Saturday, June 28, 2014

Our Life on Chuuk

 Yes, we live with geckos!  Who else will eat the little tiny ants that come out of the walls and woodwork.  We can't bug spray everywhere!  This little guy stayed in this position for at least 24 hours.  Was he sleeping?  Sometimes when a small one (baby) is running on the floor I (may) scream, imagining it is a scorpion, like we confront at home in Arizona... yuk, hate living with pests!
 The muu muu was a gift from Sister Ande from Sapuk!  Very lovely. I like to wear them at home, on a Sunday afternoon.  Top left, Recklude Ludwig has been a member for over a year.  He lives in Mechitiw. A missionary mom, Sister Jonas, recently went to a family history seminar in SLC and met his cousin, daughter of a Chuukese man (Marcelo Ludwig) who went to Snow College.  I believe he is deceased now. He gave up this daughter for adoption.  Recklude remembers this man, his fathers brother, if I understand correctly. Small world in the Church!  Top rt: Pres. Weita and E. Vehikite and E. Canakiavata are going visiting together, a prospective group of new members.  The father of many children shown here, at least 7 we know of, won't give up any of his cigarettes to buy uniform shirts for his children to go to K-8, and the school won't give them the shirts, because of his addictions.  We are lining up many of such children, to give them some shirts so they can attend school.  Mechitiw has lots of children in such a situation.  We hope we can help increase the number of Church members attending school.  We ask them to get their children registered for school before it starts.  We will give them a second shirt, only after attending a week or two.  They are so unused to exerting themselves.  Of course there are many Chuukese who value education.
 This lady is trying to help the Mechitiw ladies and girls with sewing instruction.  There were no sewing machines present, when we stopped by.  Apparantly, this was not the first meeting in the week.  I don't know where sewing machines will come from.  We priced local ones on Weno, and the cost was $350 for a cheap one!  I bought one in Guam, so I could make baptismal items, mend for our Elders, etc.  That cost was $127!  It has held up well.
 Elder Crisp received a call from the Deputy Director of Education's office.  "We need your help".  We went on Friday and Elder Crisp in-serviced the group of 12 for an hour or so about how to get things off to a good start when the school year begins.  He was asked to do training every "payday Friday"!  Apparently, some people don't like to go to work on payday!  Noah Ruben hopes this will get them up and moving on paydays, not to mention the training they need in running their schools.
 Near the end of our portion they brought out real donuts!  You may say, "aren't all donuts real?"  No, tempura is not real, and that is what we see all over these islands, passing for small cake type donuts.  We have tasted some "bad" ones!  We try to avoid such things for the most part!  We have enjoyed them a couple of times...
 With the Branch Presidency training coming up on Saturday, President Wainis asked if I would use his overripe bananas... so, instead of making coconut cake for the group, I made my "almost famous" coconut banana bread loaves for everyone.  They always want the recipe, but alas, they don't have blenders or regular ovens, for the most part.
 Norris came in to Weno with his Branch President Naka from Tonoas.  He was delighted to get a 3 year Seminary diploma.  He didn't attend Seminary this year, because no one would teach it on Tonoas.  Norris said he read his Chuukese Book of Mormon this year.  Pretty soon, Chuuk will have the whole Book of Mormon in their language.  Current one is one third of original.  We are currently reading only those parts that they have in theirs, to see what they are getting out of it, and what is missing.  They use the Bible almost exclusively in their talks for references.  We are encouraging exclusive study of the Book of Mormon.  They have some catching up to do!
 President Wainis gives most of the training at his meetings.  His 1st Counselor, President Walter, comes to support him.  Elder Crisp gave information on the upcoming seminary and institute curriculum.  He also gave a message about using the Book of Mormon and encouraging them to have everyone read it and use it when giving talks.  2 Nephi 29:6-11 talks about those who think we do not need another "Bible".  This passage reinforces the Lord's work and the coming of the Book of Mormon.  Elder Crisp also went over the need to call individuals to serve and that each Branch needs to have a clerk.  This position will become more important in the coming months and new things will be required of the Branches, like maintaining their own checkbooks!  That is a new concept for many!
Five out of 9 B. P.'s attended this meeting:  Presidents Billy (Uman), Walter (Romanum), Naka (Tonoas), Weita (Mechitiw) and Newyear from Mwan.  He is the most punctual of everyone, for everything!  Nice job President Newyear!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Elder Michael T. Ringwood and President Steven C Wheelwright w/Pres Mecham visit

 I have to start in order of my pictures, instead of with the Church Leaders that came for a visit!  On Father's Day, I was up doing familysearch at 4:30 a.m. I FORGOT it was F. D., so Elder Crisp made ME breakfast!  He does a good job with spam, potatoes, eggs, etc.  I made him his favorite coconut cake, with blended up fresh coconut water and flesh in the cake.  I let him eat almost all of it by himself.... (not all on Sunday!)
 We visited Akoyikoyi School, where Elder Crisp is helping the leaders of the school to prepare for next school year.  He will spend some time inservicing the teachers just before school starts, as well.  They are getting their confidence up, and won't have him do much of that inservice.  He has worked a lot while here, to help them get their student files up and running, and other important necessities for running an effective school.  They were one of only 6 schools out of 76 possibles that are being successful. They started with K only, adding a grade level each year. This year will be K-3 at the school. An addition is being built.  Our church has donated school supplies, backpacks, etc. to this school, and it has been much appreciated.
 Clark Graham has used his own resources a lot, and has been able to get some grants from various other places to help him continue.  The best part of their curriculum is using English all day long.  The children get only Chuukese at home.  They have started a lunch program with the families, so that they go longer than noon.  It is a good model for other elementaries in Chuuk to follow.
Clark is on left, next is this year principal/teacher Chris, then last year's P/T Will, then E. Crisp.  Will will be heading home to Wisconsin soon.

We were told that this family specifically invited us to their wedding in Mechitiw.  Maybe we have waved on our way down the road for a walk or to Church??  They live a few blocks from our apartment.  They are a very nice, friendly family that is hearing the Gospel from Elders Vehikite and Fabiano.  We hope they will be ready to be baptized in a few weeks.
I baked a few loaves of banana coconut bread to share when our visiting dignitaries came for meetings.  I used the end of my precious pecans from Natalie in a topping, to make them more special!  After drinking coconut water, we like to save the flesh and use in baking.  We blend it well, and it adds flavor to several things we make.  I think it is good for us, although higher in calories than the coconut water...
 Friday we met in the Governor's office to talk about expanding opportunities of education for Chuukese students.  BYU President since 2007, Steven C Wheelwright, talked about a program with an articulation agreement for high school students that are pretty good in English, to take some online classes through BYU Hawaii at a low cost to Chuuk High School.  They would get h.s. and college credit hours.  If they prove they are competent students, they could go to that college later on for the rest of their bachelor's degree on a school loan program.  If they return to their home country to work in that field, their loan would be forgiven!  Chuuk desperately needs qualified teachers and principals.
 Those attending this meeting, besides the Sr Couple, were (left) Akoyikoyi: Clark G. and his this year's principal, Chris;  Pres. Wheelwright; District President (LDS Church) Tarsi Wainis; Noah Ruben--who is the Deputy Director of Education (D.O.E. Director Gardenia had another meeting more pressing); two Chuukese men from the Governor's staff (Governor Elimo had to go to the inauguration of a Mayor on one of the Chuuk islands);
 Elder Ringwood (left), President of Asia North Area; and President and Sister Mecham--with only a week left of service in MGM Mission!  The meeting was very informative, and well received.
 High School Principal, Paul Hadik, is experiencing back problems as a result of a recent boating trip (we can relate), and didn't make the first meeting.  He caught up with us when we went to tour the high school.  This is where things really get done, in regards to education in Chuuk!  He isn't afraid to try a new program and will get ours going as soon as some upgrades (in progress) are completed in regards to the internet service to the school.  He has done a lot for ramping up education standards in Chuuk.  He is married to a Koserian, and they have several children excelling in their educational pursuits.  Paul has been able to get "World Teach" teachers working in Chuuk, and they are greatly improving the skills in English, of the students.  He has gotten some vocational programs going re: sewing, boat manufacture and engine repair, nursing, music production/recording.  The students are moving forward now, more than ever.  Our church has helped with donations to help with most of these areas.  Paul is always appreciative of the help he receives.  He works hard for Chuuk.

At Mwan building, Sister Teresa Walter gave some "head leis" to some of us. (I don't know the real name for those fresh flowers used on the head!)
 L to R: President Mecham, President Wheelwright, Elder Ringwood, Elder Crisp, Sister Crisp, Sister Walter, Elder Obray, Sister Obray, Brother Obray, Sister Mecham.

Included in our group is "former" Elder Obray and his parents visiting from Utah before they take him home with them, and the matriarch of the Walter clan, Sister Walter, center.  She is a very sweet woman, having raised 9-10 children, and many grandchildren.  Elder Obray has around 55 baptisms under his belt here, and has been a good Zone Leader. We will miss him.  We will also miss the Mechams, leaving in a week to return to their family in Utah, after having served well for 3 years.  This mission is the largest in area, of all missions.  It requires a lot of travel, at all times of day and night (the airline doesn't make their schedule easy for us), and almost constantly visiting the different Zones to teach, edify, and lift.  Well done!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Seminary & Institute Graduates and Certificates

 Brandy Henry on right has left for his mission to Long Beach, CA!  He received a cert. for attending Institute classes this year, and he was able to give a talk in Sac. Mtg. just before he left.  He will do great in California!     JT (Ande) Nonumwar, from Sapuk, received a certificate for reading his scriptures!  He heads out to Johannesburg, South Africa in August.  Our Sapuk elders have said that he reads The Book of Mormon regularly in the evenings at the church building.  His father is Branch President, and he has 2 sisters currently on missions.  He reads the B of M in English!!  3X longer than the Chuukese edition!  He came to our Chuuk High School seminary class twice, and even brought friends, but he had clubs after school, and band practice, etc. that kept him from regular attendance.  We were proud to know that one S&I student was a regular reader of the scriptures.  (We haven't found any others, so far)  We rewarded him with 2 pr of missionary shoes, which we obtained from Ebay!  He is a good kid!

This past Sunday we had our S&I "Graduation Service" during church!  The other Branches didn't do much during the year, even when we tried to teach them at the high school.  We have decided that they need their own Branch members to teach them, in their own language, to actually learn and progress.  So, we didn't invite other Branches in from their various locations, when the leaders wouldn't keep our program going.  We will try again in August to get all 10 Branches organized with each a Seminary and an Institute teacher, give them their supplies for teaching, and some instruction as to how to teach Church History without a D & C in Chuukese.  We are busy writing curriculum to go along with  this manual you see here.
President Newyear conducted Sacrament Meeting.  We had talks by Oriko Ewar, the Mwan Seminary teacher, Lass Newyear and Elder Crisp talking about our program.

And....everyone, at least, got a certificate for participation.  We had Norris from Tonoas who will get a 3 year certificate, although he didn't participate this year, and will be a senior next year. Maybe he will graduate seminary with 4 years.  Otherwise, 3 young people are "declared" graduates.  It shouldn't be written in stone!  I know they didn't attend near 80%.  So, there you have another year of S & I for Chuuk.  We are trying to motivate our Branch Presidents to do youth programs. They have trouble getting anyone to serve in their Branches, besides our sweet elders!!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Last Zone Meeting with the Mechams!

 Sister Mecham started off our meeting while President Mecham interviewed our latest missionary candidate--Gladwin from Romanum.  (He passed!)  It's too bad most of these young men have tatoos, that have to be filmed and scrutinized!  Sister Mecham talked about the 3 ingredients needed for a fire, and related that to building our testimonies.  We need the desire, the spirit, and study to have a testimony, just as you need heat, fuel, and oxygen to make fire. We have enjoyed all the messages given by our President and Wife.  This was their last Chuuk Zone Meeting.  We will have a new Mission President at the end of this month.

 President Mecham must be a good lawyer!  He always gives good messages. He was trying to draw out from our Elders their successes, concerns, illnesses, etc.  They aren't very forthcoming!  He told us to "Do your best, Be your best, and Heavenly Father will do the rest!"  He also spoke of D & C section 50:22  where the teacher and the receiver are both edified by the spirit.  He spoke of his mission as a youngster and his time here in Micronesia stating that " the spiritual imprint of our mission will be with us forever, as long as we do not forget the Lord"!

 Our Zone Leaders did their talking in a Zone Meeting earlier in the day before P. Mecham arrived.  They have done a good job here in Chuuk.  They would tell you that nothing is easy about Chuuk!  Elder Selander (left) and Elder Obray, who will be finishing his mission in 2-3 weeks.  He has been valiant and diligent.

 Elders Peck (District Leader) and Roque, serving in Wichap.
Elders Plocher (District Leader) and Tafuna serving in Tonoas.
Elders McEwan (District Leader) and Canakiavata serving in Sopota, Paata.

 Elders Ladore and Rainey (District Leader) serving in Sapuk.

Elders Mackie and Jonas serving in Romanum.  The Elders were all eating these "apples" that grow here.  They are hollow, and taste okay. I'm sure locals like them a lot!  They must give some of the nutrition that is needed here.
Elder Kleven is training Elder Paulis, from Pohnpei.  E. P. is half Chuukese, and his mother had taught him some of the language as he was growing up. He also is doing well in English, since they speak it in school a lot there.  And, of course he speaks Pohnpein...
These Elders are at Pokocho, Paata.
 Elder Vanisi has been on Uman for a long while.  He has trained several new elders, including Elder Holmes, here.  They do good work on Uman.
Elder Fabiano just relocated from Paata to Mechitiw, with Elder Vehikite.  E. V. has been serving in the Mechitiw Branch for some while now!  He had been very fond of Romanum previously!  Shall we ask him how he compares the 2 areas?
 Elder Payne just moved in from Wichap (where our "mountain men" are) and now serves in Nantaku with Elder Simpson.  They are getting along great as new companions.  They are helping us with some of our work, as well:  trying to round up one of our "called" stray prospective missionaries, and translating some curriculum for the next year of S & I where Church History/D & C will be taught. All we have in Chuukese are
the Church History story books, which we are implementing for our use.  Several more elders are helping us translate as well.  Most of our Seminary and Institute "would-be" teachers don't read much English.

Here are Elders Schroath and Telona. They serve on Udot, and are a happy lot.
 Elders Fermanis and Garae are serving in Neuo.  That is where President Wainis (District President) lives.  Elder Fermanis will probably have a large family at some point, if he marries a willing wife. He loves children wherever he serves.
We finished off with 14 medium sized pizzas and chocolate chip cookies.  I had used 1/4 c dough per cookie, and apparently I need to bump it up next time!  Some elders thought they needed 2 of them!  The pizzas from Leiside were good.  Elder Crisp said mine were better that I made last Saturday for the Institute group's picnic.  I had made "Boboli" type crust first, then baked again. Pineapple, seasoned sausage and ham...not bad.