Sunday, September 29, 2013

Right place, right time

Every once in a while we meet a visitor to our island that asks,  “What good thing did you do so you could be called to Palau?”  We ask ourselves the same thing because we feel so blessed to serve in this beautiful area among kind-hearted people.
Sister Carter & Josie Lynn (Maylyne Obak's mother)

This week was the first official reporting of home and visiting teaching for the Palau Branch, and though we’re carrying forth this program a little differently, still the members did a good job caring for one another and making sure individual needs were met.  We’re grateful for the members catching the vision of what home and visiting teaching can do for and with members.  We feel a spirit of ownership among the members far different from the idea that the leaders can do everything and that they will participate when it’s convenient.
Palau High School students in a very HOT classroom--no air conditioning!

Sister Carter continues teaching piano lessons and each student is progressing well enough to play in various church meetings.  What a blessing it will be when the members can provide music for each meeting with occasional assistance from the missionaries! 

Though Elder Carter suffered three days with a head cold, he worked hard to bring the branch membership records up-to-date and include detailed addresses of each member.  He attended every meeting, completed each assignment , and did it all with a smile on his face when he didn’t feel much like smiling.  He was able to teach with one set of elders and gather information about members while working with another set on a “fact-finding” tour of Airai.
Hiding new toys in the corner.

Our friend, Sister Barbara Gilson, returned to Palau this week with a wonderful surprise.  Her daughter-in-law's Young Women in Draper, Utah completed a service project of gathering school, humanitarian, Primary, and Young Women supplies for our branch!  Our Young Women will package and donate the supplies to worthy causes here.  Barbara brought two giant loads with her and the rest have been shipped and should arrive this week.  Some of the Primary supplies included new toys for the nursery.  One of our two-year-olds took ownership of some toys and refused to leave nursery.  Oh, the joy of something new!
It should work!

How do you read Chinese?

Our remotes match!

A few things tried to jump in our way, including a broken air conditioner, but we were blessed when our landlord installed a brand new one.  It blows cold air and doesn’t even make noise!  We have retired the mop we used to “gently” persuade our old A/C to stop rattling.  We celebrated with a date night at a local restaurant.  The food was good, the view lovely, and the company outstanding!
Elder Carter ready for a night out

Sister Carter at the Rose Garden Restaurant

Enjoying the view

View from the restaurant

Our trek to Babeldaob this week, though hurried, was productive as we visited with almost every member on that island.  The weather was a little stormy and since it was the week-end before Independence Day, not many customs were held (funerals, baby showers, house warmings, etc.) and most people were home enjoying cooler temperatures (in the high 70’s).

The baptism this week was a triple blessing as three people joined the Church.  Pasqual Ngwal, Idu Singeru, and Chelsea Raph were all baptized on Saturday evening with the generous and loving support of many branch members in attendance.  We were able to attend for the opening song and prayer but left immediately after to attend a dinner honoring a visiting American authority, Judge Clifford Wallace from San Diego, California.  We had no idea what a blessing this would be!
Elder Dopp & Chelsea

Elder Dopp, Chelsea, Elder Murdoch

Pasqual & John Thing

Idu, Pasqual, Chelsea

Judge Wallace is a distinguished member of the Court of Appeals first appointed by the President of the United States in 1972.  The Chief Judge of the Palau Supreme Court invited Judge Wallace to conduct training among the judges here, and Judge Wallace happily agreed as he has visited and worked in Palau numerous times.  We expected to meet him at a banquet hall filled with people to mark this occasion but were surprised to find that the dinner party included the chief judge, Judge Wallace, another Palauan judge, and us.  We had an incredible time learning about each of these three and their responsibilities over the past several years and could easily see the depth of respect and friendship between the two chief judges. A note of thanks to our friend Eli McCann whose fine work ethic at the Palau courts brought us fame by association. Thanks again, Eli!
Sister Carter, Judge Clifford Wallace, Elder Carter

Back row:  Elders Dopp, Murdoch, Malais, Fullmer, Carter, Wallace
Front row:  Sisters Norgrant, Masiasomua, Carter, Ale, Purcell

Judge Wallace is known as Brother Wallace too.  He has served in numerous callings and continues to make friends for the Church as he travels throughout the world on assignment from the Brethren.  As we enjoyed Sunday dinner together, he shared gospel insights with us and the eight younger missionaries serving here.  During and after his visit, we all felt lifted and filled with the knowledge that the Savior directs His Church and that we have a living Prophet, President Monson, who is the mouthpiece of the Lord and the one with authority to direct the Kingdom of God on the earth.

We are grateful to be included in this work of gathering Saints, and we so appreciate your letters, emails, packages, and prayers that lift and inspire us every day.  Thank you!  We love you!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Love our zone!

As we wake up every morning and remember we’re on a tiny tropical island serving as missionaries, we are overcome with gratitude that Heavenly Father has blessed us so abundantly and knows exactly where we are needed.  But just as every other blessing, just at the moment we feel we are contributing greatly, our blessings overflow and we are even more indebted to the Lord.
We love our zone!

This week has been one of great spiritual outpourings and plenty of fun sandwiched between.  Teaching four of our missionaries piano has been a humbling experience since they have no time to practice but are working as diligently as possible so that they can contribute to the music in our branch.  All of them will help accompany the children’s Sacrament Meeting presentation in November.

Monday evening our good friend (and relative) Clair Hall spent some time with us, and we all enjoyed talking about the scriptures and what they mean to us.  The gospel brings us together in so many ways.
Community cleanup

Our zone at community cleanup
Elders glad the cleanup is over

Catching a ride

Elder Fullmer & Elder Murdoch crammed into a car

Sisters after the community cleanup

Sister Carter continues her volunteer efforts at Palau High School.  She gave each student a speaking assignment while the class takes notes.  They are halfway through, and it seems that each class member, including the teacher, is learning a lot about each other and the English language.  It will be even more interesting when they have a review activity to see how much they truly understood from each presentation.

Teaching Seminary is a weekly highlight, and though we may not see as many of our youth there as we would like, those that do come are trying hard to read and understand the Book of Mormon and its messages for our day.  They face a multitude of challenges and need the strength of the gospel to aid them in their “wanderings in the wilderness.”  We love each one of them.

Institute on Thursday evenings seems to have found its own rhythm.  Sister Angie, who teaches each week, loves her calling and it shows.  We had our first Young Single Adult activity on Friday evening at President Kesolei’s home where we all built our own burritos.  After eating way too much food, we got to know one another better as we played games and laughed at the crazy antics during charades.
M & M game

Young single adults having fun

Ready for games
Ready to start

Elder Carter giving instructions


Looking for a winner

Hot air?

Getting to know each other

Good charade clues

Elder Murdoch getting into the fun

John Thing:  master at charades

Tough game

Candy = Fun
Joanny Kesolei serving ice candy.  Delicious!
This entire week we looked forward to the baptism of Teruo Melus on Saturday night, and we were not disappointed!  It was one of the most spiritual baptisms we’ve ever attended, and we were grateful to feel the powerful influence of the Spirit.  At Teruo’s request, our four elders (Elders Fullmer, Malais, Dopp, & Murdoch) sang “When I Am Baptized” and accompanied themselves on two guitars.  They worked hard to prepare, and we believe this is the first of many more vocal experiences.
Sister Purcell, Teruo Melus, Sister Norgrant

Pres. Kesolei, Jori Lynn, Teruo, Joel

Happy faces at Teruo's baptism

Listening to themselves

Elders Dopp, Murdoch, Malais, Fullmer practicing

Though Sundays are busy with church meetings, music rehearsals, and feeding the missionaries, still this day set apart from all others gives us rest and energy to begin a new week of missionary work.  Sister Purcell and Sister Ale spoke about reverence during Sacrament Meeting and Melody Lee, a recent convert, sang “I Come to Him”.  We enjoyed a beautiful spiritual experience together.  Elder Carter substituted in the youth Sunday School class.  Elders Dopp and Murdoch also attended and reported that a great spirit confirmed what he was teaching.
Sister Masiasomua, Melody Lee, Elder Dopp

The work of inviting souls to Christ is going strong in Palau, and we’re grateful to make any contribution we can each day.  We are grateful to each of you who pray for our welfare and success, and want you to know we feel the power of your faith as we go about our daily labors.  We love you!
Congratulations to our friends Seth & Kirsten who were sealed in the temple this week!
Tiny, but tasty finger-sized bananas

Now that you're gone Eli, they're redoing the supreme court building.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

New Responsibilities

Elder Carter & Dan Butler, NYC firefighter
Technology ties us to our family, and we’re grateful for the time our children take to Skype, email, or write us.  We miss each one of our children and grandchildren and pray for their daily successes in living the Gospel, but we’re humbled to serve in Palau and feel a closeness to each of these wonderful, humble people.

Excitement over the recent temple trip announcement grows every day, but many members know they will have trouble qualifying for a temple recommend because of their betel nut addiction.  This nasty nationwide habit has enslaved the people.  Many members have expressed interest in an addiction recovery class, so Elder Carter will teach a class every week starting the first of October.  We’re praying that this will be a giant leap towards the temple.
Music practice with the girls

We have a fairly standard routine of member visits, piano lessons, Seminary, Institute, branch presidency business, Primary, choir, and missionary meetings, but every once in a while something unusual comes up—and adds to the notes in our missionary planners.  Sister Carter now volunteers at Palau High School a couple of days a week.  Her years of teaching English as a Second Language are coming in handy now since she’s helping in an English class where all the students speak Palauan first and English second.  An added bonus is staying close to the few Church members (Seminary students)on campus and helping each of them with any essays or other homework.
Institute students hard at work

This past Wednesday marked the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 bombings in the United States, and Palau had a memorial service to honor the victims and heroes of that tragic day.  Elder Carter was invited to offer the prayers in the meeting that featured the college president, Charge d’Affaires from the American embassy, the Palau Minister of State, and special guests visiting from New York.  Firefighters and policemen who served during 9/11 just happened to be on a dive trip in Palau along with their wives.  We were enthralled listening to their emotional, heartfelt tributes to the 324 friends who died on that day twelve years ago.  Palau leaders also paid tribute to the families of those who had lost loved ones fighting for freedom while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Thomas P. Daley, Charge d'Affaires

Paul Bardo, NYC firefighter

Dr. Tellei, PCC President

Dan Butler, NYC firefighter
9/11 program
Elder Carter, Dr. Tellei, John Jr. Ngiraked

Elder Carter signing 9/11 book
Sometimes working with eight younger missionaries reminds us of our “advanced” age, but most of the time they energize us with their great work ethics and strong testimonies.  We’re blessed to see them often during the week driving down the road, at district or zone meetings, casual visits at our apartment (or theirs), and our meal we share on Sundays after a day filled with meetings.  Sister Carter has been experimenting with recipes, and they are kind enough to eat everything and act like they like it.
Elder Murdoch, Sister Ale, Sister Masiasomua

Elder Malais, Elder Dopp, Elder Fullmer

In mission years (or months), we are only five!  Today marks our fifth month anniversary of entering missionary service.  We still love our calling, each other, and the opportunity to serve the Palau people and would love to hear what events in the last five months have changed you. 
Our "date" night sunset