Monday, December 2, 2013

These Things I Know...

Mauri Family and Friends,

I know it has been way to long since I updated my blog. I have been trying to stay afloat with everything. I will be short in my writing but just know how much I love and miss all of you so much. I do so love being a missionary but I have experienced some of the most challenging days of my life out here. And because of this I have truly come to know my Savior and Heavenly Father with a deeper trust and binding love I had not known before.

I have also learned that as I "Act" upon the promptings of the Holy Ghost I find myself in situations or with certain people that I would never have planned myself to be in. More than anything else, I know that as I am about my Father's work, I am helping to build the Kingdom of God upon the earth in these, the days before His coming.

I know God lives and loves each and everyone of His children. He knows you by name and is inviting all of us to Come Unto Him - No matter your station, color, age, or wealth. He loves you and needs you to come back to His fold/family.

I know that we are all brothers and sisters and that our Older Brother, Jesus Christ, willingly suffered for our sins, and by and through His Atoning sacrifice we can all be saved.

I know that Joseph Smith was chosen by God to bring forth the Book of Mormon in these Latter Days. I personally know that you can find the answer to any question in life in this book, along with prayer, for no prayer to our loving Heavenly Father ever goes unanswered.

I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the "only" true church upon the face of this earth and that President Thomas S. Monson is God's living prophet; our prophet to guide us.

I should like to leave a blessing with all of you that as you pray, study and ponder the words from the Book of Mormon, God will bless your minds with His peace.

I share this testimony with all of you in His holy name, even Jesus Christ, Amen.


  Moroni  High School Graduation

  President and First Lady Tong this is the dinner that some of the missionaries were invited to, to welcome the Presidents from Morocco and Brazil. I gave them some gifts, BOM, Proclamation on the family and a taupa from Fiji that reads Families are Forever.

Me, head of  Unceph , secretary to the ambassador of Taiwan , Ambassador of Taiwan Abraham is his name,  ambassador of Australia George and his wife Denise.

Me and First Lady Tong

Vice principle Bauririue, Principle Leita , English teacher

Nedi, a pioneer of Kiribati and my companion for the day of graduation.

Couple from Ghana, he’s with the government and there daughter attends Moroni.

The graduation celebration and where I  would try, to do a Kiribati dance.

Ready or not here we go ladies

   In action

These members and non-members were so thrilled to have a white shirt and tie. Thank you Trisha and to all the young women for their service project.  It made a huge impact on these brethren.

Me and Sister Weir headed over to Aubito to deliver some supplies to the only pre-school on this island as well as some food for a family that I’ve been teaching. The father is the one that got baptized and I’m still working with the mother and some of their extended family.  It was a beautiful day and Sister Weir had a great time.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Planting Seeds....

Dear family and friends,
I received this email yesterday from a dear sister in Cape Verde where I served the first 3 months of my mission. 
If anyone had doubts about the importance of sharing the gospel, even if we are only "planting seeds"...Doubt no more.
We may not always see the blossoms, 
but no one will, 
if the seed isn't planted in the first place. 

I love this gospel and I love "planting seeds"!!!

“And now, I ask, what great blessings has [God] bestowed upon us? Can ye tell?”

“Behold, I answer for you; … this is the blessing which hath been bestowed upon us, that we have been made instruments in the hands of God to bring about this great work.” (Alma 26:2,3)
Sister Cassita

Hello, Sister Cassita!

How are you doing?
Do you remember a woman tha works at the hospital (she is the sister of the man who was Gracinda boyfriend)? Suzy is her name. She told me you talked to her about the gospel (the day you took Gracinda to the hospital), then she searched for the missionaries and she, her 2 sisters and their kids (aprox 10 person) have been baptized.
I'd like to share this with you, and let you know that you left a seed (in a simple conversation) that flourished.

Fernanda Mascarenhas

Off to Fiji again!

Dearest family and friends,

(Sorry for the long delay in updating my post. I am having problems with posting pictures that I haven't been able to resolve. So I guess, for now you will have to go to my facebook page to see any pictures I refer to. Go to "albums" and click on "Off to Fiji Again" Sorry...)

I think it is time to check in and update all of you of the happenings, which are many. 

I've been to Fiji and back again. The manger of the Service Center came to my home at 1:30 am with signs and symptoms of having a heart attack. I climbed in the car with him, his wife, and Turian (our bishops wife). We drove as quickly as possible to the hospital-on our one road to the hospital. One might call our road a "holy" road and I'm not talking spiritual... There are more holes in some sections of the road than there is pavement!

When we arrived at the hospital the emergency doctor was an anesthesiologist. He loves to speak English with me but I told him this wasn't the time. We put President Tune on a rusted old stretcher but were grateful that he didn't have to lie on the floor as some do.

I reported off to the doctor and he just sat in the chair and asked what I thought we should do! Wow! Really? Okay! So I hooked up the vital sign machine; He was hypertensive; 192/107; sweating profusely with crushing chest pain and burping... They have no Nitro here. I gave him an aspirin and told him to chew it.

Then I told the doctor that we needed to do an ECG. He said, "Oh that won't be possible; the lady that knows how to work the machine goes home at 5:00. I asked where the machine was and told him that I could do it.

This entire time the doctor remained in his seat. I was a little confused. Did I become his colleague because I've helped him stitch more than one trauma victim or because I took the time to speak English with him? Not sure. The ECG was normal, so I asked if he knew what a GI Cocktail was. He said "No," so I just asked if he had any Maalox for heartburn. Yea! They did! It helped a little and he was admitted. I will have to do a post of the hospital another time. Just wait!

While all of this is going on I had Sister Johnson and her companion, Sister Lavulavu, staying at my home. Poor Sister Johnson arrived here in Kiribati with strep throat. I treated her with antibiotics but after 10 days she continued to have high fevers, headaches, body aches, swollen lymph nodes , sore throat, poor appetite and low blood pressure. I knew we had to get her off the island. So all four of us boarded the next plane off the island - Sister Johnson, President Tune and his wife May, and me.

We landed in Nadi, Fiji and then took a smaller plane to Suva, Fiji. At the hospital they put both of them in the same room so I could watch over them both. It is a very nice hospital. They released President Tune with some follow up appointments for further testing. His heart was fine!

Sister Johnson was not so lucky. She was admitted and would spend the next four days in the hospital, diagnosed with Bronchitis and Septicemia (bacterial infection in the blood). She received IV antibiotics and IV fluids. She was amazing. I asked her if she would like me to stay with her and she said, "No, I will be fine!" Well fine she was. By the time we checked her out of the hospital Sister Johnson had taught her roommate 5 lessons and made arrangements for the missionaries to visit her at her home. Her high fevers finally stopped on the 3rd day and she was feeling a bit better but still very weak. However, she was strong enough to go for a walk. So Sister Balenacagi and I walked with Sister Johnson down the hall and outside to get some fresh air, down the side walk, turned the corner and there just so happened to be a Taxi.

Yes! I snuck her out of the hospital and took her to the Suva Temple. I thought that she could use some spiritual healing as well as physical and the the temple would be closing for 2 weeks for cleaning. Success, she made it and she loved it.

President Tune is still in Fiji undergoing some more tests. I pray that he will return well and strong.

Sister Johnson is more than better. She is still in her 12 weeks training and has been told to be ready to be a trainer with the next transfer. I love serving with these young missionaries. They are so fun and so happy doing the Lord's work.

As I was driving today and pondering on the latest of my own life lessons and trials, the spirit ever so softly whispered, "Look up..." As I looked up and to the right, my breath was taken away with the most beautiful sky and sunset. Shades of pastels, pinks,yellows and oranges. The ocean was so calm that it looked more like a lake. I stopped my car, got out and went and stood by the water and just took it all in. I hope that you enjoy the photos.

In closing I would just like to share some of my learning:

What is the process of a trial?

Time is priceless and cannot be bought or saved. One must communicate in the present moment. It is therefore essential that we gird about us the whole Armor of God! Every morning and with much prayer throughout the day. When we can communicate one with another in a loving way, desiring understanding and enlightenment the spirit can be present. It might be possible that through our communication with someone, no matter how angry or mad they may be, we are (through Christ) able to be the vessel for greater learning and gaining knowledge.

I know God lives! Oh, how my heart is filled with joy as I have come to know Him more. I love my Savior and Redeemer and I know that we can all be healed through His Atoning Sacrifice.

I know that the Book of Mormon was written for our day. Don't focus on the darkness of the world but fill your hearts with Truth and Light. Darkness cannot exist where there is Light - the Light of Christ. I love you my dear brothers and sisters. May God bless and keep you all in His tender loving care. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Sister Cassita

Friday, September 6, 2013

Not for the Faint of Heart

Mauri!  (hello) Dear family and friends,
Not a whole lot to report on…

3 weeks in bed with a very bad respiratory viral infection…
It got scary there for a few days and then I made a turn for the better.

There was one exciting day I should tell you about. On Saturday I received a phone call from a senior missionary, Elder Youngberg. He told me that he had cut his finger pretty bad and asked if I would get his wife, who was at their house and bring her to the hospital. He hadn't told Sister Youngberg so she was surprised when I showed up at her house. We got to the hospital and when I walked into the room where Elder Youngberg was, the nurse’s aides were just starting to wrap his hand and I told them that I needed to see it.   WOW!

I told them that this had to be stitched up. They said, "Are you sure?" I said, “Yes, I'm positive!” Then they informed me that there were no doctors available. I asked them to call the surgeon and have him come in. They came back and said that there were no doctors available.  The nurse in charge looked at me and asked, "Don't you know how to do it?”  I said, "Well, I've never done it before, but I think I can do it.”  The other nurse just looked at me like I was crazy. I told her to give me the surgical kit; that I would do it. And the fun began!

The Holy Ghost is truly an amazing gift! I was calm and steady, for a first timer. It was not a clean cut...  There were pieces of his skin that were missing and other parts that were jagged. It was just like putting together a puzzle!

Elder Youngberg was a real trooper. I don't know who was worse - him or Sister Youngberg. They were both pale and she had to walk out of the room a couple of times.

When I opened the kit,  which consisted of an old sheet with, (what I hoped were stains all over it), I assessed his hand movement to make sure that he could make a fist and move all the joints in his left middle finger. Yea! That was a blessing! But more than that, it was a miracle!  After I numbed it with lidocaine and pulled back the skin, I could see the tendon. There were cuts and tears on both sides, up and down his finger, but there was not even a nick in the tendon.

Here is what happened. Elder Youngberg was working with another young man and they were trying to move a large metal corrugated door. It slipped and the weight was too much for a bare hand. He's lucky that it didn't cut his fingers all the way off!  Elder Rasmussen gave him a wonderful blessing and he was told that he would not have any pain. God truly is a God of miracles!   I love Him!

I love being a missionary! It's the best!  The Spirit is so strong and wonderful. There are hard days too, and on those days, I just have to say what my best friend always says: “One more Day!”

Have a wonderful day! I love all of you so much more than when I left on my mission. My heart is changing for the better and that is because I know each one of you. Thank you for all you love, support and encouragement! 

Love always,
Sister Cassita

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Make Us One...

Dear Family and Friends,

Wow! Once again there's so much to share.
We had a visit from the USS Pearl Harbor ship. There were several different groups traveling aboard this ship. For the first week here they put on a Health Fair.

There were several different stations where the people here in Kiribati received education and free items.

The stations were:
Blood Pressure, Diabetes, Oral Hygiene, Care of Animals and Eye Care.

At the end of the line was the table representing the "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Charities".

The Youngberg's, who are our Humanitarian Missionaries

asked me to man this station as they had several appearances that they had to make at schools all along the island. The Church also donated thousands of school kits to several schools.
It was humbling to see these poor people's beautiful smiles, tears and gestures of gratitude as I would hand them a hygiene kit from the church.
Each kit had 5 toothbrushes, 1 large tube of toothpaste, 2 hand towels and 2 bars of soap; all in a zip lock bag. Some of the people would hold it to their chest and repeatedly say, "Thank you, thank you, thank you!" 

Some people would ask me what it was for, so I would teach them about keeping their bodies clean. It was a real treat to be involved and to feel the Spirit of the God, so strong! There was one man who is homeless and walks the streets; I've seen him on many occasions and bought him some food before. When I gave him the hygiene kit he was so excited that he just had to kiss me. I turned so he wouldn't kiss me on the lips but he was so happy and grateful!

Our young missionaries, along with returned missionaries from Kiribati, performed all the translation for all the military and other charity groups. They loved it and the military were quite surprised at their willingness to help and be of service - all volunteer!

The second week, their focus was on all the cats, dogs and pigs.
My friend, Turian, and I went to the clinic that was set up in Betio and she helped with translation
and I got to help hold the animals. The best was the baby pigs; Just holding them upside down while they got "fixed".

We had a great two weeks of working side by side with the military personnel from America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
The ship's port is at Camp Pendleton in Southern California. Captain Lovely is the man in charge.
Elder and Sister Youngberg invited me to tour the ship with them. What a treat! It was amazing to see the back of the ship, where they sink it to 8 feet and then load everything inside there and the small sleeping quarters, the store, and the cafeteria. I wanted to order some "real" food and have lunch... not possible.
The guns were huge, though this in not an attack ship. All the gunners are for defense only.

We were transported to the ship via a small boat that sort of looked like a raft. It cost $350,000.00 dollars so I know it's alot more than just a raft. Anyway, I asked the driver if I could drive it, Wow! Halfway between the ship and land he said, "Now who wanted to drive?" I spoke up and said, "I did!" It was awesome!! He even taught me how to "spin a doughnut"! I thanked every military member for serving our country and keeping us safe.
They work hard all day long keeping the ship in top condition. It was such a wonderful experience.

Some of the military personnel had questions about the church, but as I worked with the people over the last two weeks, I had this overwhelming peace come upon me; that no matter how different our individual beliefs or religions were - we were all of "one purpose" - caring for the needy and less fortunate. It's just like the song that I love, "Make us one that our burdens may be light". That He did!

I love being a missionary. I love serving in any capacity. I love my new mission president and his wife, President and Sister Weir.
They invited me to go Tuna fishing with them along with President and Sister Tune.
We had a great time! I was the "bird watcher". That means, when we found a group of birds, we knew that is where the Tuna were feeding off the smaller fish. Well... we caught one. A HUGE one!
A yellow-finned Tuna. I named him George. We ate him for dinner one night and I must say, I love fresh tuna!

I love you all so very much. I loved these two weeks and helping serve with the great Forces, as we all were of "one mind and one purpose". Thank you to all who serve or who have served in the military; for your brave service to defend our freedom in America. May God bless all of you with his choicest blessings.  I love and miss you all so much.

Sister Cassita

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Mission Miracles...

My Dear family and friends,

Where to begin? So much has happened and I want to share all of it with you, but I know that isn't possible, so I will do my best to share what is most dear to my heart.

First off – one of my investigators that I talked about 2 posts ago, (the man way up in the breadfruit tree) was baptized last Saturday.
He was beaming and was so happy that he couldn't stop grinning. The spirit was so strong and it was a glorious day for him!

His wife isn't quite ready but I will continue to serve and help them.

Next - I made an emergency trip to Fiji with an Elder that needed emergency surgery - or so we all thought… God had other plans.  The Elder and I flew to Nadi, Fiji and then on to Suva where there is adequate medical help and facilities.
The night we arrived he was admitted to the hospital. The surgeon told me that he would do surgery in the morning. The Elder received a priesthood blessing.  I arrived at the hospital early the next morning. It was a miracle. The doctor came in and said '" I don't know what happened but he's all better, he doesn't need surgery".  I told him, “I know what happened,” and pointed to heaven, “God answered our prayers.”  They kept the elder in the hospital for more testing and to hydrate him with IV fluids.

That gave me some free time to spend with the Fiji mission president and his family, President Klingler.
             We had such a wonderful time going up the river
                        to a village to learn about Fijian culture
and eating traditional foods.
It was a wonderful experience. Then further up the river we went swimming under a waterfall.

While I was in Fiji, one of my missionaries that was serving in Kiribati finished her mission – Sister Balenicagi. 
I had gone on splits with her and helped with service projects. She was by far our most obedient missionary and a great leader to her peers. I didn't think that I would get to see her before I left, but one night I had just finished a session at the Suva Temple
and as I turned to come out to the foyer, there was Sister Balenicagi standing right there.  I was so surprised! We embraced and cried tears of joy.
I realized in that moment that I needed to treasure more, the times that I spend with those that I love.  She took me to her home where her family had put together a HUGE welcome home party for her. It was a treat to be a part of it. I love her so much. 

At one point during her celebration I asked her mother if I could share an experience we had while on splits. I had received a medical call and had to go to Baota which is at the very end of the Atoll on the East side, for a medical issue.  On our way back Sister Balenicagi said, "Sister Cassita, did you see that man lying in the road"? I said, “No, where?” She said, “You nearly ran over him!” That kinda freaked me out.  I asked her if we should go back and get him.  She said, “Yes”.  I made a U-turn and as I pulled up to his body I drove on the wrong side of the road and parked so that the lights from my car were shinning on him. We got out of the car and I checked for a pulse. At first I could not find one so I did a sternal rub which didn't phase him.  He had very shallow breathing and after another hard sternal rub I was able to arouse or get movement from him. His girlfriend had been watching from the other side of the road and came running over. She had thought that he was dead. They were both extremely intoxicated.   I looked up at the people standing next to the fence and asked if anyone knew this man or where he lived. Nope. So I took a hold of this man and lifted him off the road. As I was walking back between two huts a young man came and helped me carry him.

I shared with Sister Balenicagi's family how she had saved this man’s life, for I believe that he would have been run over had we not gone back and moved him out of the road. I was grateful that I didn't run over him. I never know what my days will look like but there is always an adventure.  I love being a light to this part of the world. These people are so dear to me and so loving and kind.
I miss my children so very much.  Thank you to all who have sent boxes of food and to all of you who continue support and pray for me. I could never do this alone. It is because of all of you that I can be here serving a mission. May God bless each one of you with his choicest blessing and send his angels to keep you safe.

I know God lives. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer.  I love Him. He is my best friend.
 I am grateful for the example of my mother when it comes to charity. She has given me a priceless gift.  I miss her so very much.  I love this Gospel and I love being a servant of the Lord.

Love always,
Sister Cassita