“THERE ARE CHANCES TO SERVE ALL AROUND JUST NOW…”

It has been an awesome experience to be a small part of the humanitarian service here in Chuuk. We have helped where we could and have been blessed by our service. It is amazing to see the response of the people to the destruction. People on the street still greet us with smiles and a sincere “Ran Annim”.
A lot of trees were blown over, and much of the fruit has been lost; yet, when we visit an island, they still try to give us coconuts to drink.
Brother Kodama, from Church Humanitarian Services, was on the first plane in to Chuuk after the storm. He worked very hard to help with the initial response and was helpful in getting food and water to members and nonmembers, alike. We are the only church that is present at the Disaster Response Planning Meetings and are often called on to open the meetings with prayer.
Several tons of rice, ramen, canned fish, and water were purchased and stored in the District Center for a few days until it could be distributed. We helped with moving the commodities into the building. It was amazing! A few pictures are included below.

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Elder and Sister Eliason and Brother Matisima, first counselor, stand by the container full of rice. The Elders are ready to get started. L to R, Elders Maughan, Beard, Robison, White, Heim, and Jonas.

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The work begins. Members and missionaries work together, in two lines, to unload about 30 tons of rice and stack it on the floor of the multi-purpose room.

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The pile of rice was huge when we finished.

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The sisters helped with the ramen and fish. Here is Sister Hardy with Brother and Sister New Year.

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TYPHOON MAYSAK AND EASTER ONE WEEK LATER

Last Saturday, we got a call from Elder Heim asking about bad weather approaching. We told him we would let him know as soon as we could return home and check the internet. I checked our Google weather app. and it had no Alerts, but predicted 22 mile per hour winds. We passed that on to Elder Heim and Elder Bloxham and went to bed.
Early the next morning, we checked again. It still said the same thing, so we left early for Wichap on the south end of the island where we had scheduled an Easter DVD. It was dark and rainy, but not bad. By the time we reached Wichap it was raining even less. We went inside the chapel and waited for Sacrament to begin. Only six of us made it. We went ahead and showed our DVD and the storm began. It was a whole lot more than 22 miles per hour. When it abated, we headed for home, only to find our road blocked by  fallen trees. We were able to move and cut some of the trees for about 1/4 of a mile and then it was really bad. 

We called the Zone Leaders to come get us, parked the truck in an open area, and started walking out. The Elders and President Macky walked out with us. He had not made it to church since he had been helping members secure homes and roofs. After about a mile and a half, we met the Zone Leaders. They had been delayed by having to remove some trees also. President Macky told the Zone Leaders they needed to call the Mission President to report that some of his missionaries had been swimming. We had waded through water that was deeper than my knees. Everyone had a good laugh.

Just before we reached home, it hit again and with a vengence. We had been walking in the eye of the storm!  The second half was much worse and the winds blew in the opposite direction. We lost power and rode out the storm in our concrete and block apartment. We were without power for a day or so until a generator got us a light and a plug for our fridge. About a day later we got a bigger generator for the whole apartment, but only for about 12 hours a day, and no Air Conditioning. Finally, we got regular power turned on after 4 or 5 days. On Saturday, after a lot of work and prayers, we got through the trees and safely retrieved our truck. The next day we attended church. It was Easter Sunday and Fast and Testimony Meeting. The meeting was over 90 minutes long. We had no breaks in testimony bearing. Sunday School was our DVD and then Priesthood and Relief Society time was spent handing our rice and Ramen to families that needed it. Several of the teenagers and kids opened a package of ramen and ate it without it being cooked.

We are so blessed that no members lost their lives. Many lost roofs and a few lost homes. Two sets of Elders (Udot and Paata)  went to concrete buildings for the storm, only to find they had no home after the storm. We are hoping this experience will bring about more good than harm. The Reeds, a self-reliance couple are coming to Chuuk this Wednesday. I think hearts have been prepared for their program. It will be amazing to see what happens in the next six months or so.

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Trees all over the island are fallen and have branches broken. This tree had grown so big it occupied half the road, allowing one-way traffic only. A government worker told me they didn’t know what to do about it. Problem solved, sort of; they don’t know how to get rid of it. Brent Chowen, my supervisor from BYUH, and I are in front of this massive tree. It gives some perspective of the size.

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Brent was scheduled to come at a different time, but his schedule was bumped by storms. We had tried to visit the Department of Ed, The College of Micronesia, and Chuuk High School during his visit. They were all closed down by the storm. However, a charter-like school run by a man named Clark Graham, was open. Clark is on the School board for Chuuk and has a good understanding of the education process. We had a great visit with he and his principal, Chris. No electricity that day, but the lights were on in student’s eyes.

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The Elders worked Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, helping members and nonmembers in their areas. On Friday, the power was back on and the laundromat was a popular place. Elder White and Elder Maughan display their shirts AFTER they have been washed. Elder Jonas is in the background. The laundry was packed all day. As far as we know, there are only two laundry places on the island.

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This is the road to Wichap. Elder Eliason and I went with several Elders to try to open the road. We cut through several huge trees with band saws and machetes. As the day went on, we were joined by several members and nonmembers who shared the load and made a huge task smaller.  Starting at the left, the Elders are Schroath(blue), White (white), Maughan(red), and Robison(grey shirt and blue shorts). In the picture on the right, Elder Matavao is in the red shirt.

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After working on three huge trees for several hours, we were tired and worn. Just then, a track-hoe from the public utility caught up with us. He had been pushing smaller trees and poles off the road. His work on the bigger trees was much easier because we had cut through them. The giant tree in front of Elder Eliason took him over thirty minutes to push off the road. The picture on the left shows the back of Elder Maughan and Sekinson who will be leaving on a mission for Austrailia. In about two weeks he will be in the Provo MTC to learn English.

Just after the track-hoe pushed the big tree off, he got a call saying another storm might be coming, so he had to leave. By that time, we had cut a path under the final tree blocking our way. All the Elders together hoisted a power pole part way up a hill and we went to our truck. After a little more difficulty, we were able to drive under the final tree and make our way back home.

It is nice to have a vehicle again. We were able to drive to church today for a wonderful Easter Fast and Testimony Meeting. Tomorrow morning, we can attend seminary. Thank you, Father in Heaven.

 

 

 

A VISIT TO SAPUK LIGHTHOUSE

One afternoon we were able to go see an old Japanese Lighthouse. After WW I, the Japanese were in control of the Chuuk islands. The islands were closed to outside visitors during that time. On the southern end of Weno, our island, they built a lighthouse. During WW II the Americans did not invade, but instead, they bombed several islands in the lagoon. This was called Operation Hailstone. The Japanese had runways on several of the islands here and all of them were bombed. Much of the Japanese fleet had been moved out just days before the attack. However, nearly 200 Japanese ships and planes are sunk in the lagoon. As a result, the major tourism visitors here are the divers who come to see the wrecks.

The Sapuk Lighthouse is about the only Japanese “tourist site” to visit that is not under water.

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Elder Eliason is taking pictures of Sister Hardy and Sister Eliason plus our two “guides”. A closer view of the lighthouse and Sister Hardy. The jungle is trying to take over as the steps show.

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The path through the jungle is almost overgrown, but it is really beautiful.

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In places, it is dark because of all the growth. This spot was beautiful because of the light coming through. Our little guide pointed out a small hand dug cave that was right next to the path and almost totally hidden by the jungle. We assume it was a place they might use to defend the trail.

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The views from the top were amazing. The right photo shows an island named Tonoas. It was actually the main island during the Japanese occupation. The far left tip of the island is where we land when we go to visit the Tonoas seminary once each month.

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The far left tip of our island is near a village called Wichap, where we also go to visit a seminary class. It is probably only about 4 miles away, but there is no road. We would have to go all the way back around the island to drive there. That would be about a 13 mile drive and would take nearly an hour and a half.

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On the way back, we stopped at a place that used to be some kind of resort. There are old swimming pools, a few cabin-like buildings, a large main building, and pools with fish and turtles. The gates are usually open, but no one seems to be running the place.

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You can see some of the local fish and turtles in these photos.

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This is a better shot of the turtle. The last picture was taken on top of the “main building”.

MORE ACTIVITIES FOR A BUSY MARCH

We were able to finish up the college class during March and that has given us a bit of breathing room.

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We forgot to mention that in February, our supervisor, Brother Nicerio, came for a visit. We had a seminary visit to Romanum scheduled for Friday the 13th. He was able to go with us. Here he is, before we left, practicing to be a boat driver. When we arrived, they had made headbands for all of us. Sister Hardy looked the best!

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This is the Romanum Chapel. We land right in front of it. Charness, the boat driver, is in the black coat. The man in the striped shirt is the Branch President, President Walter. On the way, we made a detour and picked up some Elders. We had to drop them off on the way home. Elder Simpson is trying to prevent sunburn. Charness is our captain. Brother Nicerio and Elder Robinson are on the right.

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Elder Robinson and Elder White on the dock at Udot. Children from Uman saying, “Goodbye”.

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Seminary and Institute teachers and priesthood leaders during our monthly training session.

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One morning, as we arrived at the church for seminary, the sunrise was beautiful. The photo on the right is even more beautiful.

BUSY TIMES IN CHUUK!

We apologize to our readers. We haven’t had time to post anything lately, but promise to do better. During February we had extra meetings and we ended up covering for a faithful Seminary teacher who is having a hard time walking. She lives nearly a mile from the church and can only walk a few meters. Sister Hardy and I get up at about 4 or 4:30 AM in order to be at the chapel by 6 AM for Seminary. It has been very demanding but also very rewarding. We still have all of our other assignments so it has been hard to post.

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The first week of February we had our regular Zone Meeting followed by a Zone Conference a few days later.

Sister Hardy is at the Conference with the Eliasons and Sister Zarbock behind her.

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Elder Schroath listens as Elders role play a lesson.       Elder Paulis does the same.

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Everyone worked hard and had a great conference. The spirit was really present.

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At the end of the conference, one district presented a song. It was amazing. The conference was wonderful!

JANUARY WAS VERY BUSY

During January we helped the Nantaku Elders find a new place to live. the water in their complex was getting really bad. We ended up finding a place for us, the new couple missionaries (the Eliasons) and for the Elders, all in the same complex. We and the Eliasons are in now and the Elders moved in on Saturday. It is a remodeled complex and is very comfortable. We are so much closer to the school and the hospital and the District Center. We won’t miss the extra couple of miles of bad road. It will save us about an hour per day travel, some days even more. Below are pictures of our new home. We are in the upstairs corner. You can see the stairway in front of our truck. Bottom left is from our little balcony. Bottom right is our apartment with the door open.

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Early in January we helped 6 young men and 3 young women acquire the medical tests and information for their mission application forms. This process is very time consuming on Chuuk.

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Near the end of the month we went to a Couples Conference in Guam. It was a great experience and a time to renew old friendships and make new ones. Elder and Sister Eliason, in the picture above, joined us in Chuuk. He is a doctor and will be volunteering time at the hospital in Weno. We enjoyed meeting Elder and Sister Proffitt, again. They came out the same time we did. Elder Proffitt is in the forground. Elder and Sister Reed, stationed in Guam, are over his left shoulder. President Zarbock is standing (without the camera ).We and the Proffitts are now the island couples with the most experience. At three months that is rather scary.

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After all of our meetings we were able to do a river cruise. It was really interesting. We had fun and learned a lot. The boat driver was Anglo, but the helper turned out to be Chuukese. He spotted animals and told stories. At the end of the cruise, he showed us how to make fire without matches.

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In the center of the picture above is a crab. He is going into a hole. On the branch on the right, is a big iguana.

We stopped at a place that used to have a village hundreds of years ago. Those stones acted as piers for the houses to be built on. The best part of the cruise was we got to do it together.

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The plant with the beautiful flowers is ginger. The skinny trees on the right produce the infamous beetle nut, which people chew and get addicted to. They add tobacco and lime juice.

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This is the famous(on Guam) brown snake. The river quickly goes from this wide to the width of the boat. It was a great activity and we were ready to return to Chuuk the next day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STARTING THE NEW YEAR

We started the year off with a Seminary and Institute Inservice meeting January 3, 2015. It went well and we will follow up with our monthly visits to each Seminary or Institute class. This includes visits to three other islands and six visits here on Moen. We also took an evening to celebrate Sister Hardy’s birthday. She had a lot of friends and family who contacted her to wish her Happy Birthday. It was a nice day.

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We had a nice dinner at The Blue Lagoon Resort, a resort for wreck divers who come to Chuuk looking to dive to the ships that were sunk in a WWII battle.

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It was a beautiful evening and we had a light rain and a nice sunset. The next morning we got up at 4AM so we could make it Moen Seminary by 6AM. After that was a 45 minute boat ride to Uman for another Seminary visit. Diophin Matisima, the teacher there is really good. He is very faithful and works well with the students. It was a great visit.

IT WAS A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!

A few days before  Christmas, we passed a Christmas parade. We had to stop and take a few pictures.

We hear there wasn’t any snow back home until Christmas eve. During this parade the temperature was about 88 degress and the humidity was about the same.

Up until the 23rd we continued our Christmas FHE programs. In Mechitiw it was part of the ward Christmas party.

Notice the decorations along the steps leading to the church. Good spirit, good food, good fun.

Elders came in on Christmas Eve. We showed a video about the birth of our Savior and then, with permission, we showed “The Polar Express”. We handed out our little gifts and snacks, then the Zone Leaders handed out the gifts from the Mission President. It was a good time. The morning of the 26th we made breakfast for all the Elders before they went back out to their areas. Several were also making their calls home.

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The Wichap Elders were late and for missionaries, that means the food is gone. I got some extra and the Elders were happy to help cook. We were able to help 26 Elders connect with family by Skype or phone over about a 36 hour period. Given the internet problems here in Chuuk, that is pretty impressive. Sister Hardy and I took down our tree today. It is bagged up and ready for next year. We are taking our first real P day today. Happy New Year to all! Thank you for your help and support.

SEMINARY AND INSTITUTE INSERVICE, PRIESTHOOD LEADERSHIP

December 13 was a big meeting day for us. This time it was with the members rather than the missionaries. The S & I meeting was well attended and we felt good about what we taught.

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We had a good lunch and then the Priesthood Leadership meeting began. I was able to present information about the family being the basic unit of the church and about calling people to serve in the branch.

 

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A few days later, we stopped by a small memorial we had passed numerous times. It was sponsored by a Japanese group in honor of those who had died here in Chuuk lagoon. The picture above shows a view of the lagoon looking south and a little bit west. Over two hundred Japanese ships and planes went down within a few miles of this spot. The atoll around the lagoon was a protection from other ships, but not from US planes.

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Elder Kleven and Elder Holmes came by because they needed something emailed to Guam. We took this quick photo which also shows Sister Hardy has been decorating for Christmas.

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We have planned a Christmas gift for all the members. We are going to every branch and group to present a Christmas Family Home evening. That means four FHE on this island and six on the other islands. Sister Hardy has always been great with costumes and that tradition continues.

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Sister Hardy is barely in the shade waiting for the boat. Some sisters from Romanum have just come in and are waiting in the shade of the boathouse. On the right, is our stuff for the program. Notice the seat cushions which we bought after just two or three trips in the boats. The blue and white stripped bag is my Seminary materials. the plastic sack contains the CD player wrapped up to protect it. The big white bag is canvas and protects the computer and our written materials for the FHE. (We show a five minute 1st Presidency message about the birth of Christ) The pink bag is costumes for Joseph, Mary, stars, angels, and shepherds. There is no Chuukese word for shepherd. Our truck and the District Center are in the background. President Wainis says it is the nicest building in all of Chuuk. I agree. Even the resorts are not as nice.

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This is our boat for most trips. It has a 40 horsepower engine and took 15 gallons of gas yesterday. Looking through the palm trees above you can almost see where we live. This island is called Fono. Elders have been here for just a short time. They have been very successful at finding good people. Behind the tree is a small building, behind that is a house where the Elders live. It has a covered porch where we met. In the picture below you can see Elder Hokao and Elder Kjar. Our boat driver is on the right (standing) and his brother and helpers are on the left. His brother is also a driver and attended the FHE with us on both islands. He helped us carry all of our junk. He was a big help. The picture on the right shows a typical boat landing on the islands. Off the end are steps which would lead to and from a boat.

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The group below is on Udot. The branch President is President Joseph. This covered area is where they meet for church. They have benches under the tent and a homemade pulpit.

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While watching the Christmas Message it was amazing to see the reverence that each group had when President Monson spoke. We were often on the verge of tears as the children sang “Away in a Manger” and followed Sister Hardy with hand actions.

Merry Christmas and thanks to each of you for your interest and support. We are especially grateful to our children, grandchildren, and other loved ones for your prayers and thoughtful pictures and gifts. The Lord is blessing us every day. We love Him, you, the people in Chuuk, and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

DISTRICT CONFERENCE DECEMBER 6 & 7

The Elders were brought in from all the islands on Friday December 5 to meet with President Zarbock and Elder Ringwood before the District Conference. It was an amazing meeting. A wonderful spirit was present and we all learned a lot. The roads and a flight that was a bit late gave us time to study and get in the spirit before they arrived. It also gave us time to snap a photo or two.

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The instruction was wonderful. Afterwards we went outside and took a few photos.

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The tall brother with the green tie is Elder Ringwood. To his left is Sister Zarbock, then younger Sister Zarbock, who just finished a mission in North Carolina. To her left is President Zarbock.

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Boats are coming in from the outer islands for the Saturday conference sessions.

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Saints from the branches on Weno arrived by rented trucks. Inside the District Center. Highlights of this session were Elder Ringwood’s talk and the choir from Sapuk Branch. What a spirit! I could hardly speak for several minutes.

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After conference, most of the saints headed back to their islands. There were at least 420 at the meetings.