Monday, April 28, 2014

Sun + Sand + YSA's = Fun

Palau may be a small country, but the people here have giant hearts that endear them to us forever.  We are grateful for our branch family and all they do to teach their families the way to happiness.  As we visit in their homes, we sense their desire to do good.
One of three Chinese ships that stopped by Palau

Elder Dopp’s antibiotics kicked in and he’s back to 100%.  Sister Ale’s cold is almost gone too.  Neither have wanted to slow down the work. 

Jorang, one of our recent converts, passed away on Monday morning.  She had been in and out of the hospital over the last couple of months, but we were shocked at the news.  Her family has felt a great degree of comfort knowing about the Plan of Salvation and that she made the decision to be baptized not long ago.  We’re grateful for their example of faith and determination to do good.

Tuesday morning the elders happily wielded machetes to trim greenery around the church sign plus cleaned it so it was a little more visible from the road.  The sisters helped weed at the church and did general maintenance while the elders enjoyed cutting down a bunch of trees and bushes.

Elder Malais trimming a tree

Sister Talakai & Sister Purcell pulling weeds

Elder Fullmer cleaning the sign

Sister Purcell & Sister Talakai

Elder Malais & Elder Fullmer hauling limbs

A good-looking crew

A little basketball before service

Some of our Filipino members work in Palau and send money home to their families.  One of them, Erwin, is a single man just recently baptized. He’s now working quite a distance from Koror and unable to make it to meetings as often as he would like or his piano lessons held during the week, so we visited him on his worksite.  He was so pleased that we would actually make the trip to see him, but we felt that our little trip was a blessing to us!

Seminary and Institute are winding down for another year.  How can that be?!  When we arrived in Palau we were faced with seminary/institute graduation and making plans for the next year—and now it’s over—again!  We love our seminary and institute students, and though they may be few in number, they are powerful in spirit! We have one seminary student who has 100% attendance.  That’s quite a feat anywhere, but that’s unheard of here, and he and his family are being blessed as a result.

Friday afternoon we enjoyed a fun-filled YSA activity at Long Island Park.  We were supposed to go swimming, but everyone started playing volleyball, football, and tossing a Frisbee.  From there, the YSA leaders had planned relay games that had us all laughing and rolling in the sand.  We enjoyed plenty of chips, cookies, and Kool-aid between games and even had several act as spectators for each activity.  We love our college-aged students and will miss many of them as they return to their islands for the summer.
Trad, Hanson blowing up toys

Rolmi & Ruthana

Volleyball game

Warming up

In a line

Sister Bevans & Sister Ale

Trad & Hanson

Rolmi in charge

Water balloon toss

More relay games

Preparing for tug-o-war

Luke & Junior

YSA Group

Ready to pull

More fun

Elder Murdoch & Elder Malais

Sister Bevans & Sister Ale

Teruo Melus arrived at our apartment Wednesday evening to work on his missionary papers!  He is such a humble, faithful young man and so ready to serve as a full-time missionary.  He and two others are now working on their medical and dental check-ups to make sure they’re healthy and ready for their interviews next month when President Mecham comes to visit.

We began the first class of the missionary preparation course Sunday evening.  We had four attend, including one non-member!  It went well and they're excited for the next 14 weeks.

We are grateful for the letters and packages we receive from our family at home.  They are visual reminders of their love and support.  We miss them, but are grateful for these few months we have to serve the people of Palau.  We love you!

Sunday, April 20, 2014


We’ve been reminded by several friends and family that this week marks our year anniversary as missionaries in the Micronesia Guam Mission.  In many ways the time has flown as on angels’ wings and in others it has crawled as slowly as our Palauan red centipedes.

Chris McDonald joining us for dinner
Time has slipped by as we love our members and missionaries and feel their strength and faith in hastening the work of inviting all to come unto Christ.  We are grateful to be associated with such inspiring people and feel our own testimonies grow through their righteous examples of honesty and industry.
Listening to Conference (mostly)

Time slows considerably when we miss our family at home, especially when they celebrate life-changing events in their lives.  We know they are fine without us, and that double-edged sword leaves us both humbled and grateful.
Easter eggs

Easter egg fun

Elder Murdoch & Elder Malais

Sister Talakai & Sister Bevans

Elders Dopp, Malais, Murdoch, Fullmer

Sister Purcell & Sister Ale

Time came to a near standstill this week as one of our young elders, Elder Dopp, suffered from a terrible sore throat and temperature.  We nursed him for a couple of days before taking him to the hospital early Saturday morning for an evaluation.  We didn’t feel much confidence in the diagnosis, but at least he was able to get some antibiotics, and we’re relieved to report that he’s feeling much better and should return to 100% health by tomorrow.
Elder Dopp resting while his companion Elder Fullmer keeps watch

Doing better every hour

Some of our time this week has been dedicated to helping young people work on mission papers.  Our little branch has two young men serving as full-time missionaries already, but a young man and a young woman began their process this week.  This is one of the greatest pleasures of our experience here.


Most of the world watched General Conference two weeks ago, but we finally had our time to enjoy the spiritual feast this week-end.  We met at 9:00 A.M. at the church on Saturday, watched a session, enjoyed a potluck lunch, then watched the afternoon session.  We repeated this pattern on Sunday, but many more members of the branch attended with us.  We’re grateful for the messages of church leaders that instruct, inspire, encourage, strengthen, and testify—and already look forward to their messages printed in the Liahona so we can study and “remember” the feelings of this week-end.
Lunch on Saturday

Waiting for lunch

Ready to serve

Between sessions of Conference, feeding the missionaries, and meeting with members, we remembered and celebrated that time that the Savior Jesus Christ came forth from the tomb as the culmination of his Atonement and offered us the unspeakable gift of forgiveness and eternal life as we sincerely and humbly repent.  We testify that he lives.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Back to Work

Dr. Hartup is smiling--we think!
We began the week on Guam visiting our friend the dentist.  Dr. Hartup must have some pull (pun intended) with his dental lab because Elder Carter’s crowns were prepared in only two days and placed on Monday afternoon.  We returned Tuesday for some adjustments, but they seem to be fine and are a major improvement over previous problems.

Monday evening we were blessed to share family home evening with other senior couples.  Elder and Sister Hurst hosted the event and asked all of us to bring our laptops.  They shared several facets of the Church’s family search website, and all of us were pleased and excited to learn more about our ancestors and how we can share this information with members and investigators.
Sister Martin & Sister McClellan

Sister Hurst, Elder Martin, Elder Hurst

Sister Mecham

One of the blessings of spending time in Guam was visiting with Bishop Freddie Nicerio, our director of seminaries and institutes for Micronesia.  He gave Elder Carter a blessing, assisted by Elder Martin, that reminded him to increase his faith in the Savior Jesus Christ and His Atonement and that he would be able to adequately deal with his medical issues.  A sweet spiritual lift.

Wednesday afternoon we packed our belongings and drove to the mission office to meet with President Mecham.  He gave Elder Carter a priesthood blessing that brought a sweetness and calm to both of us.  Elder and Sister Martin followed us to the airport to retrieve our vehicle, and to our surprise Bishop Nicerio pulled in next to us as he dropped off his sister for her flight.  We love these great people but there’s no place like home—Palau!
Elder Carter, Elder & Sister Martin, Sister Carter

Elder Carter, Elder & Sister Martin, Bishop Nicerio

All of our missionaries greeted us Wednesday night as we arrived at our apartment.  Their homemade signs and heartfelt sentiments brightened the day and our hearts.  We love our missionaries! 
As we sat around catching up on the events of the last few days, the zone leaders answered their phone and stepped outside to visit with the assistants to President Mecham.  They later reported the mission-altering results of the phone call.  Our dear Sister Norgrant was transferred to Yigo on Guam and will serve in a threesome with two Chuukese companions and will also travel to Saipan as a sister leader/trainer.  Sister Purcell will stay in Topside but will serve as the sister leader/trainer on Palau.  Sister Ale will continue to serve in Meyuns but will have a new companion, Sister Bevans, who has been serving for four months on Guam.  All four of our elders had no changes.

Elder Malais and Elder Murdoch stopped over with several packages from our family and friends.  We’re planning a mission preparation course, and many of our needed materials were in the packages, plus plenty of treats to share.  Thank you!
Elder Carter opening a package

Sisters' luncheon to say goodbye

Sister Ale & Sister Norgrant
Thursday night we gathered to say goodbye to Sister Norgrant.  We’re thrilled that she has this new opportunity, but are so sad to see her go.  She is a faithful, determined, and focused missionary, and will be a blessing wherever she serves.
Sister Carter, Sister Norgrant, Elder Carter

Sisters Purcell, Talakai, Norgrant, Ale

Sister Ale & Sister Norgrant

Our cute zone!

Sister Norgrant's last treat in Palau

Sister Norgrant

Friday night we gathered at Palau Community College to watch some of our members as they participated in International Night.  They modeled customary and modern clothing for all the islands and then performed dances and songs representative of their various cultures. 
Native costume

More costumes
Elder Murdoch & Elder Fullmer

Angie & John Jr.

Missionaries enjoying the show
"All Micronesian" shirts

We couldn’t stay long though because we hurried to our apartment to meet our new missionary, Sister Bevans.  We spent a few minutes learning about her, her family, her past service on Guam, and her plans for the future.  We hope she feels comfortable on Palau and know she will be a valuable asset for our zone.
Sister Bevan, Elder Fullmer, Sister Ale

Sister Bevan--first night in Palau

Elder Fullmer and Elder Dopp, our zone leaders, hosted a meeting Saturday afternoon where they presented the training they had received in Guam.  They reminded us that God’s ways are not man’s ways and that we need to discover for ourselves what He wants us to accomplish in our mission areas.

We love Saturdays because we usually have a baptism, and this week we were able to watch Pauline Kobeney Thomas and Ruthana Lanwi enter the waters of baptism.  Ronnie, Pauline’s husband, performed the ordinance for both of them.  He was baptized only a few weeks ago and was so pleased to have this opportunity to exercise his priesthood and see his wife join him in the Church. 
Pauline & Ruthana--so happy!

Pauline, Ruthana, and friends

Sister Purcell, Pauline, Ronnie, Ruthana, Sister Talakai

How wonderful to be back with our Palauan saints on Sunday!  We missed them terribly, and they said they missed us.  Though the air conditioning is still broken at the church, we love gathering together and learning from one another.  Two of our recent converts spoke in Sacrament Meeting along with Elder Murdoch.  They bore sweet, simple, and pure testimonies about their own conversions.  The Primary children sang a capella versions of “I Stand All Amazed” and “Did Jesus Really Live Again?”.  We played a piano duet (“Christ the Lord is Risen Today”) and the choir ended the meeting with “He is Risen.”  Next Sunday is Easter, but we will watch General Conference so this was our chance to sing our Easter music.

Following priesthood executive meeting and branch council, the missionaries met at our apartment for dinner.  Since we were gone on Fast Sunday last week, we decided to serve breakfast.  They seemed to enjoy our version of an egg mcmuffin—at least all the food disappeared.  For dessert, we devoured Elder Carter’s birthday cake.  His birthday is this Thursday, but we always celebrate together the Sunday before—and we will celebrate every single day this week.
Enjoying treats

Elder Dopp & Elder Fullmer

Sister Talakai, Elder Carter, Sister Purcell

Elder Carter and his birthday cake

A lighter moment

A little more traditional

Make a wish!

How many candles?

Sister Bevans, Sister Ale

Elder Malais & Elder Murdoch

Elder Murdoch

We are grateful to serve the people of Palau, but we couldn’t do it without the ever-abiding support of our family and friends.  We love you and feel the power of your faith!