*Here is Clayton's Christmas letter that went to 70 missionaries serving missions from the 2 Richfield Stakes. (Each Mom collected letters from each missionary's mom at a luncheon to send to her son for Christmas.) Each missionary got a packet of letters from missionary friends in the Stake to hear about all the missions.
Elder Beilman here, I'm serving in the Fiji Suva Mission (if you don't know where that is, its a small island close to Tonga-I know just about all of you have seen "On the other side of heaven" so its similar to that. Not so much bush though). It is October 19th as I write this which mean I've been serving for about 20 months now.
One thing I've really liked to eat is ika vamiti(fijian word for fish with this coconut cream stuff with tomato onion) Oh and Fijian lovo(an earth oven thing). The worst thing I've had to eat is probably sea cucumber-not so much the taste, but the texture, its like eating a chewy muscle cartilage.
The most memorable experience that I've had so far is finding this family that is prepared to come back/get baptized. I was going through our membership record a couple of weeks ago and looking for names of members and where people stay and organizing it by area(it was organized by last name). And addresses are not a thing here in Fiji. But we were able to find this less active family that was baptized about 20 years ago, but since then had fallen away and even went to a different church for a while. But one day we had some time planned to find them. We found the house, but they were busy when we went, but we came again a different day and they received us gladly. They had told us they wanted their son, Vili, to be baptized because he wasn't baptized yet. They have about 5 others that arent members and a couple more of them want to be baptized. They've been coming to church since the first week we visited them. They are amazing. Not all of them are members and a couple don't want to be, but they sit down with us anyway. But a couple of lessons ago we finished teaching the lesson, then invited them to share something they learned or if they had any questions. Then everybody at the house ended up sharing their testimonies. It filled the house with the Spirit. A couple of members that live nearby had told us that they are a lot happier now that they have been reading the Book of Mormon and coming to church. Its amazing. The hardest thing I've had to overcome physically is waking up every day at 6:30 am.
If I could share one thing with newer missionaries it would be to love the people. No matter what they do to you, whether they swear at you, or kick you out or anything like that. Just love them. And love those who do let you in.
Probably the most important thing I've learned on my mission is that the Lord will never put you through anything that you cannot handle. Everything that he does will be for your benefit. Though you may not think it will, it always does work out for you.
My testimony(in fijian)-
Au via wasea noqu ivakadinadina, ni'u kila tiko ni dina na lotu oqo. Dina na matabete, na ivakavuvuli ni lotu, na parofita kei iratou talega na iapositolo. Se bula tiko na Turaga Jisu Karisito ka lako mai vuravura me mate e vukuda me vukei keda lesu tale ki vua na Tamada Vakalomalagi. Koya talega na colata na noda icolacola, ka bokoca na noda ivalavala ca kevaka keda na vakabauti koya ka veivutuni. Au sa vakavinavinaka vua na Kalou me talai au ki Viti me'u wasea vei ira na kosipeli oqo. Au lomani ira kece sara na kai Viti. Sai ira na noqu vuvale.
My testimony(in English)-
I want to share my testimony, that I know this church is true. The priesthood, the teachings of the church, the prophet and apostles are true. Jesus Christ is still living, and came to the earth to die for us to help us return to our Heavenly Father. He will also carry our burdens and take away our sins if we believe in him and repent. I'm thankful to God to send me to Fiji for me to share to the people here this gospel. I love all the Fijians here. It is them who are my family.
Au lomani kemuni kece!
I love you all!