Sunday, May 31, 2015

Mission Call to a Strange Island

On Sunday May 31, 2015 we went to the Sapwalap Ward to watch Sister Ammorisa "Donna" Ludrick open her mission call.  As she read where she was called most of those in the room seemed to understand where she was going.  But not the senior missionaries couples.  When I heard the name of the mission I thought it must be some remote island I had never heard of.  So I asked her to spell the name of the place.  So she slowing spelled out I--D--A--H--O.  Oh, we got it now Idaho.  She will serve in the Idaho, Twin Falls Mission not a remote isle of the sea.  Standing in the left of the photo is bishop Makaya.  Her mother is seated with the small child on her lap.
 Below is Sister Ludrick with her seminary teacher in the background.  She is so excited to serve in that strange foreign country called Idaho. I'm not sure how she pronounced Idaho but those Idaho spud farmers will educate her properly.   It will certainly be a new experience for her.  She will be leaving for the Provo MTC in July.

Maxner Baptism

This was a wonderful day and I will try to describe it all, so this may be longer than usual. The tallest young man in the back is Maxner. One day our other senior couple (in the back also) were taking a prospective missionary to the dentist. He approached them and said, "I would like to hear the gospel". Well, they wondered how did you know to use the term gospel? But they set up a meeting time with him and after several lessons, he said, "I want to be baptized". His mother and sister live in Utah and he has told them all along that he will be joining them in June. It wasn't until that night that they realized his father was also going with him. His family are not members, so we hope he gets a proper welcome, because he is ready to go forward in the "gospel". A great kid.
 OK, now I have to tell you about Trellison (bottom right side). He is one of our Seminary students and was baptized just the week before. We love him and he had to move out of his Guardians home when he announced he was being baptized. (we found out last night that they came to him and apologized and he is now back with them). Well, at the baptism, we were surprised when he got up to give the talk of the Holy Ghost and did an amazing job. A member a week and giving a great talk so soon. We went to Sacrament Meeting yesterday and there he was giving the opening prayer and he passed the sacrament. I told him I felt like his Grandmother and I was so proud of him.
These young men sang a song at Maxner's baptism. The young man by the piano in the red shirt surprised us at church Sunday when he gave the first talk about the priesthood and did a great job. He is also one of our favorite Seminary students. This is what it means by "Pay Day" on a mission.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Unique Baptismal Service

The happy, smiling young woman in blue celebrated a triple combination on Wednesday evening May 27, 2015.  She had the unusual distinction of celebrating her 19th birthday, getting married to the lucky man on her left (A.J. from one of my institute classes) and being baptized all in the same afternoon and evening.
We have never seen a triple before but it isn't unusual for a couple to be married and baptized a day or two apart or even on the same day.  Anyway it was a fun event with ice cream and food for everyone.

Tragedy Strikes

Out in the Palikir Ward area tragedy struck while clearing a huge tree that had blown down over the road.  An eleven year old boy was playing at the base of the root ball while the adults were cutting the tree in pieces.  The weight suddenly shifted and the root ball slammed down on the boy killing him instantly.  Such a terrible ordeal for this community to endure.
 Bishop Ongesel came to the scene and dug the boy's body from under the tree.  The family erected this small memorial in his memory.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Produce Section

We just had to share with you our produce sections in our grocery stores. There is some milk, but a gallon of milk is $10, so we buy "boxed" milk.
 This has been like this for 3 weeks and we had to laugh when the Missionaries were asked by the Mission President to please serve some green salads at Zone Conference. I found a purple cabbage and one small geen cabbage and made cole slaw. That was as "green" as we could find.
 We are promised a shipment will come soon, so we are hopeful. The only problem is that when we finally get some produce, it doesn't last very long because of the long trip  here.
 The other thing is that even the restaurants can't serve salads when the shelves look like this.
Please think of us when you go into your beautiful, fresh, and plentiful produce sections at your grocery stores.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Panasang Baptism May 23, 2015

On a beautiful Saturday evening May 23, 2015 four people were baptized into the church.  This marks the 40th baptism for us in just six months (there have been many more we didn't attend).  Pictured below is one of our newest missionaries, Sister Park from Arkansas.  Elder Kim is the most senior missionary on the island and will go home in July. They are preparing for the music for the baptism. Four adults were baptized at this service.  Three young men and one young mother who was baptized by her husband.  The church is growing here on the island and it is a privelege to be a small part of it.
The young man in the center is Trellison George.  He has been attending our seminary class at the high school.  He rarely misses a class.  We assumed that he was a member until just a month or so ago.  He has desired to join the church but had some unique hurdles to cross.  His parents are living in the U.S. and gave him permission to be baptized but his guardians refused.  So he moved out to live with his cousin, Vince Amida and his grandparents.  He was then able to be baptized.  What a great day for him.

Here we are in the Panasang Chapel after the baptism.  Trellison is standing beside Sister Hedgpeth with Vince's grandmother standing beside him.  Grandpa is in the red shirt on the right.  When a camera comes out it seems everyone wants to get in the act.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Philippines mission calls

The small Wone Branch is lengthening their stride to spread the gospel around the world.  Two more of their young people received their mission calls.  Below is Jennifer Hebel who is called to serve in the San Pablo Philippines Mission.  She will report to the MTC in the Philippines on July 31, 2015.
 Below is Jason Lainos opening his mission call.  He was called to serve in the Tacloban Philippines Mission.  He will report to the Prove MTC on September 15, 2015.
 Sister Lainos seated on the left will now have three children serving their missions at the same time.  It will be a little quieter around the house for her.  Her other children will be serving in the Vanuatu and the Philippines Missions.

Missionary Training

On Wednesday, May 20, 2015 Mission President Zarbock came to Pohmpei from Guam to conduct missionary training.  They are pictured here singing the mission song.
 This is our full compliment of missionaries assigned to the island.  They are quite the enthusiastic group with a lot of personality.
 Here are the Elders serving themselves lunch after the training.  As you might be able to tell we had fried chicken.  For the first time since we have been here there was actually some food left over.  This is a rarity since both the brothers and sisters can put it away.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Seminary Scripture Bowl 2015

This is the annual Seminary Scripture Mastery Bowl. All the Semiary and Institute students come from all 11 church units to one building to compete against each other. Let it be said, competition is alive and well on Pohnpei.
 We had about 100 students and it was crazy and difficult to control all the excitement, but they had a great time together. We had about 6 games and 2 special musical numbers.
 Of course, we served ice cream and doughnuts and the air conditioning hasn't worked in this church building for several months so we were melting along with the ice cream. I guess chocolate milk shakes were just as well.
 Paliker Ward won the award this year and you can see the banner that will be displayed in their church all this year. We came home exhausted, limping up the stairs and ready to crash in bed for the night, but we had a baptism to attend. Our Mission President said, "You know you have served well when you fall into bed each night, exhausted". Guess we did well this day!

No Chewing or Spitting

While at the airport we noticed this sign.  Chewing of betel nuts is very common on the island for both men and women.  The betel nut grows wild on a palm tree.  The nut is chewed with a mixture of lime made from ground clam shells.  The resulting combination products a very red saliva that is constantly spit on streets and sidewalks.  The juice also stains teeth bright red and is a major cause of lip and gum cancer and rotten teeth.  The nuts are sometimes mixed with tobacco to enhance the effects.  It is a habit akin to tobacco chewing and smoking and is very difficult to quit.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Typhoon Dolphin

Typoon Dolphin passed by Pohnpei over the weekend leaving a lot of downed trees, roof damage, flooding and general destruction.  No one that I'm aware of was injured however.  Saturday brought torential rains.  It rained well over six inches in 24 hours.  The ground was saturated when the winds arrived on Sunday afternoon.  This happened to be Mother's Day weekend.  Many church and community members took shelter in the ward buildings.  The storm was classified as a tropical storm while passing over Pohnpei but it has quickly developed into a full blown typhoon as it slowly works its way toward Guam and from there toward Japan.
Below is  a picture of the Palm Terrace grocery store.  The metal awning covering in the front of the store was demolished by the severe winds.
 Massive trees were blown down as the storm swept through the island.  Damage out of town in the more remote parts of the island were much worse.  Homes there are not as substantial and received considerable damage.  Parts of the island will be out of water and electricity for many days to come.
 The winds ripped off the roof of this building.  The winds appeared to be coming from multiple directions
We weathered the storm without any major issues with the exception of off and on again electrical power.  This was the weekend that the missionaries call home for Mother's Day.  We managed to get all the calls done with the exception of one missionary from England.  Some of the missionaries were stranded out on the outer island for several hours until trees and power lines were cleared.

Living most of our lives near the Columbia River Gorge has prepared us for wind storms.  This one was akin to a good Troutdale wind storm but with warm weather.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Member Opens new Store

On Saturday May 2, 2015 one of the members of the bishopric in the Sekere Ward had the grand opening of his new small store in Kolonia.  Swingle is pictured below with his father who is visiting from Hawaii.  His dad did some of the design work and paint schemes.  It's a very bright and cute little store.  They sell basic products from dresses to food.
 As part of the celebration the had a raffle for a variety of small products and the grand prize was the raffle of a small red car.  Lots of people attended.  There was fun music and some dancing.  People on Pohnpei love a party.

Father/Son Baptism

Pedrus Albert has a very unique conversion story that we described in a previous blog.  His parents were very much opposed to him joining the church to the point of kicking him out of their home.  But slowly he and the gospel won them over.  He was able to baptize his mother a few weeks ago.  He was then able to baptize his father.  It's a wonderful story and one can see the genuine happiness that the gospel brings into the lives of people.  Pedrus will be leaving for his mission to Mississippi this summer.  Two of the sister missionaries are posing with the Albert family.

Seminary Student Baptized

This is Marson Etnold.  He is one of our seminary students at the high school.  We thought he was already a member and were very surprised when one day about a month ago he informed us that he wanted to baptized.  It was my honor to perform his baptism.
 Below is a picture of Marson with his family.  His father is a member but is just recently started to come to church.  The rest of his family are not members.  They all came to church (Eirike Ward) on Sunday to watch Marson confirmed as a member of the church and to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Three new missionaries

Our three latest missionaries are dressed and waiting at the airport to leave on their missions.  Gracelynn George on the left is going to Australia.  Lehnny Lorenzo in the middle will be going to the West Indies.  Marlisa Johnny will be the first missionary on Pohnpei to serve on Temple Square.  These young people are preparing to serve the Lord and have worked very hard to get ready for this day.  They are all flying to Provo together to attend the MTC.