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.
  

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Once a Missionary Always a Missionary


We welcomed Dr. Chad Ellis and wife Lynette who arrived in Chuuk 26 years after he served as a missionary here helping to build the gospel and make a positive impact. He has come back to Chuuk with the Micronesia Dental Support Project (MDSP) it was co-founded in 2005 by Dr. Barry Staley, DDS, a retired periodontist from Santa Cruz, California, his wife Stephanie Staley, librarian at Cabrillo College, his daughter Desha Staley-Raatior and her Micronesian husband Vid Raatior to help the forgotten children in the remote and small outer islands in the Pacific island nation of Micronesia. In 2011, MDSP was officially accepted as a project of the United Charitable Programs (UCP), a federally registered 501(c)3 public charity to provide tax deductible donations for supporters.
Meeting Chad and Lynette and getting the opportunity to spend time with them and learn of his mission has been such a special blessing. We have learned so many wonderful things about his experiences as a missionary. This past week we have been able to share testimonies of the blessings of missionary service over and over. Elder Holland said. “Listen with your heart. Listen with your soul, and you may have feelings or promptings. … It may be something very personal, it may be related to something at home, something in a marriage or with a child, but that’s the Spirit, and He’s the real teacher.” He referred to Doctrine and Covenants 43:16 and emphasized that “you are to be taught from on high.
We’re instruments, we’re tools, and it’s our tongues and our lips, but the teacher is on high.”
“The Spirit of the Lord is the real teacher.

Chad sharing his pictures from his mission with his companion Herman Walters. Herman and Chad were mission companions during his mission and still good friends. This has been an incredible journey having him come back here to Chuuk. The people have embraced them as if he never left. Even the language has come back to him after all these years. He and Lynette have been widely accepted and loved by the Chuukese people.


~Herman and Sarafina Walters ~

~Chuuk Missionary Companions 26 years ago... ~
Reunited in the gospel
~ Herman Walters & Chad Ellis ~
~ Spouses Sarafina Walters & Lynette Ellis ~

Be sure to read the following story "Miracle in Hawaii"

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

"Miracle in Hawaii"

Wonderful blessing we wanted to share: It is a story from a former Elder that served his Mission here in Chuuk (Truk). The Lords work will continue on. . . the proper "why" questions will lead us to the proper "who", "what", "when" and "how "decisions.
When Lynette and I flew into Honolulu on Sunday afternoon we were surprised to find out that our checked bags would have to be picked up at baggage claim during our 16-hour layover in Hawaii (instead being directly routed to Truk-our final destination). The bags would then have to be rechecked in the morning before our 5:30 flight.
         We had only rented a small car for a few hours so I asked the airport personnel at what time we could check our bags in for the “island hopper” to Chuuk. She said the airport opened at 4:15 am. I told her we had a flight to Majuro at 5:25 and she said be at the airport right at 4:15. So we did.
         When I went to the ticket counter to check in I was informed that the flight was closed and that we should have come earlier. I explained what I had been told but was told the airport opens only for the Majuro flight at 2:30. She then looked at the next flight out (flights to Chuuk are only on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday). She said we could fly out Weds and arrive in Chuuk Thursday.
         I was extremely disappointed and frustrated! I had been planning this trip for years and needed every single day we had in Truk to be able to visit all the people in the plan. Lynette, the eternal optimist, made me laugh when she reminded me we were together in Hawaii for three days—there were a lot worse scenarios. But this trip was about going back to my old mission and meeting people I haven’t seen in some 25 years. So we decided to make the most of our situation.
         As a side note: I will probably say Truk and Chuuk (Trukese or Chuukese) interchangeably throughout this so I will explain that right off. When I lived in Truk in the 80’s it was known as Truk but the local people called it Chuuk among themselves. It means mountain. The Truk Islands are the top of mountains that have been slowly sinking in the ocean for thousands of years. Anyway when I was there the islands were a Trust Territory of the United States. Which means that we would protect them if some other country came along to attack them. Also if there was a bad storm or disaster we would assist them. In 1995 they became their own country, The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). In the FSM there are four states: Yap, Truk (Chuuk officially), Pohnpei, and Kosrae.
         One of the individuals that I had on my list to find was Hans Willander. He was someone that was taught the missionary discussions and baptized while I was serving in Truk. After his baptism he wanted to take the gospel to his home island, Tol. Hans was the Lt. Governor of Truk and as such lived on the main island, Moen, in the Truk Lagoon most of the time. I was asked to be one of the missionaries to open the island of Tol (village of Nechocho) to the gospel. Hans and his wife Sechia became very close friends to us and allowed us to stay in one of the bedrooms in their home while we built a missionary home. Hans was an amazing person. He had a personal library in his home (something I had never seen before or after during my time in Truk) with books from all different subjects. He had an international certificate of leadership of training from Harvard proudly displayed on his wall. This was no ordinary man! Now as a member of the church he became a quick leader. He invited all his friends to listen to us missionaries. We taught from sun up to sundown for the whole eleven months I was there (building our house in whatever spare time we had—with help also on the building from missionaries from near by islands). We quickly had around 100 members of the church and formed a branch of the church in Nechocho. Hans completed the translation of the Book of Mormon (the printed copy of the Trukese edition arrived 6 weeks before the end of my missionary service in Truk) and in about 1994 he came to Salt Lake City to translate the sacred temple ceremony into Chuukese. After our meeting in Salt Lake City we lost contact for 18 years. During that time I heard rumors that he may have moved away from Truk but had no idea where he was.
         About 3 weeks before our trip back to Truk I was looking through our local Utah Valley newspaper which sometimes will list missionaries that are coming and going on missions in our area. It is rare to hear of someone going to the Micronesia Guam Mission because it is a smaller mission of the church. However on Memorial Day weekend I saw that there was a missionary from Provo who had just returned from the Micronesia Guam Mission. I saw his parents name and looked them up in the phone book. There are many island groups that missionaries serve in in the mission so I was surprised to find that their son served in Chuuk. I spoke with him about Tol and asked how the work was going there and to my surprise he informed me there was no missionary work going on at all there. He gave me the email address (I can hardly believe this possible on such a remote island) of the missionary couple serving in Chuuk. Through a series of emails I have been asking questions and getting answers in preparation for our travels. They did not know of Hans or his family. Later, after some of their inquires, I received the sad news that Hans had left the church and had moved to Hawaii and was rumored to be in poor health. I was so sad for a couple of weeks to know that my efforts as a missionary had this result. In my mind over the 25 years that had passed Nechocho was nearing the stage of having a temple constructed soon! I was glad to have this shock of reality behind me prior to my arrival in Truk.
         So with a few extra day unexpected days in Hawaii my wife suggested that this delay would be completely worth it if we could find Hans and his wife. We made it our day’s quest! I searched the internet in our hotel room for Hans. I did find a Hans Williander that lived in Kaneohe with a Honolulu post office box with no address or phone number but that was it. I then called a former mission companion, Jack Damuni, who is a high school teacher on Maui. He always claimed himself to be the “King of Laie” and knows Oahu like no other. We I explained our situation and he suggested that we drive over to Kaneohe and look for a red and white stroiped truck with people selling malasadas (which are deep fried sugar donuts with no hole). He said there were always Trukese people working these trucks. He said through “coconut wireless” (the local connections J) they could help us locate Hans. So we set out on our journey. Before we left our hotel we said a prayer together that we could find and talk to Hans before the evening was over!
         We stopped by the Hawaii Honolulu Mission office and asked a mission couple (Elder and Sister Smiley from Lehi, UT) about any potential contacts with Chuukese members or Hans in particular. They didn’t have any but showed us their library of church materials in several island languages. After showing us a copy of the Trukese Book of Mormon we informed them that we were trying to locate the person who actually translated the Book of Mormon into Trukese, Hans Williander. The only help they could offer was the name and phone number of the stake president of the Kaneohe Stake.
We drove on the Likelike highway to the windward side of the island to Kaneohe to the mall where Damuni mentioned the donut truck would be. We drove around for a while but never located it. I was about to abandon the idea and call the stake president (which I did with no results). Lynette however asked a couple of people in the parking lot if they knew where the truck was. The first said it was usually right where we were looking but not there today. The second was a security guard who pulled out her cell phone (with their number already in her phone) and found out that there were two trucks selling today and the nearest one was in Hawaii Kai near a Costco.
         We drove around the island and located the truck. We walked up to the truck and ordered a half dozen malasadas. I spoke some Trukese to the girl selling them to me and she responded and asked how I knew her language. She was from Paata and her name was Davely but had lived in Hawaii all but the first two years of her life. We talked for a while and then I explained I was dentist going to Truk to help them but missed our flight and was on a quest to find Hans Williander. She said she knew that he was living in Hawaii and that as a matter of fact she was with Hans’ daughter at a family funeral gathering the night before. I asked her if she could try to find out where he lived and we exchanged phone numbers so this could happen. She was very busy making sales. We stuck around there for a bit but felt like we were interrupting her work.
         We went over to the near by Costco to look for some things we needed and try some samples (our lunch). As we were getting some samples (we almost skipped this particular row but after passing it went back) two of the ladies serving samples were talking and I realized I could understand them. Although I may have been able to recognize Trukese people from other islanders at one time I no longer have that skill—they all look the same now. I asked in Chuukese if they were form Chuuk. They were surprised and we talked for a while. Their names were Rensi and Fumi. They both were from Dublon. I told them I used to live there as a missionary for 4 months.
         Fumi was about to go on break so I told her I had some pictures from when I lived there. I ran to the car and brought in the iPad. Trukese people love to see pictures of themselves—especially the older ones. It is a real novelty! As we looked through the pictures I had a picture of Fumi’s father and she teared up with joy. She said he was 90 years old now. We talked for a while and then I explained that I was looking for Hans. She said she knew where he lived and that her cousin even knew the exact apartment. She said she worked until 5:15 and then would board the bus to get a ride to her home but would meet us at a local McDonalds. We made a plan that we would pick her up at 5:15 and drive her to Hans’ home and then give her a ride home to her family. We exchanged phone numbers.
         Lynette and I return to Costco to pick up Fumi (Rensi was getting a ride home with her husband). We bought 3 boxes malasadas (donuts) and gave a box each to Rensi and Fumi. We then drove Fumi to Hans’ apartment. It was in a very poor area that was set up by the government as low-income housing.
         We parked the car and then went to Fumi’s cousin’s apartment who sent out their daughter to walk us to Hans’ door. We knocked and they invited us in.
         Hans looked very weak and sick and was laying on the couch. Sechia was by his side and didn’t look a day older than when I had seen her 25 years ago. It was good to see her sitting and relaxing. In all my days in Truk I rarely remember a time when Sechia wasn’t cooking, cleaning, or working. She rarely took time for herself but was always serving others. Amanita, their beautiful 16-year-old granddaughter was faithfully taking care of them both. It took them a minute to register who I was and then the reunion I have been thinking about for years began.
         We spoke for a while about his health. He said he had to move to Hawaii for his medical care and has had 3 open-heart bypass surgeries in the past 5 years since he has lived in Hawaii. I pulled out the iPad and I showed them roughly 400 pictures I had taken while on Tol. Tears flowed as the saw pictures of their family and friends from a life far removed from where they are at this point in their life.
         We were together for nearly 5 hours reminiscing about our times together. They were very kind to me and they loved Lynette from the second they met her (Hans had met her in SLC in 1994 but it was a first meeting for Sechia).
Hans said he no longer had any contact with the church. He didn’t even have a copy of the Book of Mormon since he left Chuuk but that he would love to have one again. He once saw the elders come by their place and he asked them to return some day but has never seen them since. When I asked about why he wasn’t in the church anymore he said that before his dad died he said his father wished they hadn’t left the protestant church. So he felt like he was honoring his father by leaving it. He told us he knew it was still true though and would like to have the missionaries visit him again.
         Hans’ father was named Williander (the older Trukese people would take on their father’s name as their last name) was a retired protestant minister in Nechocho when I met him. We baptized him and after doing so had incredible success basically baptizing the majority of his old congregation. Williander passed away in 1989 and his wife Nemsi in 1991. As we talked most of the people on Nechocho that we baptized have now moved from there to Guam or Hawaii because there was no source of income and they needed jobs in the new way of their living (not just living off the land anymore).
         WeThree (their third son) showed up while we were talking. He is just visiting form Chuuk to see his aging parents. We had a great time reminiscing and looking pictures. He remembered with detail so many things I had long forgotten. He is going to be running for Lt Governor in next year’s election. WeOne (their first son) is a state senator and lives on Moen. WeTwo (their second son) passed away in 1994 (any pictures of had of him we source of many joyful tears). WeThree had a flash drive so I was able to copy all of the pictures over to his card for them to have.
         As the night went on I gave Fumi a ride home. I also took WeThree to buy them some 5-gallon bottles of drinking water and helped them the best I could. As our conversations continued Hans seemed to gain more strength and was sitting up next to Sechia by the end of our conversation. They asked if I would say a prayer on their behalf before we left. It was a little difficult to try to say all that I wanted to for them with my limited remembrance of the Trukese language.
         The events of this day were truly a complete answer to prayer. If I was told before that if I had to give up two days in Chuuk in exchange for meeting with Hans and Sechia in Hawaii I would have made that deal! It was a special opportunity to be a part of this miracle. We will follow up with a visit to the mission office today and take him a copy of the Book of Mormon he helped translate into Trukese later today. What a beautiful opportunity that was ours on this day!

~ By Preston Chad and Lynette Ellis~

Us, with Chad and Lynette Ellis


Friday, June 15, 2012

"Liv'in the pacific island life"

Well life out here in the middle of the Pacific has been pretty good; we have had a lot of rain for the past few weeks. We like the rain because it’s not so hot. It makes it hard to get out into the jungle but we can handle it now. Missionary work is going well; we had several baptisms last week. One of our Elders that left us a couple of months ago was able to be here to do one of the baptisms. He is an AP now and was here on an exchange trip. It was a tender mercy for him to get this opportunity, because he was here working for 11 months with this family before. He then got really sick after church on Sunday and we had him with us at our apartment on Monday all day trying to get him better. He is one of the Elders that we really love and became very close to. The following day we tried to get things all caught up for the week, because the next day we were to go to the outer islands when Elder Tiffany caught some bug and so did the outer island Elder. We had to cancel the trip and get everyone back up and healthy again.

Sometimes here in Chuuk sickness is scary because if it was ever very serious we have to get them out of here. Bad healthcare issues. (Socialized healthcare) The people that believe the government should take care of medical care need to come check it out. It may look good & sound good, but the outcome is dang scary. People from the states would never tolerate the healthcare here. It is seriously that scary.

Elder Dr. Archibald missionary that was here serving with us should be translated for his great efforts doing work here and doing it with a positive attitude each day. I am afraid if I had to go into that hospital daily I would be depressed and have to come home. We visited a small girl last week there; she was on the floor laying. It was so sad; people are laying on the floor with IV’s in them. If you can imagine the worse thing > multiply that it is worse. And there are a lot of them. Some of the members won’t go to the hospital when they are sick; because they don’t trust them and are afraid they will die there. The doctors here are very good people but they don’t have the medicine needed to help, so they do what they can with what they have. I seriously don’t even know if I am making sense.

But moving on I am happy to report everyone is doing much better now. Missionary work will continue.
Before going on my mission I served in the Primary teaching the CTR 5 class. The kids were also my nursery babies when I served in the Nursery years before. When receiving this calling I was thrilled because I loved these kids very much.

It always amazed me how many great women and men put so many hours of planning and preparing to teach these young people each week the gospel. They were incredible examples to me on serving each other. "The Savior taught His disciples, 'for whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it."

Since we’ve been out on our mission we get to spend a lot of time with small children. The Chuukese kids are adorable and we have such a wonderful time with them. The Primary here is different in many ways; all the kids are taught together in one classroom, around 40 of them ranging in age 2-11, by one teacher. This lady is amazing ~ she does the music ~ sharing time ~ the lesson AND she does it in a room without air condition. Normal temperature here is about 85-90 with 100% humidity. She keeps the children for about 2 hours while the parents are in other meetings. The children are very well behaved, but they are children.

"Although there may be times when a child does not listen with a believing heart, your testimony of Jesus will remain in his or her mind and soul...If a child is not listening, don't despair. Time and truth are on your side. At the right moment, your words will return as if from heaven itself. Your testimony will never leave your children."Elder Neil L. Andersen
I have requested air conditioning. Well, now you get the picture... I have been trying to figure out how I can help her even though I don't know the language. One thing I know is that the spirit teaches and loves each of us equally. This poor woman is very worn out and stressed by the time church is over. YES, SHE NEEDS HELP! I am now going in there with her to help out. 


I read this post from another senior couple’s blog and loved it. Small innocent children are the greatest teachers of all if we will pay attention. I hope you enjoyed this story. And please pray that we get air conditioning. . .  
“When I was 18, as I was preparing to serve a mission, my bishop called me to teach the Sunbeams. I had never before learned to love others more than myself until I had served those children in such a simple assignment. With time and patience I learned how to keep those seven children in their seats and listening to a simple lesson. “One day I invited Mike (name changed) to come to church and sit in my class. Mike was my age but had stopped attending church completely by the time he was 12. We had remained friends over the years as I had served as the deacon’s quorum president, the teacher’s quorum president, and first assistant to the bishop in the priest’s quorum. He had been the topic of many fellow shipping discussions and was often part of my prayers as the years had passed. Once in a while Mike would accept my invitations to come to an activity. It always surprised me when he did, so I kept inviting him. “At that time, Mike had long, black hair and a beard. His complexion was dark and pleasant. I don’t remember when I invited him to my Primary class, but one day he showed up. “’Class, I would like to introduce you to my friend Mike,’ is how I began my lesson. ‘He is visiting us today.’ “Mike sat next to me in front. The children sat in a semicircle with their eyes fixed on him. They were much quieter than usual. I was about five or six minutes into the lesson when one little boy got up from his chair and walked across the room and stood directly in front of my friend. The boy paused for a moment and then climbed onto his lap. I continued with the lesson as I watched the two of them from the corner of my eye. “The boy sat looking into Mike’s face. Mike was quite uncomfortable but did not interrupt the lesson or turn the boy away. The other children watched the two of them for a few minutes. “Then one of the girls climbed off her seat and approached Mike. I was intently interested in seeing how Mike would react and did not want to instruct the two children to return to their seats. The girl stood with her hand on Mike’s knee looking into his face. “Then it happened. The boy on Mike’s lap reached up with both hands and turned Mike’s face directly to his. I stopped my lesson to see what was about to unfold. “With the innocence of a child, he said to Mike, ‘Are you Jesus?’ “The look on Mike’s face was total surprise. It seemed, as I glanced at the children’s faces, they all had the same question on their minds. “Mike looked at me as if to say, Help, what do I say? “I stepped in. ‘No, this is not Jesus. This is His brother.’ “Mike looked at me as if in shock. “Then without hesitation the boy in Mike’s lap reached up and wrapped his arms around Mike’s neck. ‘I can tell,’ the boy said as he hugged Mike. The lesson went on, but that day the teacher who taught the most was a three-year-old child. “Mike spent more than a year getting ready to serve a mission. It thrilled me to learn that he left for the mission field a few months before I returned. I still think of the scripture in Matthew 18:5: ‘And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.’ Ken Merrell from the New Era, May 2000.

“In our diligent efforts to fulfill all of the duties and obligations we take on as members of the Church, we sometimes see the gospel as a long list of tasks that we must add to our already impossibly long to-do list, as a block of time that we must somehow fit into our busy schedules. We focus on what the Lord wants us to do and how we might do it, but we sometimes forget why.

We know that our Heavenly Father is watching over each of you, and even though you might go through things he will take care of you. We are thankful for all the blessings and tender mercies we receive each day. We do have an attitude of gratitude and are grateful for this opportunity to serve. Each day is a new blessing and opportunity for us to learn and get better, inspite of our weaknesses. Life is great, we are great and the work goes on. “We need to be constantly reminded of the eternal reasons behind the things we are commanded to do. The basic gospel principles need to be part of our life’s fabric, even if it means learning them over and over again.
We love and miss you more that you know… 
Stay Pechekun (strong)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

"Taught by the child"

Before going on my mission I served in the Primary teaching the CTR 5 class. The kids were also my nursery babies when I served in the Nursery years before. When receiving this calling I was thrilled because I loved these kids very much.
It always amazed me how many great women and men put so many hours of planning and preparing to teach these young people each week the gospel. They were incredible examples to me on serving each other. "The Savior taught His disciples, 'For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it."
Since being out on my mission we get to spend time with small children. The Chuukese kids are adorable and we have such a wonderful time with them. The Primary here is different in many ways; all the kids are taught together in one classroom around 40 of them ranging in age 2-11, by one teacher. This lady is amazing ~ she does the music ~ sharing time ~ the lesson AND she does it in a room without air condition. Normal temperature here is about 85-90 with 100% humidity. She keeps the children for about 2 hours while the parents are in other meetings. The children are very well behaved but they are children.
"Although there may be times when a child does not listen with a believing heart, your testimony of Jesus will remain in his or her mind and soul...If a child is not listening, don't despair. Time and truth are on your side. At the right moment, your words will return as if from heaven itself. your testimony will never leave your children." Elder Neil L. Andersen
I have requested air condition. Well, now you get the picture... I have been trying to figure out how I can help her even though I don't know the language. One thing I know is that the spirit teaches and loves each of us equally. This poor woman is very worn out and stressed by the time church is over. YES, SHE NEEDS HELP! I am now going in there with her to help out.

I read this post from another senior couple’s blog and loved it. Small innocent children are the greatest teachers of all if we will pay attention I hope you enjoy this story. And please pray that we get air condition . . .
“When I was 18, as I was preparing to serve a mission, my bishop called me to teach the Sunbeams. I had never before learned to love others more than myself until I had served those children in such a simple assignment. With time and patience I learned how to keep those seven children in their seats and listening to a simple lesson. “One day I invited Mike (name changed) to come to church and sit in my class. Mike was my age but had stopped attending church completely by the time he was 12. We had remained friends over the years as I had served as the deacon’s quorum president, the teacher’s quorum president, and first assistant to the bishop in the priest’s quorum. He had been the topic of many fellow shipping discussions and was often part of my prayers as the years had passed. Once in a while Mike would accept my invitations to come to an activity. It always surprised me when he did, so I kept inviting him. “At that time, Mike had long, black hair and a beard. His complexion was dark and pleasant. I don’t remember when I invited him to my Primary class, but one day he showed up. “’Class, I would like to introduce you to my friend Mike,’ is how I began my lesson. ‘He is visiting us today.’ “Mike sat next to me in front. The children sat in a semicircle with their eyes fixed on him. They were much quieter than usual. I was about five or six minutes into the lesson when one little boy got up from his chair and walked across the room and stood directly in front of my friend. The boy paused for a moment and then climbed onto his lap. I continued with the lesson as I watched the two of them from the corner of my eye. “The boy sat looking into Mike’s face. Mike was quite uncomfortable but did not interrupt the lesson or turn the boy away. The other children watched the two of them for a few minutes. “Then one of the girls climbed off her seat and approached Mike. I was intently interested in seeing how Mike would react and did not want to instruct the two children to return to their seats. The girl stood with her hand on Mike’s knee looking into his face. “Then it happened. The boy on Mike’s lap reached up with both hands and turned Mike’s face directly to his. I stopped my lesson to see what was about to unfold. “With the innocence of a child, he said to Mike, ‘Are you Jesus?’ “The look on Mike’s face was total surprise. It seemed, as I glanced at the children’s faces, they all had the same question on their minds. “Mike looked at me as if to say, Help, what do I say? “I stepped in. ‘No, this is not Jesus. This is His brother.’ “Mike looked at me as if in shock. “Then without hesitation the boy in Mike’s lap reached up and wrapped his arms around Mike’s neck. ‘I can tell,’ the boy said as he hugged Mike. The lesson went on, but that day the teacher who taught the most was a three-year-old child. “Mike spent more than a year getting ready to serve a mission. It thrilled me to learn that he left for the mission field a few months before I returned. I still think of the scripture in Matthew 18:5: ‘And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.’ Ken Merrell from the New Era, May 2000.

A Coupla OK Boys

Last Sunday these three guys from Oklahoma showed up for our services. Norm, Art and Brad. Brad left on Monday before we could get a picture of him. They had spent the week diving here and wanted to go to church. We are always happy to see members from the States. They were welcomed in and sat down, from there they didn't understand a word that was said. Fortunately, the gospel is the same everywhere throughout world. Same procedures, different languages. The Spirit abides and we are all blessed.
We arranged for them to be taxi'd on Monday by Samon Joseph, the second counselor in our District Presidency who drives a taxi. He showed them the sights and gave them a great tour of our little Island. They, in turn, kept us laughing and having fun.

Art says "What is in store for us today"?

This is our little cold coconut shop. Art couldn't wait so he got two and drank one while they opened the rest of them.
We also scored a bag of potatoes. The breadfruit (wrapped in leaves) were left on the table.
Not one of our fave's ya know

We went out and visited one of the area's called Penia, we stopped by a school and there was a local women's group holding a meeting where they were teaching sewing and enjoying lunch. Of course the Chuukese people are very warm and invited us in. Art told them he could sew and they all laughed and that was all it took > He began showing off his talent at the sewing table, much to the surprise of these ladies. (Men today here don't know how to sew) "OK girls you just fold here and stitch there." "OK, Somebody hurry and fan him and maybe we can get him to finish the rest of this pile." hehe . . .

Norm added some much needed piece's to his ensemble. The clutch and over the shoulder bag shown here.
The guys wanted to purchase some jewelry for their wives and these lovely ladies were so impressed they pulled out every piece they had been working on and sold it at a great price to them. The purses are handmade and the ladies filled them up so they could take them home.

Hangin in the hood (or is that on the hood). We call this "kukuno" here in Chuuk. Our OK boys took right to it, understanding the concept to a tee. Soon they'll be trying to flash those hand signs when the cameras come out.

Okay . . . not what we had in mind for hand signs. These are good guys from Oklahoma but they really gotta understand this 'hangin in the hood' stuff better.

Here they are at the Cop Shop. Tried to get a drivers License but the Computer was unplugged.
So long guys and thanks for the laughs and the memories, among many other things.
Kot epwe nom roem ach chusefan! God be with you till we meet again!

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Divine Calling of Missionary work...


This past month we finished up our GPS missionary duties out on the island of Romanum.  It is a ways away from us and takes about 20 minutes on a good day, to get there on the boat with two outboard motors at full speed.  It’s a small island about 2 square miles with probably 500 people there.  The Church is fairly strong there comparatively.  We went out there at this time because one of the Elders that we started with when we got here was assigned there and we wanted to work with him one last time before he left for home.  We had two really great days there and got to meet some really great people. At one place we met up with the sister of the wife of the branch president.  Her husband has not been interested in the Church before now but as a result of our efforts to locate members has asked to be taught the lessons and come to Church.  We are very excited.  We also found a man who was baptized in 2009 but no one knew where he was.   He was very happy that we were able to reconnect him to the Missionaries.  This is the exciting part of what we do here, finding the Lords lost sheep. Alma 31:34-35  We testify that the Holy Ghost does direct us to those who seek truth as we pray and work that guidance.   And we know from experience that this joy is lasting as we choose to take the gospel to others. 


We begin our next adventure on the island of Uman...                                                                                                                                                                                     

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

O' where, o' where should we shop today...

Chuuk has many, many small stores to choose from, the problem with them is they all have the same stuff.  You find a favorite with the people and prices you like and that is where you shop.
 This is our little pink stand where we buy fresh cucumbers. Chuuk has the best and they are always sweet and tasty.
We also buy our small banana's & limes from here.
 
  This little store is where we buy yummy cold coconuts for drinking and eating...Today we purchased red potatoes from here.
The interesting thing is, they taste nothing like what we grow at home. I sure hope when I cook them Sunday for the AP's they are as good.  The packages in green are breadfruit.  It is so cool the way they wrap it up in a big leaf with a tie around it to keep it together.
One more of the many, many stores.
The sign says Fresh Puu For sale.  Puu grows in Micronesia on a tree.  They chew it like tobacco.  It gives them a buzz, and it's really bad for their teeth and of course, their over all health.
It is against the Word of Wisdom.

Pretty much all the stores sell fresh baked rolls and whatever fresh veggie that is available.  
This little store is right over the edge of the road, it is called the  "Look Down Store"
This is a typical isle in one of our bigger stores.  We didn't even know they made that much spam.  All kinds of flavors and brands...


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Crossing the River Jordan

One of our many fun lakes we get to drive through
 
Luckily the Lord sent us to where our experience at river running is paying off. 
video
Notice the water line on the bottom of the car. We like to test the rubber lining around the doors.
I'll go where you want me to go dear Lord, I'll float where you want me to cross.  I'll tread the waters of Babylon never to bind up in moss.  Please leave me a dry patch to dry dear Lord and maybe a towel for my feet.  A vehicle that's trusty to ford the stream and a few less holes in the street.

A day at the Chuuk Post Office

Here is Sister Tiffany standing outside of the Post Office trying to catch a breeze while the postmen look for our mail.  I say look because sometimes they can't find it.  Ever since the post office moved to this temporary site there has been some confusion.  At the present time we have no postboxes so they have to retrieve everyone's mail by hand and each day dozens of packages are mailed here to people from family that live in the states.  I think we mentioned we are limited greatly on what you can purchase here and as you know, Missionaries look forward every day to the news they receive in the mail and packages they get from home. This post office is not well organized so we have a lot of confusion here. 
In Chuuk, confusion is called Osukasuk (that word actually covers a multitude of things including confusion)
The mail people here work hard with only a small fan to cool things down and that place is hot. They are busy all the time going up and down stairs to get mail and packages.  The good news is Chuuk is building a new post office and when it is ready I am sure it will be a great day.  Not only for the people but for these mailmen and women. We thank them for the work they do each day.  

 This is what some of our packages for the Elders look like if they are not taped well, on occasion someone will cut a corner off and steal some candy or something out of the packages.  This is actually a good looking package, we have seen worse.  When mailing things please be sure to tape the sides up good and use priority mailing because usually it is cheaper and because if you don't it might take 6 months or longer to get to Micronesia.  It is US mail postage.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Power of prayer is real...

Matthew 6: 5 
¶And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we bforgive our debtors. And blead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.  For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:  But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. 

Amazing women full of Love, Support and Strength

A few good leaders from CWC
Lots of things pull against us when we are so close to what we want to accomplish. Remember why you kept going, that will get you over that last push. “Anyone can give up, it's the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that's true strength.
CWC "Chuuk Women Center"
Relief Society Women of Mwan Branch

Articles of Faith 10

We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.  

"Reggi" going to the Temple...

This is Reginald William Harrington the 4th.  Otherwise known as "Reggi".   He is the 4th because one evening we came home and we had 4 little guys hanging around chasing each other on our bedroom wall.  We started out with one.  Sister Tiffany was okay with it, but Elder Tiffany said 4 was just to many.
We trapped the others and put them outside, but this little fella is a Super fast runner.  He runs around all over the apartment, he makes a little sound like a bird.  We don't want him to get big.  When they get big that pretty little bird sound gets loud, and so does his poop. We don't want to see or clean up his poop. Otherwise, he has got to go.
Sister Tiffany was writing emails when she looked up and Reggi was hanging out heading to the Temple.  See even he knows how important it is to go to the Temple.
"Righteous little gecko"