It’s a good thing we like variety because this past week has been filled with various activities, events, meetings, and programs, not to mention our member visits.
Preparation day included a trip to the Ngardmau waterfall. It didn’t take long to drive there and we started hiking almost immediately. It was a perfect day—a little warm—but we hiked down into the valley and the base of a waterfall that showered water on Elder Malais and Elder Fullmer as they were brave enough to climb over the rocks and take the brunt of the force. Sister Norgrant and Sister Carter waded through the pond and sat on a big rock at the base of the waterfall and kept their feet in the water enjoying the shade and the cool mist of the falls. All the other missionaries stayed on the observation deck where the mists kept them cool too.
|Sisters on the train|
|On the way to the waterfall|
|Return trip--hot but happy!|
The hike out was a little tough, but nothing too bad, and Elder Gubler and Elder Dopp were hardcore as they hopped up the uneven and root-infested steps. We took a short drive to the village of Ngardmau and enjoyed hand dipped ice cream at the local store.
|Elders on the "train" at the waterfall|
On the drive home rain started falling in sheets in front of our cars, but only for a few feet, and then the sky would clear for a few hundred feet, then the curtain of water would begin again. The boundaries of the rain were so precise that it appeared they had been sliced with Cutco knives!
|Elder & Sister Carter at the "love" tree|
|After ice cream happiness!!|
After setting up for water volleyball for sports night, we waited for everyone to arrive. By the 6:00 P.M. starting time, only two kids arrived, but within just a few minutes over 30 people showed and loved the opportunity to use towels to throw water balloons over the net at each other. Everyone got wet, including us, but all had a wonderful time laughing, talking, and fellowshipping, plus we had several nonmembers attend.
The qualities of Christ was the topic of our district meeting, so we were able to look up specific scriptures, name the quality of the Savior, and then share a thought about how we can emulate that quality. Elder Carter also led an insightful, short discussion about prayer.
|District lunch (every six weeks)|
We held the first Summer Cinema this week and had about 20 people attend. Family-centered, wholesome activities are a main focus for us, and though they’re a lot of extra work, we’re happy to see the members bring their nonmember friends and families to enjoy the spirit of the Saints.
We set up a booth at “International Night” to provide additional exposure for the church. We enjoyed greeting members and talking with those interested in the church. We even met a couple of members who were here visiting for a few days and a couple who are working on Palau for a short period, plus a member who has been “lost”, or at least his records were. It’s at these times that we wish we were multilingual and could speak Korean, Japanese, Malaysian, Chinese, and especially Palauan!
|Roast pig for International Night|
Speaking of exposure, the two local newspapers printed another picture of the missionaries and branch members picking up litter at a local park and adjacent roadways. We love the positive press.
|Another work project|
|Work, work, work!|
|We need more shovels|
President Kesolei invited us to attend his daughter’s Gnasech, a cleansing ceremony after her first baby. The word itself means ascend. It was an interesting episode in so many ways, but the funniest part was watching Elder Carter drink fruit bat soup, a requirement of all the men in attendance. And yes, a whole bat with the head, pointy teeth, sharp claws, and hairy body was cooked in a broth. Hours later, as we talked about the ceremony, Elder Carter finally realized what he had tasted and was sure he was sick, but once he stopped thinking about it, he was fine. Oh the power of the mind!
|Sister Carter participating in ceremony|
|Fruit bat soup|
|Ready for a taste?|
|Tasting? It's good?|
Our Sunday meetings in this little branch could easily be defined as spiritual feasts. One of our Seminary graduates was the youth speaker while a “temporary resident” couple were the main speakers in Sacrament Meeting. They both spoke about “Let Us Be Men” and the need to stand for our beliefs. They spoke so humbly and were prepared in such a marvelous way that we all felt the spirit of their message to “be men” and share what we have. Our Primary children were few in number, but they lovingly and valiantly sang for their fathers in celebration of Father’s Day and the Young Women provided a special treat for each father and father-to-be.
|Some of our branch choir members|
Our second missionary open house Sunday evening was spiritual and enlightening as we focused on the Plan of Salvation and saw the film “Man’s Search for Happiness”. Though the film seemed ancient to our young missionaries, the message still powerfully answers the questions “Where did I come from? Why am I here? and Where am I going?
We are grateful to our loving Heavenly Father for answering our questions, filling our hearts with confidence and peace, and providing us energy and guidance as we serve to spread His restored gospel to the people of Palau.
|Elder Carter remembered on Father's Day|
|Soon to be 20 year old Elder Dopp!|