Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Chuuk 101

Would you like to know more about the area we are serving?
The Chuukese are a people of few words so getting someone to share can be difficult.
“Making style” refers to preparing yourself for the opposite sex or whatever sex to which you are attracted, although they have a light dusting of homophobia over the general populace. This observation is based only on one quote. “There are no gay Chuukese…only Filipinos.” But anyway making style includes, but is not limited to, how you comb your hair, your dress, your attitude, your body spray, how you carry yourself. It is the same as in the States, but there are some ways of making style that are unique to Chuuk and the Pacific Islands. 

Flowers. Flowers in your hair, in your hat, around your neck, atop your head like a crown. Forget San Francisco. If you’re going to Chuuk, Micronesia, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.
The white-frangipani has the most incredible beautiful smell 

Gold teeth. It is the height of fashion to have several gold teeth. The more, the better. We don’t know if this is directly related to the poor state of the population’s dental health, but we have heard people say that yes, this is a factor, but there are those who just want gold teeth. They also have small decals imprinted in the front gold tooth in the shape of a heart or something else.  And the girls are beautiful.  

Chuukese onomatopoeia–Nukumach (noo-kah-monch). Can be used as an adjective or a noun. Someone can be a nukumach, or he can just be nukumach. In direct translation it means naughty or a naughty child, disobedient.  
Chuukese expression: When you want to tell someone, “Shut up. You’re a fool. You’re embarrassing yourself and your family. Just quit whatever your’re doing…” You say, “Hang up,” and gesture like you’re hanging up a phone. This is similar to an expression popular in the Caribbean–”I done witchoo.” If you’re in the Caribbean and someone is really annoying, you say “I done witchoo…one time,” and you exaggeratedly make like you’re wiping your hands and shaking them off. In Chuuk you say, “Hang up…kebanjo (kay-pon-jō).” This translates to “Hang up… you’re bald.” Then you take your hung up hand phone and move it across your head like you’re giving yourself a buzz cut.
“Girls have to respect boys. But boys don’t have to respect girls. They do respectthem because it’s just the right thing to do. They are not allowed to swear in front of them. You never walk in front of two people, if you have to walk by them you need to bow low or crawl past them.”
You might find this odd, we did.  We never want to be disrespecting their culture by imposing our values on them? In our attempts to be culturally competent, we wonder how often do we impose our cultural beliefs on others? 
What’s something locally grown to eat in Chuuk“Breadfruit. Pounded breadfruit. You can also slice it and fry it and make breadfruit chips.” We prefer it fried.  “Souka Souk. You take bananas and put them in boiling water. When the outside turns black, it’s done. Then you peel it and pound it. Then you take a coconut and get the water out of it and take the white part and squeeze the juice or oil or whatever it is on the banana. It’s messy.

The Chuukese are very shy in general. They do not take risks. This ran contradictory to us so much as Americans. You have to take risks–it’s ingrained in our character.
If they get the opportunity to leave Chuuk state for school and live in the States for a while, when they then return to Chuuk it can be pretty rough. There’s so much stuff in the States. It’s overwhelming at first but they get used to it. Coming back here is tough because they get used to wanting things right away. Choices in shopping, going movies, things to do. One gal said; I was kind of angry all the time and mad at this place. (CHUUK) Resentful.” She went on to add, “That’s why I decided to stay here two years before leaving for grad school. I needed to decompress and get back to my culture. I like the pace of life here and I needed get back into it.”  

The Chuukese are incredible singers. To the person–everyone can sing. Many of them have perfect pitch. There is a gift for singing among these people. Anyone can sing the melody, and then people on their own will just add harmonies. The meaning of the word singing in Chuukese is flatulence, so you want to be careful using it.  It is considered a strong word.   
Chuukese never say “no.” It is a grievous wrong to deny someone a favor or help or anything. Therefore, they will say yes to everything asked whether or not they intend to follow through.

In Chuuk, people don’t live day to day. They live event to event. Although celebrations are not big showy galas, events are important. People might not know to meet you on a certain day or time, but if you say meet me in he morning after the so and so’s funeral, they will know. Funerals are the biggest events by far. One funeral could last for at least three days or longer.  Nothing in that village happens when a funeral is going on out of respect to the family.  
Clan and family is important here. Prestige is not based on your job or title, it’s based on how many people you know and what clan they are from. There are still clans who are the families of chiefs, and chiefs still hold political power.
The snacks eaten here are insane. It is common to see someone chowing on raw ramen noodles with the flavor packet sprinkled directly on it. This is then eaten like potato chips. Or, if they don’t have the noodles, people will just eat the flavor packet, dipping their fingers in and licking off the sodium drenched bullion crystals. But by far the favorite is Kool Aid. Who doesn’t like Kool Aid?  As a kid we liked it, and occasionally as an adult. But we drank it. But we mixed it with water and drank it. We didn’t eat it straight. Not only did we not eat it straight, we would have never thought to sprinkle hot sauce into the envelope along with ramen seasoning before doing so. Kids around here all have discolored fingers from this practice. Index fingers dyed red are everywhere on the kids who eat this out of the packet fun dip style. 
Spitting is socially acceptable by both male and female.   

Some of this writing is taken from a random blog dated June 16, 2012, six week adventure as a volunteer a school teacher here on the island of Weno, in the State of Chuuk, in the Federated States of Micronesia.  This is his attempt at keeping an online journal.  We think he did a good job! Sorry we don't have his name. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Friendship: A Gospel Principle

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that “friendship is one of the grand fundamental principles of ‘Mormonism."
This is Mama Merina. Her and her husband Useless they have become some of our dearest friends here in Chuuk.  We have had the opportunity to witness their marriage, to teach them and help them prepare for a temple marriage for Time and all Eternity and we have watched them grow and build a loving relationship with one another.
They are raising three young boys that belong to Merina's sister. We have had the opportunity to witness these boys' bapisms and now Sister Tiffany has had the opportunity to teach them in Primary.
Funny thing about these boys - they are all boy. Busy,busy, busy always getting into things and one day Elder Allred & Elder Shakespear setup an appointment to teach them.  Elder Allred nicknamed them, "The things" ... thing one, and thing two... That was before there was three of them. When he would begin to teach gospel principles they would settle right down and listen.  He said he had a wonderful experience with them because they were so eager to learn.  He baptized them all.  Sister Tiffany says they are very well behaved in Primary and always help and listen and she loves teaching them.
If we truly want to be tools in the hands of our Heavenly Father in bringing to pass His eternal purposes, we need only to be a friend.
This is papa Useless and nephew Gladfin (who he is raising at the time). His name has nothing to do with what he represents.  He is a wonderful man who loves, and serves his family and many others.  We are very gratified that we were present to witness his advancement in the Priesthood to the office of Elder. We are happy to call this couple our friends.  I once read that if the consummate Christian attribute of charity has a first cousin, it is friendship.
“Nothing will bring greater joy and success than to live according to the teachings of the gospel. Be an example; be an influence for good. We are grateful for our friendship and know it will continue throughout the eternities.

Leadership training. . .MGM

Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been in Guam this past week, doing a leadership training for the Micronesia Guam Mission Branch and District Presidency. We are so excited for them to have this opportunity to be taught by one of the Lords Apostles.  Each President will now be prepared to grow and organize their branches according to the foundation that Jesus Christ has set.

As the opportunity to lengthen their stride here is set, we know that the Kingdom of God will continue to grow and increase, becoming steps closer to organizing a stake with an inspired priesthood.

The Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days.

Patriarch Gittens gave each one a patriarchal blessing while in Guam.  A patriarchal blessing is a revelation to the recipient, even a white line down the middle of the road, to protect, inspire, and motivate activity and righteousness. A patriarchal blessing literally contains chapters from your book of eternal possibilities. What may not come to fulfillment in this life may occur in the next. We do not govern God’s timetable. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
L-R President Macky Felix  - Wichap branch, President Sameon Joseph 2nd counselor District Presidency, President Siramino Walter (back)1st counselor District Presidency, Esmait Otup 1st counselor Mwan Branch, President Tarsi Matasio Wainis (back)District President, President HS (Rambo) Naka - Tonoas Branch, President Ande - Sapuk Branch, President Tarsiso Walter (back) - Romanum Branch, President Samper Billy - Uman Branch missing President Willy Weita (still in Guam)-Mechitiw Branch
The blessing is an inspired declaration of the lineage of the recipient and when so moved upon by the Spirit, an inspired and prophetic statement of the life mission of the recipient, together with such blessings, cautions and admonitions as the patriarch may be prompted to give for the accomplishment of such life’s mission, it being always made clear that the realization of all promised blessings is conditioned upon faithfulness to the gospel of our Lord, whose servant the patriarch is.
Our patriarchal blessing is our passport to peace in this life.

May we ever remember that the mantle of membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not a cloak of comfort but rather a robe of responsibility. Our duty, in addition to saving ourselves, is to guide others to the celestial kingdom of God.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Do You Remember?

Do you remember the day you were baptized?  I do... 
Children are born innocent. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ give parents eight years to teach their children the gospel so their children can learn right from wrong before they become accountable for their sins.
The day I was baptized my niece who happened to turn 8, three weeks before me was baptized the same day.  It was the 1st day of August the weather was perfect.  I remember the funny looking white jumpsuits we were wearing, how we laughed at the way we thought we looked.  I remember the over joyful feeling of being clean after I came out of the water.  All my mistakes were washed away and I was forgiven.  I was getting another chance.  I remember saying to myself, I am never ever going to do anything wrong again, never going to make a bad choice.  I will always mind my parents, be nice to everyone and never say anything bad.  My father used to quote scriptures when he talked with me, he was a righteous man at all times. I have remembered the scriptures and lessons he taught me many times throughout my life.  Today I am remembering this one: “And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!” (D&C 18:15–16). I never knew what that meant nor why he would say that but I think I have a little more understanding now.  
First I need to save my own soul.  

 One thing I did not have to do was walk in the hot, humid, heat a few miles during the day  so I could get baptized.  We drove in a car and it was only one block.
I admire the people that are so dedicated and excited about becoming a member of The Church of Jesus Christ and making a baptismal covenant and their willingness to do so.  
When I would take drives with my mother, she would tell me stories about her baptism and showed me where she was baptized in the creek.  I remember thinking how cool that would be to experience being baptized that way. Truth is, it doesn't matter where you get baptized as long as it is done with the Lord's authority in the correct way.  We believe that baptism is by immersion just as the Savior was baptized but today we didn't have any water in the church to fill the font and we had three baptisms that needed to be performed. Our plight is remedied quickly because there's water in the ocean and the water here in Chuuk is always nice and warm and the bottom is sandy so it's perfect. All the baptisms happened right on schedule.
“Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God” (D&C 18:9–10).
Our missionaries are trained to teach the gospel, to teach in an orderly, inspired manner which hopefully leads to baptism. To all missionaries, every hour is precious and must be productive. 
Our message is one of hope and love.  Our Father only wants us to return to him and he has given us the way.  We but need to take up the work first by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance and then baptism.
I have made plenty of mistakes and I still do make mistakes but I believe in the Savior's promise, “Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live; for unto him that endureth to the end will I give eternal life.” 
So I may have stumbled in my journey a few times but I promise you, that there is a way back. The process is called repentance. Our Savior died to provide you and me that blessed gift. Though the path is difficult, the promise is real.  
The Lord said: “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow, 
And I will remember them no more.”
We had a beautiful day of baptisms and we are thankful for the opportunity to take part in them.  It is a wonderful blessing to be reminded of our baptism covenants and promises that we made to the Lord.   

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Seek to build Unity

These wonderful ladies are the officers of Chuuk Women's council ~  they have 17 other groups of women from all over Chuuk state that participate.  They promote women’s leadership, education on health and gender issues, environmental conservation, and the preservation of traditional and cultural crafts.  The center is a formerly registered Non-Governmental Organization in the Federated States of Micronesia and possesses a Non-Profit, Tax Exempt Number, that allows the deduction of donations by U.S. contributors.
Here is a picture of the first group of young mothers involved in the "Mother & Child" classes they just started this year.  We have had the opportunity through the "Bringing the Love" project to Chuuk to donate many baby clothes and baby toys for the class.  There are many opportunities where we have come to know other people and build unity.  We have learned the importance of having an attitude of "what can I give today?" rather than "what will I get today?"
The group is for ages 12-25 years old and the class is up to 2 months.  They meet twice a week if they are a mother now and it is limited to 15 ladies a class.
They will learn many things starting with how to take care of their bodies, how and why is it is important to understand family planning, how to feed their baby and create healthy meals for both mother and child.

They will get to learn the general knowledge of how they conceived a baby.
In many cases it has been less than an ideal situation. They could be victims of incest, rape etc. and the girls are given the opportunity to speak with a counselor during the class and after.
With this class they will learn to understand their bodies, and how to care for their babies.
The teacher who is teaching right now is a registered nurse volunteering from the United States.  She is a  darling girl named Chelsie but she returns to the states in April.  At that time another nurse from Japan will step in and teach.
I can't express here what a wonderful program this is and how much help is needed for these lovely young ladies.

If you would like to help and are interested in donating, here is a list of things they need.
Baby clothing 0-2yrs
Recieving blankets
Cloth or plastic diapers
Calendars - free ones from the bank would be great - for tracking their cycles and planning.
Writing pens or pencils (with sharpners)
The postage to Chuuk is U.S. postage - Please use a flat rate postage box, weight does not matter with flat rate and they are shipped first class or priority.  If it is shipped any other way it takes about 4-6 months to get here and most of the time it cost a lot more for shipping.
Mail donations to:
Chuuk Women Council Attn: Grace
C/O Bringing the Love Project
PO Box 1627
Weno, Chuuk 96942
Grace will keep us informed and we will be able to track the packages. If you need a tax receipt and pictures we can make sure you receive them.

Many of our successful missionary opportunities to share the gospel have been found through our friendships doing service and getting involved with great organizations such as this. We believe becoming like Jesus Christ means building meaningful friendships and developing charity, and sharing the gospel through acts of service.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

As we gather once again

Well it has been a little busy around here on the island of Weno with many changes.  We finally were able to have our first district meeting with our new Zone Leader Elder Sofele and this is how it went.  First of all look how healthy he looks, we are happy to report he is doing wonderful and we all love having him back home here in Chuuk with us.
Elder Sofele - ZL
Elder Jones - ZL
Elder Jones ~ gave us a spiritual thought about listening. He quoted Elder Tiffany from a past meeting "Knowledge speaks and Wisdom listens".  He said that he really liked that and tries to remember it when he is out teaching.  The Apostle Paul taught that the Lord’s teachings and teachers were given that we may all attain ‘the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ’ (Eph. 4:13). This process requires far more than acquiring knowledge. It is not even enough for us to be convinced of the gospel; we must act and think so that we are converted by it. In contrast to the institutions of the world which teach us to know something, the gospel of Jesus Christ challenges us to become something.
Um... let's think about this.  For any of us to find real happiness, we must focus outside ourselves and put our investigators first. It is not enough for any of us to just go through the motions.  The gospel of Jesus Christ is a plan that shows us how to become what our Heavenly Father desires us to become.
Yippee!!! my first district meeting.  Elder Sofele has been on the outer island Romanum. Just he and his companion since coming out a mission. He never had district meetings like this before.  He really enjoyed it and we all learned a lot of great things to help us be better missionaries.   We are His representatives in the glorious work of proclaiming His gospel, today and always.

Our district leader is Elder Huppe , the one with the headband on. He serves in the Wichap Branch with Elder Rainey.  They are on pday here and like we've said before, when the camera comes out these elders become quite entertaining.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Weekly Tender Mercies . . .

Things are moving right along here. We are coming to the end of our mission and Chuuk has become a second home to us and we love our Chuukese friends dearly. Many of them have come to mean very much to us. Since beginning our mission we have completed the GPS tracking throughout Chuuk state, although that doesn't really mean anything because the Chuukese people are always moving around from island to island. Even if the next couple does exactly what we did this year, next year it will all be different. However we do have to say that it is, without a doubt, a divine calling. Doing the GPS has taught us many things. It has been the finest Home & Visiting teaching experience possible. As missionary work, it’s golden. We kid you not, it has been amazing. We have seen many wonderful blessings come from taking our missionaries and branch President with us to locate people. It is true everyone wants to know someone cares about them and loves them.
We have also taught many classes on the Temple and the blessings we can receive when we go there. This coming June, Chuuk will have 31 people going through the temple for the first time to become Families for Time and All Eternity. We are so excited for them all. We are in the process of getting another group prepared to go in November,  after we are gone home. That will fall into the hands of the Chuukese members that have been sealed in June to teach them and help them finish preparing. 
We have been working on winding things down here on our mission but we felt prompted to teach more classes. We weren't sure why or what we needed to teach. We prayed together asking what we should do. Our answer came back to teach them how to build relationships, not just for the active person, but inactive, investigators and all adults wanting and having the desire to learn. We still were not sure how this was going to work out but we knew it had to be different than the other classes. We looked over manuals in the library and saw many, many different ones - all in English and the majority of people don't read English and won't touch them. They just sit there collecting dust and the people have no idea what they are for because the church is still relatively new here. 
We were still lost as to what we needed to teach, but we knew we needed to teach. We continued to read and study. We felt we had an answer and decided upon teaching a compilation from several manuals ~ from Family History, Temple, Marriage & Family Relationships, and No Greater call, Strength of Youth pamplet. (all of these manuals are in English-not Chuukese) That in itself presents a difficult lesson, but we have learned the spirit speaks all languages. No worries! If we were in the states we wouldn't consider using all of these manuals but the key is to share what they have available and show & teach them how to use it. On the first day we were to teach we still didn't know what we should be teaching. 
We prayed asking that we might teach what He wanted us to teach. We started the first class with about 7 people; we set up tables like a round table discussion instead of a teacher student classroom. 
Then we introduced the manuals and said we would learn from all of them. The gospel is a full circle so it will all come together. We began with talking about the Proclamation for the family and The Plan of Salvation and what it meant. We discussed a parents duties and what the Lord expected from us as parents. Nothing we were talking about was a new tropic, but we all know we continue to learn each day line upon line. 
The discussion was very good; still we were not sure how the class was going to go. Well, it turns out if you are wiling to teach what the Lord wants you to teach you truly can help people. Sometimes He answers prayers through other people. Our Area Authority, President Ringwood, once told us that if we do all we can do we can be an answer to someones prayer. But we needed to make ourselves available. We have often pondered what that meant while on our mission.
We didn’t know how the class was going to go but one of the ladies had been struggling with letting her brother in-law adopt one of her sons. She is a widow and she has several other children, her son is already living with his Aunt and Uncle in the states, because we don’t have the correct medicine here in Chuuk. He has arthritis and the humidity here is really hard on him. Turns out she has been really torn about this and was not sure what she should do. 
We told her that we could not advise her, that she needed to take it to the Lord and maybe even her priesthood leaders. 

It turns out the District President was in the class, he normally does not come to our classes. He taught her very well, he used examples and lessons from the scriptures. He told the group that people have told him he should give his kids away to those who can’t have them also. He has 11 ranging from 18 to 1 month. We don't believe in coincidence, we believe he was there for her. It was a wonderful tender mercy and we feel blessed to be part of it. No one knew what she was going through; we just followed the spirit and let the Lord do the rest. 
Chuuk has some very different culture differences and we have learned to adjust to them –  a little… You know everyone here is so innocent – well maybe not the government officials but the people are. They would give you everything and anything they have and the truth is they have nothing. But it’s yours. They don’t know they are poor, everyone is poor but they are happy. They always help each other and you never have to worry about your child because everyone is watching out for it. It is everyone's job to take care of each other. We are excited to teach the next class and pray for more tender mercies.  

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men

When I saw this father teaching and helping his child today. I couldn't help but think about the story of Christ telling the apostles to follow him and he would make them fishers of men.  A Christian knows that throughout the ages, God’s prophets have always testified of Jesus Christ.  
This small boy about the age of 3 maybe 4 helped his father as they were coming in from fishing.  His father patiently taught him how to get the ropes for tying up the boat.

We all have the opportunity to act straightway, immediately, and decisively, just as Peter and Andrew did: “they forsook their nets, and followed him.” We too are called upon to leave our nets, to reject worldly habits, customs, and traditions.
One thing about the Chuukese is they are all about teaching their children the ways to follow Christ and survival.  It is different from home, for example as we sat today in Sacrament, more than half the congregation are small children, 12 and younger probably 60% or more on occasion.  The chapel is completely quiet and reverent.  We can honestly say we have never sat through a sacrament this quiet with children as here in Chuuk.  Now don't get us wrong, kids will be kids but these children learn many things about reverence at such a young age, it truly is amazing.  And as we talk, we think that might be why they are so well behaved most of the time anyway...

This is Brady with his mom's machete. Brady turned 2 in July last year.  He is fun to watch and quite an entertainer when we are around. He has been working cutting the grass and weeds in the yard with his mommy.  I asked the question, "Do very many children get hurt and cut themselves with that big knife"?  Her answer was sometimes but not very often, they just know to be careful.  They know it's not a toy, it is a tool for working.  “As people become self-reliant, they are better prepared to endure adversities” and are “better able to care for others in need.”  The Savior invites us to learn His gospel with three words: “Keep the commandments” nothing more, nothing less.

It is normal to see people walking around here with big machetes and when we first arrived in Chuuk, we drove around the island to see things and we were kind of afraid and nervous, not being used to the culture or the people and all.  Now we just laugh because the Chuukese people are some of the greatest, most gentle souls in the world.
We are enriched by associations with different people, which remind us of the wonderful diversity of the children of God.
For many, the call to be a Christian can seem demanding, even overwhelming. But we need not be afraid or feel inadequate. The Savior has promised that He will make us equal to His work. “Follow me,” He said, “and I will make you fishers of men".

Now these kids are a few of Sister Tiffany's angels doing crazy faces.  Anytime we go to the church they always come running.  She is always teaching them something.  It might be music, it might be a lesson, cleaning up the church. They like to be with her and she loves it.  The moms say they can't get them to listen at home or broom (sweep) at home so it's good they want to go help at the church.

As we serve others for Him, He lets us feel His love. And over time, feelings of charity are becoming part of our very nature.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Gods humble servant

I have such great respect for this man and his life that I felt it important to honor him on our blog.  Our prophets have quoted him and given many talks regarding things we can learn from Abraham Lincolns life.  
Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809. 194 years ago today. He was the 16th President of the United States.  One of his quotes that I just came across is:"I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. As these brave men were threatened they did not know that Shakespeare, long centuries later, was to say; 'There is no terror in your threats; for I am armed so strong in honesty that they pass by me as the idle wind, which I respect not'.

Integrity in men should bring about inner peace, sureness of purpose, and security in action. Lack of integrity brings disunity, fear, sorrow, unsureness".
Integrity is not shortsighted—it is not just a temporary change of behavior; it is a permanent change of nature.  This group of young people are here sharing these teachings with a group of older men that have made some bad choices lacking integrity and have now become a slave to the choices they previously made.

King Benjamin told us how we might change our natures from a natural man to a spiritual man: “For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father” (Mosiah 3:19)

“When I do good I feel good,” said Abraham Lincoln, “and when I do bad I feel bad.” Sin pulls a man down into despondency and despair. While a man may take some temporary pleasure in sin, the end result is unhappiness. “Wickedness never was happiness.” (Alma 41:10.)
Just this morning as I was updating our computer I looked over to a couple of business men and noticed they were blessing their food.  They were doing what is expected of all of us with integrity and humbly doing so.  Live as to be thoughtful toward that which makes us strong rather than that which robs our character, not just on this day which is celebration of a Life well lived, but each and everyday we live.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Family, Cost: Priceless

Nephi declared: “Press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.
We love this beautiful family so much and we are so excited for them today.  They are all ready for the temple.  President & Sister Weita have some amazing conversion stories and are such incredible blessings to their family and also the Mechitiw branch.  This is their youngest beautiful daughter Memory who will be going to the Manila temple with them. 

"Never Give Up Hope"
Hope sustains us through despair. Hope teaches that there is reason to rejoice even when all seems dark around you.

Learning lessons . . .

As we sat today in Sacrament meeting,  I had a couple of thoughts enter my mind.  Here we are sitting in a church that has no windows, only screens, linoleum flooring, hard fold up chairs to sit on and a fan turning over head to keep the 90 degree temperature circulating the hot air.  As I sat listening to the speaker and trying to hear what they were speaking about, because they speak very soft and quiet here, I felt the spirit speak to me reminding me that “the Lord is no respecter of me”.  In the past I have pondered about that scripture and often have reflected on it.  I turned to a lesson that we are getting ready to teach and the title read; Live by Covenant, Not Convenience.  Normally growing up in the States we have many conveniences. I am sure I have over look many of mine throughout my life without thought.  
This year we are studying Church History and Doctrine and Covenants, we will read and learn about the suffering and sacrifices those early Saints endured, we might even ask ourselves, “How did they do it?  What was it that gave them such  strength"?  
President Brigham Young said it was the covenants with God, and those covenants burned like unquenchable fire in their hearts.  What does that mean?  To me it means to not let my life be governed by convenience, but rather by my covenant.  It is not always convenient to live gospel standards and stand up for the truth and testify of the Restoration.  It is not convenient to share the gospel with others or convenient to respond to a calling in the Church, especially one that stretches us and our abilities.  It can all be a little scary and intimidating at times.  But learning and teaching others that there is spiritual power that comes as we keep our covenant, helps me remember my covenant I have made to the Lord.  
We have missed many conveniences that we were used to and we have had to learn, stretch and grow.  Our biggest fear is that when we return home we will get right back in the saddle and fall right into the conveniences of life.  We pray we will always remember the blessing it has been to serve the Chuukese people and the lessons we have learned while serving.  We know we still many, many more to learn and much more growing to do but it is a start and we will continue on. . . Enjoying the journey of Life.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Micronesia Guam Missions finest serving in Chuuk

~ Elder Johnson and Elder Pita ~ 
Elder Obray and Elder Pita
Elder Sofele from Sandy, Utah
now is the Zone Leader in Mwan Branch on Weno. 
Elder Obray, is from Salem, Utah he is serving in the Mechitw Branch on the island Weno.
The Elders love eating PIZZA at Trukstop after a long day of working hard.  
This is Elder Walters, he is from American Fork, Utah
he is serving on the island of Romanum.
Sister Tiffany just baked cookies and delivered them to the boys
and this one was pretty excited,
EW likes chocolate in his cookies
~ Elder Shakespeare giving Elder Allred the phone who is the NEW Zone Leader ~ I think he is happy to pass off the phone to his newby ZL - the phone is always ringing and keeps them busy with zone stuff to deal with.  Newest ZL gets to answer the phone, while the other in charge of other responsibilities.  
Elder Allred showing us his wood deals he made today and will be taking home with him back to the states
On the Right is Elder Allen he is from Montana,
he first served on the island of Tonoas
and is currently serving in the Sapuk Branch.
 Elder Johnsen is from Denver Colorado
and first served in Ramonum then in the Sapuk Branch,
but is now serving on the island of Tonoas. 
Elder Huppe is from Washington state, his family has since moved to Maine.
He first served on the island of Uman
and is currently serving in the Wichap Village.
Here he is with Wichap companion Elder Vehikite before the transfer.
~ Elders McEwen, Sofele, and Obray ~
~ I think Elder Peck is excited about his package ~
~Always giving it all for the camera ~
Elders Pita, Bowers, Peck and Obray
Elder Bowers - he is from Indiana and
is currently serving on
the island Uman with Elder Peck
Elder Allred ~ Crab for dinner anyone?
Elder Vehikite is from South Jordan, Utah
he first served in the Wichap Village and is serving on the island Romanum.
He is pretending to be sleeping while
he is waiting on the other elders to go to a meeting.
ZL Elder Jones always taking phone calls
except when we need him but we still
love the little whipper.
Elder Obray welcoming his new companion
Elder McEwan currently serving
in the Mechitiw area
Elder Allen welcoming his
new companion Elder Sealander
first served on Tonoas island together.

Elders Peck and Plotcher
Elder Kleven

Elder Vehikite and Elder Walters
Elder Lavitis and Elder Lina
Play it again Sam!  Elder Allen
When I have grown a foot or two.
I hope by then I will be ready
To teach and preach and work as missionaries do.
I hope that I can share the gospel
With those who want to know the truth.
I want to be a missionary
And serve and help the Lord while I am in my youth.

They knew their calling was from God. They prayed for His divine help, and they devoted themselves wholeheartedly to their work. We have really enjoyed serving with such fine young men this past 18 months and we have grown to love them.  They are amazing examples of Christlike servants and each family can be proud of the job they are doing serving the Chuukese people doing the Lords work.