When we first arrived on our tiny island nation of Palau (176 square miles), the missionaries handed us the keys to a brand new light blue 2013 Hyundai Tucson. Since then we’ve put 10,000 miles on it and worn out the tires on these less than smooth roadways. Monday morning we had four new tires put on while we stayed at the church teaching piano lessons.
|Love that stop/yield sign!|
New tires are nice, but a single phone call Monday morning made everything else pale in comparison. DHL had a package for us, and we knew exactly what it was: Teruo Melus’ mission call! As soon as we had it in our hands, we drove to the hospital where Teruo works and handed him the envelope. We were the only ones in the hallway to see him duck his head, cover his face, and start to cry. He is a humble and faith-filled young man willing to serve the Lord wherever called even though he’s never been off the island of Palau.
|Delivering the envelope|
Teruo wanted all of the missionaries and his family to be with him when he opened his call, so he set the time for 5:30 Monday evening. The time could not go fast enough for all of us, but eventually we all met in front of his home along with some of his family and neighbors. Sister Purcell showed him how to open the envelope, remove the papers, and uncover and read one sentence at a time.
Teruo will serve in the Canada Vancouver Mission and reports to the Provo Missionary Training Center on December 16th. The cries of surprise and approval could be heard all over Meyuns along with a multitude of congratulations from everyone. Several times Teruo had to cover his eyes to hide his tears, especially when his mother finally arrived from work. She burst into tears at the news and the moment became even more emotional for all of us.
|One line at a time|
|Responsibilities of a missionary|
|Can't believe it|
|A few tears|
|A few gathered for the openin|
|So proud of Teruo|
|Teruo and The Sisters|
|Teruo and The Elders|
|Joel (dad), Teruo, President Thing|
|JoriLynn (mom) & Teruo|
|Sharing some tears|
|Joel, Teruo, JoriLynn|
|A few Seminary students|
Elder Striplin conducted another wonderful district meeting as he shared thoughts about finding new investigators. He reminded us that every soul is precious to God and we have a responsibility to share the gospel with everyone. We enjoyed role plays and discussed ways to talk to more people every day. At the end of district meeting, we always stand and sing our mission hymn as Sister Carter accompanies. This week was a pay-off for Sister Carter as Sister Ale, one of her piano students, accompanied the hymn to the music of “Hark All Ye Nations”. Sister Ale did an amazing job and will have several other opportunities to play the piano before she goes home.
|Sister Purcell & Sister Muller|
|Elder Bush & Elder Striplin|
|Elder Malais & Elder Murdoch|
|Sister Talakai & Sister Ale|
|Sister Ale playing the mission hymn|
|Sister Ale playing as Sister Purcell sings|
|Sisters Purcell & Muller sing as Sister Ale plays|
One of our members, Walter Mariur, mentioned how much he would like to get in touch with the missionary who baptized him, and we were blessed to be able to find that missionary in Oregon who immediately wrote Walter a couple of emails through us. We wish that elder could have seen Walter’s face as we delivered the notes and shared the pictures he had sent. Walter was beaming with pleasure that “his” missionary remembered him and continued strong in the faith.
Thursday evening was the first Institute class for this year, and 15 students came along with a few investigators. Angie Ngiraked gave a beautiful lesson introducing the Doctrine & Covenants. Elder Malais, another of Sister Carter’s piano students, played the closing hymn ("Be Still My Soul") beautifully and will accompany this same group when they sing in Sacrament Meeting next month.
Our trip to Babeldaob, always a rewarding experience, reminded us again that Heavenly Father is aware of each of His children, no matter how far they live away from the chapel and other members. We met two of our sisters at a village market. They and their friends prepare and cook all week to display and sell their wares on Saturdays. We enjoyed visits with most of the people we hoped to find and expect to find the others on another trip.
|Still a lot for sale but much sold already|
|Love this group of ladies|
|Never move again?|
|Another beautiful spot|
|View from a backroad|
|Newly painted capitol|
|Giant tree next to the road|
|Formerly a car...|
|Now a flower pot|
|Only one of this type of tree|
While on the big island we visited the Korean Memorial Park near the capitol building. We’ve seen the sign many times and finally decided it was time to see what was there. It was unkempt, but in a beautiful setting and a sweet tribute to those who lost their lives during the war.
|Entrance to the cemetery|
|Empty flagpoles with capitol building in background|
|The capitol between pines|
|Road from cemetery to capitol|
|Sign welcoming to cemetery|
|It was MUCH farther than 200 m|
Sunday morning we welcomed about 100 people to Sacrament Meeting, but none of the speakers showed! Jerry Knight conducted, so he simply called three people from the congregation to speak: Walter Mariur, Elder Striplin, and Karla Johnson. Each one shared a heartfelt, inspiring message. Raphia Ngiraked sang a solo of "If the Savior Stood Beside Me" and the choir sang "A Place in His Arms" with Courtney Tervet as the soloist. Both musical numbers were sweet sermons accompanied by a powerful Spirit that quelled even the noisiest youngsters.
|Ready to light the candle|
|Thinking of a wish|
|Ready to cut|
|Testing the cake|
|Elder Murdoch liked it|
|...and so did Elder Malais|
|Elder Bush & Elder Striplin|
Our newest missionary, Elder Bush, turns 19 on September 1st, so we celebrated at dinner Sunday afternoon. He is doing so well and doesn’t even seem to have any trouble adjusting to a new country, new food, and new customs. He’s diligently learning Palauan and listening carefully to everything his trainer shares with him. He hasn’t decided what to do for his birthday tomorrow, since it falls on a preparation day, but he will figure it out or the rest of the missionaries will decide for him. We’ve had a bunch of rain this week along with fantastic lightning and thunder storms, so it also may depend on the weather.
|Clouds below the mountains|
We love our family at home and are thankful for their continuing support as we serve thousands of miles away from them. The miles seems to shrink as we share our Palauan adventures with them and they share news of family and friends at home. The gospel brings us all together!
|A little late for the sunset|