Sunday, January 26, 2014

Couples' Conference

Following a wonderful time yesterday with President and Sister Mecham and the other missionary couples, we set out to shop for a few items we can’t find on Palau.  We ended Monday at Elder and Sister Norton’s apartment for Family Home Evening where she fixed a feast of CafĂ© Rio-like food that left smiles on all our faces.  She had invited Brother Gittens, Guam Stake Patriarch, to speak along with his wife who works at the Service Center. 
Chandlers & Brother Gittens
We ate in a place dubbed the Zarahemla Ruins, which was appropriate considering that we ate in the remnants of a home that had fallen victim to a typhoon and was never repaired.  The tiki torches and bright moonlight cast favorable light and charming shadows while the temperatures and breezes were perfect.
Sister Carter, Elder & Sister Crisp enjoying the food

Family Home Evening

Enjoying time together

Elder Norton

Elder and Sister Strother traveled with us to the Barrigada Stake Center where we met all the other senior couples for breakfast before our daily meeting.  Elder Carter opened the conference with a spiritual thought from Elder Hales’ General Conference talk about taking notes as we listen and recording what the Holy Ghost reveals to us. 
Elder Carter sharing 
Elder and Sister Mecham shared their testimonies and impressions of the work in the Micronesia Guam Mission and challenged us to do more.  Bishop Freddie Nicerio, our Seminary and Institute Director, spoke about the challenges and opportunities for teaching the gospel in the islands.
Bishop Nicerio
Sister Mecham

Wednesday morning each couple was given a few minutes to report their labors on their respective islands.  Several couples we met at the last conference had returned home, but those attending this time were:  Elder and Sister Chandler serving on Pohnpei,
Elder and Sister Crisp serving on Chuuk,
Elder and Sister Norton serving on Guam,
Elder and Sister Prince serving in the mission office,
Elder and Sister McCabe serving a military relations mission,
Elder and Sister Strother serving on Yap,
Sister McClellan serving as the mission nurse, and us serving on Palau.  After listening to all of their reports, we determined that we were blessed to serve in “paradise”, but we already knew that!
Learning some dance moves

Native moves

What steps?

Sister Strother
Nortons, Eliasons, Grahams

We were blessed to host Elder and Sister Eliason and Elder and Sister Graham from Tokyo during the entire conference.  They are the medical doctor and psychologist and were visiting as part of their responsibilities to cover 12 missions.  We enjoyed getting to know them better and see another side of missionary work.

We met at the mission home Thursday morning for our final breakfast together before an outstanding, but bittersweet testimony meeting.  President Mecham provided closing remarks and asked each of the missionaries going home before the next couples’ conference to bear their testimonies.  That included the Nortons, Princes, and Mechams!  When we meet again in July we will have a new mission president and office couple plus another couple who will arrive in a few days and will serve on Kosrae.  We need more couples!
In an elevator with Mechams, Grahams, Eliasons, & Sister McClellan

Eliasons & Carters

Sister Carter

Dinner at Tony Roma's

Our final activity was a tour of an authentic Chamorra village where we learned their history, living conditions, and how to weave palm fronds into fish and flowers.  We enjoyed learning about the culture and spending more time together before we separated to our individual islands.
Listening intently
Under a traditional hut

Learning to weave

Weaved a fish!

Sister Carter & Chamorro

Elder Carter near a traditional hut

Learning the culture

Early Friday morning the Chandlers and Crisps returned to their islands while the Guam missionaries returned to their areas of labor.  We spent a little more time shopping, visited with the Princes at the mission office, and left for the airport in the late afternoon. 
Saying goodbye to the Princes

We will miss Elder & Sister Prince!
We were beyond ready to return home to Palau, our young missionaries, and all the members we have come to love so much. When we walked into our apartment just before 9:00 P.M. we felt immediate comfort and peace knowing we were where we were supposed to be.  Sister Masiasomua and Sister Purcell stopped in to welcome us back and share a little bit about the events of the week.  They missed us too!

As we finished laundry Saturday morning, Sister Masiasomua and Sister Purcell met us outside and reported that one of our branch members is in the hospital and not expected to survive much longer.  We talked about the power of the Plan of Salvation and what a blessing it is in our lives to know that there’s so much more to life than this time on earth.  Only a couple of hours later Sister Purcell received a phone call from President Mecham about the death of her grandmother in Utah.  Though she is sad to lose her grandma and not be there to support her mother right now, she is firm in her faith of God’s plan for each of us.  Elder Carter gave her a blessing of peace and comfort, and all of us were reminded about how our lives can change in an instant.

Our Sunday morning began in a much different fashion as Elma Callueng was baptized before all of the regular meetings.  What a sweet way to start the Sabbath!  We would like to have each Sunday start this way.
Elma & Elder Fullmer

Elma & Melody

Sister Carter, Elma, Elder Fullmer

This is the first Sunday watching our new branch presidency conduct all of the Sunday meetings.  We enjoyed all of them and were able to sit together during Sacrament Meeting for the first time of our mission as Elder Carter has been released from the presidency and serves as the executive secretary.

Elder Carter taught the introduction to the temple preparation course tonight and will continue team teaching with Rebluud Kesolei for the next nine weeks.  The temple trip to Manila, Philippines is scheduled for July 15th, and we’re praying that each member of the class will be able to attend.

We’ve learned a lot as this week has slipped by including that we love being missionaries on Palau.  We’re grateful for our family and friends both in the States and on Palau that make this opportunity even sweeter.  “Thank you” seems too simple to express the depth of our feeling, but we hope you can tell how thankful we are for each of you and the contributions you make to our lives.

Happy Elder Carter with See's chocolates.  Thanks Ferral!!

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