Sunday, October 27, 2013

Joyful Moments

Oh, what a week!  It’s been jam-packed with excitement, teaching, fun, meetings, assignments, mail, calls, and a host of other activities.
Palau Zone & President & Sister Mecham

We just returned home from our first musical fireside presented by two of our younger missionaries, Sister Masiasomua and Sister Ale.  They’ve been planning it for a couple of months and working hard to invite participation from branch members and their investigators.  Their efforts were rewarded with a receptive audience and people touched by the message to “Come Unto Christ.”  Many members of the branch sang about the Savior while others provided dialogue between musical numbers.  Sister Carter provided the accompaniment for all the music while Elder Carter conducted the meeting. 

Following the fireside, we had to say goodbye to President and Sister Mecham, our mission president.  They had been here for a couple of days to conduct zone conference, interview missionaries, review branch business, and visit with us.  We loved the opportunity to spend time with our leaders, receive inspired instruction, and feel of their love and concern.  We were blessed to go to dinner with them Saturday evening and learn more about them in a relaxed setting.  We will miss them!
Elder Malais, Jose, Elder Fullmer
Jose & Sister Carter

Jose Thomas was baptized Saturday night at a sweet, simple baptismal service.  He’s one of Sister Carter’s seminary students and has studied with the elders for a while now.  He’s a fine young man and has great support from his family and friends within the branch and will make a powerful contribution to the Young Men’s program.  Both of us gave talks during the service and were honored he would ask us to talk about baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Saturday was a busy day as zone conference began at 9:00 and ended at 2:30.  Sister Mecham reminded us that we teach people, not lessons.  She sweetly taught us to ask questions that will require deeper thought and greater participation and help our listeners bring doctrines and principles into their hearts.  President Mecham gave us a brief history of where the mission has been and where we’re going.  His enthusiasm about the work is contagious and made us want to jump out of our seats and get to work harder and faster.  He feels a definite hastening in the work and communicated it to us through his testimony and knowledge of the scriptures.
Elder Fullmer & Sister Mecham

Sister Mecham & President Mecham

Elder Fullmer, our zone leader, conducted much of the training about role play and gave us opportunities to see examples and then participate.  It was an eye-opening experience for all of us as we had the chance to watch all eight of the younger missionaries teach one another as if they were investigators, and then we offered our observations.  It gave us a chance to evaluate and refresh our teaching.  Sister Carter was happy that Elder Malais, one of her piano students, confidently and willingly played the opening hymn for zone conference.
Elder Malais & Elder Fullmer

Elder Murdoch & Elder Dopp

Sister Norgrant & Sister Ale

Sister Purcell & Sister Masiasomua

Since Skarlee Renguul received his mission call to Brisbane, Australia he has an entire packet of papers to complete for his visa.  Elder Carter has taken on the project, which has taken several hours this week gathering forms, taking photos, completing applications, and searching for information.  He’s happy to help this young man as he prepares to serve and will work many more hours in the week ahead to make sure everything is done correctly and on time.
Skarlee proudly displaying his mission call letter

According to Sister Carter, Seminary is always a pleasure to teach, but this past week had an added measure of joy as they reviewed President Packer’s story about spiritual crocodiles.  Maybe it sank deeper into the hearts of the students as there are plenty of alligators in the mangroves along the beaches here and they could relate to the analogy very easily.  Following Seminary, the Young Men and Young Women made decorations for the branch Halloween party this next Wednesday.  We weren’t sure that they celebrated Halloween here, but now we know to buy plenty of candy for all the branch members and any others who may trick or treat on Thursday.



In conjunction with home and visiting teaching, this past Tuesday evening was Fellowshipping Night where members of the branch visit those less active and bring them a message from the First Presidency.  We were disappointed that only the ten missionaries attended but were able to deliver assignments to members of the branch throughout the rest of the week.

The school children of Palau were released on Thursday for U.N. Day.  A big celebration was held in downtown Koror where a multitude of booths were set up selling food, drinks, crafts, and various children’s activities.  In the afternoon, many hamlets sponsored their youth performing native dances, and then other dance groups presented dances from around the world.  We were able to take an hour and watch some of our branch members perform on the stage as dancers and drummers.  Even through the high temperatures and thick humidity we were able to feel the desire that all nations get along and honor other cultures.
Native dancers

More dancers

Palauans doing a Samoan dance

When any of us missionaries have a birthday, we celebrate it together at dinner on the Sunday before the date, and today marked the celebration for Sister Carter.  She ages one more year tomorrow (on the 28th).  Sister Masiasomua, Sister Purcell, Sister Norgrant, and Sister Ale baked a beautiful two-layer birthday cake garnished with chocolate covered almond M&M’s.  Even after a hearty dinner, four strong elders, four hard-working sisters, and four “older” missionaries (President & Sister Mecham too), made short work of the cake.  A sincere and grateful “thank you” to Sister Carter’s family and friends at home who remembered her birthday and sent cards, packages, and good wishes.
Bakers & Decorators
Beautiful birthday cake!

Lots of hot air?

It’s truly been an amazing week filled with moments of disappointment followed by a multitude of uplifting and inspiring interactions with our llocal church family.  We are grateful for each of you and can feel the power of your faith and prayers to help lift us over disappointments and catapult us toward joy in our calling.  We ever pray for you too!   

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Fractional Conference

Most of you enjoyed General Conference the first week-end of October, but we’ve been waiting and waiting since then to receive a copy.  Finally it arrived Wednesday so we could watch it Saturday and Sunday this week.  As we connected it Saturday morning and everyone settled into their seats to enjoy hearing the words of the prophets, apostles, and other church leaders, an unusual thing happened.  The music started and the voice of the commentator introducing the 183rd Semi Annual Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ changed to the Palauan tongue.  President Kesolei, our branch president, searched for the English version he had requested of the service center in Guam, but all five of the meetings were in Palauan.  Fortunately, our zone leader Elder Fullmer had downloaded the Saturday sessions when he was in Guam, so he and Elder Malais drove to their home in Airai, picked up his hard drive, and hurried back to the chapel.  We were watching the Saturday morning session only 30 minutes later than planned!  We enjoyed a potluck lunch between sessions, and the brethren returned to the church at 6:00 P.M. for the priesthood session.

Now for the sad news.  Since Elder Fullmer only had the Saturday sessions on his hard drive, we immediately began downloading the Sunday afternoon session while President Kesolei worked on the morning one. We tried to download for 12 hours, but it failed.  Palau’s internet speed is less than satisfactory. President Kesolei experienced the same, so on Sunday the only things that changed were the items for the potluck lunch as we reviewed the Saturday sessions again.  We had many members attend Sunday that had not been there Saturday, so it worked out after all.  We still look forward to the Sunday sessions—in English—when they’re sent to us.
Looking sharp in matching shirts.

For some time we’ve wanted to order matching zone t-shirts, so the sister missionaries finally jumped on this project and picked them up this week.  The bright blue shirts have our individual names on the front with all of our names on the back along with a map of Palau and a scripture.  We decided to wear them for a community clean-up and enjoyed the attention people paid us as they drove by and noticed our matching shirts and the name of the Church.
Dinner at Relief Society too!

Eating & working.  What a great combination!

Jewelry supplies

The Relief Society activity this month included making jewelry, so Sister Carter especially enjoyed it as she came home with a couple of new, sparkly bracelets.  The only thing that could have made the evening sweeter is if more women would have attended to share in the spirit of sisterhood and discovery.
Koror Elementary Principal & Sister Carter with lots of donated school supplies

Thanks to a thoughtful and generous Young Women’s group in Draper, Utah, we received multiple boxes filled with school supplies.  We visited with the principal of Koror Elementary, the largest public school in Palau, about donating items for the benefit of students, and his countenance brightened to one of gratitude and delight.  Tuesday morning we visited the school to deliver the supplies, and the principal wanted a group of first graders to see everything first.  They all wanted to hold some of the supplies that included paper, notebooks, pencils, crayons, colored pencils, markers, scissors, glue, and a host of other things to make their school experience happy and meaningful.  What a delight for us to be the couriers on this humanitarian mission!
Koror Elementary students excited about supplies

Friday night we hosted the Young Single Adults at our apartment for a taco time party.  They happily made their own tacos then stayed for games that tested their ability to prove their prowess with bubble gum, complete Halloween Bingo, and a guessing game that tested their deduction abilities.
Bubble gum fun

Gum everywhere

One of our winners

Double bubble

Trying to win

YSA fun

Laughing is good for us!

Elder Carter giving game instructions

Sister Norgrant lost her gum

Missionaries usually travel two by two, but once in a while we have to separate to complete assignments held simultaneously.  Thanks to an extra vehicle in our zone, we are a two-car pair of missionaries—at least for a little while until this car sells to the highest bidder.
Zone lunch

Outside our zone lunch restaurant

Elder Carter enjoying one of the stairwells at Palau Community College
Sister Norgrant's homemade keyboard
Can you find the missionary shoe?

We are blessed in so many ways that we couldn’t possibly name them all.  We feel the strength of the hand of the Lord going before us and preparing the way for us to accomplish a great work here as we invite all to come unto Christ.  Thank you for your faith, your prayers, your support, your love!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Meeting Marathon

The second Sunday of each month is a marathon of meetings:  branch presidency meeting, Sacrament Meeting, Sunday School, Primary, Priesthood Meeting, choir practice, Priesthood Executive Meeting, Branch Council, plus an added fireside this evening.  The meetings are easy.  It’s all the preparation for them that keeps us hopping as we prepare agendas,  flyers, lessons, visual aids, make phone calls, confirm others’ participation, search for music, conduct, and rehearse music, seek for messages from the Prophets, and try to stay in tune with the Spirit while we’re organizing all the details.  We wouldn’t want it any other way!
Bro. Kinjo, Elder Carter, Sister Carter, Bro. Nicerio
Bro. Kingjo, Sis. Nicerio, Bro. Nicerio
Elder Carter and a beautiful chef salad

Sis. Nicerio, Scarla, Bro. Nicerio

Scarla (she arranged the fireside details), Bro. Nicerio, President Kesolei
The last three days we’ve been able to spend a few hours with our Church Educational System coordinator Freddie Nicerio, his wife Stephanie, and the area coordinator from Japan, Brother Kinjo.  Our meetings included ways we can love and support one another more in our marriages as we fulfill our secular and spiritual assignments.  Brother Kinjo took us to dinner Saturday night before he flew back to Japan, but we were able to host the Nicerios for dinner on Sunday afternoon along with our eight younger missionaries.  Arranging dinner among the multitude of meetings wasn’t easy, but we were all able to eat together for almost 40 minutes before we flew out the door for the fireside.
A few who attended the fireside

Though our Saturday was peppered with a variety of missionary experiences, the highlight was the marriage of Tomai and Feverlynn Ngiramengio Ngirakesiil.  Immediately after the wedding, Feverlynn was baptized a member of the Church and another part-member family gave way for a full-member family.  They and their two children, so needed in our branch, are already talking about going to the temple next year.
Feverlynn trying on her baptism dress

Feverlynn's baptism

Sisters Masi & Ale with Feverlynn's family

These last two days have been beautiful, bright, and sunny, but the balance of the week was a test to see how much rain could fall in the shortest amount of time.  We’re not sure that we can adequately describe the type of rain we have here.  It can pour like crazy for a minute, an hour, or all day, then a few minutes later it’s difficult to tell that anything happened except for the multitude of potholes filled with water.
Meyuns dock before another storm

We enjoyed a rare but wonderful occurrence today.  Skarlee Renguul, one of our recent Seminary graduates, just received his mission call and read it to the branch.  On March 12, 2014, he’s on his way to Brisbane, Australia with a 10 day stay at the Provo Missionary Training Center.  We’re thrilled for him, his call, and his desire to serve the Lord.
Skarlee opening his mission call

Skarlee is on his way to Brisbane, Australia

Our missing members list is shrinking!  Our treasure hunt this week was successful as we found several members with a couple of them hiding in plain sight.  Our search takes us all over the islands, but this week we made the jail one of our destinations.  As we visited with a couple of people incarcerated for multiple years, we felt sorrow for their poor decisions, pity for their living conditions, pain for their families, and a determination to visit more frequently to try to alleviate some of their suffering.
Sister Ale & Sister Purcell ready for games.

Elder Dopp helping us with an answer.

Sisters Ale, Norgrant, & Purcell waiting for their turn.

Elder Murdoch working on his clue while Elder Malais waits.

Elder Carter trying hard to beat Elder Murdoch's team.

Two of our missionaries, Elder Fullmer and Sister Masiasomua, spent last weekend in Guam for mission meetings so the rest of us, all eight, took a couple of hours on preparation day and played games, including a hilarious round of Catch Phrase.  It’s one of those “you had to be there” moments, but we will always remember the peals of laughter as we tried to guess answers based on Elder Dopp’s hints, plus it’s a good thing the game itself is made of sturdy plastic or it would never survive the tossing from one lap to another.
Elders making cookies--scary!

Where do we start?

Mixing it up.

Following directions

Elder Murdoch happy with his labors.

Elders can cook--sort of!

We are surrounded by outstanding missionaries, faithful branch members, sincere investigators, and can feel the long distance support of our family and friends.  We are so blessed!