Thursday, May 29, 2014

Seminary End-of-Year, Tarmy goes back to MGM mission & Keitani Graham Commemorative Stamps

 This is evidence of 3 pizzas from Truk Stop for our closing social for Mwan Seminary.  Unfortuneately, I missed the fun and games while waiting for said pizzas, so there are no pictures of that.  I understand Elder Crisp had as much fun as the kids, playing bowling, "round the table" ping pong, relays with ping pong balls, blowing it off the table, etc.  Then for pizza, ice cream and chocolate cake.  It was a good event.
 Our girls are generally more diligent in attendance than the guys. They like to sleep in past 5:00 a.m.!  These are great kids.
 We invited the Zone Leaders in for dessert.  They had substituted in Seminary a few times.  As it happened, it was Elder Obray's birthday, so he got his cake and ice cream right on schedule.  (He didn't even mention it at the time.)  Elder Selander, on left, is his diligent companion!  These men are getting to be "short timers".

Tarmy Kosam had about a month off her MGM mission to visit her mother.  She is now heading "back" and is assigned to Pohnpei.  Her mother will be going to Saipan to stay with family members there, while Tarmy completes her mission.
 Keitani Graham is the son of our good friend Clark Graham, who runs Akoyikoyi (Charter) School.  Keitani passed away unexpectedly shortly before we arrived here, apparently of a heart attack.  He represented Micronesia in the Olympics in wrestling.  3 stamps were produced in his memory and honor, and we were invited to this unveiling of the stamps.  Keitani worked a lot with the youth to help them in athletic pursuits.  He was kind and generous with his time.
This is Clark speaking.  He has been in Micronesia since he came as a Peace Corps volunteer back in the '60's.  He has been a teacher, run a dive shop amongst his other varied activities.  He heads up Ship-Hoops and is responsible for the start and running of Akoyikoyi School.  Here he speaks of his son Keitani and the works that he did.  His goal was to get the children of Chuuk involved in activities so that they wouldn't just be hanging around.  He wanted the children of Chuuk to lead active, productive lives.  Following Clark's remarks, he had a video of Keitani in various interviews, wrestling matches, etc. hi-lighting his ideals and goals.  There were interviews with several students at a private school in Hawaii that sang his praises and thanked him for guiding their paths!
 This display is of the 3 commemorative stamps that  were produced for the honor of Micronesia.
This lady spoke a couple of times, and is the Postmaster General of Micronesia.  All Micronesians are very proud when the world can hear of something good happening here.  They have a lot of pride in their heritage.

This is Gladwin from Romanum.  He has been into Weno at least 7 times to complete his medical and dental exams.  I used a white wall at the Family Health clinic to get his missionary picture.  He doesn't sport long hair and mustache like most young men, so we loaned him the shirt and tie while we were waiting.  The clinic lost his first tests, so he had to go through it again. It has been very tedious, but I think he will soon be ready to put in his mission papers!  He is a good young man.  He lives with the Branch President for now, since his family are not members, and he doesn't want to be around drinking, smoking, etc.  It will be interesting to see where he goes for his mission!  He hasn't been able yet to find his mayor to get his birth certificate application signed, so we wait to move on with more things in preparation.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

MGM Office Couple, School and Seminary Graduation Time

The Martins are our new Micronesia Guam Mission office couple.  They came for a short visit, to "assess" circumstances on Chuuk and 2 other of our mission zones.  I think they got an idea of how "rustic" Chuuk is.  They took us out for dinner at Blue Lagoon.  It is always fun to go there, if we are not paying... The Martins have a hard job, and a long day each day of the week.  Our days are varied and different from day to day.  Some days have a bunch to do, others not so much.  We often need the off-time to recuperate from all the jostling on the boats and/or car ride.  It is often painful.  No work is being done on the roads, and the ruts are some a 12" drop down.  We never see the grader working to level them lately.  They pay the workers around $1-2 dollars per hour for most jobs, so I think the gas expense must be the culprit for lack of doing anything to help this place!
 We went to the rehearsal day for Chuuk High School graduation.  We went to see a music concert, and our kids from Sapuk do a number or two as well.  The school has around 1200 kids, so we presume around 300 seniors graduated.  Bottom right pic shows 2 young men helping with music for some practice of a group dance thing. These guys have been security guards around campus this year.   The young man on the right, yellow shirt, and below, has been on the job, without missing much work days, and may well be
getting a promotion soon (to Vice Principal!!  Is that possible?)  I don't know if he went to C.O.M. college or not--but COM is like our high school classes, even first two years. Being dependable in your job is the most important thing here.  So few are!
 After some graduation practice time, this blue-grass band gave a concert!  It was great.  The kids were very responsive, and the band, "Sierra Hull" was cheered at the participation and enthusiasm.  Each instrument in the band was demonstrated and explained.  Our "future vice-principal", if it comes to that, told us and the Martins that the school was very grateful for our Church, who had given guitars and other equipment, to help the kids have access to instruments.
 This is our "Team Sapuk" doing a number with their guitars and singing, at the end of the concert.  JT Ande and Nuno Kata lead the group, and are very talented.  They will be leaving this summer on missions to S. Africa and Australia.  JT learned that the banjo originated in Africa, and now wants to learn to play it, while serving there!  I knew there was a reason he was sent there!  He will find many more reasons once he starts doing the work there.  Johannesburg is quite a beautiful area, and quite a lot more modern and clean, than Chuuk!  I think JT will do just fine there!  He had wanted to trade his call to one of his friends, when first opened!!
 Before the graduation practice, Nuno took the microphone, put on music, and sang a beautiful song!  We thought he was shy, but I think he is mostly not that comfortable talking to us, in English.  He knows a lot of English, however, and will only have to learn the rest, with an Australian accent!  Tricky.
 Elder Vehikite plans to play football for a college after his mission.  He happens to have weights in his apartment, which are large cement chunks!  It weighs more pounds than Elder Crisp and I could lift--together! We went to Sapuk with the Martins and shared some fresh hot bread from Sapuk Bakery with our Elders Rainey and Hunter.  They shared some fresh coconut with us!  Yum, tasty...
High School Graduation is a big event here.  There were not enough chairs for everyone, so we stood for an hour, and then could stand no longer, so left early and avoided the masses at the end.  Everything seemed to go fine.  We never know for is mostly in Chuukese.  The Valedictorian actually gave his speech in English, with a good accent.  I think he has lived outside of Chuuk for some years!
 Most of graduates were in green, but a few in black gowns.  We thought they were the honor students.  Nope, just short on green gowns!
Now, why didn't I smile?  Our camera has a 3 second delay, so I never know when the picture will click!
We visited this Seminary class at Mwan Branch. This was at 6 a.m., and they were busy learning from Oriko Ewar, our ONE most faithful teacher of Seminary
Our Institute teacher at Mwan also is faithful, one day a week.  We are plan-ning end of year activities for each group.  We will do their Graduation "ceremony" this Sunday.  There are 2 graduates, and a few certificates.  Our other Branches and Group have not followed through. We are not celebrating with them. Everyone in Chuuk loves a party, with FOOD!! They may not go to a single church meeting, but will show up for fun, games and food. You get the idea... So, we have been doing "tickets" for some of our activities, so that everyone who never attends anything doesn't reap the rewards that could be available to them.  The Church pays for most of the food for these activities, and we want it to be for those who participate.  (We may NOT be the favorite "Senior Couple" that has served here!!)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mother's Day Skyping, Baptisms, etc......

 Mother's Day was 3 days long!  Lucky for us, a pkg from home arrived on Saturday, and was given to us on our Mother's day!  Thanks! Tiffany knows what we like!  We helped our 24 Elders Skype or call their families back home Sunday, Monday & later in blog...
 We had 2 baptisms at Mwan last Saturday. A very small 8 year old girl shown here with her family, and a boy a little bigger and a bit older. I didn't get their names.  Our AP's were in town and got to partake of the event.  In fact, Elder Johnson was such a familiar sight to President Newyear, that he was asked to give a talk during the changing and re-dressing time.  I think it was quite good. Everyone but us understood it!  His companion, Elder Ashcroft learned a few things about being a missionary in Chuuk, that I am sure he didn't know before!  We think we have it a "little" rough here (or maybe a lot rough!)  Communication with members, Branch leaders and our missionaries can be very tough, just getting through.  Then there is the matter of the roads...we have mentioned that before!  Elders Obray and Simpson did the baptizing.
 Sister Tarmy Kosam left a few months back for her mission.  She lost her passport in Utah, and was serving around Provo and Vernal, while trying to get another passport.  The booklets for them are very delayed.  Then her mother got hospitalized, and really needed Tarmy. She got a temporary passport and came in for a short visit.  She will go to Guam next week in time for the transfers and get assigned a new companion, and get back to her missionary labors.  She is a very sweet young lady.
 This taxi is more colorful than the average!  We followed them for a while, and they love their picture taken.  Most taxis are small cars that hold 3-4 people besides the driver.  The fare is $1 to most destinations!  Not a bad deal, but the roads are still as bumpy, no matter what kind of vehicle you are in!
 Tarson Amatus is learning English a little at a time.  He needs to learn English a bit better before his mission to Fiji, because then he will have a whole new language to learn!  At least when he is finished with his mission, he will know 3 languages!  He doesn't really read or write Chuukese, so we are helping him with our alphabet, which is a little longer!  He is a nice young man, and will leave in August.
 All right, parents, here are your sons!  Sunday afternoon until Tuesday just after noon, was spent helping our elders skype or call their families.  We have a very special locked closet that has a very special phone that can call anywhere!  We have some elders without computers at home, so they get to call on our special phone!  Top left and clockwise is:  Elders Fermanis (New Zealand), Roque Philippines), Garae (Vanautu), and Simpson (Canada).  They all appreciate time to visit with their families--2 times per year.
 Top left, clockwise:  Elders Payne (New Mexico), Jonas (Utah), Mackie (California), and Canakiavata (Fiji).
 Top left, clockwise:  Elders Schroath (Idaho), Fabiano (Arizona), Holmes (Arizona), and Obray (Utah).  I'm sure someone will tell me if I have these wrong!
 Elders: Plocher (California), Telona (Hawaii), McEwan (Utah), and Kleven (Utah).
Top left:  Elders Selander (Montana),  Ladore (Pohnpei), Peck (Oregon), and Rainey (Tennessee).
Elders Vehikite (Utah), Tafuna (California), Hunter (Utah) and Vanisi (Tonga).  A great group of missionaries.  We look forward to our 51 baptisms this month!!  Don't let us down, Elders!

Monday, May 5, 2014

May 6 Zone Mtg, District Conference, Mechitiw mission call

 May 3rd and 4th was our Chuuk District Conference. First, the adults gathered to begin leadership meetings.  Bishop Nicerio from Seminaries and Institutes (our boss in Guam) was in town to visit with us about our programs.  He was able to talk to the Branch leaders as well (lower left shot of him at the pulpit), and encourage them to help their youth, by finding teachers for the program.  If they can find teachers who will TEACH, we will train them in methods and with materials.  Right now, there is a lack of interest in keeping those positions filled.  If someone stops doing their calling, that is the end of it for that school year.  We have tried to do a Seminary at Chuuk High School, and everyone stopped coming to it!  We didn't provide a lunch for them at 12:30, and they are not used to Church classes on a daily basis.  A Sunday School lesson is about all they get in a small setting.  Elder Crisp also talked to the Priesthood Leadership about everyman learning his duty from the Doctrine and Covenants.  He also mentioned the commitment we are to make once we are baptized as recorded in Mosiah 18:13.  Many people do not or will not hold a calling.  There is a fear of failure and no one wants to be embarrassed. However, if the church is to grow and Chuuk eventually become a stake, then there has to be some change here in the islands.

 The Relief Society, Primary and Young Women leaders broke off into their respective groups for training.  Sister Crisp attended with the Relief Society.  Their main lesson was about Visiting Teaching.  We have not observed it in action YET.  Hopefully good things are coming to each Branch.  Sister Rotuk, shown here left, is the District RS President. She is from Sapuk.  Between transportation and communication issues throughout the Chuuk islands, individual Branch training with the District leaders (for these women holding positions) hasn't happened yet.  25 women participated in this training, from 10 Branches/Groups.  When the v.t. instruction from the Handbook of Instruction was finished, I talked to them about "taking turns" giving the Sunday lessons.  If a RS President isn't there on a Sunday, they all go home early.  They can take turns with all members of the presidency, and have an additional teacher called as well.  Always come prepared with your RS manual.  I also talked about baptismal muu-muus!  We are a large, spread-out group.  With only 12 muu-muus to start (after Sister Walter and I made a bunch) and in all sizes, there are not enough to go around and stay around.  If each Branch will see to getting some made for their area, it will greatly help.  Our Elders have a goal, with real possibility, for 51 baptisms in May alone!!  I didn't ask them what they would do for dresses....  we filled up the men's and women's closets with white clothing, and hope that the Elders will carry on, and take care of things!
 This first picture is of MOST of our Chuuk missionaries serving or about to serve.  Unfortunately, the collage cut out a few of them!  In the bottom row, we have 6 getting ready to leave in the next few months.  Our latest call was opened by Tarson Amatus (known as Ichok Fiti).  He will be going to Fiji in August!  He has to work on his English with us and these local Elders: Vehikite and Canakiavata--who just happens to be from Fiji!  Think that is a coincidence?  They are neighbors currently, and I just bet Tarson can get started on his Fijian right here.  Tarson's father has lived in Guam and knows English!  He just hasn't bothered to share much with his son, YET.
 As we went to Sapuk to see 3 mission calls being opened, we realized their songbooks were severely lacking in the particular pages we were trying to sing.  So, once again, we hauled the bits and pieces home and came up with 39 complete books for the Branch.  They love to sing, and have a lot of talent in music in Sapuk.  JT Ande and his "group" from Sapuk recently won the talent show at Chuuk Hi.  That was a nice $100 to share between them!  (JT will be heading to South Africa--Johannesburg in August)
 Chuuk State of FSM recently had it's annual high school debate. The subject was "Eminent Domain" by the FSM.  First picture shows Chuuk Hi debaters on left, up against Xavier High School.  The girls are: Kiana Kandito and Kimberly Soiter. There were 3 major high schools competing and each had to debate the other schools and present both sides of the argument.  Each debate was tallied and when the scores came in, our Chuuk High School was the overall winner, winning both of their debates.  These two young ladies will now got to Yap in June to compete against the other states in the FSM.  Just to mention, a cool $1000 EACH!!  They worked hard during the year to prepare, with the help of Principal Paul Hadik. The girls lived outside FSM before, so speak and understand English very well!  Girl on left is from Paata, on right from Neauo.
 All right!!  Our Zone Leaders are up for another round of ZONE MEETING!  They do a good job of leadership and training for Chuuk Zone.  Our elders came in Saturday for District Conference, and were going home Tuesday morning, so we thought a lite lunch was in order (at 9:30 at night!).  We made pb&j sandwiches and cinnamon rolls for all...except for our surprise visitors: the AP's from Guam.  Someone could have told us...  We brought 23 sacks because Elder Vanisi is in Guam.  We had to run to the little overpriced store across the road for a little extra food!
 Elder Ashcraft and Elder Johnson (formerly from CHUUK!) are the Assistants to President Mecham.  Elder Johnson will soon be finishing up his mission (dying...).  That "Ace" sack lunch is for our Elder Obray...can you believe a young man who doesn't like peanut butter?!!  Of course, we gave them a GRAPE J-MAX as well, to wash the carbs down.  Can't say we eat very healthily in Chuuk... luckily  J-Max is 25% real fruit juice (hopefully).
 Elder Jonas leads our songs as usual.  Hope you can find and recognize your own elders!

As was pointed out by Elder Ashcraft, Chuuk Zone has the most comradery of the zones in MGM.  The guys bond well and see each other a lot, as they gather in for occasions.  They are pretty good friends, and we are hopeful that this tight knit group will come together, and get their 51 promised baptisms for May!!  Could be our record month ever. We will see.  Pray for our Elders, for our "Maniacal Month of Miracles in May" as came from our Mission leaders!!