Monday, July 29, 2013

Winding Down and Gearing Up

Palau enjoys an eternal summer, but for school-age children, summer is about to end with the start of school on August 5th.  We’re finishing up our summer series of sports nights and summer cinemas but preparing mightily for seminary and institute classes beginning mid-August.  We’ve spent many hours tracking down parents and students to sign registration forms and invite them to the opening social and another year of gospel instruction.
Elders Malais & Dopp helping at Sports Night

We’ve done a lot of cooking and a little entertaining while hosting dinners at our home.  The younger missionaries are always happy to eat with us each Sunday and we’ve enjoyed the company of branch members and short-term visitors during the week.
We don't buy many strawberries--even if they're on sale!
Elders Fullmer, Gubler, Malais, & Arisei

Sisters Masi, Norgrant, Ale

This past Wednesday was Pioneer Day in Utah, but we didn’t do much to celebrate here except sing some pioneer songs in Primary and refer to the pioneers and their struggles to enjoy religious freedom.  It’s easy to draw parallels with our Palauan saints, and they are pioneers in their own right as they forge new paths for their families and join the church and leave false customs and traditions behind.  We love these saints and appreciate their desires to serve the Lord with all their heart, might, mind, and strength.
Three baptismal candidates, Kaytano (a member), and Elders Gubler & Fullmer

Our final summer cinema event was held at Eli’s home and created a new level of excitement holding the movie someplace besides the church.  We are missing Eli already as he’s planning on leaving for Salt Lake City around September 6th!
Ready for camp
Girls’ camp was our highlight of the week as ten of our beautiful young women, the young women presidency (president, first counselor, second counselor, and secretary), two husbands, two missionaries (Elder and Sister Carter), the branch president and his wife, and four sister missionaries traveled to the far shore of Babeldaob for the opportunity to grow closer together and strengthen their testimonies of the Savior.  Those who have lived or served on Palau will recognize the power of a complete young women presidency and their husbands who served as priesthood leaders while at camp.  We and the branch president arrived in time for dinner and testimony meeting and heard deep, insightful messages from many of the young women about how they felt the Holy Ghost and what being at camp meant to them.  The four sister missionaries drove to camp on Saturday to present a workshop highlighting the theme of camp:  “Stand ye in holy places and be not moved.”  The girls loved the presentation and were given valuable ideas about how they can make each place holy through their thoughts and actions.
Camp at the beach--oh yeah!
Driving to camp

Kayaking in the ocean
Can you pick out the YW leader?

Cooking like crazy
Cooking competition

YW leaders:  Kirsten - Secretary, Rilang - President

Eating is always fun

Sacrament Meeting on Sunday was a continuation of the beautiful spirit of girls’ camp as the young women talked and sang about their experiences.  The four sister missionaries enhanced the spirit with their own rendition of “Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee.”

Several days ago a family in the branch asked some of our elders if they would show the Joseph Smith movie to some of their friends, so the elders set the time for Sunday evening.  Imagine our delight when about 30 people attended, including many investigators!  This touching movie about Joseph the Prophet reminded us again of why we are here and how much the Lord loves his children.  We’re grateful for our testimonies and the joy the gospel brings into our lives as we humbly serve the saints of Palau.
Ready for zone lunch

Eating is a treat

Palau Zone Missionaries
Primary boys

Primary girls

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Couples' Conference

Time keeps slipping through our fingers, but we can't let another day pass without writing about the couple's conference in Guam and our experiences there.

Last Sunday morning, July 14th, we made our way to the Palau International Airport in time to make our middle-of-the-night flight to Guam.  We didn't dare go to sleep and miss the plane, and once it stopped on Yap and had an hour's layover, then the time difference in Guam, we lost an entire night's sleep.  We arrived at the Marriott Hotel in time for breakfast and to freshen up for church at the Barrigada Ward where we met all of the other senior couples.  We tried to remain alert through the three hour church block and the lovely luncheon at President and Sister Mecham's home, and were grateful beyond words to take a long nap in the late afternoon.

After a good night's rest, we arose to meet the other couples and join in a joint shopping expedition to the largest K-Mart in the world and a couple of the malls on Guam.  We discovered that we really didn't need much since almost everything is available in Palau though the prices are considerably higher.  We did discover that the internet on Guam is lightyears ahead of Palau as we were able to finally enjoy Facetime with many members of our family throughout

Elder & Sister Garrett
Working on lunch

Everyone's in the kitchen

Monday evening was spent at President and Sister Mecham’s home talking about family history and playing games.
Mecham's kitchen
Sister Olsen, Elder & Sister Prince

Elder & Sister Elldredge, Elder & Sister LeFevre
Elder Carter giving spiritual thought
Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday were filled with meetings, meetings, and more meetings in a refrigerated chapel.  Little did we know that sweaters and jackets would be a requirement of the conference!  We were able to listen to the other couples’ impressive stewardship reports of their islands, and we presented our own.  Each of the couples impressed us with their depth of service in the kingdom, knowledge of the gospel, testimony of the work, and desire to consecrate all in the service of the Lord.  We are so grateful to rub shoulders with these elect people and learn from their powerful examples.
Micronesia Guam Missionary Couples July 2013

President and Sister Mecham talked with us for an entire morning about the mission, short and long-term goals, and how to move the work forward, and what a testimony to see the Spirit rest upon  President Mecham as he so obviously carries the mantle of this mission.
Carters & Garretts (friends of the Sappingtons of St. George)

While visiting with the other missionaries we played the “do you know” game and found that we had many connections through family and friends.  The world is a small place when the gospel is at the core.
Another presentation
Vincents & Chandlers
Chandler presentation

Listening intently
We did play a lot too, and our bowling game was a fun change from all of our sit down meetings.  We ate ALL the time at places familiar with the Yellow Pages back home:  Denny's, Tony Roma's, Pizza Hut, Marriott Hotel, Wendy's, Coldstone Creamery, Taco Bell, Chili's, and a couple of local favorites:  Carmen's and the Chamorro Village
Elder Carter

Sisters Prince & Garrett

Sisters Vincent & Mecham

Elders Garrett, Prince, Nicerio
Sisters Garrett, Mecham, Vincent

Sisters Prince, Olsen, Carter

Elder Garrett & Elder Carter

Sister Mecham

Friday morning arrived early as we needed to take the other couples to the airport by 6:15.  They all made their flights while we waited for ours later in the evening.  We were able to walk along the Tumon Bay for over three miles, shop a little more, pack our bags, meet Elder and Sister Prince at the mission office for the ride to the airport.  Our flight was delayed for an hour, but we still arrived home by 9:30 P.M.  Oh, it’s good to be home!!
Enjoying a little sun!
Elder Norton, Sister Garrett, Elder & Sister Olsen

The weekend was filled with “catching up” from a week’s worth of missed experiences.  We so missed the people of our branch, and many sent us messages, called, or stopped by to let us know they missed us.  We love our brothers and sisters here!
Notice the interesting menu choices
Sister Carter in front of Marriott Hotel

The highlight of the weekend was three baptisms on Saturday evening.  The chapel was filled with members and other investigators plus a rich outpouring of the Spirit to confirm the events of the day.  Each of the three was confirmed the next day (Sunday), so along with our inspired speakers and a gorgeous vocal solo by Eli McCann of “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief”, the meeting was one to always remember.  One of our newest members (Arisei) received the Aaronic Priesthood and a deacon (Justice)was ordained a teacher.
Our MTC buddies Elder & Sister Crisp

Our monthly missionary open house capped the day with an outpouring of member support along with several investigators attending.  The Book of Mormon was the theme of the meeting, and both of us were able to bear our testimonies about the power and influence of this volume of scripture that so beautifully testifies of Christ and his desire for all of us to repent and come unto him.