Heavenly Father.  Yesterday I got cocky for a minute before we started to play a game and suddenly, I couldn't even remember the word for "You." Then I was humbled again and remembered that it's not me, it's Heavenly Father. We have four teachers and all of them are awesome. By the second day we were praying in Fijian and the third we were bearing our testimonies in Fijian.  (I am going to try and send you a video of me bearing my testimony on about the fourth day.) Fun fact... I am definitely supposed to go to Fiji because the way you ask a question is by the tone of your voice.  And it's exactly the funny Australian accent that you all make fun of me for. Ha. I am soooo happy when I am studying the language though.  

 We've also taught five lessons in Fijian. It's pretty humbling.  Our investigator, Pita, commited to be baptized yesterday! (YAY!!!) We've only made a few hilarious mistakes so far. Tikina is the word for verse and Tinika means canned fish so one lesson we kept trying to share canned fish with him. He was bummed when it was only a scripture. Ha. Another lesson we thought we were sharing JSH 1: 16 - 17 with him when it was actually the Joseph Smith Translation of Matthew 1: 16-17.  Says something about being "With Child." He was trying so hard not to laugh and we were SO CONFUSED!

My Zone:

There are two districts going to Fiji (entered the same day) and one district of three elders going to Samoa (two of which are the Zone Leaders.)  There are 9 Elders going to Fiji with us.  Most are Polynesian or Australian but there is one from Utah and one from Alabama.  They are so fun. There are 8 sisters.  I love them all sooooo much! 

Sister Pauga: my companion.  She is from Samoa/New Zealand so she has great English but it definitely still polynesian.  :) We get along super well and are Sister Training Leaders together. 

Sister Pauni: Samoan.  Hilarious. I can only understand about 15% of what she says. I think it will actually be easier to communicate when we learn Fijian. She is a crack up though and always in her own little world. 

Sister Tongoi: From Kiribati. She is a sweet heart and is ALWAYS taking pictures.  

Sister Iro: I LOVE this girl. She is from the Solomon Islands and is the only member in her family and such an example to me.  Her broken English testimony is one of the strongest I've ever heard. 

Sister Itea: Also from the Solomon Islands.  She sticks with Sister Iro a lot and doesn't understand much but she is precious and is also the only member in her family. 

Sister Kaititi: From Kiribati/Fiji.  She is a funny girl and pretty outgoing.  She always says she's the most "Notorious" which she thinks means trouble maker. Ha. Love her though.

Sister Uate: Tongan. She is Hilarious.  LOVES to eat. She's also the only member in her family. 

The most humbling and spiritual experiences have been with these girls.  It's humbling teach someone to use a computer mouse and "those strange machines that wash your clothes" and the giant black machines that give you food and how to count American coins.  They have taught me more than I can say. You expect it when you are in a 3rd world country but I don't think about it at the MTC until they ask me for help.  I am blown away by their sacrifice, faith and courage.  They don't have anything. In fact I didn't even unpack some of my stuff because I didn't want them to feel bad.  Luckily the MTC helped them out with shoes and clothes etc.  I've also given them quite a bit of my stuff, so you might have to send more mom. But how can you not? Many of them have no support. Their families think it's stupid and refuse to help them.  They have no one to email. No one praying for them.  Please pray for them just as much as you pray for me. Remember them.  I can't imagine what it would be like. I get choked up ALL. The. Time. because of their examples and backgrounds. 

So I'm the only Valagi (White person) And these are the conclusions I've come to. 

You know you're the only Valagi in a  Polynesian Zone when.......

  1. You are late to everything except MEALS :)
  2. There is ALWAYS something to laugh about. Always.
  3. When you can't find anyone..... they are at the vending machines.
  4. The entire zone gets stopped by every single other Polynesian on campus.  And there are a lot. 
  5. There are 7 different Polynesian languages spoken in your zone - all of which sound the same. 
  6. Lights out at 10:30 is simply a suggestion. - We are lucky to be calmed down bymidnight.
  7. No one ever says yes. It's always a nice eyebrow raise and "Mmmmm." So confusing.
  8. Everyone is always happy. I love this. 
I feel like my experience at the MTC is significantly different than the other Sisters I have observed.  It's both easier and harder. But I wouldn't change it for anything. I love these sisters. 

Other Stuff:
  1. Since I've been here, I've seen Elder Howe (His Tagalog is superb) my old Relief Society President, and a few others.
  2.  It's freezing. I don't know why I ever thought the jacket I'm taking to Fiji would be warm enough for Provo Utah in December.
  3. The Salad bar is my best friend.
  4. The Robe was a fabulous choice!
  5. Milyssa was right.... Mints are a life saver. 
  6. The temple is closed :( 
  7. Pray for our Visas to come!!! Our zone leaders were just reassigned to California because their Samoan Visas aren't here. And apparently that has been happening tons!  
  8. There were like 800 missionaries that reported Dec. 4th. 
  9. I am the only one who plays any piano. So I have to play for everything. I definitely should have practiced more. 
We had a wonderful devotional on Tuesday night.  Elder Cook came and spoke about missionary work. It was so inspiring. He challenged us to look at an area when we first arrive and ask " What can I do to strengthen and help this branch/area?" Then be determined that it will be better off when you leave.  I loved that.  His wife, Mary Cook, also spoke of a little girl Jana who was so excited that she had the most important part of her Christmas play.  Her mom expected that she was probably Mary or something but she was surprised when Jana simply held a huge tinfoil star above.  Her mom asked her about her part after and Jana said it was the most important part "because I showed everyone how to find Jesus."  That's us!!! How exciting! We are called to be the stars that show others the way to Christ.  I love being a missionary.

I love you all and hope you are doing fabulous! :)  

Loloma Levu,

Sister Matheson :)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

This is IT.

This is it friends. 

The day has come.
I am finally going to be a Missionary
Can you believe it? Ya.... me neither. But nevertheless, it's happening!
I am so very very very excited, but a little nervous too. But no good adventure starts without a little anxiety right? 

Here are a few goals for my mission:

[number 1.] Love Everyone.
Love my companions. Love my Mission President. Love the Ward. Love the investigators.  
Love the strangers on the street.  Love the Lord. Love Everyone. 

[number2.] Be Obedient.
Be obedient in everything.  Even things that don't make sense to my mortal mind. 

[number3.] Be Happy.
Be Happy. Be Kind. Be Nice. Be outgoing.  Be optimistic. ALWAYS. 

[number4.] Keep Records.
Record the blessings and the trials.  The learning experiences and the mistakes. 
 Write.  Tape. Journal. Photograph. Write some more. 

[number5.] Listen to the Spirit.
Be worthy.  Listen. Act. Repeat.  
Be an instrument in HIS hands.
[number6.] Find the Miracles.
Recognize the Miracles in Everything. Be Grateful. Then Record them. 

Thank you to all of my wonderful supportive family and friends! I love you all! :) 
Write me! I will try and write back. :) 


See ya in 18. 

Thoughts on Preparing

Let me just start with this.........

Preparing for a Mission is OVERWHELMING. 

If you are anything like me, you had all of these grand plans and ideas and schedules and dreams of how you were going to prepare when the time comes..... because preparing for a mission before you actually have your call would be silly. 

I learned the hard way that sometimes that's not the best idea.  In this game.... slow and steady definitely wins the race. 

So now that my preparation time is all but up, here is what I have learned. 

1. {Learn about your Mission}
From my experience, the more you learn and read about your mission the more excited you will be.  The more excited you are, the less scared you will be and the more motivation you will have to prepare.  I'm pretty sure I discovered almost every single blog with anything that even remotely has to do with Fiji or Missionaries and it was such a help! Pictures and stories and experiences from missionaries that are already there are a huge blessing.  I also stalked facebook and instagram and even profiles for tags and key words that might lead me to missionaries in Fiji.  Also..... talk to people! Take advantage of friends and family that know someone who knows someone who knows someone.  The more you learn the greater the Love you'll have for the people.  And at the end of the day.... it's the Love that gets you through and makes it all worth it. 

2. {Study Book of Mormon Mission Stories}
Some of my best teachers in this preparation journey have been Alma and Amulek and the Sons of Mosiah.  They are Fabulous.  You can learn so much from the patterns and attitudes that are recorded in those stories.  And what's better is these missionaries are coming with you! You can always turn to these stories for answers and advice and learn from the Spirit. 

3. {Study Preach My Gospel}
I wish I would have spent more time on this one.  Sometimes it didn't seem as inviting as looking up the current weather in Fiji or learning to count to ten, or researching the foods they eat, but it's important! That book is packed with information and inspiration.  I'm excited to continue to learn from it. 

4. {Develop a Pattern of Study}
I had a hard time with this one at first, because I wanted it to be perfect.  I was overwhelmed with the details.  How much time in Preach my Gospel? How to mark my scripture?  The important thing is to do it everyday.  Find a time that you can devote to learning.  Start with a prayer and listen to the spirit. I love to imagine Satan cringing every time I open my scriptures or write down a new thought in my journal.  Also, don't forget to use utilize talks and Ensigns and books and mormon messages etc. They are so many wonderful resources!

5. {Prayer}
Developing a relationship with Heavenly Father is essential.  Tell Him your fears and your concerns and your joys and your progress.  Ask Him for help.  He wants to help. Prayer is powerful.  Pray for the people of your mission and for the missionaries all over the world. 

6. {Look for Missionary Opportunities}
You don't have to wait to be set apart to be a missionary.  Real life experience is one of the things that helped me the most.  I realized that it's not that hard and it brings soooo much joy.  Sharing the Gospel here made me so much more excited to be a missionary. 

7. {Add Drops to the Bucket}
I saw a blog post a year or so ago that completely changed the way I think.  If you haven't read it or heard of it, please......

Stop what you are doing and READ IT! 

It is called ....... Drops of Awesome

I am a bit of a perfectionist and often find myself in the oh-so-familiar trap of not starting because you don't have a perfect plan yet.  This concept helped me realize that it's ok.  You don't have to be perfect.  Just keep doing good.  Keep moving forward.  Keep adding drops to the bucket.  Don't get discouraged because you can't spray water in your bucket through a fire hose.  Be grateful for the drops.  

I love what she says here.......

"I believe in a God who loves us and roots for us and cheers for every Drop of Awesome we can manage. Our victories are His victories and He wants us to feel joy. Not later, when we no longer make mistakes, but right now."

I know that Heavenly Father doesn't expect me to be perfect.  But I'm sure he gets real sad when he sees that I am beating myself up and preventing further progress because I expect myself to be. If today I only manage to read a chapter of the Book of Mormon or even a verse - it's ok. It's still a drop of Awesome added to the bucket.  And tomorrow I can try harder and add even more drops.  It's a beautiful thing. 

Don't get discouraged. Keep adding Drops.