Tuesday, November 29, 2011

KU KU KA Chuuk

Hello from Chuuk,
Today is Tuesday the 29th and it's going to be a hot day we can tell. We took our regular morning walk and it was a little sticky but we had a little breeze. (unusual) While studying our scriptures this morning it started to pour rain. It is normal to rain
here and when it does it pours down really fast. Usually it only lasts about 10 minutes and it rains every day or night, but yesterday (Monday) it started in the early morning and continued for quite sometime. It keeps everything pretty and green (not to mention VERY muddy), you see they are putting in a new sewer line and new cement roads so EVERYTHING is torn up and a mess.
Now keep in mind we are in a third world country. So things are old school and on island time (which is slow) We think that the Lord sent us here to learn "PATIENCE". Something Sister Tiffany is really adjusting to. She normally likes to move at a fast pace and likes things done YESTERDAY, that doesn't happen here on our island.
We will try to describe our island a little to give you some idea of what our mission entails. The people here are amazing, they are beautiful island people both inside and out. Smiles that warm your soul. We have already started to love the people and are
looking forward to learning the "Chuukese" language so we can communicate with them. (very few people speak English, so much for a English speaking mission.)
The Chuukese women are the land owners and only Chuukese people can own land. They do not sell to outsiders. A few white guys have married Chuukese women and are here living the island life. One man that we know is "Bill", he and his wife Kiki run a hotel/restraunt called the "Truk Stop. " We like going to the Truk because its pretty nice. They have internet we can use and great views of the water and sunsets, the foods not bad either. The people there know us now and are very friendly. A few of them are members of the church. They also have a bakery that supplies a lot of the bread and cakes on the island. And it smells really good, Elder Tiffany really likes that smell. We have been trying to stay away from the baked goods and lose some weight. (Good Luck) We sweat most of what we eat off. Did I say it's very hot and humid here. The Senior couple that we replaced and just went home to Hyrum, Utah used to rent a room there while they lived here.
Actually the temperatures have only been in the 80's but the humidity is 100%. But hey our skin loves it. (no more dry skin so we only use lotion sparingly). Okay back to the people, they live everywhere all over the island and most of them are poor but don't know it. They are given land from their ancestors so it is free to them, they don't have to pay taxes, they have food that grows on the land, such as banana's, tapioca, mangos, papaya, pineapple, bread fruit, taro, guava and the water comes from the rain. The LDS church donated hundreds of large water barrels years ago so the people could store water to use. They have no electricity for the homes in the jungle, almost all the people do their cooking outside over a wood burning fire. It's like camping your entire life, every day. They don't use silverware to eat with, you eat with your hands, occasionally they have a big plastic bowl to which they wash hands, dishes or clothes in. The stores here sell several things but the jungle people really have no use for them. Most people live on a cement block without siding and those who do use left over tin from the past wars. The roof is sometimes tin with palm tree grass to keep the rain out. It is very humble to us spoiled American's. They don't even know it can be better, to them it's perfect, it's home. The only animals here are dogs, cats, occasional pig, roosters (for cock fighting) chickens, we've seen one goat and rats but we have only seen one of them, also Gecko's which are pretty cool because they eat the bugs - flies, cockroaches and mosquito's. We were at lunch the other day when one walked down the wall and caught a fly it was pretty cool to watch. 
Our mission is to go out and meet the church members and put there location down on a map with a GPS unit. They don't have addresses unless you call third path on the left under the Guava tree an address. We try to locate both active and non active members. We also try to locate the ones that have passed away so we can get their records updated. It can be a difficult process because they don't keep good records here. We have to take our Elders "Meldrum and Johnson" with us and the Branch President Mackey, he is Chuukese. It is actually the best part of the mission walking around with these guys in the jungle or where ever we need to go. We get the opportunity to mingle with the people, the children are adorable and Sister Tiffany likes to take candy for them. They learn to speak really early and are potty trained before or around 1years old. There is this one little baby boy named "little Richie" I swear he is only about 15 months old. He talks and the missionaries say he speaks all the English swear words. He is adorable. He is everywhere and when he see's the missionary truck he gets really excited and waves or runs over to them. The Elders are so great with everyone and the people love them here. They really are great young men and very humble. For them this is like a long camping trip. When they are on the outer islands they are without electricity and cooking facilities and there are no vehicles there either. It's quite primitive and they tend to get a little lonely. They are full of energy and have a great time together when they are here on the main island.
The other day while out in the jungle we had our first opportunity to eat Tapioca fresh from the tree, and also a cooked banana. We will just say it was bland and not to exciting to the taste. When they meet you, it is their way of inviting you in and welcoming you. You don't have to eat or drink what they offer but it is polite to try it. We got to meet the elders quorum President/Seminary teacher. He has quite the place where he lives in the jungle, has a great view of the ocean, has a garden he tends and he climbed the tree to get us fresh coconuts to drink. It was great and we hear really good for you. It's very different from what we get in the states.
We have decided that this is our adventure of a life time and we will take one day at a time. We are strong and know that the Lord will be watching over us. The other missionary couples here are Elder and Sister Archibald they are here on a humanitarian mission. He is a general surgeon and works up at the hospital teaching them how to deal with problems and how to keep records. His wife does everything from visiting teaching with a native to organizing programs that could help the Chuukese people. The other couple is Elder and Sister Eakins (pronounces A-kins) They are the institute teachers. He was a basketball player from BYU and then played NBA pro in the 70's. He is tall 7' and she is just a little itty bity thing maybe 5 foot. Both couples are from Utah. The Elders are from all over, like the Philippines, Denver, North Carolina, Idaho, Utah, Oregon, California. We are so grateful to each missionary here and they have helped us get situated and when Sister Tiffany gets sad we try to see the boys (Elders) because they make her laugh and she can mother them.
We love you all and appreciate your support and prayers,
Elder and Sister Tiffany
 P.O. Box 861
Moen, Chuuk
FSM, 96942

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Saturday Baptism and Jungle traveling

We started the day with 2 baptism's at the Mwan Branch, with the Elders and other Couples here.
It was all in Chuukese but the great thing about the spirit it speaks to all of us willing to open our hearts and listen.  What a beautiful baptism it was. 
Then we headed up to another Branch called Wichap to do member locating with the GPS unit. The people here do not have addresses so we get the GPS location, visit them and make sure they are fine, then off to the next member. We visit both active and non active members.
Most of the island is a jungle and the people here live in the jungle, so we put on our tennis shoes and we are off. Sister Tiffany has to wear a skirt which can be challenging at times. (understatment) The last time we were out locating members she slipped and fell down on the rock. She is okay but it did hurt her elbow and pride a little. :(
This time we had no injuries and we had enough breeze to keep us cool. :) We visited several members, including the Elder's quorum president. His name is Mark and he has a great view from where he lives of the Lagoon. He climbed the tree and got us all coconuts to drink. He uses a machete to cut the top off so we could drink them. We were forwarned to carry straws because the juice get's all over your shirt and it stains. We had the opportunity to try some of the local Tapioca plant (it is nothing like what we have in the states) and it's kinda bland. We also had the opportunity to try some cooked banana's (bland and dry). The Chuukese people are so polite and have a smile to greet you every where you go. When we go out into the jungle like this we always take the Elders and the Branch President with us. Pres. Macky is a native here and has a very interesting conversion story. They speak the language and know what is acceptable behavior here.
Elder Tiffany felt like he was in an old trazan movie. Every once in a while he would look up half expecting to see a big tree house and a bunch of monkeys swinging around.
There really are no monkeys here, nor snakes or anything dangerous to worry about. Not even allegators. Just an occasional mudhole that swallows us up and we have to use the periscope to get through it. The cars come equipped with them standard here.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

P DAY @ The light house

P DAY @ The lighthouse with the Elders.  What a great little hike and incredible views. Built by the Japanese in the early 1930's, the Sapuk Lighthouse was constructed atop a hill commanding a panoramic view of the strategic northeast passage. Below the lighthouse are huge guns used to prevent American ships from entering the lagoon. The abandoned houses of lighthouse guards stand nearby in eerie silence.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Visiting the Wichap Branch

Missionaries and members of the Wichap branch.  Out on the southwest side of the main island, Weno.
A little grass shack between rain storms.

Hello from Chuuk

We have arrived here on the island of Chuuk.  It was raining very hard when we got off the plane but the missionaries were all here to greet us.  The rain only lasted a few minutes which is how it usually is here a few times a day.  Then the sun comes out again and warms up everything.  Oh yeah, it warms up pretty good.
The other senior missionaries took us under their wing and showed us the ropes and all.  They are Elder and Sister Eakins.  We are very grateful to have them here because they got us situated very well with our apartment and furnishings.  Not to mention showing us the island. 
We are still acclimating to this climate but we guess it’s better than shoveling snow.  At least Elder Tiffany thinks so.  The temperature is pretty constant and the length of days stays the same we are told.
We have been put in charge of finding all the members on the roll here and putting them on the map with a GPS unit.  We’ve only been able to work on that one day so far because we need to go out with the Elders and the Branch President, one to interpret and the other to locate where the members live.  We are now learning the Chuukese language.  After a week we have only learned a few phrases.  The Lord is after us to lengthen our shuffle and we’re up to the task.
Communication with the outside world has been something of a challenge so far but we will overcome.  Technology is a gift and we expect to be blessed with it soon. 
We want to thank all of you for your support and prayers.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

We have arrived to Guam

We have arrived in the beautiful island of Guam, where it was sunny and tropical breezes are warm and moist.  The plane ride was long and tiring. We watched 3 movies and took many walks around the plane to stretch our legs. You try to sleep, but the hard working flight crews are busy feeding everyone, so as soon as you get to sleep, here they come again with more food  (not complaining just informing).  Our flight crew was amazing. We only had one onery one but she cheered up eventually :). The food was good and healthy.

 Leaving SLC, we had around 25 elders and sisters and one other couple, Elder and Sister Pugmire (they got off in LA going to Africa) and were in the MTC with us.  We knew we were in good hands.  These young people are amazing, all of them knew the language and will be serving in Japan where we changed planes again heading for Guam.   We are very happy to be off the plane and are finally catching up on our sleep.  We are 17 hours ahead of our home in the States.    

Our mission president is President and Sister Mecham from Salt Lake City, Utah.  They are in there 50's, have four kids, 3 girls and 1 boy.  He was a lawyer and her a school teacher.  They didn't know they were ready to serve a full time mission yet.  But when the Lord called they accepted. We are happy they did because they are wonderful people. Perfect for us and we look forward to serving with them. 

We met the couple we will be replacing, Elder and Sister Peterson from Hyrum, Utah.  What a great couple.  He is a fun man with a great laugh and she is a sweet supportive woman.  Last night we had a going home dinner/party for them with some of the couples that are serving here in Guam.  We have had the opportunity to meet some of the local members and elders serving here also.  Everyone is so nice and loving.

We leave in the morning (Friday) which is Thursday in the states, to go to the island of Chuuk.  We have seen a lot of pictures and received a lot of good information.  The couples there have found us an apartment, painted it and even found us some furniture, (we are excited about that), we originally didn't have furniture only a bed.  We will have AC and the power is supposed to be on all the time. Thats a  big plus.

Our focus now will be to get to know the people and the other missionaries.  It will be a lot of fun to see how we adapt to our new experience.  The place is very pretty and not without some danger to add to the adventure and mystery.  Into the unknown and over the lip of the cliff into the abyss of our imagination.  Whatever all that means. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Location, Location, Location

Our District @ the MTC

It is amazing how close to you can get to someone in such a short amount of time together.
We have learned a lot from this group and love each of them very much.  We also wish you well on your missions and will see you in 2013.  "God be with you till we meet again"
~ Wonderful People ~
(L - R) Elder David Steffen and Sister Thail Steffan called to serve in Canada, Halifax Mission,
Us called to serve Micronesia Guam Mission,
Elder Steve Petrie and Sister Carol Petrie called to serve in Brazil Joao Pescoa Mission,
Elder Willie Sherwood and Sister Renee Sherwood called to serve in Fresno, California Mission