Monday, March 31, 2014

End of March Madness--Whew!

 These are baptismal clothes from the weekend. Turned out to be 3 large loads of very dirty items.  The elders sometimes clean and dry the items they use, and sometimes they are left in heaps, wet, and only get looking worse than ever.
We missed seeing any of these baptisms on Saturday because the Relief Society Birthday party kept going, and going!  Games, food, etc.!
For March, Chuuk Zone had about 20 baptisms, a little under our goal.  March was a trying month for all of us here, and our beloved Mission President!  I think we will get going strong in April and surpass our goal.
 We brought 4 computers with us to Chuuk.  We inherited an older family history one from Guam, as well.  A lot of our work here needs computers and a printer.  The 3 pc's got viruses.  We had the slowest (on earth!) internet, and was having trouble keeping everything up to date.  I guess that is what caused issues.  We got them fixed and got a new macbook as well.  Apples seem to get along a bit better around here.  Yesterday we were sure we would be buying a new printer, as well. Turned out, 3 ink colors were low, and it wouldn't give us any indication of the problem!
 This is a sign in our apartment.   Micronesia Guam Mission President Michael Dowdle and his wife served  as president just before our current President and Sister Mecham.  It says that Elder Dallin Oakes told them they look for the strongest, most independent, etc. missionaries to send here!  Yep, we are tough... we take cold showers and sleep without a/c.  Our bedroom is sometimes 90 degrees as we go to bed with a fan on high!  Tough, and frugal... we have 2 electric bills to pay, and cash power in Chuuk is 4X more $ per kw hour than home.
Our shoes go through mud and water regularly.  We wear mostly Crocs. They are washable.
This represents a day of baking.  We had a LOT of frozen bananas and coconut meat in our small freezer.  No one turns us down when we offer them a loaf, so we are "warming hearts"!
 This is a breadfruit.  We have been looking (in vain) for a smooth skinned one to make some "french fried" breadfruit.  We haven't found the other kind, so we spent $1 and tried this out.  We don't like the pounded, cooked over a campfire kind that they sell all around here.
 There were hard, big, black seeds hiding throughout.  They could break your teeth if you bit in to one unexpectedly.  Elder Crisp got tired of fighting the core and the seeds, and prepared only 1/4 of it into fries, which were great!
I boiled the rest, and it is edible, and not bad with some butter and salt/pepper.
 The fries were good, just not enough of them for 2 people...
Saturday night we invited the Zone Leaders over for my "almost famous" chicken pot pie!  The ZL's have been doing splits because of various problems around here, so we fed 6 elders and 1 sister.  Elder Vanisi just got back from Guam, and is back to work on Uman.  He had some medical issues because of rhumatic fever as a child.
All right, Elders, lets get back to record setting in Chuuk!
Seated, from left around the table is: Elders Crisp, Selander, Obray, Canakaivata, Fermanis and Simpson.  Elder Simpson soon went out to Uman with Elder Vanisi until transfers next week...

Monday, March 24, 2014


Our Seminary Activity Day was rescheduled a couple of times because of local circumstances.  It was finally put on a Monday, a school day!!  The following Saturday was already reserved for our District wide Relief Society Birthday Party.  A few Chuuk High School Seniors went to school to take a test, and then came a little late.  Otherwise, most everyone seemed to be happy enough to skip school for a day.  People started arriving before 9 a.m., and our Elders helped us set up everything for the service project.  We made 500 hygiene kits.  We had people and boats come from all of our Branches except Udot.  The Branch members apparently don't own boats themselves, so it is always an issue to get them in.
 Boats and people kept trickling in until around 10:30 a.m.  We had around 175 potential seminary students come to our event.  Unfortunately, our Branch Presidents and their members don't place a high priority on the institution of Seminary and Institute, so they don't usually follow through with keeping teachers teaching.  The exception is Mwan Branch. We have Oriko Ewar and Sandra Matisima who have been faithful for years teaching those students.
 The Church is fairly new in these parts, and they don't have a good vision for many of the details, ie. Church Programs for our youth.  YM and YW classes and activities are pretty much non-existent.  The exception to everything is Mwan.  We encourage Branch Presidents regularly of the importance for their youth, to have these classes going both on Sundays and weekday activities. They just don't understand what is required, and when people are called, they usually don't worry about actually doing their calling. It is a big challenge to help them see the big picture of "The Gospel In Action"!  On a brighter note, we have lots of young people wanting to be missionaries. I think our Elders throughout Chuuk are the driving
force, setting a good example and being a role model for the youth, to see what it would be like to be a missionary as well.  When these missionaries return home from serving, they will be able to help get the vision going of what Church can be like.  It is our most rewarding experience here, to help them prepare to leave and serve.
After completing the hygiene kits, some of the youth took off walking to the jail, to distribute some there to the inmates.  Other youth went in taxi's to the hospital to deliver to all the people being kept in the hospital.  It is too far to walk.
 When everyone got back to Mwan, we served ice cream and banana-coconut cupcakes. All 300 disappeared quickly.  Ice cream is a treat not often enjoyed here, and it took 15 gallons to give everyone a snow-cone cup of it.
After the treat, we had each Branch do a "cultural presentation".  Some did dancing, others sang songs and talked a little about their island customs.  Our Cultural Hall was filled nicely, with just enough in the middle for the presentations.

 These kids are doing a stick dance.
 Uman talked about local customs and sang a song.
 Mwan did a song all together, then 3 girls did a hula dance without the traditional clothing.  We don't see that much around here, so I don't know if they ever put on hula skirts, etc.  The girls were very cute!

 The next event was a spiritual Fireside in the chapel.  The chapel was filled.  Young Men's President of the District, Osimichy Kata, gave a talk, and then President Wainis talked about the importance of virtue and chastity for their lives.  Of course, we knew the subject, but didn't understand the presentations.... We haven't found Chuukese an easy language. We don't study it daily, either.  We pick up words here and there.
 A  very nice meeting to end the day.  After it, they cleaned up the whole church yard, then were given a prepared lunch and a hygiene kit each to take with them.  I believe they all had a great experience.  Most of them do not attend Seminary or Institute, but we want them to know about the programs of the Church for them, and learn to be involved.

Most of our youth are good young people.  Now, if we could only get them to read their scriptures daily!  The Book of Mormon especially!  They would grow in their testimonies much faster.  Unfortunately, they only have 1/3 of the B of M available in Chuukese, and the Bible, no other scriptures yet, and most of our manuals are not in their language.
The example of their Branch leaders and the local Elders are the best thing they have going for them, to learn and progress. We do what we can to help out.


This past Saturday, President and Sister Mecham were available to interview 4 young men that we have been working with for their missions.  Left top, Tarson Amatus (known as Ichok Fiti!) is with his Branch President Weita.  Right pics are Nuno Katta and JT Ande finishing up their paperwork with Elder Crisp. Bottom left, Emerson Kata, with P. Mecham.  All three, good young men.  JT is the only one who admits to reading his scriptures regularly.  Our Sapuk elders tell us he has started the Book of Mormon (in English) for the second time!  He is the Branch President's son, and has 2 sisters currently serving missions.
This Saturday we witnessed 2 baptisms at Mwan. Here, Nuno Kata is babtizing his brother, Famous.  Nuno will soon be a full time missionary. He is a senior in HS.  The young lady is from Mwan Branch and was baptized by E. Selander.  The font was filled with about 1 foot of water, but I guess the tanks were low and so we moved the baptisms to the ocean adjacent to our building.
Our Elder Vanisi is quite a character!  He has stress fractures on his feet, got one of them casted locally, and was then sent to Guam to check things out.  His companion, Elder Monson, is temporarily companion to a Zone Leader, E. Selander.
This Sunday we made a trip to Romanum, with President Wainis.  Meetings went quite well.  Top left: District Councilor Sarimino Walter, Pres Wainis and Branch Pres Tarsisio Walter (brother!)
Brandy Henri gave a talk, as well as Sarimino and Pres Wainis.  During combination Priesthood/RS, Elder Crisp gave a short plea/message about how everyone in the Church needs to help his Branch President in whatever ways he is asked.  The members won't grow in their testimonies if they don't serve others and study the gospel.
Two weeks previous, we attended church in Uman.  President Billy had a good program planned, and didn't know we were coming.  He has 4 young men (we are currently helping with mission papers) and 3 young women who haven't started yet, who all want to be missionaries.  The biggest problem is the cost of the boats to make the trip to Mwan/Weno to do their physicals and dental work.  It is expensive, and these young people usually have no money to help out with costs.
 A large donation of backpacks was given to the students at Wichap.  Here, P.Wainis, E.Crisp, Sarimino, Elders Monson, Peck, Selander & Payne assisted, plus Pres Naka from Tonoas (front row). Red shirt in back row is Nefi Masauo also from Tonoas, who has his mission call to Brisbane, Australia, and has already made 2 trips in to Weno to work on his extensive packet that Australia demands to get visa, etc.  He will leave in July.
Here are students receiving the backpacks, and greatly appreciating them, along with their teacher and our crew.
Below is zone leader Elder Selander w/Elders Peck and Payne, who serve in Wichap.
President & S.Mecham came on Friday to visit with the Chuuk Zone, to make sure our elders are getting along and moving forward since the death of E Toa.  We met for 5 hours, had a good, uplifting visit and everyone bore their testimony. It was very nice to hear from everyone!  Some are shy, and wouldn't usually volunteer to pray or speak in a group.  Our spirits were lifted by our good President.  Our meeting room took a long while to cool down, so most of our time was spent outside.  It was a pleasant day, and a good lunch!  Blue Lagoon Resort has pretty good offerings.
Above: Elders Roque, McEwan, Canakaivata, Vehikite, Ladore.  Rt., E/S Crisp
Bottom left and around: Elders Selander, Obray, Jonas, Allen, Plocher, Kleven, Fermanis, Simpson, Peck & Payne. Back left: Elders Canakaivata, Vehikite, Ladore.
 Pres & Sister Mecham with Elders: Telona, Schroath, Fabiano, Rainey, Hunter, Monson, enjoying a good meal with 3 meats! Pork chop, chicken and tuna, always with rice, breadfruit boiled and not pounded and cooked over a campfire (yuk!), and vegetables. I guess it's called KON, but we don't care for it!
 Elders Roque, Vehikite, Fermanis (doesn't look at the camera very often!) and Simpson. Nice young men all!
 Elders Hunter, Rainey, Mackie, Fabiano, Obray and Selander.
 Elders Telona, Schroath, McEwan, Jonas, Ladore and Allen, who will soon be leaving us to return with HIGH HONORS!  He has served as our Zone leader, Assistant to the President, and District Leader more than once. He is on Paata, doing a great job for a little longer.  He has helped Elder Ladore with English and Chuukese. Elder Ladore is from Pohnpei, he didn't complete much schooling, and is a farmer back home.  He is a shy, very nice young man!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Remembering Elder Toa

E Toa, bottom pic, right, is from Thanksgiving Dinner.  We had a lovely day: football, dinner, and lounging!  Elder Toa enjoyed the activities and was always active in athletics.
 E.Toa, top pic, on the left, seated by Sister Crisp.
 Bottom row, near center at a Zone Conference, with President and Sister Mecham.
 E Toa, top pic, bottom row.

 E Toa, second from right, at February Zone Conference, doing role plays.
 Our whole group from February Zone Conference at Blue Lagoon Resort. E. Toa is top, center.
 E. Toa, bottom center (our district) being trained by our District Leader, E. Bowers.
 February Zone Meeting, with his trainee.  Elder Toa nearly always had a big smile!
 E. Toa, top right picture in their role plays.
E Toa, left picture, with his trainee companion,  E Canakiavata. Elder C. is from Fiji, and his name is harder to pronounce than you might think, so I call him Elder C.

Monday, March 3, 2014

March Zone Mtg & Donation from U.S.!!

 We were in luck this day at Chuuk High School, as this many came for Seminary.  We sometimes get NONE!  They know where we are, but don't always want to stay after school (12:30 class). They are HUNGRY!!
We visited Mechitiw Branch with Presidents Wainis and Joseph.  President Weita was sick, so P. Wainis took over running the meeting.  P. Weita had taken time to gather loose remnants of songbooks, do some hole punching, and used his wife's fabric scraps to tie them together.  We were impressed, but wanted to add the missing pages to the books, and so took them home and made copies of pages, used a prong fastener for each, as well as my fabric scraps to get the complete books back together.  The spiral binding used for these small books doesn't hold the pages in very well, especially when the children can easily pull pages out!  We hope they will take some pride in these complete books!  When we got to Mwan Branch a few days later and noticed their books were in the same kind of condition, we took them home and fixed them up as well.  It is very frustrating (probably not only to us) to not be able to find most of the songs as they are sung in meetings.  The ones most sung, are the pages most gone from their books!

 The Jeppesen's contacted us before coming on a "diving trip" to Chuuk.  (We are the Truk Islands, famous for WWII Japanese ships that were sunk here in 1944.  This was essentially their "Pearl Harbor".)  They had done a collection for very needful items at their Ward.  They brought balls, pumps, mesh carry bags, candy, medical supplies, socks for Elders, colored and reg. pencils, toothbrushes, etc.
We made baggies (almost like Christmas!) for each Elder, and put them, along with the balls, etc. in the larger mesh bags: one for each Branch.  The Elders were delighted, and said they would do a nice Thank-You note.  Hope they follow through on that score.  We also rec'd nice pants, shirts, ties and some Cash!! to help our outgoing missionaries.  We have been having used items from U.S. sent to us to also help with these needs, including some for the local members who don't have appropriate clothing for church.  Their help was a welcome addition.
 The Jeppesen's admired the cute little girls hanging around them at Church, and got a picture with them, and us!
 Elder Crisp is loading goodie bags with candy and toothpaste, brushes, etc. for each set of elders.
 The bags are labeled for each Branch, and ones to go to outer islands are also put inside plastic bags. The sea has been very rough lately.  Some of the pants, shirts & ties are shown here as well.
Elders Mfour Mathias and Rodley Rain leave this Saturday for their missions: Australia and Hawaii, respectively.  We have been helping with departure fees, travel $, etc. for our local missionaries as they leave Chuuk.  They are seldom prepared to help themselves, so lately, we have been encouraging these prospective missionaries to do more.  We have offered to pay the going rate for bananas and coconuts, brought to us.  We keep track of their money earned, and give it to them as they leave.  These 2 young men came through for most of their money needed.  Then we had to figure out how to use all this fruit!
We decided we definitely could make loaves of coconut banana bread for our elders for Zone Mtg.  Preparing young coconuts is easy.  Drain (and keep) the water inside, scoop out the soft "meat", blend it together, and there you have coconut milk, which I used in the breads.
 Old coconuts are a different story.  Very hard using the "meat".  But we persisted, for most of a day, and now have extra supplies in the freezer as well, for future loaves of bread.  Sister Crisp found out the hard way that coconut "stuff" stains.  Had to throw away one of my mission skirts!
 The Elders appreciated getting their own loaf of bread.
 The Zone Meeting started around 7 p.m.  Elder Jonas was our song leader.
 Our Zone Leaders:  Elders Selander and Obray.  They do a good job encouraging and motivating our Elders to do their work with diligence!  There is nothing more important that they can do than to share the restored gospel of Jesus Christ with any and all who will listen.  We have a pretty good record lately, for baptisms around our islands.  Elder Crisp and I try and help the people we meet at the Branches to understand what comes after baptism:  Enduring to the End!  That means finding ways of serving in their Branch, community and families!  And, avoiding falling into old bad habits in the way of word of wisdom issues...  Betel Nut is very prevalent around here, along with alcohol, etc.
 Here is half the zone:  Elders Crisp, Simpson, Fermanis, Payne, Peck, Telona, Schroath, Vanisi, Monson and Hunter.  They love to "pose".
The other half:  Elders Rainey, Allen, Ladore, Canaklavata, Toa, McEwan, Jonas, Mackie, Fabiano, Plocher, Kleven, Roque and Vehikite.  They ARE NOT asleep, only posing...