Sunday, January 9, 2011

Dec 16-30, 2010

Catching up again! This holiday season has been very busy for us. On Saturday we went to a baptism. It was a man named Chris who is from Kirtibati. His wife is a returned missionary and was so excited that he had taken this big step. He is quite large in stature. The missionaries always fill the font but they say that it slowly leaks and so it was not as full as it should be. When they baptized him the first time he did not go all the way under, and the same thing happened the 2nd time! So we had him sit down and then it worked. They always have the person bare their testimony afterwards and he was very humbled.

On Sunday we attended our home ward. The meeting had started but Chris had not arrived. But finally after the sacrament he came and was confirmed. They now have the goal of going to the Temple in a year. Elder Hill came to the mission home with us after the block. We had some lunch and dinner together and shared our testimonies. He is a great young man and we hated to lose him, but we know we can’t keep them forever.

On Monday the Corry’s who are serving in Kirtibati came here to Majuro. They came because they were going to Idaho for their daughter’s wedding. We ate lunch with them and they loved the mission home. As we have told you things are different in Kiribati. We said goodbye to Elder Hill as we were going to go on the plane that Corry’s came in to go back to Kiribati. Elder Hill and the Corry’s both took the same flight to Hawaii together which was nice. We left that day for Kiribati at 2:00pm. I must admit that I was pretty nervous to fly on such a small plane, but once we got up and going it wasn’t bad at all. The flight took two and a half hours, not bad at all. We have been going to Kiribati before by going to Hawaii, then Fiji, and then to Kiribati, a four day trip. We are hoping that we can keep getting a landing permit in Majuro so that we can use the small plane more often. Also we should be able to go to the outer islands of Kiribati and not have to stay all week. We arrived in Kiribati at 4:30pm. We were able to bring a lot of packages for this part of the mission which was welcomed as they were Christmas packages. The two Zone leaders Elder Flint and Elder Rameka (by mom) were at the airport to pick us up. We stayed on the Moroni campus as we have before. The campus is very empty right now because the students are on a break and everyone goes home. We went to see Elder Lowry as he had come in from an outer island with some boils on his face. He was all swollen up and quite uncomfortable. The Steed’s who are the nurse on this island had him stay with them so that they could get him feeling better. The way they get these boils is if they have a cut or have scratched a mosquito bite it can turn into a boil. They take a while to heal and usually leave a scar. We had two or three other Elders who also had some boils. It seems like there have been more than the norm. They have had a drought in Kiribati and the nurse things because of the dryness that germs are carried more easily in the air. We pray that they will soon get the rain that they so desperately need.

On Tuesday and Wednesday we had training meetings with all of the missionaries. All of the outer Island Elders were there except for a couple. The training went well and the missionaries did a lot of the training. They are beginning to realize that this training helps to make them better teachers of the gospel. They also go over these training lessons in their District meetings.

On Tuesday we went to dinner with the senior couples. We have such great senior couples and they really help us by doing the things for the missionaries that we would do, such as intake and departure meals. Training and orienting of the new missionaries. We wish they could all come to the mission home first but the expense of travel is too much. We are losing our senior couple the Phippen’s who are going home on Jan. 11th. They have done such a wonderful job and have worn many hats. We will miss them. The Corry’s will be picking up most of their assignments.

On Thursday we went to Bairiki so that Tom could interview a candidate for baptism. Also while we were there we had a final interview with Elder Dosela who will be going home the end of January. We will not be back in Kiribati until the end of February so we will not seem him again. Another great Elder who has worked hard and received the blessings for doing so.

We also had three other missionaries leaving before we go there again; Sister Toki (second from the right), Sister Kaotiteun (far right), and Elder Rameka. Elder Rameka has been a zone leader and has been a great example. We are losing quite a few all at once but we should be receiving more to fill their places. The sisters there have really adjusted and have been an asset to the mission. We will miss them all. We had the final interview with them on Christmas day.

Christmas Eve they had a lunch for all the missionaries. We had lasagna, salad, rolls, and cake. After the lunch we watched the DVD of Joseph Smith the “Prophet of the Restoration.” Some of the missionaries had not seen it before. It is such a great testimony builder, and it helps them to recommit to share the gospel with all their might mind and strength.

Christmas day started out with phone calls to parents. Did that ever bring back memories! Those whose parents had the ability to Skype could choose to use it or to just talk on the phone. There were some who came to the place we were staying to use our computer. One of us would need to stay in the apartment as they weren’t with their companions. I wasn’t trying to ease drop but it was kind of hard not to hear the conversations. Like I said it brought back many memories of phone calls we had with our wonderful sons. We would put them on speaker and then each person in the family could also have some private time talking. I could hear the excitement in the parent’s voices and relate to that. We also skyped briefly with all of our family on Christmas morning, and then again the next day with each individual family. They sent us such wonderful, thoughtful gifts and we loved everything. The calendar, the picture ornaments, the “Ho Ho Ho” Christmas decoration, the aprons with handprints of grandkids, the fernwood mints, the nativity set with the Christmas book, and our favorite, the DVD of the grandkids acting out the nativity. Everything was so special and meaningful, thank you to all of you. After the phone calls we had taco soup and rolls and then watched the movie the prince of Egypt. We had banana splits and then watched the Stone cutter. Each Missionary received a stocking full of goodies.

On the Majuro side they also had a lunch on Christmas Eve. They had a tie and necklace exchange. They received a goodie bag and they watched “Forgotten Carols.” On Christmas day they have a thing called the Beat. This is where every ward in the stake presents a dance and some singing. Our Missionaries did the cha cha slide. They had a lot of fun doing it and we were told that they did an excellent job. I think all the other churches do the same thing so it is a busy cultural day. Each missionary will also be receiving a wonderful book which Sister Christensen compiled. We think it must have got stuck in Hawaii, we heard that a lot of the mail had been held up there. We had the missionaries send a letter with a spiritual experience and their testimonies so it will be a wonderful keep sake.

We also attended a baptism on Christmas day in Bairiki. One Sister and two brothers were baptized in the ocean that evening. What a wonderful day to be baptized. We were grateful that we were able to be there. We also heard about a Christmas day baptism in Ebeye. They had 31 baptisms that day. Twenty seven of them were convert baptisms! They say that at 8:00 in the morning everyone met at the chapel and were dressed in their white clothing, and then they all walk together down the street to the lagoon where they were baptized. What a beautiful sight that would have been! As you can imagine it was an awesome experience to behold.

Christmas Island has already taken one group of people to the Fiji Temple. They still have one more group of forty-five people who will be going soon. All in all about sixty people. The Moser’s, the senior couple, is accompanying them there. They were instrumental in getting all of their paperwork done, to make this possible, which was no small task. She spent hours and hours working on this. Many of the people are not raised by their parents and if they go to an aunt or uncles or grandparents or friends, they take on the surname of whoever they are with. Some stay with many different people which make it extremely difficult to trace their records. They said that the first trip was unbelievable, and they look forward to the next one.

Ebeye also has about seventy people who are going to the Hawaii Temple next month. The Mill’s, the senior couple, have also been responsible for gathering all of the paper work for their people. Tom and I went to Ebeye for him to interview all of the people there. Elder Moser is a counselor to Tom was given permission to do the interviews in Christmas Island. What a glorious opportunity for these people and for the areas they come from. This will help strengthen their branches and district.

We got the landing permit to leave Kiribati on Sunday morning. The flight back was pretty smooth except for when we were in some clouds it was a little rock and roll! I only grabbed Tom’s arm once and he has the scar to prove it!

On Tuesday we had two meetings, one was an office meeting which we have every Tuesday and the other was a senior couple meeting for planning and coordinating the Bednar’s visit. There are so many details to work out and we keep getting emails everyday from New Zealand with changes! We are excited for this event and as excited for the people here as they have never had an Apostle come before. It truly is a big event and we look forward to it also.

On Wednesday we went to the district meeting of Uliga and Delap. We usually just drop in so they don’t know that we are coming. It’s a great district and it was great to be with them. It gives us a chance to get to know the missionaries better and to see how the district leaders are handling their training. We then had the stake President, counselors and their wives to dinner. We have enjoyed working with them. The President is going to be released while Elder Bednar is here. They will reorganize the stake presidency at that time.

Thursday night we are having the Assistants over for dinner, left over’s from last night! They are then going to get one of their investigators and show her the film, “Joseph Smith the Prophet of the Restoration.”
Tomorrow is New Years Eve, and all of the senior couples are coming over to eat and watch a movie. It’s always great to get together with the seniors; we don’t know what we would do without them. So Christmas here was different then back home but the spirit of the season is the same. We are humbled by Christ’s birth, His life here on earth and His atoning sacrifice for us. But we celebrate His resurrection, giving us that same opportunity. There is a saying we saw that says “Are you a part of the Inn crowd or are you part of the stable few”, a great thought for this season. We love you; we miss you and we thank you for all of your support. Thank you for your prayers, we definitely benefit from them. Love Mom and Dad / Nana and Papa / and Pres and Sister Shaw

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