Called to Serve

We have loved traveling and being with family for the past two years but we felt the call to serve another mission so here we are in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania for the next year.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

This past week we have spent most of our time getting more acquainted with our duties and the materials we are working with in the Mission Office. We have a Church Service Center that takes care of buildings and other admin functions in the islands so we went in to introduce ourselves to everyone. It is a very International group. The main person is half Tongan and half Caucasian, the receptionist is from Fiji, another woman is from Tonga, one man from Puerto Rico and one is from the US but married an Asian woman. It is really interesting getting to know all these people.

I have spent about half of my time this week trying to clean out the supply room and going through filing cabinets to weed out unnecessary materials. There was quite an accumulation. I think that you can gather by my activity that this job is not going to keep us busy full time. I am gaining a lot of knowledge as I clean out the files both in the filing cabinets and on the computer.

One thing we worked on this week was trying to figure out when we can call home. To keep our calls to the usual Sunday evening that the family is used to means we must call on Monday morning before we go to the office for Jonathan (that makes it about 5pm Sunday for him) and then on our lunch hour to California when it is about 6pm. We did get a call into everyone on Wed. (Tuesday for everyone) and Skyped Thomas and Lucas. Ashlyn and Preston were watching TV when we called and did not want to talk to us.

Thursday we met a real estate man at a condo complex that had 3 vacancies. Unfortunately, he could only get us into one and the minute we walked into the apartment we knew it wasn't for us. It had carpeting and it had been empty for quite a while. In this climate carpet picks up the moisture and it smelled really bad. It was also a bit old and dirty looking. We have decided that we will keep looking but there is no hurry and if something comes up that is good we'll take it but we are okay where we are if nothing comes up.

This is looking at our apartment complex from across the street. We are on the bottom floor about 1/3 from the left.

This is our water filter system. I am not sure that it is really necessary here on Guam but you absolutely need it on the the rest of the islands in our mission. This is a three part system. You have to change the filters at different times. I can't remember the schedule but I know # 3 only needs to be changed once a year. The other two are monthly, maybe, on a rotating basis.

This WAS our resident house Gecko. We saw him several times the first week and then we found him dead in the middle of our living area. I think he did not like the bug spray we used to get rid of the cock roaches.

This is what we see every time we walk out our front door. It is actually fairly neat here. The shoes are usually scattered and there are chairs, etc.

We went to a night market here in the Chamorro Village. This is an area down town that is set up to highlight the Chamorro culture, foods and crafts. Once a week they open this tourist area to people who set up additional food and craft booths and they have entertainment too. The place was PACKED! It was wall to wall people - the majority Japanese tourists. We did buy a print of a water color painted by a woman who goes around capturing island settings. I was also very tempted to buy a necklace made with pieces of vertabrae from the Brown Tree Snake that is prevalant on this island. I held off and if I still want it when we go again I will get it.

This is the Brown Tree Snake. It came to the island shortly after WWII. It is a nocturnal snake, thank goodness, and it has a liking for birds. For that reason there are very few birds on the island. They are trying to cut down the population of the snake with the hope that there will be more birds.

The highlight of the week was our trip around the South end of the island today. Since all of the Senior Missionaries went - that makes seven of us - I guess we could call it a Seniors activity. We took a leisurely tour of the main sights along the coast road. We saw a lot of WWII related monuments and museums. They were all very interesting and I just kept thinking of my Dad every where we went.

The United States wanted to make sure they did not land on Guam only to have the Japanese outnumber and defeat them so they bombed the island for almost two weeks from out at sea. By the time the Marines landed in July 1944 at Asan Beach most everything was destroyed.

Asan Beach today.

Memorial to US Armed Forces at Asan Beach.

Each side of the memorial was a different branch of the armed services.

This is a Japanese submarine outside
the War in the Pacific National Historic Museum.

On the way around the island, we stopped to look at one of our chapels in Talisay. We did not get a picture of it but there is a small house built on the grounds where the missionaries live.

We stopped in Umatic where Magellan first made contact with the Chamorro people in 1521. Supposedly the people went out to Magellans ship taking trinkets, etc., and then they took the skiff - maybe felt that they had paid for it with the trinkets. Magellan retaliated by burning down their village. This picture is taken from the Fort above the village.

Ruins of an old Sentry Box at Fort Nuestra Senora de la Soledad.

There are still three canons located in the ruins of the Fort.

Sister Zaugg was itching to take a ride on a carabao. It is like a waterbuffalo. The man is Chamorran but had lived in LA for a time. He was a real comedian.

There was a little old man selling bananas and coconuts under a thatch roofed hut. We were surprised to see orange coconuts. The bananas were very tiny but sweet. That is Elder Westergard and Sister Westergard. They leave in April and we are going to be SOOOOOOO sorry to see them leave.

Our next stop was at Saluglula Pool. This was a protected area where the water was crystal clear and it was perfect for swimming. There were several little cabanas in a grassy area so you could bring a picnic and spend the day.

When we were almost to the end of our loop, we stopped to eat lunch at a highly overpriced hamburger joint named Jeff's Pirate Cove. It was a place that just had to be experienced but we have had our $10 burger so we probably will not go again. During WWII this area was developed as an R&R place for bomber pilots. They had tennis courts, a swimming pool, etc. The restaurant has been there for many years but it has changed hands several times. Jeff, the present owner, tends bar and greets diners. He wears a bandana on his head and has a beard but that is as close as he gets to looking like a pirate.

We all had a great time and all came back a little pinker than when we started out. Fun in the sun!!

We ended Saturday with a baptism. Elder Walpole had told us about this young man that he had been teaching. He did not speak English and the elders did not speak Chuukese - the young mans language. They have had to have an interpreter help them with the discussions and it is just amazing that the young man was able to feel the spirit and ask for baptism. This was someone that they just happened upon when the man they were supposed to see was not home so they approached 3 people who were sitting outside next door. The service was really good. Two young women gave the talks and you could tell how nervous they were but they did great. They gave part of there talks in Chuukese.

Many young adults from the smaller outer islands come to Guam for better employment opportunities so we have several different languages and ethnic groups in our branch. We have members from Palau, Yap, Siapan, Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Korsae, and they each speak different languages in addition to the Chamorro spoken on Guam. Fortunately we have young missionaries in Guam that have served on those islands and have learned the languages on their own. These young missionaries are just amazing and it is such a joy to work with them.

This is our chapel in Barrigada.

Today is Sunday and we heard on the news about the earthquake in Chile and the subsequent tsunamis. They announced in church that the outer islands had all been evacuated to higher ground but there was no need for that in Guam. We had a very peaceful Sabbath day. We had invited Elders Maybe and Colemere for dinner. Elder Colemere said it is the first dinner appointment he has had on his whole mission. He has been out 15 months! I am just sad that we can only invite the missionaries who are serving in our immediate area. That limits us to 2 elders and the sisters. I guess I will just have to keep treating the others on Pday in the office.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

We're Here

The date shows that it is the 20th but it is actually Tuesday, Feb. 23rd for us - for you it is still Monday the 22nd. I started this on the computer at the office on Sunday but could not post the pictures. We got internet connection today and so I can finally finish posting the Blog.

We left the MTC at 5:00am on Monday the 15th. There were two big buses filled with missionaries going to all parts of the world. Our flight out of Salt Lake left at 8:30am and we flew to Portland. We enjoyed a 3 hour layover before getting on our 11 hour flight to Tokyo. When we arrived in Tokyo, we at first went to the wrong gate. There was an earlier flight leaving for Guam and so Wayne asked if there were seats available for us on that flight. There was a Continental flight to Guam that had been canceled and so they had booked everyone on the Delta flights. Since they were now booked full, we went looking for our gate. We had 3 hour layover so we found a seat and settled in for the wait. We were lucky enough to have one of the flight attendents, Carlos, sit down next to us. About a half hour into our conversation with him, he mentioned that he was assigned to the business class section and that he was surprised to see that it was almost full (his co-worker was looking on the computer next to him). When he had checked earlier there were only two passengers. We looked at him and made some comment to the effect of asking if he could move us to his section. We did not think he would do anything and so a while later, when he said he was checking in, we were surprised to have him hand us two tickets for business class when he came back.

Bad picture of Carlos the Flight Attendent

We had a WONDERFUL 3 hour flight to Guam. The seats were so comfortable, lots of room and a great meal to boot. We were actually able to get a few hours of sleep. Wayne handed Carlos a copy of the Book of Mormon as we deplaned.

We arrived in Guam at 12:40am. We had to wait forever for our luggage but finally got it all and headed for customs. We breezed through that and were greeted by President and Sister Dowdle who took us to their home to sleep for a few hours before starting the day. We ate breakfast with 8 missionaries who had come for a Zone Leaders Council and then Elder and Sister Westergard (the senior couple covering the office until we arrived) picked us up and took us to our apartment.

Our apartment. What can I say? I feel like a newly wed again. Wayne walked in and immediately said it reminded him of the apartment we lived in when we were first married. It is about the same size. We are located on one of the main roads and so there is more vehicle noise than we like. I think we will get used to that but cigarette smoke tries to leak in from the dryer vent (the washer and dryer are in a closet in the kitchen) and the lack of landscaping outside bothers us. We are looking for another apartment but this one will be okay if we can't find something better. The standards are a little different here and we just need to accept it.

Living room with dining area to the right

The kitchen is really big for this area

One of the many millipedes found in our apartment. Bugs are a bigger problem than at home. We also found a cockroach that was 2 - 3 inches long. Thank goodness it was DEAD!

We unpacked our suitcases and settled into the apartment a little and then headed for the office. The Westergards have been wonderful in helping us learn the ropes. Our training in the MTC was great and we feel comfortable in most of what we are doing.

Beach in Hagatna

The Westergards had taken us on a mini tour of the main part of the island and at 5pm when we left the office we decided to try and find our way to the Kmart and a Mall. I was amazed at how well Wayne found his way around. He went in the opposite direction that we had gone with the Westergards and he was able to find everything we needed. I was totally lost!!

We were able to stay up until 10pm even though we had only had about 6 hours sleep in the last 38 hours. Arriving in the middle of the night and going to bed immediately really helps with the jet lag. We had no problems.

Oh, one thing I discovered on the first day here was Mt. Lam Lam - The Shave Ice store. They serve it with ice cream in the middle just like we had in Hawaii. I have found my favorite place on the island.

President Dowdle was going off island on Friday and we had not really had a chance to talk to him yet so we met he and his wife at Ruby Tuesday's for dinner on Thursday night. We have a LOT of the places you find in the States. We are waiting to experience island cuisine. So far I don't even know what that is.

Young adults getting ready to hike to Tarzan Falls.

On our first preparation day, the Westergards again took us on a mini tour. This time we hit the north part of the island. We went to Ritidian Beach, Two Lovers Point and the beach in the main part of town. All locations were absolutely beautiful. We can hardly wait to tour the South end of the island. We had started the day out at a pancake breakfast for the Young Adults at 6am so even after several hours of touring with the Westergards we were home by lunchtime and so Wayne decided to hunt for another Mall (there are 3 big ones that we know of). We also found a mini Costco named Cost U Less. We are checking out all the grocery stores to compare prices which are all high.

Two Lovers Point

Looking towards Hagatna from Two Lovers Point

The Mini Costco

On Sunday we attended church in the Barrigada Branch. I was really surprised at how many were in attendance. The Branch was split in September and I can not imagine where they would have put anymore people. Our meetings were full.

So far we are loving it here. It is so fun to meet all the missionaries. We have several sister missionaries who come from Australia, Hawaii and parts unknown. I sometimes have a hard time with some of the accents but they are all so CUTE and friendly. I made cookies to put in the office today, since it is Pday and we were told the missionaries just kind of pop into the office. There was a steady stream through the day and they devoured the cookies - all 7 dozen. They were very appreciative of them.

Tonight we had a senior missionary family home evening. There were 7 of us for dinner and a get acquainted activity. It was fun but I miss our Empty Nesters FHE group. It is nice to have a few other "older" missionaries among all the young ones.

Monday, February 15, 2010

MTC Week Two

Sunday, Feb 7th, was Fast Sunday. We attended an MTC Branch and had a wonderful Testimony Meeting. It was a small group but was filled with testimonies from young elders and one young sister. It was great to feel of their strength and desire to serve the Lord. From there we went into a Mission Conference with all 2300 missionaries. The Mission Presidency spoke along with Elder and Sister Jackman. She spoke about how much work a Mission President is called on to do and encouraged the missionaries to be kind to their presidents. Elder Clegg, one of the MTC Presidency, spoke as did Levon Cardon and his wife, that evening when we were all together again for a Fireside.

Monday morning we started our office training. I was so relieved to get into the computer lab and find that I already knew what they were teaching. I just needed to brush up a little on my Word and Excel. They taught Outlook which I have not used before and then we learned IMOS which is the main program used by missions in the Church. It seems pretty simple. We are just going to need a little time to remember all that we are supposed to be inputting into it. We had a wonderful group of 16 in our class. It was fun getting to know them better and our classes were lively because we were so familiar with each other by then.

Tuesday evening Elder C. Scott Grow, of the Seventy, came to speak at a Devotional. He was a very good speaker and really got you motivated. He spoke of setting goals and brought a charge from President Monson to "come to the rescue" of less active members.

Thursday was our last day of classes. It was a bittersweet day. We have gotten so close with some of the other couples and it will be sad to leave them all but we are all very anxious to get to our final destinations. We gathered for a group picture before everyone went their separate ways.

Friday began the LONG weekend. We had nothing on our schedule so we planned our own day. In the morning we went to the Provo Temple where I was lucky enough to find a pair of earrings that I had left there last Saturday.

It was a great session and we really enjoyed the walk to and from. After lunch we discovered that is was Free Fare Friday on the city buses so we hopped on and went down to the Provo Towne Center. We actually only shopped at JC Penney but I hit a gold mine. I really did not have enough time before we left to shop for the cotton blend blouses that were suggested. They were having a half price sale and I found several. We hopped on the bus back to the MTC and made it in time for dinner - very important that you do not miss those FREE meals. After dinner we decided to do our laundry instead of waiting for the morning.

Saturday we decided to take the MTC shuttle to the University Mall in Orem. We had a nice exercise session as we walked the mall for an hour. I did find another blouse at Macy's and was happy to think that there is a Macy's on Guam. I prefer that over Kmart. After lunch we were all ready to take it easy when we remembered that we are responsible for cleaning our rooms before checking out. We did not want to have to do it on Sunday so we spent a few hours doing a thorough cleaning job. We will just have to do a damp rag once over Sunday night now. In the evening, we and the Brobergs and Smiths went to see the Young Ambassadors perform. It was an excellent program but I worried as the time got later and later. It ended at 10pm and we had to call the MTC security to get a shuttle back. I was afraid they would lock us out for being past the curfew. Not to fear though, Wayne checked and found that the senior couples do not have a curfew. We can do what ever we want - within reason that is.

The photo below is of our dorm - the Jacob Hamlin building. They are starting renovation to add onto the east end for the Bookstore. We were told that they were closing down the building for two weeks starting Monday. I was a little worried since there are still 4 couples in the building but we all leave tomorrow so the building will be empty by 2pm. We are ready to leave since for the past two days we have had a recurring sewer gas smell in the hallways. The security guy who drove us home last night said that this is something that happens every once in a while and they do not really know why.

Today we went to a Sacrament Meeting with the young elders and then we watched Music and the Spoken Word on a huge screen. David Foster (think Andrea Bocelli's The Prayer) played the piano while the choir sang. It was beautiful. At noon my Auntie Caye picked us up to go to her church. We had a BIG box that we took to her house which Jeannie will pick up next month and take back home for us. We definitely do not need the warm clothes we have been wearing here. We had dinner with Caye and Carol Ann and then we came back to the MTC in time for the weekly Fireside. One of the MTC administrators by the name of Richard Heaton spoke. He emphasized the need to focus not on how we are doing in teaching but what the investigators are thinking and what their needs are. If we do that then the Lord will direct us in what we need to focus our lessons on. I am going to miss all the Devotionals and Firesides. They have been so good.

And so we have come to the end of our time here. We are packing up the last little things we needed for today and we will be going to bed early. Our shuttle leaves for the airport at 5am. We have 17 hours of flight time and about 6 hours of layovers to look forward to. Our route is SLC to Portland to Tokyo and then on to Guam. We will arrive at 1am Wednesday morning. I think that will be about 7 or 8pm Tuesday for you at home. We will be losing Tuesday since we will cross the International Date line.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

We Have Arrived

Monday, February 1st, we entered the Missionary Training Center. We had a rental car that we got at the SLC airport and had arranged to return it in Provo. One of the Enterprise employees drove us up to the MTC. He pulled into the front of the complex and an "older" gentleman stopped us and started giving the Enterprise man instructions. He was real good and just followed all the directions, got us near our dorm where we unloaded all 6 suit cases and he left. No worry though because another little old man took us under his wing and led us to our room. After that it was just a long day of orientation.

They do not allow you to take pictures in too many areas of the MTC so we do not have many but just let me say one picture I would like to have is of the cafeteria. It is absolutely huge and usually filled with some of the most clean cut and cute young men and ladies you could ever want to see. There are more than 2000 missionaries here at a time so they eat in shifts. The food is really good and I hope we don't leave here a few pounds heavier.

We started our classes the next day and what a full day it was. We have had some really cute young people teaching and leading us through a lot of role playing. This has been the hardest part for me. I do NOT like to role play. Most of the time I have done a small part and then let Wayne do the rest of the talking.

Tuesday night we had a devotional. It was so awesome to sing Called to Serve with all those missionaries. Richard Hinckley spoke and it was such a good talk. He spoke about how to keep from making your mission a Groundhog Day one. You know the movie where everyday was exactly the same. He gave some really good thoughts.

Wednesday and Thursday were filled with more of the same classes. Friday was a little more special - not just because it was the end of the Preach My Gospel lessons but it was the day that my Auntie Caye teaches a class. I had hoped that we would be able to be in her group but she said she would fall apart if we were in her class so she asked not to be put with us. We did see her though and we ended up going to the Olive Garden for dinner with she and Carol Ann.

Since Friday was the last day that we would all be together as a group we all got together for a picture at the end of the day. We had 56 people in our group. There are 2 doctors who will be mission medical advisers in Chicago and Brazil. We have about 6 people going to the Philippines to do employment and humanitarian missions. Others are going to Denmark, South Africa, Kenya, Armenia, Samoa, Spain, Boston, and Louisiana. Wonderful people, every one.

Today is Saturday and we have an entire day to do what we want. We did our laundry this morning and then we walked on down to the BYU campus. We went to the bookstore but it was mainly to look since we don't have any room in our luggage for anything else. I did make sure that I got some BYU mint brownies to bring back with me though. We saw some posters for the Young Ambassadors and so we figure we can go to a performance next week when we have 3 days of no plans before flying out.

Well this will probably do it for another week. There isn't really a lot to blog about yet. We are anxious to get to Guam so we can start taking a few pictures to post.

One Last Weekend Away

We flew to Salt Lake on Friday, Jan. 29th, for a few days to visit family before going into the MTC. We had a direct flight from Fresno - what a change from having to go to LA or other points to just to head back up north.
It was really cold when we landed, at least WE thought so. There was snow on the ground but it had been there from previous times.

We headed for our hotel and what a surprise when we arrived. Wayne had put in a $50 limit on Priceline and we ended up in the Hyatt Place out by the airport. We checked into our room and found a gorgeous SUITE. Since we stayed there 3 nights it was really nice. The only problem was that there were no food places nearby. But they provided breakfast, we hit WalMart and stocked up on lunch things and we had dinner arranged for Sat. and Sun. so it all worked out just fine.

Saturday morning we went out to go into town and found ice all over the car.

We just bummed around a little and then we met Wayne's Uncle Ralph, Aunt Opal, Uncle Carlyle, Aunt Shanna and Aunt Louise at the Olive Garden. It was so nice to see them all and we had such a good visit.

On Sunday morning it was snowing. We had planned on going to the Music and the Spoken Word broadcast so we got up our courage and made our way through the snow. After the broadcast we went to a Sacrament meeting in the Joseph Smith Memorial building. It was a really good morning. That evening we went to dinner at Anna and Cory's. Wonderful f00d and it was so nice to see the kids.

One Last Party

On Thursday, January 28th, we decided to have a joint birthday party for the our children who have birthdays within the next 10 days. Jason is on Jan. 29th, Ashley is Feb. 4th and Stacy is on Feb 9th.
My Mom came by early in the day to give Jason his present - she did not want to leave my Dad home alone since he has been pretty sick. She did bring something that he wanted us to see though. My Dad had been stationed on Guam during World War II. He had done a photo album documenting the 2 years that he was there. It was quite interesting. The album started out with pictures of Japanese suicides - I think they called it Hari Kari. There were lots of pictures of bombed out areas. The Japanese had occupied the island and in driving them out pretty much everything was destroyed. I remembered reading that there were not really any old buildings in the main town and I guess that would be why. The US came in and took over and had to build up any buildings that were needed. Since we found out that we are going to Guam, my Dad has been serfing the net and has gotten a bit excited about maybe coming to visit us so he can see all the changes.
This was also the night that we met with President Barrus and Doug Stokes to be set apart as Missionaries. It really is official now.