Thursday, December 27, 2012

To Be in the Kingdom and of the Kingdom

What a beautiful white Christmas we had here on Christmas Morning in the Chuuk Zone.  
 We are reminded from the Book of Mormon that our baptism is a covenant to “stand as witnesses of God [and His kingdom] at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life”
 Nephi taught that we follow Jesus by keeping Heavenly Father’s commandments: “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, can we follow Jesus save we shall be willing to keep the commandments of the Father?” (2 Ne. 31:10)
Last week this beautiful mom got married and this week baptized.  What a wonderful Christmas indeed. 
 We will receive “a mighty change … in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.” We will keep our “covenant with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things … all the remainder of our days” (Mosiah 5:2, 5).
The Book of Mormon teaches, “Unless a man shall endure to the end, in following the example of the Son of the living God, he cannot be saved” (2 Ne. 31:16). With these baptisms Chuuk finishes off the year with 104 baptisms for 2012, the entire mission finishes with 391 thus far.  What a year!  2013 Goal is 500 baptisms - pray for all people searching for the truth and light.
When we are baptized, we take upon ourselves the sacred name of Jesus Christ. Taking upon us His name is one of the most significant experiences we have in life. By choosing to be in His kingdom, we separate not isolate ourselves from the world. We pray that each of us as members of His kingdom will understand that our baptism and confirmation is the gateway into His kingdom. When we enter, we covenant to be of His kingdom forever! In the name of Jesus Christ.

Articles of Faith 13

We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

In the Christmas Pig Zone. . .

This old guy don't know it but he is just
about to become Christmas dinner.
After everyone's branch parties --- all the missionaries got together for a celebration.  Elder Allred decided we should have a pig for dinner (Chuukese style). He and several others that have experience, went to our District Presidents home to prepare and cook it.

Later, after all the parties, we all met over at the other Senior couples apartment, Elder and Sister Eakins, on the other side of the island for dinner.  We ate baked potatoes, green salad, fruit salad, stuffing and rolls.
Elder Pita's making his trifle
Elder Vehikite says the hoof is the best and tasty part
being Tongan, he probably knows what the best is...
This is not his first rodeo or pig fry.
Dessert was Elder Pita's trifle surprise, a couple of Sister Eakins pies, and Tiffany's surprise was carmel swirl ice cream.  Everyone was full and happy for the night again...
Elder Rainy says, hey you guys,
the tongue is pretty good,
you want some?

Elder Peck -
look mom I'm using a fork,
No fingers. 

Elder Huppe
"come on, try this piece,
doesn't it look good?"
After dinner some visiting, playing games and singing...
Elder Allen and Obray -
Okay pwipwi we got this. 
Elder Johnsons CHEESE
Boy, we even licked the plate...
Ah 1 anda 2 anda 3...  
At Christmastime we celebrate our Heavenly Father’s perfect gift of His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. In token of this greatest of gifts, the Christmas season becomes for most of us a time of finding joy in giving to others.  The Savior needed prophets’ help to create gifts of testimony in the Book of Mormon, and He needs the missionaries’ help to share it.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Mwan CHRISTmas Celebration

 "He whose birth we commemorate this season is more than the symbol of a holiday. He is the Son of God, the Creator of the earth, the Jehovah of the Old Testament, the fulfillment of the Law of Moses, the Redeemer of mankind, the King of Kings, the Prince of Peace". Gordon B. Hinckley
Here in Micronesia, we celebrate Christmas a little different from what we are used to back home.  Because everyone is family (Family of God) they celebrate all together on Christmas morning.  As everyone begins to show up and find a place to sit, all the presents are put into a big pile until it is time to hand them out.  It all begins with everyone singing a Christmas song together and then having an opening prayer to give thanks for the joyous season, family, and the gifts God has provided for everyone.  Then it is time for the handing out the gifts, each name is called and told who the gift is from.  Some are from Santa and others from someone in the family.  It is quite a show.  To receive your gift you get to do a little dance of some kind.  Some pretty smooth moves from these shakers. Some wouldn't dance but those who did were pretty funny.  Everyone got a good laugh.
Dance, dance - shake your booty!
The pile gets smaller 
Anticipation and waiting for a present . . .
Come on up, shake your stuff and get your present. . .
After all the gifts are given out it is time for eating (Sia Monga) One thing the Chuukese know how to do is eat... Even the tiny ones are great eaters.  This is what the adults ate. The children had chicken and a hot dog instead of fish.
After eating we had entertainment skits and singing... 

This the story of the Prodigal Son

Some of the many happy members --- 

These next pictures are just a variety of the many beautiful children in the branch.  It was a full and fun day for everyone.   

 Brothers and sisters, this joyful season brings to all of us a measure of happiness that corresponds to the degree to which we have turned our minds, feelings, and actions to the Savior, whose birth we celebrate. Let it be a time of prayers for peace, for the preservation of free principles, and for the protection of those who are far from us. Let it be a time of forgetting self and finding time for others. Let it be a time for discarding the meaningless and for stressing the true values. Let it be a time of peace because we have found peace in His teachings. Most of all, let it be a time to remember the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, that we may share in the song of the angels, the gladness of the shepherds, and the worship of the Wise Men. President Thomas S. Monson

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Blessings of Choosing to Pursue and Nurture Eternal Marriage

Everyday we get to experience some kind of tender mercy from our Father in Heaven and it is important that we not only recognize it but that we pray to be worthy to receive them.
We were given the opportunity to teach Temple preparation classes to members within our mission.

The world around us is not equipped to provide the help we need to make it through this often-treacherous journey. Occasionally we teach high on the hill top during a rain storm and other times we teach in the Chapel. No matter  where we teach, we will go forward to prepare the Lords convent people.  So many in our society today seem to have slipped from the moorings of safety and drifted from the harbor of peace.

 The opportunity to enter the temple and to take upon ourselves the sacred covenants therein, is one of the greatest blessings available to us in mortality. Then, after we take upon us those covenants, our obedience in living them daily stands as a demonstration of our faith, love, devotion, and spiritual commitment to honor our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. Our obedience also prepares us to live with Them in the eternities.
 The Temple’s saving ordinances are essential to—and even the central focus of—the eternal plan of happiness.

This is the Manila temple where they will get the blessings of becoming an eternal family.
This is President Willie and Sister Rieki Waita ~  We are so excited for them.  They now are Temple Recommend holders and will take out their endowments in April.  
The blessings of choosing to pursue and nurture eternal marriage will lead them to experience the fruits of the gospel.
The temple is truly a place where you are “in the world and not of the world.”

The primary purpose of the Temple is to provide the ordinances necessary for our exaltation in the celestial kingdom. Temple ordinances guide us to our Savior and give us the blessings that come to us through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Temples are the greatest university of learning known to man, giving us knowledge and wisdom about the creation of the world. Endowment instructions give guidance as to how we should conduct our lives here in mortality. The meaning of the word endowment is “gift.” The ordinance consists of a series of instructions on how we should live and covenants we make to live righteously by following our Savior.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from the West Pacific. We are surviving the heat of “Tropical Paradise” and we are still going strong.  Each day we feel a little more at home. That is to be expected after spending so much time here, we guess.  The people, like we said before, are very loving and accepting people. They have embraced us and let us be part of their family.
This past month was the month of giving thanks for everything we are blessed with and now we have entered in the month of WISHES...

First, I want to tell you what I am thankful for --- I am thankful for clean water, garbage pickup, electricity, good beds, good roads, bug bombs, and all the people that make sure these things are possible to enjoy.  I am very, very thankful for technology and a good mailing service.  Super, thankful for a cold glass of fresh milk to drink with macaroni and tomato.  Thanks to Brady and Kimberly for mailing me my homemade tomato juice. Yum  (I didn't get the milk but in 4 months I will).  Elder Tiffany says he is thankful for fresh fruits and vegetables, especially tomatoes, peaches and raspberries.  He also is thankful for the chance to grow stuff and buy stuff that looks familiar. He never thought he’d say it but he misses places like Walmart and Costco.  More importantly we are very thankful for Our Father in Heaven and for the atoning sacrifice that was made so we could be forgiven of our mistakes and short comings so we could live with him again.   Next, we are thankful for each other and the Lords priesthood that blesses us.  We are also thankful that he loves us and takes such good care of us.  (Even on the days when I am not lovable – Oh not really. I am always lovable but you knew that already though RIGHT)!
Also, we are thankful for Brady and Kimberly, Brians family and Annettes, friends and other family for everything they do for us and the support they have given us while on our mission.  We feel very loved and thankful for that love.

Now wishes. . .  well for starters ET always says “if wishes were fishes, we’d all have a fry, if horse turds were biscuits, we’d eat till we die” (quoting his father who was very wise in a folksy kind of way) Well we don’t want any of either --- However we wish for you all to be healthy and strong. We wish that every small child could get a big hug then go to bed safe, warm, with a tummy full of healthy food and the feeling of being loved. We wish the world could have peace and we could all get along and play nice with one another. We know those things sound small and child like but that is what we wish for.

Sometimes we look around and have a hard time imagining Christmas here.  There are decorations up here and there and also some of the stores blare Christmas music, but the scenery is just not what we're used to for December.  It's just green everywhere.  And the temperature and humidity haven't changed a lick.  But Christmas time it is and we are doing our best to have the Spirit.
Living out on a tiny island is like something in the movies and is sometimes eye opening in many ways. Sometimes it feels like we are in a book. Some days it drags on and on and other days it is so full you can’t even stop your head from spinning.  We have met so many people from all over the world here.  It is great when you can run into people that are from your home area and even more exciting is when we know the same people.  SMALL WORLD.  Our hotel is like a little family within its self.  We live in the building where only the white people live.  Sounds a little racist but that’s just the way it turned out.
Our neighbor is Allan, he is from Louisiana.  He works for the U.S. Dept. of Interior and over sees our tax dollars at work here.  (They are not doing a good job with our money BTW)  He has been out in Micronesia for many years and in Chuuk 7 years.  He is planning on leaving right after we go home.  He is single but he was going to marry a nice Chuukese lady however she became ill and died and left 3 children.  He sees the children every week and loves them.  Our other neighbors live up stairs.  Rob and Cindy, they are the dive masters here.  He is from Florida but has lived everywhere including Ogden, Utah and Cindy is from the UK.  She has a great accent and is fun to listen to, although she is a little fiery and pretty funny.  In the building in front of us is where the Philippine community lives. We really can’t begin to tell you about everyone there because there are so many of them.  They are the workers and some of the great wonderful people here that keep this place running.
We have the greatest job in the world right now, delivering and handing out toys and goodies, all made possible by charitable souls from all across our home country. We are not clothed in red or have a sleigh and reindeer even if Elder T says he does have the build for it, we are not Mr. and Mrs. Santa Clause. One thing that we truly love and appreciate this year is family. At home we all get caught up doing things with our family (ies) making traditions, eating, singing, and playing games.
We might over look someone that doesn’t have anyone to spend the holidays with.  Here in Chuuk, EVERYONE is family – doesn’t matter if your blood or not.  We all are God’s children.  The branch Christmas party is on Christmas day because who do we spend Christmas with?  Our family.  Anyway everyone pitches in with food; they draw names for presents, play games, sing Christmas songs, and tell the Christmas story.  It warms our hearts because no one is left out, it doesn’t matter what religion you are or what color, age or sex, you are loved and welcome to join in the festivities.

This past month our friends lost their son. It was sudden and unexpected.  He was a strong healthy 32 year old man.  It has been heartbreaking and even though we understand the Plan of Salvation, seeing people we love hurting has been very hard.  It really makes you step back and pause . . . it makes you realize how each day is special and should be embraced.  Our other good friends lost a 6 year old grand-daughter in the senseless shooting that took place in Connecticut.  Again heart breaking.  Our prayers are with our friends that are hurting from these losses and we hope they will be comforted knowing that they are now safe with a loving Father in Heaven.

We truly are learning a lot of things and everything we ever learned throughout our life, we have had to use on our mission.  I am extremely thankful for my upbringing and the incredible,  wonderful smart amazing parents that raised us and taught us about our Savior.  We have never felt closer to them as we do on this mission.  When we are feeling down or not sure we can handle something, we feel them with us helping us get through it.  We know that we are very blessed and loved.

This mission is probably the hardest thing we have ever done in our lives, living under the circumstances we live in here and learning to be obedient and humble to what the Lord expects of us.  Wearing this badge every day makes us want to be better people.  We’re not only representing us, we are representing the Lord.  AWESOME.  I always wondered why missionaries were different and now I know why.  We still have more time here in Micronesia and I pray that we will be able to continue to grow and become the person the Lord has sent us to be.
Besides that “what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger, right?”
May we ever watch over one another, assisting in times of need.  Let us not be critical and judgmental, but let us be tolerant, ever emulating the Savior’s example of loving-kindness.  And may we willingly serve one another.  We know that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, that he died for us so we might live again.  We also know that Joseph Smith restored his gospel to the earth again so we can learn how we must live here on the earth.  We also know that we have a prophet today to lead us and guide us during our times of trails.  We know that families can be together forever and it is up to each one of us to share our testimonies and teach others.  We pray for each one of you and pray you will continue to be strong and healthy.  We always pray that we will be ever worthy to receive the blessings he has to offer.  We both wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Donation for Akoyikoyi School

The children of Akoyikoyi School in Penia Village received hygiene kits from 
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  
This is Clark Graham with Elder Tiffany and the Elders Sealander, Johnson, Pita and Obray who are serving in his area, Clark is serving as Principal of Akoyikoyi School, a small charter-type elementary school.

Chelsie is a practicing nurse and she is visiting from the United States. She volunteered to come teach the children about hygiene, brushing their teeth and flossing them.
Chelsie is teaching the kids about their lungs - the uses of them and how to keep them strong.  Each child had the opportunity to hear another child's lungs and heart.

Most people will understand the name Akoyikoyi by its literal meaning: the birds piping signals the dawn; but it figuratively refers to knowledge or enlightenment. Thus the center’s motto “Awakening Opportunities”: The piping that literally wakes people up in the morning, and enlightens people.

The center will provide developmentally appropriate drug-free activities to replace, reduce or eliminate involvement in substance use-related activities in an environment that is safe. A place where you are comfortable sending kids, and also adult-friendly.

There is a need to improve educational opportunities so the young people are literate, respectful, and learn in a place where they feel welcome, enjoy themselves, and an adult provides appropriate mentoring, and cares about them!  This is what Clark teaches them. (information taken from Akoyikoyi site)

How about you young lady, next...
“It’s the Service That Counts"
Elders handing the kits out to each child.  
Here little guy this one is for you!
"Hygiene, hygiene we all scream for hygiene"