Sunday, February 23, 2014

Ohana Means Family

Sister Carter & Sister Paz at her home
Monday afternoon our younger missionaries went to the north shore of Babeldaob along with a few branch members.  While they were gone we visited the Palau National Museum and learned more about the history and cultural of our beautiful area.
Sister Carter at museum

Elder Carter at Palau National Museum
Relief Society on Tuesday night was a quick farewell party for Sister Masiasomua and a chance to gather baby supplies for a member of our branch.  This young sister has a two month old baby and has suffered a couple of strokes and will be going to Taiwan for medical treatment.
Relief Society = Food



Sister Masiasomua

Evangeline & Giralynn

Gift time

Enjoying dinner

Karla & Marjorie

Sister Masiasomua conducted training in our district meeting Thursday.  We focused on experiences during our lives when we have felt the Spirit and love of our Heavenly Father.  It was a touching meeting, but since it was Sister Masi’s last, emotions were spilling over much more easily.
Zone lunch at Surigothi

Another view

Our sister missionaries in Meyuns, Sister Norgrant and Sister Ale, hit the ball out of the park Friday night with Ohana Night.  Ohana means “family”, and they wanted an opportunity to share that families are ordained of God and being part of a family is a great blessing.  They worked tirelessly for several weeks teaching many young women dances from Samoa, Fiji, Marshall Islands, Hawaii, and Palau.  One of the highlights of this program was that most of the dancers were non-members who were happy with the opportunity to share their talents and learn something new.  Consequently, half of our audience of 115 people were non-members and most were attending our church for the first time.
Lovely dancers

Singing the Palau National Anthem

Before performance

Our sister missionaries

Sisters and Carnie

Elders and a Marshall Islands dance

Palauan dancers

Part of the audience

Dancing together

Tahitian dance

More Tahitian dancing

Marshall Island dance continued

Samoan dancing

Palauan girls

These men have the moves

Preparing the treats
Rayda, our MC

Sister Carter ran in a 5K race Saturday morning with about 35 other people(no other missionaries), and the most remarkable thing about it is that she didn’t come in last!  A group called Fit Palau sponsors a race every month or two and we have participated in several so far.  Elder Carter is still nursing a sore knee, so walking must be his exercise of choice right now.

Skarlee Renguul spoke about the Plan of Salvation in Sacrament Meeting today as his farewell talk before leaving for his mission.  Though he was very nervous, he shared how he first heard about the Restoration and Plan of Salvation not long after his dad had died.  He was only 14 when the missionaries taught him about the gospel, he learned for himself that the Book of Mormon is true, and he was baptized while living in Saipan.  In the same meeting, a recent young convert talked about the powerful influence of friends.  The final speaker was Sister Masiasomua who spoke about missionary work here in Palau.  She mentioned how much she has learned and how much she loves the people and committed to continue missionary work at home in Sydney, Australia. 

One of the beautiful highlights of Sacrament Meeting was “A Marvelous Work” performed by our Young Men, Young Women, and the choir.  Eighteen people sang, but based on the power and feeling of the music, angels must have been joining in because it seemed the chapel expanded mightily during the song.
Elder Fullmer

Sister Ale & Sister Norgrant

Elder Murdoch & Elder Malais

Elder Murdoch & Elder Dopp doing dishes!

Sister Masiasomua & Sister Purcell

How grateful we are for our branch members!  Many struggle with a wide range of personal issues, but as they strive to keep the commandments and gather with the Saints each Sunday, they feel a greater desire to serve one another and experience peace.  We’re thankful for this rare opportunity to serve them in some small way, and are thankful for our family at home who supports us in such powerful ways.  Thank you!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

CAT Change

Monday morning started out bright and happy as a brand new air conditioner was installed in our bedroom!  No more waking up every hour of the night to unplug and reset a testy AC that decided it only wanted to work intermittently.  Now both of our units are new and should last for many missionaries to come.

Matching outfits!

Zone unity

Our branch has a new member in the form of a five pound, nine ounce baby girl born to Maria, one of our YW presidency.  The baby has plenty of dark hair and big beautiful eyes that will enjoy the attention of every girl in the branch, not to mention all the other members.

Listening at Institute

Angie working with students

Seminary and Institute is always a highlight for us, but this week was even more of a standout as we enjoyed the highest attendance at institute ever and another inspiring lesson from Angie, our teacher.  A few students from Palau Community College came and brought some of their friends.  The same evening Elder Carter began teaching the addiction recovery class again in preparation for the temple trip in July.
Jose & Skarlee studying the scriptures

Learning in Seminary
Boni enjoying the Valentine ribbons

After Seminary our Young Men prepared decorations for the Valentine’s party they hosted Friday night.  What a blessing to see them excited and participating in the program!  They arrived early on Friday to finish decorating, provided a spaghetti dinner, and played great dance music.  Everyone who attended had a good time and even played a little basketball outside for a while afterwards.

Pleased with their decorations

It’s not often that Valentine’s Day is filled with a bunch of soldiers standing out in the hot sun waiting to assume their new post, but this year it happened in Palau.  We were able to attend the change of charge ceremony at Camp Katuu and meet Chris McDonald from Alaska and a member of the Church.  He and the rest of his unit will serve in Palau for six months, and we’re hoping and praying that Chris will serve in the branch while he’s here too.

New CAT (Civic Action Team) 

Sister Carter with a new friend

Chris McDonald with the CAT team

Since Friday was Valentine’s Day we took a few moments for ourselves.  After attending the Young Men’s Valentine party for a few minutes, we went to dinner and watched a movie on our computer.  Call us wild and crazy!
Sister Norgrant & Sister Ale with Valentine treats

Finally we were able to make our trip to Babeldaob on Saturday this week.  We’ve missed seeing these members and had a great time sharing a gospel message, offering prayers, and extending greetings from the branch.

We didn’t have any convert baptisms Saturday night, but we did enjoy Mia Johnson’s baptism early Sunday morning before our regular meetings.  It was also her eighth birthday, so the day was doubly special to her and we felt blessed sharing this experience with her and her family.  They are such strong members of the branch and set a powerful example of service and testimony.
Mia & Primary children

The Johnson Family

Mia & Josh

Sunday evening Sister Masiasomua and Sister Purcell were in charge of a missionary fireside at the chapel.  They and the other missionaries had recorded videos showing moments out of their day and posed the question “Why would anyone want to be a missionary?” patterned after Elder Uchtdorf’s question in the last Conference “Why would anyone want to join this church?”  They showed part of Elder Uchtdorf’s talk, their video clips, and a slideshow of all those baptized in the last few months.  Sister Carter began and ended the narration while Sister Masiasomua bore her testimony at the end.  It was a powerful evening punctuated by many tears.
Beautiful sisters and a full moon (through the trees)

We are blessed to serve with such valiant missionaries who give up school, work, family, and everything familiar to preach the gospel here in Palau.  We are also blessed to feel the love of our family and friends at home who so willingly write or Skype to share this wonderful mission experience with us.  We express our heartfelt gratitude to each of you and pray that you will feel the power of our prayers in your behalf.