Sunday, August 3, 2014

Work hard, play, work hard!

Missionaries work hard, and we play hard too.  We decided to cancel piano lessons for the missionaries and finish all our chores early Monday so we could meet at the beach on the north end of Palau.  By the time we arrived, the other missionaries had finished a rousing game of Frisbee and were looking for other games that didn’t require so much exertion.  Our friend Arisei and his nephew Grant joined us as we sat in the sand, ate snacks, and played a few more games together.  The weather even cooperated by providing a few passing clouds, cooler temperatures, and lower humidity.
Sister Purcell

Sister Bevans

Elder Malais & Elder Dopp

Arisei, Grant, Elder Dopp

Elder Striplin, Elder Murdoch

Sisters Purcell, Ale, Talakai, Bevans

Elder Striplin, Elder Murdoch

Sister Bevans, Sister Talakai, Elder Murdoch, Elder Striplin

Sister Purcell, Sister Ale

Elder Dopp, Elder Malais

The whole gang

Sun & Sand

Smiles for the camera

On the way home

Chris McDonald, our friend on the team at Camp Katuu, came to dinner Monday evening and what a bittersweet event.  He leaves for home (Alaska) next Friday, so this was our last chance to spend valuable time together and deepen our friendship.

Sports Night came to an end Tuesday evening with our last gathering for basketball.  It’s hard to believe that our summer series is over, but at least we had 36 people come to the chapel to celebrate a successful season.  Many have asked us to continue even after school starts, perhaps on Friday nights, but we’re still discussing logistics with our branch leaders.
Hurt--but not at Sports Night

Just getting started

Taking a break

Ready to substitute

Seldom do we mention all the member visits we make, but Wednesday morning of this week we visited one of our sisters (35 years old) who just returned from FOUR MONTHS in the hospital.  No one expected her to survive.  In fact, her family members had already met to plan her funeral.  Through a powerful priesthood blessing, she did survive and is thriving at home under the watchful care of family and friends.

We’ve had plenty of occasions as we visit members to remind them that Jesus was not popular during his day and that many turned away from him.  We may have family or others that try to lead us away from the truth, but as we lift and sustain one another we can strengthen our testimonies and bless the lives of others.
Community cemetery

Cemetery--many burials are at the family home

Kelty taking bananas to a neighbor

Smiling for the camera

Malakal harbor

Ship at Malakal

Out to sea

Elder Murdoch, our district leader, taught us Thursday afternoon about getting commitments from those we are teaching.  We practiced together then gave suggestions to each other.  After sharing a sweet treat, all of us returned to our areas to keep working and inviting all to come unto Christ.
Elder Murdoch conducting

Sister Purcell & Sister Bevans listening closely

Elder Striplin & Elder Murdoch cleaning up

Thursday evening we traveled to Aimeliik to visit Erwin Angeles who just celebrated his 29th birthday.  We love Erwin and look for every opportunity to be with him.  He works with three other men on a big farm and seldom makes it to Koror to attend church, but he has a tender heart and wants to gather with the Saints whenever he can.
Opening the farm gate

Erwin & Sister Carter

Happy Birthday!

Blowing out the candle

Elder Carter, Erwin, Sister Carter

We enjoyed meeting with several members to watch First Friday Flicks, and though there’s always a big mess of popcorn and liquid spilled all over the room, it’s another reason for us to gather at the chapel and spend time with one another in a safe, secure environment.  When the movie began only ten people were there, but within just a few minutes, many others came to fill every available chair.

Saturday we traveled around Babeldaob to visit members who live far away from the chapel.  We were blessed to meet two women we’ve searched for many months to find.  They live in separate hamlets and neither seemed too happy to meet us—at first—but after talking for a few minutes we discovered so much about their backgrounds and desires to do good.  Both would like us to return. 
On the way to the stone monoliths

The top of the trail

No one knows how they got here

Both leaning

Taking a break

A foundation?

Trail marker?

Surveying the scene

Reclining stone?

Newly painted capitol

Ready for the Pacific Island Forum

Ocean on both sides of the road

Another sister we visited just suffered the loss of her mother and was grateful that the Lord was mindful of her and would send us to her.  Another sister talked about difficulties she’s experiencing with her husband’s family and the pressure they exert to change her faith.  She bore her testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel and is trying to remain strong.  We felt the power of the Spirit guiding our footsteps.

Saturday evening we enjoyed the baptism of Crystal Jane Nacionales (CJ), daughter of Joel Nacionales.  CJ just arrived in Palau last week.  She heard the missionary lessons in the Philippines and wanted to be baptized, so Sister Ale and Sister Talakai were happy to teach her again and prepare a wonderful baptismal service.  Joel baptized his 20 year old daughter.  This event was even sweeter as it fell only a week after Joel and his wife Rayda were sealed in the Manila Philippines Temple.
Joel, CJ, Rayda, Van

The sisters & the family

Joel & CJ

Sunday morning we were happy to greet John, Angie, and Raphia Ngiraked at church.  They returned Friday night from the Philippines where they’ve spent the last week doing temple work for their departed ancestors.  We had many investigators attend also and plenty of members bear their testimonies during fast and testimony meeting. 

Later Sunday afternoon all the missionaries gathered at our apartment to break their fasts and celebrate Elder Murdoch’s upcoming 20th birthday.  He’s the youngest in our zone and on the 6th of August we will no longer have a single teenager serving as a full-time missionary!  Instead of cake, Elder Murdoch requested what we call raspberry pretzel salad.  We served it last Thanksgiving, and he thought it would be a good idea to revisit it for his birthday.  The only negative for this dinner was missing Elder Dopp, Elder Malais, and Sister Purcell since they’re attending a leadership conference in Guam for the weekend.  We miss them!
Ready to celebrate

Dessert time

Elder Murdoch & Elder Striplin

A picture will make it last longer

Only one candle?

Singing "Happy Birthday"

Gabidor & Sister Bevans

Elder Murdoch & Sister Talakai

Who needs cake?

He likes it

One more bite

We like food

Too much food

As we take a few moments to review our week of missionary service, we are forcefully reminded about the blessings poured out upon us and our family.  Thanks to each of you for your sincere prayers as we all work together to hasten the work of the Lord.  We’re grateful for our knowledge of the Lord’s plan for each of us and call upon Him to bless all of you and strengthen our resolve to do better and be better.
CJ, Rayda, Joel

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