Wednesday, May 2, 2012

April 3-24, 2012

So many exciting days have happened since the last blog.  Tom finally got over the flu bug or whatever he had, but not too quickly.  This is really the first time in our mission that he has felt this rough.  After two rounds of antibiotics and time he is doing better.  This flu has been hitting many people here and also our missionaries.  We are so grateful that the Lord blesses us in that regard because of all of our traveling it could be so much worse. 

On Tuesday, we had our office meeting and it was good to see everyone again.  We really wanted to be able to watch General Conference with the missionaries before we had to leave again.  So Elder Badger was able to download it off of the computer so we decided to watch it the next two days at the Mission home.  Our sweet, senior sisters had already thought of what we could serve for lunch both days and shopped and all pitched in.  The Missionaries usually always look forward to conference because they love to hear the Prophet and the Apostles speak and also because we have a lunch on both days!  Of course, as all of you know it was a wonderful conference and we noticed a definite emphasis on the importance of the family.  It was great to be together.  We also love to see how many of the missionaries need blankies because they say it is too cold!
Friday, we went over to the church for a party that the Long Island Ward had for less actives and investigators.  They had games and lunch and they also gave a tour of the inside of the church.  It was well attended but it was super-hot that day. 

Saturday, we attended a baptism in the Long Island Ward of a Sister.   Elder Randall baptized her.  It is always so wonderful to see the positive change that takes place and the happiness that the church brings into their lives.
Easter Sunday, we went to Long Island Ward.  It was a good block meeting.  Some of the other senior couples said that they did not even talk about the Atonement, but they did all talk about it in our meeting.  We hope all of you had a wonderful Easter and that you were able to spend the day with family and enjoyed Easter programs.  We had Elder Amram, a Missionary from Majuro come to eat lunch with us, as it was his final day of his mission.  We enjoyed having him for dinner and then we had a talk afterwards.  We always stress the importance of them staying very active and accepting callings and helping their home ward in any way they can.  Tom then gave him his final interview.  He came back to the mission home to change into his suit and then we took him home ten minutes away!  Some of his family was waiting for him and we talked with them and took pictures of those that were there.  He and a younger brother are the only members of the church in their family.  Many of our Islanders are the only member of their families, and many hope to convert their families after their missions are completed.  It is so important for them to stay strong, be married in the Temple and raise their own children in the gospel, so that the cycle can be repeated with their children.

 The next week we were preparing for a new intake of three Sisters and thirteen Elders, and our new senior couple Elder and Sister Wayas.  We had two Sisters (Sisters Ieie & Twebani) and six Elders (Elders Angilau, Benavides, Nabubu Swain, Vaaulu & Vano) come to Majuro, plus the Wayas’s, and one Sister (Sister Kimmons) and six Elders (Elders Butterfield, Lewis, Mendenhall, Saksak, Thomas & Teira) in Kiribati.  Our daughter (Kristy) and her husband Miles, and our son Scott and his wife Malia, were also on the plane coming to Majuro!  They were so excited to be on the same plane and got to know our new missionaries before we did.  Oh how we wish that all of our Missionaries could come to the mission home first so that we could greet them and spend time with them.  Unfortunately the airfare is so expensive that those who are serving in Kiribati have to go to Fiji, or to Hawaii, Fiji and then to Tarawa. We did try to skype with them that afternoon but the connection was poor, but we did get to say hello and talk to them for a few minutes, we can’t wait to meet them!
We had quite the Caravan from the airport to the Mission home and mission office!  The Missionaries all went for training at the mission office first, and then they all came to the mission home to eat lunch with us and our kids who came with them.  The Wayas’s were taken out to lunch with the senior couples.  We talked to them during lunch and found out a little bit about them and their families.  We have some more super missionaries and we can’t wait to meet the Kiribati Missionaries in person.

They had a meeting for the trainer and the trainee’s after they finished at our house.  Then they were taken with their trainer to their new areas.  Elder Randall is now back out in the field as a trainer and District leader.  We appreciate all of his service as an Assistant; he has done an outstanding job.  We welcome Elder Rigby as our new Assistant.  He will be a great asset and he and Elder Green are excited to get to work.

We, of course, were so excited to see our two kids and their spouses.  It had been almost two years since we had seen them and it was so great to give them a hug in person instead of a pretend one on skype!  Our wonderful seniors and missionaries allowed us to spend time with them until Monday evening when they flew back to Hawaii.  It was great to catch up with them and spend some special time with them.  The first evening they were there I, Malia and Kristy went over to the Young Women’s meeting.  Kristy and Malia taught the girls how to make friendship bracelets, and the girls taught them how to weave a basket. It was a fun exchange. 

We went to the Island Eneko with them for a day.  This is one of the little Islands on the Atoll where you can play in the ocean and use canoes and have a lunch.  We took them shopping for souvenirs which is always an adventure, there are so many neat crafts to pick from.  We were able to go to a baptism of a young boy who is helping to complete a family.  

Sunday, we went to Laura Ward for church.  The members were very welcoming and they had our kids all bear their testimonies.  As soon as the meeting started and they heard the members sing and pray, they were in love with them.  The primary sang “I am a Child of God” in English which also touched their hearts.  That evening we had set up for the girls to go proselyting with the Sisters in Long Island, and the guys with the Assistants in long Island.  We girls went to the home of a family they had already taught once or twice.  It was a Mother and two of her children.  We introduced ourselves and the mother told us a little about her family.  She mentioned that she had two sons and a daughter, and also a child that had died at birth.  Sisters Howard and Tekiare had told us beforehand that they were going to be teaching about the Book of Mormon and the importance of reading it.  The lesson was in Marshallese so we didn’t understand what was said but we felt the spirit as they read and talked about the scriptures.  The Mother had some reading glasses that were broken and only had the nose and glass part.  The wife and the husband had been sharing them whenever they read anything.  She had them perched on her nose trying to keep them on while she read.  When the lesson was over Sister asked the three of us if we would bear our testimonies about the Book of Mormon.  I started and then Malia and Kristy bore theirs as well.  You could tell that the Mom was really touched, especially as Malia shared with them that she also had lost a baby and that the Book of Mormon got her through that very difficult time.  It was as though heart spoke to heart and they both had a strong bond.  She bore her testimony too and said the closing prayer.  We told her that we had our kids gather some reading glasses to bring to our Mission to give out.  We told her that the Sisters would bring some by for her and her husband to try.  We took a couple of pictures with them also. When they took the glasses over they said the Mom was so touched by the visit and that she knew the Lord had sent us to their home.  The Sister’s took six different strengths of readers over and said they had so much fun trying the different ones on and decided which ones to keep.  She also asked if she could have a picture that we took with them.  It was an amazing experience for all of us.  The boys went to a guy’s home who speaks English so they both taught the whole lesson.  They enjoyed their experience as well, but unfortunately they forgot to take a camera with them.  They said that Sunday was the highlight of their visit.

The day they left we went to Laura Beach to look for shells.  The tide was in so there was not much beach to find the shells on.  We got in the water a little bit and ate lunch there.  That evening they left to go back to Hawaii.  We knew that we would see them there and spend a few days so that goodbye was not so difficult.  We flew there in a couple of days and were able to go to the Polynesian Cultural Center with them and to the Hawaii Temple.  They then left to go back to Utah and we went to Samoa the day after for our Pacific Area Mission Presidents Seminar.  So this goodbye was much harder.  We know that the three of them (including Paul) and their spouses that came have said it meant a lot to see at least this part of the Mission.  We wish they could have gone everywhere in our mission but that just isn’t an option.  We still have one more son Jeff and his wife Amanda who will be coming next year. I think that our family can truly say we have all been so blessed during our Mission.  You are all our jewels and our most prized possession.  We admire you all and the way you are raising your families in the Gospel.  We want all of you, children, grandchildren and extended families to know that we have a strong Testimony of our Father in Heaven, He lives.  His Son Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer.  The Gospel is the plan of happiness and it only changes lives for the better.  The Lord is in charge and He wants to help us succeed and be happy.  We can reach our potential with his love and guidance.  We are all God’s children and He wants us to return and live with Him once again.  Thank you for striving to be obedient and for your love and prayers, we feel them daily.  We love you all Mom & Dad / Nana & Papa / President & Sister Shaw.

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