Sunday, December 27, 2015

Christmas Eve Nativity in the Village

Every Christmas Eve, the missionaries are invited to the Village where the amazing artisans live. They were brought to Pohnpei from their own Island in the 1940s after the war because of a catastrophic storm. They were given a piece of land from the Japanese (before they left after occupying Pohnpei during the war).  They generously give gifts to all of the missionaries.
 Here is Bradley Spirin hosting the event.  Bro. Duiai who usually directs the affairs was sick.
 The missionaries act out parts of the Christmas story for the community before they go back to their areas and meet with investigators.

Missionary Christmas Dinner

Christmas Eve we have a big ham dinner with all the extras. The missionaries arrive ready for fun.
 Elder Fiscus looks ready to dance and everyone else is cheering him on.
 We are missing a few, but these missionaries are ready for a good dinner and an evening to remember as they practice for the nativity.
 Sugar cookies, brownies and ice cream top off the dinner. We try our best to bring a little home to them for the holidays.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

PICS High School Christmas Party

We had a High School Seminary Christmas party and invited the missionaries to join us. They sang to the class and in return the class sang to them. I think our class was in competition to out sing the missionaries and I'm pretty sure they won.
 We served pizza and cookies and brownies. These kids are so grateful for everything we do.
 Our students invited several of their friends. They are always being good missionaries themselves.
 Mel says it must have been 110 degrees in the room. Even his tie was wet. It certainly doesn't feel like Christmas, but they have the Christmas excitement just like any kids their age.

Sister Mataitoga goes home to Fiji

Sister Mataitoga finished her 18 month mission here and is heading home to Fiji.  She looks happy in this picture but she was near tears most of the time before boarding her plane home.  She loved serving here on the island and the people really loved her.  Many brought leis to give to her as an expression of their love for her.  We will miss Sister Mataitogn and her great attitude and smile.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Prison Dolls from Idaho

The father of one of our former island missionaries, Elder Johnson, works with a prisoner program in a jail in Idaho.  The inmates make dolls and toys for children at Christmas.  Below is Elinda David of our PICS high school seminary class.  She loves her doll and of course is taking a "selfie".
 This is Lyra Hachibelmul posing with her doll dressed in Christmas candy.
 This doll already has a name.  The kids bring their dolls to school every day in their backpacks.
 This is Rejoice Samuel with her doll.  This doll is dressed in a cute little shirt and candy.  We wish the inmates could witness the joy their toys are bringing to the lives of young people half a world away from them.

CES Visitors from Korea ans Japan

CES directors came to Pohnpei December 7-10, 2015 to visit various island seminary and institute classes.  From left to right in the picture below are:  Elder Tae Gul Jung, Area Director and Area Seventy; Elder Boong-Jae Cho, Regional Director for Korea; Elder Seichii Takashi Training Coordinator for Japan, Elder and Sister Hedgpeth; Elder Nicerio Regional Director for Micronesia and Elder Yutaka Onda Regional Director for Japan.  On Tuesday morning Sister Hedgpeth treated them to an all-American breakfast.
 Here we all are at the Kitti Seminary with two of the students. They also attended seminary in the Eirike Ward and Panasang Ward.
 We also attended seminary and institute classes at Sapwalap.  Along with our visitors are Sister Elies (seminary teacher), Sister Redes (seminary teacher) and Sister Kalio (institute teacher).  The class treated all of the visitors with an handmade floral headband and some refreshments after the class.  Fresh coconut juice with straws.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Australian 5K Walkabout

On Saturday December 5th we participated in a walkabout sponsored by the Australian Embassy.  It was titled the 2nd Annual Sunset Fun Run, White Ribbon Walkabout.  The white ribbon signifies the problem of violence against women.  We walked from the Mangrove Marina to the Spanish Wall and back.  Pictured below are Elder and Sister Furstenau.
 We ran into one of PICS seminary students who was running with his basketball team.  His name is Mark Bermudes and he is a freshman.  He plans to serve a mission as soon as he graduates from high school.
 There were about 250 runners and walkers participating in the event.
 And here is Sister Hedgpeth warming up with all of the other walkabouters before the start of the race.

Stake BBQ at Nett Point

On Saturday December 5, 2015 the stake hosted a BBQ for the Pohnpei leadership.  It was held at Nett Point (pronounced Netch).  Rockson Hebel is BBQing chicken and beef ribs.
 Members are having fun tossing a water balloon in the air with a sheet.
 And here we have a race involving eating donuts.  In this case everyone wins.  It was a beautiful "winter" day in Pohnpei.  Everyone has a lot of fun and laughter.

Decorating Christmas Tree

Here are many of the reasons we love our mission.
 We brought our Christmas tree to the classroom and waited for students to start wandering in to our classroom. One by one, they began adding ornaments to the tree. For some, this may be the first tree they have been a part of decorating.
 We have been practicing "We Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" for 3 weeks. They will be able to sing it at our upcoming Fireside. They had never heard of the song before and were hesitant to try to learn it, but now they sound amazing.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Christmas Lights 2015

As we walked out of one of our church buildings, we saw this beautiful sunset. We are trying not to complain about the heat and humidity as we read about many of you having snow, ice and rainy days.
 We took a drive through town to get into the Christmas Spirit. It is a little hard to think it is Christmas season with temperatures around 88 every day.

 This is ACE Office store. It has turned into our favorite place to shop. We almost think we are in the States when we roam down the aisles (almost!). They have added many Costco items without the Costco prices. We aren't complaining. It is so nice to find some "normal" items.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Relief Society Conference

This Relief Society Conference reminded me of "Young Women in Excellence" because several of the women displayed some of the things they have been working on or just wanted to share what they have with all of us.
The vegetables below were grown by our friends in the far away "Wone" branch. They were beautifully displayed on hand woven plates and labeled with the name of the produce.
 These beautiful flowers were displayed from our "Uh" branch. They rival any arrangement I have seen in Hawaii.
 Here are some more hand woven baskets displaying coconuts, limes and a "candy corn" vegetable. When it ripens more it actually resembles candy corn- orange and yellow.
 The women here are so colorful in their beautiful and very comfortable "muu-muu's". I could only dream of a day when we could all wear these to church and everywhere else. I have grown to respect and love these women. I am sure they all have stories to tell about their lives that would make a great book.

Thanksgiving Dinner 2015

Happy Thanksgiving from all of the missionaries on the island of Pohnpei.  We had a traditional American turkey dinner with all of the missionaries.  In addition to a wonderful feast we watched the "Cokeville Miracle" movie together.  Everything was perfect except for the air conditioners.   Both were out of order so the room was about 120 degrees.  Other than that minor glitch we had a great time eating and socializing.

 The feast with all of the Thanksgiving trimmings American style.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Leo Etscheit Memorial Fun Run/Walk

On Saturday morning November 21, 2015 we met in front of the theater (closed down) for the annual Leo Etscheit 5K Fun Run/Walk.  This was Lenda's first ever event like this one.  We walked nearly to the Pohnpei airport before turning back.  There was probably around 400 participants.  The event is free and T-shirts were given.  The Etscheit family came to the island from Germany sometime before WWII.  They were very successfully business people and several of the stores currently in operation are owned by family members.  Before Leo died he donated money to the community to sponsor events for the youth and the community. 
 Here is a photo of the runners and walkers getting ready for the event.  It was great fun and we have been here long enough to recognize and know many people.  The building the background is the closed down theater.  No one has been able to tell us if or when it will reopen.  It closed in January of this year for a two month renovation but it has never reopened.

Pohnpei Funeral (Dum)

On the day of Keanu Dum's (pronounced doom) father's funeral we went to their home.  The casket is made by members of the village out of plywood and lined inside and out with cloth.  The casket was sitting in the middle of the floor in their main living area.  Most homes in Pohnpei do not have chairs.  They are quite comfortable sitting on the floor.  The floor was covered with nice mats.  I noticed that there was several bottles of perfume on the casket top.  Later in the day several of the girls got the perfume and went around the room and gave each person a spray.  There were several bottles and we were sprayed at least twice so I smelled real "nice".
 Mr. Dum was only 52 years old and left a wonderful family.  Elder Keanu Dum is currently at the MTC in Provo.  Has was able to call and talk to his mother before the funeral. 

 Lenda was sitting near the casket talking to one of Mr. Dum's relatives and a member of the Panasang Ward.  In the background about a dozen village kids were singing hymns and traditional Pohnpeian songs accompanied by Mylanny Dum, one of the sons and also one of our seminary students at PICS.  They have a natural gift for music.  The burial took place later  in the afternoon in a family plot in the middle of the village.  Many people are buried in the yard of their homes.

Missionary Vehicle

Vehicles on Pohnpei take a serious beating on the side roads.  They send us these Toyota Yaris and they are terrible cars for their usage here.  All of the plastic parts begin to fall off and all of the vehicles here are dented and banged up.  We should be driving high clearance SUVs.  But these are much cheaper.  Thankfully body work is fairly cheap due to the low wages on the island.
 Here is a front fender being held in place with duct tape.  How is that for a fix it yourself job?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Memorial at the Morgue

The father of Keanu Dum passed away this week just six days after Elder Dum left for his mission.  A memorial service was performed at the State Hospital in the hallway outside the morgue.  Brother Duiai in the bishopric of the Panasang Ward spoke about life's three big questions:  "where did we come from, why are we here and where are we going". 
We were so impressed that after the service, everyone stayed and sang songs for the longest time. It felt so loving and comforting. We heard later that sometimes, people stay all night with the family singing and comforting them.
Keanu's mother has been sleeping on mats on the floor at the hospital morgue for several days.  The official traditional Pohnpeian funeral will held tomorrow at the Dum home.  Funerals last for several days with lots of food and drink.  Family and friends will come and go and songs will be sung.  Keanu's parents are not members of the church but his father wanted to be baptized but his health did not allow it.  I'm sure the missionaries and ward members will be fellowshipping his mother in the future as they are now.
This is a photo of Elder Dum standing by his father and family at the airport when he left for his mission.  He had the opportunity to hug his father and tell him of his love before he left.  His father is pictured sitting in the red shirt.  He passed away only six days later.  It is such a tragedy for Keanu and his family.  His father expressed to us how very proud he was of his son serving the Lord on a mission.  We are comforted in our knowledge that families can be united for eternity through the ordinances of the temple.  We have no doubt that this will happen in the future.