Thursday, June 28, 2012

Tender Mercies all around...

Being a missionary keeps you pretty busy and on the go, but every now and then you must stop and hit "pause" and reflect on what the Lord is blessing you with. There is a primary song that I love and the chorus goes something like this. "If I listen with my heart I hear the Savior speak"
Well as we have said before, part of our calling is to locate members and map addresses with the GPS. To make the most out of this opportunity of sweating, enduring the heat, occasionally falling down here or there, we invite the Missionaries that are working in the area and the Branch President to join us. Chuuk is not a place where you can walk on someone's property without permission, even going to the door. You holler out "Ran Allim" which means good day and then they will either say Ewer (yes) or Apw (no), then we go from there. We have never had anyone tell us Apw. The people here are very polite and courteous to one another and us. So the reason I fill you in on that tidbit, is so you can understand more about how, what I am writing about, is such a blessing.

We got up early Wednesday morning and took the boat ride over to an outer island called "Uman". It takes about 20 minutes or so when the weather is good. We had to stop in Tonoas to pickup the Missionaries there because they were going to do an exchange. (which means they trade companions for 24 hours) This picture is the Tonoas Elders Jones and Allen. It was a rainy, windy over cast morning so the water was a little choppy but okay. By the time we arrived the sun was out and it was getting hot. Uman is a beautiful island with about 140 members. We met with the Branch President "Billy" at his house to meet his family. After some small talk about what we needed to do we made a plan.

~President Billy and his family~
As we began to talk he was a little unsure about what we were there to do and he told us that people might not be accepting towards us, but he was willing to give it a try. We explained to him that this is an opportunity to do some "Home Teaching at it's finest". One of the blessings that come from ordination to the priesthood is the opportunity to bless the lives of others. I don't think he understood that comment at the time... so Elder Tiffany gave us a beautiful prayer and we were off. The sky was clear, the sun was out and we were ready for the day. First house was a member that married outside the church and doesn't come anymore. She was a beautiful lady that opened her door and invited us in. As we visited with her, Elder Allred explained to her about the GPS. He asked her how she was doing, invited her back to church, and then asked if we could do anything for her. She, in return, explained that she had been going to a Protestant church with her husband and the people there were good people, but she knew they did not have divine authority and that it was not the gospel of Jesus Christ. Then she said she would love to come back to church. She asked Elder Allred if he would make an appointment and come back to teach her husband about the gospel. He was thrilled and told her they would come back. I told him that we needed to say a prayer with her before we left and asked her who she would like to say it? He did and she asked if the President would pray. This prayer was the prayer that set the entire day into motion with the Branch President, I believe. He was so touched and felt the spirit keenly, he was now ready to do some missionary work. No matter how gifted we may be, or how choice our language, it is the Spirit of our Father that reaches the heart and brings conviction of the divinity of this work. (I have to throw something in here about President Billy, this is great > on our last post we told you about Chad Ellis, well Chad and Billy were companions for a while at some point 26 years ago, Billy would not obey the missionary rules. He made it difficult for Chad and long story short, the Mission President explained to Chad that Billy was more than a companion, he was his investigator and one day Elder Billy would be a Branch President. And now he is and Chad is here for a visit. "Awesome". I love all these little tender mercies the Lord gives us all) Okay now back to Uman......

~Elder Allred and President Billy~
Teaching the gospel is a sacred duty, prophets and apostles say, and though it is not always an easy task, when guided by the spirit both the teacher and the student can achieve spiritual growth and understanding. Well, we were all beginning to understand and realize everything is in his hands, we are only the instruments he is using. So off to the next home. As we were approaching the President said these people are not active and attending another church so we probably will not be accepted. To his surprise upon approaching the door they welcomed us in. We sat down on a wooden plank that kind of looked like a stage because the rest of the home was open and down about 2 feet. As we began to explain the reason for our visit the same thing happened. This gentle lady was so sweet and warm, she visited with us and explained that the reason she was not coming to church was because the other church had given her husband a calling and so she has been going with him for support. I then told Elder Allred to look around at all the young people in the house, they did not belong to this lovely lady but did live with her. Missionary opportunity! Turns out this lovely lady and her husband are the Presidents relatives, which he never told us about until we were in the house. She then asked Elder Allred if they could teach her husband the gospel, because she would love to come back to church. She said she knew the Gospel of Jesus Christ was true and she knew where she needed to be. President Billy was very happy and couldn't stop smiling. He was so overcome with joy and it was wonderful being part of this. As we left he was asking me again why we go out and visit with the people and why we needed to know about the families. I explained to him that the records need to updated because family history is part of the eternal plan, not only for us, but for future generations. This is home teaching at it's finest, as well as missionary work. The Lord is helping us; it is marvelous how the way is opened and how other people frequently are prompted. Another tender mercy reveals itself.
 Every where we went, we were well received with friendly faces and "kapong" (greetings and hand shakes).

We then headed to the next members homes. The beauty of the gospel of Jesus Christ is not for a few individuals, it is for every soul that is born into the world to know... The people are not dependent upon us to know, but they are dependent upon us to teach them how they may know.
This next family was the Presidents younger sister, such a sweet lady. We visited with her, took pictures and played with the children. Then a neighbor came by to sell us some sea shells. They were beautiful but we didn't have the right cash to buy them. Maybe next week... We then headed up the hill to a gentleman's home that was an Elder in the church, he went for coconuts while we were able to visit with his inactive sister. She agreed to start the missionary lessons and start attending church again. Then we stopped at the President Billy's mom and grandmothers graves to get death dates. While the missionaries taught and talked with a family that lived very close by, it gave me the opportunity to talk about family history with President Billy. He knows how important it is and is ready to get started.
All together we visited around 15 families, before calling it a day we stopped over to the previous branch Presidents home and found a sweet older lady sitting on the floor. She greeted us and sent someone off to get us a coconut. This past month or so we have been emailing a missionary that served here in Chuuk about 17 years ago. Elder Westover has sent us pictures, which we printed and took with us to Uman. It has been wonderful to share his emails and pictures with the Chuukese people. Most all the people we've talked to remember their missionaries over the years and loved them. They were also thrilled to see the pictures of them. We had to call it a day because it was getting late but we are looking forward to returning next week or so.
We would like to thank ALL the missionaries that have served here in the Chuuk mission over the years and opened up so many areas. You've planted some amazing seeds and made a positive impact on the Chuukese people which has made all of our callings much more meaningful.
Chuuk is not a easy mission, but it is a very special mission. It takes some special young men to serve here. We know that the young men that serve or have served here, have big hearts. And they know how to love unconditionally.
You have all done a great job and left this place with positive, lasting feelings. We thank you!
 ~ "Under the influence of the Spirit every soul was humbled, every heart was melted, and we rejoiced in the blessings of our Heavenly Father."

Elder Tiffany and Elder Allred drinking giant Uman coconuts. They are so tasty and refreshing. In the Chuukese culture they always treat you to a fresh coconut or something to eat. We (Elder T and I) use a straw, the young Elders chug it...It stains your clothes if it gets on you, and it did this day even with the straws. It ruined both of our shirts but it was well worth it on this adventure.

1 comment:

  1. I love this, isn't this the best thing ever to do with our "retirement" years!!!!!
    Keep up the great, wonderful, amazing work. We love ya.
    Elder and Sister LeFevre (your Pohnpei Neighbors)