Our body clocks are still way off. We got up early, went for a walk to downtown Koror, and had a chance to get a feel for this new area where we will serve for the next 18 months. This place is gorgeous with glimpses of the ocean available from almost every vantage point. Our apartment boasts a large patio or lanai and if it weren’t for a bunch of very tall palm trees, we could see the ocean clearly. The area reminds us a little of Mexico with its colorful homes built with a multitude of materials, but somehow more orderly in tiny hamlets. The street leading to our apartment reminds us of Positano, Italy because it’s so steep and winding and we even have bougainvillea besides plenty of other beautiful fragrant flowers, acres of greenery, and lots of jungle with all the attendant animal sounds—nothing life-threatening that we know of!
The people here are so friendly. When we go running or walking we usually wave or say "hi" to every person or car that passes and almost every single person responds positively. One main road throughout the islands doesn't allow much shoulder space--close to none.
|Elder Gubler & Elder Dopp in front of Koror Chapel|
|Sister Norgrant & Sister Masi on Meyuns|
Palau's multiple daily rainstorms give us a great relief from the heat, and the heat's not all that bad unless the sun shines directly for a long period of time, and that hasn't happened yet. We're still in the dry season so it only rains two or three or four times every day.
We can't believe the number of dogs on the islands, and none of them look well fed! Most are as laid back as the people, but some growl and bark as if we were their next meal. Now we always carry a few rocks and that seems to warn them off faster than anything.
|Elder Malais & Elder Fullmer at chapel|
|Sister Carter with cousin from Hurricane: |
Our first Sunday at church was a rare gift, and we look at it as a tender mercy from our Heavenly Father. Elder Carter attended branch presidency meeting while Sister Carter greeted members arriving for Sacrament Meeting. Within a few minutes, three or four large vans pulled into our tiny parking lot, and imagine our delight when a large group of St. George people spilled out of the vehicles! How joyful seeing the saints from home mingling with the saints on Palau and wishing us well on our mission adventure!
That first Sunday brought another amazing blessing. We met a Delta Airlines pilot, his wife and daughter, who attended our branch while on a three-day layover. We talked for quite a while and gathered his information to give to Nathaniel so they could talk about airlines. When we told Nathaniel about our new acquaintance, Nathaniel had already met him some months before and knew his son from his UVU experience.
|Lunch near the ocean|
|1st district luncheon|
We've been going with the younger missionaries to meet the members and a few non-members too. What a great experience! We talk to almost everyone on their doorstep since they have no place except the floor to sit on, but we're okay with that because it's cooler outside than in! We're struggling to pronounce and remember names, but the language is becoming more familiar. Pretty much everyone speaks English, so communication is not a problem except listening closely to their soft voices.
The branch is small, but if we can help the members understand and feel the power of their commitments, then it will grow. Last Sunday we had over 90 people attend and had to place chairs in the hallway. We hope to do that every single week!
Two outstanding branch members, Eli and Daniel, have been especially kind to us, invited us to dinner, and given us such insight into our roles here. We're grateful for their service as YM's President and Seminary teacher. Just last Wednesday we had 15 youth for YM/YW and made posters to help with a community project. Their leadership and direction help the youth make better choices plus they inspire us to do more and be more.
We're blessed to be sharing the gospel with the people of this area and those blessings multiply exceedingly when we're surrounded by six stalwart missionaries: Elder Gubler, Elder Dopp, Elder Fullmer, Elder Malais, Sister Masiasomua, and Sister Norgrant. We work hard but have fun together too when we share games and food on their preparation day.
|Along the shore in Meyuns|
We're busy with members, commitments in the branch, piano lessons, community events, service projects, spending time with the younger missionaries, Seminary, Institute, preparing lessons and talks. We are speaking in church this Sunday and are grateful for the opportunity to talk about our own mothers on Mother's Day and recognize that we could not serve with our whole hearts if it wasn't for our loving and supportive family.