Tuesday, March 8, 2016

March 8th, 2016

Cyclone Winston
biggest storm to ever hit the southern hemisphere

Hello everyone, it is nice to be back. These past few weeks have been quite and experience for me. The missionaries from all the islands in the Fiji mission traveled to Suva for the cultural celebration and re dedication for the temple. On Feb. 18, I traveled from Taveuni island to the island of Vanua Levu. After that we bused to the dock at the southern part of the island and took another boat to Viti Levu and stayed with missionaries throughout Suva. 

On Feb. 20, we woke all woke up and were about to head to the Samabula chapel to hear from President Eyring, Elder Cook, and some members from the 70. Right as we were about to leave, a mass text was sent out to all missionaries warning us to stay indoors and get to a secure location because there was a class 5 cyclone warning. I had heard nothing of this storm before this so I was quite shocked. After about an hour and a half, President Eyring and our mission president decided that we would be okay to all come in to Samabula. After that we were able to hear from these men. This was the highlight of the trip to Suva. What an experience. I know for certain that these men are called of God and that they only speak truth. After this we all went down to Vodafone Arena to watch the cultural celebration. It was supposed to be in ANZ stadium but because of the weather, we had to do it indoors. It was a great cultural event and they performed traditional dances "meke". They had to end it short because of the weather but it was still a good event. When we went outside, there was more wind and rain than I had ever before seen. It was insane. Fiji shut down for the rest of the day. We all went back to flats and chapels and hunkered down for the rest of the storm. The next day we saw the damages that cyclone Winston had provided. It wasn't very bad in Suva, but I heard that my area in the southern part of the Taveuni island got the worst of the storm. 

We were stuck in Suva for the next while because all of the docks and boats had received some damage. We waited with the kids from Taveuni until we could get back to the island. They heard what had happened to Taveuni and were all really scared because they didn't know how their family/lives would be when they returned. We were eventually able to return to Taveuni and when we got there, it was something I will never forget.

We got to Taveuni and we got all of the kids back to their villages and to their families. They were so excited to see their families and they cried for a long time. This made me realize how important my family is. There houses were all destroyed. The whole island looked different. We immediately began working with LDS charities and LDS helping hands and provided food, water, and clothes for all those in my area. Although these people didn't have much to begin with, and now all they had is ruined, they are still happy. How can these people be happy in a situation like this? I am amazed at their faith and their strength in such trying times.

These past few weeks I have only been doing service. Helping to rebuild houses, provide water, food, and other necessities of life. Elder Dunn and I got back to our flat and surprisingly it was still standing. All of my stuff inside was on the ground and was ruined. Apparently the tide was in our house because our flat is right on the beach. People say that this was the worst cyclone ever recorded in the southern hemisphere. The stories from people that were there are unbelievable. They saw 70 foot tsunamis and were hunkered down in there houses, but they had faith and were helped from God. 

It is a miracle that all the missionaries were in Suva and were safe at the time of the cyclone. I am so very grateful to be here and I know that I have a work to do. I know that as long as I am am faithful, God will not let me fall. Times could not be harder, but I could not be happier, because I am serving. I hope all is well at home. I love you all and hope for the best. Trust in God and hope for a better world.

E dina na ituvatuva ni Kalou. Au lomani kemuni kece. Au vakavinavinakataka na noqu matuvuvale kei na loloma kina. Kua ni rere, vakabauta ga. 

Loloma levu,
          Elder Jones

No signs of a storm here.
This is almost every house in my area.
The Australian government helps us out with much needed supplies.

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