Sunday, October 6, 2013

Independence Day

Palauan dancers and warriors

Start of the parade

Palau High School students hefting a Japanese pagoda
We celebrated the 19th Palauan Independence Day on October 1st as we attended the parade, displays and booths, boat races, and fireworks.  Though we didn’t get to sit with the dignitaries of other nations (many South Pacific countries and Japan), we probably had more fun and talked with just as many people as they did.  The younger missionaries were able to change their preparation day so that they could attend some of the events after our piano lessons and all their other responsibilities were completed.  The weather cooperated by cooling off a couple of degrees, the tropical breezes kept the air moving, and it gently sprinkled a few times to remind us it’s still the rainy season.
Sister Carter enjoying the boat races
Elder Carter at beginning of parade route

Power boat race


Native canoe

Japanese aviation students in parade
KB Bridge--site of booths and displays

Our weeks share common threads of searching for members, encouraging the less active, preparing and teaching lessons, volunteering in the community, and supporting our local Church leaders.  Maybe we’ll share a little different information this week to give you a more scenic picture of serving as a missionary on Palau.

When we first arrived on the island and tried to locate the chapel, we were a bit stymied with the lack of street addresses.  We finally found a small sign with the Church’s name on it, turned onto the narrow side street and expected to see an easily recognizable building, but after driving to the end of the speed-bump laden lane, we finally found it across the driveways of three other homes.  Behind a locked gate, we found three buildings and a small parking area graced with a basketball standard and plenty of potted plants.  The chapel holds about 100 people (standing room only lately) and is attached to a small Relief Society room, clerk’s office, library, and branch president’s office.  In the adjacent building, are rooms for Primary, Young Men, and Young Women.  The bathrooms are in another building attached to the shed, which houses all of the equipment to keep the yards and building looking good.  Behind all of the buildings is the covered baptismal font next to a garden area which is flanked by jungle and plenty of banana trees.
Sister Carter standing next to refurbished sign
(This is for you Eli.)

The buildings may not be the most beautiful in the world, but the people are!  They are so welcoming and warm that we fell in love with them immediately.  Elder Carter always sits on the stand (eight inches high) while Sister Carter usually occupies the piano bench or the front row.  She has often commented about the number of ants and spiders that crawl across the hymn book as she’s accompanying a song, but they don’t seem to mar the beauty of the music.  We’ve gotten used to them—and they don’t eat much anyway!

We are not the only ones who have fallen in love with the people here.  Larry Gilson, a U.S. contractor working on Palau, was recently joined by his wife Barbara.  Their daughter-in-law’s YW collected an amazing array of supplies and we received all the boxes and boxes and boxes they mailed this week and are so grateful for their love and support of their fellow Saints here.  Now our Young Women will be able to separate and prepare all the supplies to donate to the hospital and schools in the area.  The Gospel in action is a beautiful thing!
Some of our Young Women and their leaders

Another beautiful thing is watching people change their lives as they hear the Gospel message, repent, and are baptized.  We attended the baptism of Opkal Ngiracheluolw  and Diceman Mikel Saturday night as well as the marriage of Opkal and Daichingo Singeru.   What a spiritual feast!  Diceman has been faithfully attending Seminary and is now the only member in his family (so far).  Opkal, after learning about the Church for quite some time, finally decided to be baptized and join her husband who has been a member for years.
Opkal, her family, Sister Norgrant, & Sister Purcell
Elder Murdoch, Diceman, Elder Dopp
Diceman and Sister Carter

Just a side note for you choir directors out there…Sister Carter directs our choir which consists of eight younger missionaries and a few locals.  They may not enjoy perfect pitch or even understand what pitch is, but they sing with enthusiasm and try to follow her instructions from the piano bench.  Last Sunday they sang the hymn “Press Forward Saints”, and though it was not Tabernacle Choir quality, it was heartfelt and a good effort.  As we began Seminary Wednesday evening, Diceman suggested we sing “Press Forward Saints” because it was now his favorite song after hearing our choir.  We sang it again at his baptism.  Though our choir is small and may be lacking in musicality, their spirits spoke to Diceman and his spirit responded with faith followed by baptism.  Our hearts are full of thanksgiving for our dedicated choir and the spirit they invite each time they perform.

We enjoy so many miracles every day in Palau and are grateful for the love we feel from our family and friends.  We rejoice when we hear of mission plans of others and know how needed you are to spread the joy of the Restored Gospel to the whole world.  We love the Gospel and are grateful every moment for this opportunity to share it with our Palauan brothers and sisters.

1 comment:

  1. Another week in paradise! We love reading about your service in Palau. There have been so many baptisms since you arrived. The Lord is really blessing the people and the missionaries there.