Monday morning seems forever ago now. Could it be only seven days and yet so much has happened? We were happily on Skype when we received a phone call, on our landline, from Nathaniel in Texas telling us that his dad had died sometime over the week-end. He didn’t really have much information except what Mick had shared in a brief phone call to him only moments earlier. We were finally able to talk with Mick and Madison in Utah and feel their shock and sadness across the hundreds of miles between us yet feel powerless to do anything useful except fast and pray for their strength, courage, stamina, and testimony to carry them forward in the trying times ahead. Our prayers have certainly been answered this week through other family members and friends who stepped forward to offer physical and emotional support. Our hearts are filled with deep gratitude to each of you who helped Mick, Madison, and Nathaniel in any way this week to travel to Southern Utah, talk with the mortuary, clean their dad’s apartment, plan a funeral and graveside service, prepare an obituary, share news with extended family, attend services, prepare talks, and deal with the hundreds of details attendant in the death of their dad. You are answers to our prayers. We continue to pray for their peace, comfort, and a greater desire to do good as they continue in the days ahead.
|Margaret, Madison, Becky|
Thanks, Marg, for these pics!!
|Madison, Mick, Margaret at funeral|
|Nathaniel, Margaret, Becky, Carla|
Though our week began with such difficult news, our choice was to forge ahead, work hard, and invite all to come unto Christ through the news of the Restoration. We continued all the summer activities of Sports Night and played basketball with 16 youth and adults from the branch.
|A few of us at sports night|
|President Kesolei & basketball fans|
|We love basketball|
|New tile in the chapel|
|Ready for Sunday, almost!|
Young Men and Young Women was spent planning and preparing for Youth Conference next Saturday. We’re planning a trip to some of the rock islands where we’ll hike, cook, play, share spiritual experiences, and enjoy one another’s company. We are excited since our zone leader gave us permission to attend and we will get to ride in a boat and play on the beach!
After meeting privately with the high chief on the island several times, he invited us to a gathering of the chiefs from all over Palau. We were honored to meet each one and spend an hour together discussing our suggestion of forming an interfaith council. We recognize that their stamp of approval would go far in bringing the faiths together for the good of families everywhere. They are extremely interested in the welfare of the youth here, just as we are, and are looking for ways to help them stay drug and alcohol free and family-oriented.
No fireworks for us this 4th of July, but we did enjoy our invitation to the U.S. Ambassador’s home for an evening of celebration. She will complete her three-year ambassadorship at the end of this month, so we will soon welcome a new representative of the United States. The program included the singing of the Palau National Anthem as well as the U.S. National Anthem, remarks by the ambassador (Helen Reed-Rowe), remarks by the President of Palau (Tommy Remengesau, Jr.), and a champagne toast to our wonderful country. During the President’s remarks everyone was given a champagne glass filled with bubbly liquid we assumed to be champagne (we heard all the corks pop), but we asked for water. When it came time for the toast, we were empty-handed until one of the embassy employees (Margie) handed us glasses filled with ice water just as we were to raise them to our lips. She had prepared them for us in advance. How thoughtful! We enjoyed a buffet dinner and visited with several of our branch members plus several of the chiefs we met earlier in the week. Though they didn’t set off fireworks, they did cut and serve a giant cake and showed fireworks on a screen so we could catch the flavor of the day.
|Sister Carter, Ambassador Reed-Rowe, Elder Carter|
|Sister Carter and 4th of July cake|
We are in the midst of the two-week-long Palau Games and were able to watch Skarlee, one of our branch members, wrestle for one of his matches. He won five medals during the games, so far, and it will be interesting to see what happens over this next week as he and others continue to compete. Mitch Hibbard, our military doctor, has been the attending physician at the games that include basketball, baseball, archery, volleyball, spearfishing, track and field, wrestling, beach volleyball, and a host of other sports.
|Enjoying part of our package,|
thanks to Curtis, Michelle, Jakob, Allison, Joshua, & Christopher
|Skarlee ready to wrestle|
We began our First Friday Flick with only four people, but just as we turned out the lights, 12 more came to join us and eat popcorn popped for 25. Somehow they were able to make it disappear. Speaking of disappearing, Elder Fullmer, one of our zone leaders, left for Guam to have his wisdom teeth pulled and has been gone all week. We miss him, but he and Elder Gubler, who left Friday evening for zone meetings, will return Monday night and we’ll feel complete again.
Our trip to Babeldoab is always a highlight. We spent all of Saturday visiting members in every village, and though many were at the Palau Games, we did find some home who were happy to see us and we were happy to share a gospel discussion with them. We found, much to our chagrin, that there are no gas stations on the north end of the island and are happy to report that we returned home in our car rather than having to “hot foot” it.
|Elder Carter and beautiful scenery!|
|Sister Carter and more jungle|
Sunday dawned bright as we prepared and attended meetings. Elder Carter enjoyed branch presidency meeting before the three-hour block and mentioned that he did not have another responsibility for the rest of the day! The branch members are awesome! Sister Carter led the singing in Primary, and though only ten children attended, they sang like a hundred! The choir is working on a tough piece of music to share next month, but they’re determined to learn it and are singing with their hearts as well as their voices. Eli McCann and Sister Carter worked on a hymn he will sing in a couple of weeks. It is his first solo, and though he’s nervous to perform, his beautiful tenor voice will share the message of “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief” in a sensitive, spiritual way.
|Sister Carter and branch members|
Trophy is for winning a dance competition in Guam
|Elder Carter at cemetery in Babeldoab|
|Sister Ale turns another year older and is sporting a new haircut!|
Sister Ale, one of our talented, goal-driven young missionaries, will turn another year older this week. We celebrated her birthday at our Sunday dinner with a little cake and ice cream plus some boisterous singing and lots of picture taking. How we love our missionaries and are grateful to serve with them in this island paradise of Palau!
|Elder Dopp, Sister Ale, Sister Masi, Sister Norgrant, Sister Purcell, Elder Malais|