Wednesday, July 10, 2013

June 1 - July 1, 2013

This is our last blog for our Mission; it is a bitter sweet moment.
 It has been a very busy month.  On our way back to Hawaii when we left from Fiji the plane stopped in Kiritimati (Christmas) Island; we were really hoping to be able to say goodbye to the Missionaries there.  This time they had us get off the plane which was good because the missionaries were there to say goodbye to Elder & Sister Mabey, our senior couple, who had just finished their mission and were headed home via Hawaii.  We had to get permission from
the security police to actually go over to the fence and say our goodbyes and take pictures.  At first they weren’t going to let us but one of the members, who is a policeman, was there and he told them it was alright!  The missionaries were Sister’s Tauteoli and Nakibae and the Elders were Sias and Bonteman, this was our first time to meet Elder Bonteman.  It was so great to see them and to take pictures.  Elder and Sister Mabey got on our flight to Honolulu.  We got to spend a little time with them in Honolulu, and then they had a Grandson who lives there who they did things with until they left. 

The day that we arrived from Hawaii we had a Mission Leadership council in Majuro, this was the second meeting with the sister representatives.  It’s great to get their input as well as we will have many more sister missionaries than we have ever had.
June 2nd we went to the Laura ward.  They are meeting at the elementary school right now because they are building an addition to their chapel.  We love to go there.  It is a ward where they sing at the top of their lungs, I love it!

June 3rd was a combined Preparation Day; it was at the Long Island Chapel.  They had asked us to be there at 3:30pm to judge some games they were playing.  When we arrived in the cultural hall the senior couples pointed us toward the chapel where all the missionaries were in their missionary attire.  They stood up and the tears just started to flow from both of us.  Elder Jolley had a sign that said President and Sister Shaw sit here.  They had a program all planned with talks from some of the missionaries honoring us and things they have learned.  They had three musical numbers throughout the program. The first one was sung by the three Kiribati sisters.  They sang the song from Moroni High that is titled “Fare Thee Well.”  It was one that Tom had requested in Kiribati from the Moroni students to sing.  Then all the Elders sang “We are as the Army of Helaman.”  Elder Walden sang the last number which was “Savior, Redeemer of My Soul.”  They were all so touching and beautiful and all brought another flood of tears.  Elders Fesola’i and McOmie had put together a DVD for us including all of the missionaries in Majuro.  It is so awesome and we will treasure it for years to come.  After the program we had refreshments which was a cake they bought that had our picture on it. 
We loved it and the cake was really good too.  We felt so spoiled and it was such a sweet surprise.  The Sister missionaries also did a dance for us after the refreshments. 

June 4th we had a zone conference in Majuro.  We did the same training as we had been doing and also testimonies of the new missionaries who had arrived in May (Sisters Crane, Tofa & Samuel and Elders Bascom, Boaden, Duiriba, Faleono & Whetstone and those (Sisters Roota & Tominey) who would be going home before the next zone conference.  We also had testimonies of those who wanted to share about their reading of the Book of Mormon.  It was a great conference and we enjoyed spending time with them two days in a row.  Some of the Elder'a performed the Haka dance out in the parking lot, led by a very sober Elder Walden!  That evening we had Sister Hogg over for dinner as she was leaving to go home the next evening.  She spent the night at our home and it was neat to be with her.  She trained many of our Sisters who are still serving and helped them learn many things about missionary work.   She will be missed greatly as she was the first Sister Training Leader in the mission on the Marshall side.

On June 6th we went to Ebeye.  We no longer have a senior couple in Ebeye, the Morgan’s have gone home the end of May; they were great and we know that the people and missionaries are missing them.  Thank you so much for your service and keeping things running in Ebeye.  This trip was for Tom to interview people and to have a zone conference.  We enjoyed our time there and we were there for five days.  We attended the Kwajalein branch and spoke at sacrament meeting.  After church the Parkers had invited us and the members of their Branch to their home for lunch.  We enjoyed spending time with them and the lunch was great.  That evening we did a fireside for the Ebeye Branches.  After the fireside the people stayed and had an “Iawke-Iakwe” for us.  They each came up and gave us a hug and also gave adorned us with their beautiful gifts.  We love these people and pray that someday in the future they will qualify to be a stake. 
Monday, we had a zone conference.  It was good and we had the same format as we had for the others.  They are without a couple right now and we thank them for carrying on and doing the work.  We returned to Majuro that evening.  Tom did interviews through the rest of this week. 

On Saturday, Elder and Sister Pearson of the Area Presidency arrived for the Majuro Stake Conference and for an abbreviated mission tour.  We have been looking forward to their coming and it was great to have them.  The stake had a luncheon where they had invited the President (Christopher Loeak and his wife) of the Republic of the Marshalls Islands; they were very gracious.  Elder Pearson presented him with a statue of a Father and Son.  He seemed to appreciate it.  They will be having a big Pacific Area delegate conference here in September where they expect 500 people here in the Marshalls.  They have been cleaning up the Island and in Lojkar where we live they are building more apartments to help house them. 
The men had a Priesthood leadership meeting at 4:00pm.  That gave Sister Pearson and I time to go shopping for some souvenirs!  We had a good time.  Then after the Priesthood meeting we had a light dinner with the stake people and then the 7:00pm Adult Session of conference.  It was not as well attended as we had hoped.  That seems to happen everywhere in the church and to me normally it is the best meeting of Stake Conference.  Tom and I spoke briefly and of course the Pearson’s talked as well as others. 

Sunday, we had Stake Conference and the building was filled.  It was a great meeting.  The Pearson’s gave great talks and also some in the Presidency and stake youth.  Following conference we had lunch at our home and then took them for a ride down to Laura.  We enjoyed chatting with them and getting more acquainted; they are wonderful people.   Elder Pearson was called to be a member of the 1st Quorum of the Seventy when he was fifty and serving as a Mission President.  They have a 14 year old daughter who is with them and others who are married and one who is currently serving a Mission in Spain.  We admire all of our Area Presidency members and their wife’s.  They are so wonderful and always plan amazing Mission President Seminars where they teach us those things that they learn from the Brethren at General Conference time.
We had our zone conference in Majuro on Monday.  The missionaries were pumped up to hear Elder Pearson’s training.  We had told them how good it was in Tarawa.  He didn’t disappoint them; it was great along with Sister Pearson’s training.  We had lunch which was taco salads, which was a big hit.  That evening we had the senior couples come for dinner and home evening with the Pearson’s.  It was a great dinner thanks to everyone.  We then just talked and the Pearson’s were willing to answer any questions. 

Tuesday, we headed to Ebeye with Pearson’s.  President Parker met us at the airport and took us to the food court and then to the dock to ride the ferry to Ebeye.  As we arrived we went directly to the church as the members were there and lined up to welcome them.  They always do this with quests and authorities.  Then Elder Pearson went on some rescue visits with the District Presidency.  They were less active members which he asked them to come back to church and to come to the District Conference we were going to have that evening.  They all came to the conference which was great.  We had a leadership and auxiliary meeting first and then the District Conference afterwards.  They were good meetings and we were so happy to see the people again. 
The next day we had a missionary zone conference with the Pearson’s.  We then went to lunch with the missionaries at a place called “Sit and Eat.”  We said our goodbyes and then returned to Kwajalein via a water taxi.  President Parker met us again and took us on a tour of the base.  We then went to the airport to wait for the plane.  It was super crowded as many people from the base were going home or on a vacation.  The first stop was in Majuro where we said goodbye to the Pearson’s; they continued on to Hawaii.  We really enjoyed our mission tour.

Thursday evening we had the Stake Presidency and their wives over for dinner.  Some had forgotten so we had a ton of food leftover.  We have enjoyed working with all of them they have a great Stake Presidency and we love them and their wives.
Friday, we had the seniors over for a final dinner in the mission home.  We love to be with them all, they are amazing couples. 

Saturday, we went to the baptism in Long Island.
Sunday, we attended Jenrok ward.  It was High Council week; they did a great job.    

Monday, we were to move out of the mission home so that they could do some cleaning for the Weirs.  So I spent most of the day cleaning and getting packed.  It was hard to leave.  We have had many special times in that home and we will cherish the memories.
Now that we are in the Hotel we feel like we are traveling.  The senior couples took turns feeding us all of this week.  We loved spending time with them and the food was so good. 

Tuesday, we woke up to find out that the ocean tide had overflowed its banks around 6:00am in the morning.  We headed to Delap for some interviews and a district meeting.  As we drove along you could see all of the garbage that had come up on the land in many places.  So we decided to get all of the missionaries together to do some service and help clean up.  So we put on our “Helping Hands” vests and went to work.  The people appreciated our help.  We then provided some pizza for all of them before they returned to their flats to clean up and get ready to go out and work.  We were thrilled that we got to see them again.  We heard that the tide did what it did on the ocean side because of a storm that had started in New Zealand, also the moon was the closest to the earth for a couple of days which they said contributed to the high tides.  It was supposed to happen at least one or two more times but thankfully it did not.  Our prayers were answered. 
On Friday, the Senior Sisters went to Chit Chat for pizza, and of course we did a little shopping!  That evening the senior couples and we went to dinner.  We had a big round table which had a turn table on it so we could all be able to talk and enjoy everyone’s company.  When we finished eating they presented us with another book with letters from them and our children.  It also has many memorable pictures in it.  Then Elder Wayas had made us a couple of mementos.  One was out of shells and sand from Laura Beach, and the other one had our Mission logo on it also with shells and sand from Laura beach.  We thank them from the bottom of our hearts, we will treasure them always.

Saturday, President and Sister Weir arrived.  Their flight was a little early but luckily we were there in time.  We took them to the Mission home to drop their luggage and then went to the office to show them some things.  They looked great and we know they will give great service to this mission.  We went to lunch and then had more training.  I’m sure they had a good night’s sleep as we know how tired they were having come in on the early flight. 
We attended a baptism in Delap that evening.  It was a neat couple which is always the goal for the missionaries.  We need strong Priesthood leaders who can carry this work forward and have strong families.

Sunday, we attended the Laura ward.  We love this ward and Tom needed to interview Elder Parente, he just recently returned from an outer Island-Jaluit.  We had dinner (prepared by the senior missionaries) with the Weirs and then attended the World wide Missionary Training; it was marvelous and learned much about our responsibilities.
Monday, we felt pretty lost.  We went to get lunch and then down to the new Payless store to walk through it.  We ran into some of the missionaries as it was a combined Preparation Day.  We then went back to the Hotel.  We passed the field where the missionaries were meeting and honked our last goodbye.  Elder Wayas came and took our luggage in the truck because there was so much it wouldn’t fit anywhere else!  We then went over to the mission office and talked with the seniors while we waited for the time to go to the airport.  We have been there so many times, but of course, this time was more permanent. 

The seniors all came and President and Sister Weir drove us over.  Ann came and gave us some beautiful fresh flower lei and head lei.  Our Assistants also came along with Elder Duford who was going to be transferred to Ebeye. President Zedhkeia, also Rafi our physical facility manager.   

The tears flowed freely as we said
goodbye.  There was a beautiful sunset that night, something I love to see.  We boarded the plane and wished it was not dark so that we could see Majuro better.  We could see the lights however and flew past the Rita end. 

We had mixed feelings because of course we were sad to leave but also excited to see our family and spend time with them.  They were all at the airport when we landed an hour late.  The girls all had their dresses (guams) on and their hair in buns with their flower we had sent before.  Drew and Cathie, Shirlee and Kurt and Marj Grahams also came.  On the way home on Bangeter Highway they told us to look at the overpass at 4100 South- they had put two hearts and "Iakwe" in the middle.  Then as we arrived home they had balloons and a sign on the garage door and some writing on the front window all welcoming us home.  We had cake and ice-cream with them all and enjoyed spending some time together.
On the 4th of July they planned a picnic at Miles & Kristy’s house with all the family including Grandma and Grandpa Pearson.  They gave us a priceless book that is entitled “Trip of a Lifetime.”  All of our children and their spouses had been able to visit Majuro during our mission time.  In the book they shared their impressions and pictures from each of their trips.  It is priceless and we are so fortunate to have these memories and pictures all compiled in a book.  We have been quite busy trying to get things in order and going to Doctor Appointments.  We attended Elder Gary & Alyssa Gittins wedding in the Bountiful, Utah Temple and also attended a viewing of Elder McOmie’s Grandmother.  We met his family and they are all as wonderful as he is.

How do you not miss the best mission on this earth!  We have so many fond memories and pictures of our experiences.  They are priceless and we are so grateful that the Lord gave us this opportunity to serve.  We love the missionaries in our mission, both young and senior.  They have all been such an inspiration to us.  You are all very near and dear to our hearts.  Thank you to the parents who raised the missionaries and helped them become who they are.  We had a saying on the wall of the mission home which read “Many people will walk in and out of our lives, but only true friends will leave footprints on your heart.”  Thank you all family, missionaries, and friends for leaving footprints on our hearts we love you all.  Love Mom & Dad / Nana & Papa / President and Sister Shaw   

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

May 12 - 31, 2013

We spent Mother’s Day in Hawaii.  Thank you for your special emails they all meant so much to me.  We had a representative from the moving company come over to see what we will be shipping home.  They will not be coming to back until June 21st.  That’s good and bad.  We will be able to get more handicraft gifts for the family but our things will not arrive for a couple of months.

Back arrived back in Majuro early Tuesday morning.  We can’t tell you how blessed we feel that we were able to come back to finish our Mission. 
On Wednesday, we went to the Delap District meeting.  Elder Vano is the District leader and he is doing a great job.  The Districts usually like to see us come because we bring cookies with us.

We attended a baptism in Long Island on Saturday.  It was a couple that Sister Tominey and Sister Tebwanei taught.  It is so wonderful to have both of them because then they will raise their children in the church.  Also Sunday evening we had the Assistants Elder McComie and Elder Bradshaw over for dinner.  Elder Bradshaw will be returning to Kiribati so we wanted to share a few moments with them.
Monday, we had soup night with the senior couples at the Wayas’ apartment.  It was great to be together.  The Woods and us don’t have much more time to enjoy each other’s company.

Tuesday, we invited Elder & Sister Barlow for dinner.  They are so great and help with many assignments to make the mission run smoothly. 
Wednesday, we left for Kiribati.  We were able to go on Our Airline so we arrived there in a little over an hour!  We hope that this Airline will continue to fly; right now it is on a trial basis. 

Thursday, we went to the Airport to meet our new intake of missionaries.  They are Elder Iotebwa and Sisters Alafoki, Anitoni, Lavulavu, Mafi, Tureira and senior sisters Talataina and Ucunabaravi-these are our first Senior Sisters and we are excited that they have been called.  They are all so excited to be here and to start their service.  We also received eight new missionaries in Majuro-Elders Bascom, Boaden, Duiriba, Faleono (18 yr old), Whetstone and Sisters Crane (19 yr old), Samuel and Tofa . We are grateful that they all arrived safely and are anxious to meet them. 
We had training for the Kiribati Missionaries in the Tune’s old home where we were staying.  Tom and I had to leave early to attend a devotional meeting with the Moroni students.  We both spoke and they had a student give a scripture and then they had some students sing a couple of songs for us.  One was “In the Hollow of His hand” and “Fare thee Well” song that we both love.  It was such a sight to see all of the Moroni students there and so emotional to hear these songs.  After the training was over we had lunch with everyone thanks to the seniors and then we did some final interviews.  Our interviews were with Elders Tui, Simpson, Faulke, and Bradshaw and Sister Balenacagi.  They will all be leaving before the next zone conference which will be with President and Sister Weir.  Wow!

On Friday, we had our Zone Conference.  I spoke on the worth of Souls and Tom trained on the information we received at the Mission Presidents Seminar.  We also had the incoming and the outgoing missionaries bear their testimonies. 

We had lunch thanks to the seniors which was spaghetti, bread sticks, salad, and cake.  After lunch we had testimonies from the missionaries in regards to their reading of the Book of Mormon; they were to choose a principle or ordinance and during their reading mark  passages that pertained to their topic.  The testimonies were so good and they seemed to gain a lot of insight by doing this.  Tom had challenged them in March all to read the entire book by the time we met again in zone conference.  Tom finished the meeting and then we sang the mission song.  This brought many tears from us knowing that this was the last meeting with all of them.  Sister Cassita then presented us with T-shirts that had a picture of the Kiribati Missionaries on the back.  Also a lava lava which had all of their signatures on it.  What wonderful keepsakes these will be.  We then had the opportunity to hug all of them before they all left.  We have the best missionaries in the world.

Saturday, we had a Leadership meeting with all the Zone & District and Sister Training Leaders.  This is a first for the Sisters to be involved.  The meeting went well and we were impressed with all of their input.

That evening they had the West Stake Cultural evening.  Each ward came up with a song and three dances which they were all judged on.  It was a beautiful evening and the dancing took place on Moroni campus.  These people are so talented and they all did a super job.  The Temaiku Branch ended up winning.  We saw many of our former missionaries performing in their wards; we always love to see them especially this time before we go home.  The stake fed us dinner.  We were so grateful that they waited to have this until we could return. 
On Sunday, we attended the Eita ward.  Then later on we had dinner with the seniors at the Osborn’s apartment.  They seniors fed us all week which was so nice and good. 

Monday, we left for Fiji.  Some of our missionaries, who were in the airport district, came to say goodbye.  The Zone Leaders came as well, and most of the seniors.  Wow, what a world wind of emotions and love we have for our missionaries and the people of Kiribati.   We are so blessed to have this opportunity to learn life’s lessons from the wonderful people in our missions and from our missionaries.  We need to slow down, have faith, love life and be thankful for our many blessings.  The gospel is simple and is the plan of happiness.  The Lord cares for each of us and he will help us be strong.  We love you all, Mom & Dad / Nana & Papa / President & Sister Shaw