We made friends with a Senior couple from South Africa, who are serving a 2-year mission in the Soloman Islands and he sends me updates of all the work they do there. After reading the email below, I can't help but think how blessed our youth in the US are with readily available, quality education, that many demand free. Our spoiled youth need to appreciate their educational opportunities.
"Anyone who is a stranger to the Solomon Island culture, or from the Islands, would not be able to grasp how difficult it has been to get these students to Vaiola College in Samoa, and the obstacles that have been placed in their way. The poverty, and battle some of these students and their parents have in raising the money to send their children to a Church School is unbelievable!"
- One set of parents moved out of their home, rented it out and lived in a tiny leaf house to save the money to pay the required portion of the fees.
- One of the male students is the only church member in his family. He has worked as a security guard to raise the money, and also has grown vegetables and sold them, as his “guard money” was insufficient.
- Another family borrowed money from the mother's employer to pay her portion of the fees.
- They all had to pay for their passports, medicals, and Police Clearance.
- Not one of the parents has a motor vehicle, so the students had to catch busses and/or walk to get everything done.
- Some students battled to find birth certificates.
- All the students attended a two hour English class every Friday afternoon since last March with Sister Nish to improve their English. She also required them to read a book every two weeks from our Self-Reliance library.
- There were many miracles getting tickets and visas in the nick of time.
The following are comments recorded from each student at the airport;
- Jeremy- (2nd year student) “I am very grateful for this opportunity to complete my studies at such a good school before going on mission”.
- Rose- (2nd year student) “I can’t wait to get back to daily seminary studies, I have really missed seminary during the holidays”.
- David- “I can’t thank Heavenly Father enough for this opportunity, I never believed I would get on the aeroplane”.
- Nicola- “It has been my dream since I heard about SOCS from Sister Nish, to go to a Church school and mix with so many other church kids”.
- Rayna- “To have decent teachers that come to every class and teach us will be wonderful (as Rose has told me)”.
- Arnold- “I stay on the island of Malaita and my forms were late, my parents couldn’t find the funds, I never had money for a passport. It is a miracle that I am here at the airport”.
- Samson- “I am a recent convert and cannot believe that I am about to go to a Church School. The Lord just continues to bless me and I am just so grateful”.
Saturday, February 6, 2016
February 7, 2016
Rain or shine, we enjoy every day of our mission. Today was Fast and Testimony Meeting at church and Brother Talea paid Craig the nicest compliment. He said, "Elder Martin, he's the man! When he comes to visit, he brings sunlight to our house!" It doesn't matter if it's raining because we bring the "light of the Gospel" with us!
The Sisters are having great success with finding and teaching and look forward to a big month with lots of lessons. We met a family with seven children at our Stake President's house who are ready to hear the Gospel lessons. He is a minister in a non-denominational Samoan church. The Sisters invited him to church on Sunday, but he said, "I can't go this Sunday, because I have to go to my church to say goodbye to everyone. I will be at your church the next Sunday." Wow!
A Samoan couple moved into our ward and the husband struggles with English. Craig offered to help him with his English, so we went there the other day for his first lesson. He was dressed in a white shirt and tie, ready to learn. His wife helped with some translation, and also served us a delicious drink. With teary eyes he expressed appreciation that we would take the time to help him, and said how no one has ever tried to help him like this. We said we were happy to come every week. We hope he does his homework too!
We are sad to lose the Sayer's this week from our mission. Their time is up and they left for home. We had a special FHE in their honor with the other local couples on Monday night. Then Craig and I got to take them to lunch for our own little farewell. They were our "fun" MLS couple when we got here and have been such an example of service and good works. They will truly be missed.
We taught a woman from the Cook Islands about God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost. She isn't a member, and although she was taught to believe in the Trinity, she still believed they were separate beings, but that God was an "Energy". After a discussion and quoting scriptures for an hour, Craig finally asked her, "When judgment day comes and you are sitting across from the Father, what will he look like?" She said, "A light?" Then we saw the "light" go on in her head as she realized what we were talking about. She then understood about God, that "His body, His eternal spirit is housed in a tangible body of flesh and bones (see D&C 130:22). God’s body, however, is perfected and glorified, with a glory beyond all description," and we are made in His image. We hope to tell her more this week.
This event was at our local park. Those men knelt and the people stood on the stage for about an hour while talks were given by different dignitaries. We left before they were able to perform.
I love this quote from one of our Prophets. We can't be "offended" or put off by the church. God's ways are mostly never popular and are becoming less and less. We have to decide who's side we will be on, and we choose the Lord's, and will follow the Prophets. That doesn't mean we are blind sheep, but we recognize the Shepherd's voice and know Him and He knows us!
We are so thankful for the blessing of knowing who we were before this life, what we need to accomplish here on earth, and what awaits us after we leave this life. We are at peace knowing we will be with our loved ones forever. Keeping the commandments and serving others will bring us our greatest joy!
We love you all and pray for your good health and safety. Be good and humble!
Elder and Sister Martin