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.

Monday, March 29, 2010


This past week we had the wonderful opportunity to visit several of the islands in our mission. The idea was that we would be able to get a feel for the differences and see what our missionaries are experiencing and what their living conditions are. We are so thankful that we were able to do this. Each of the islands has its own unique characteristics and we were able to meet all the missionaries. We can now put faces and places to the names that we work with daily.
I am posting pictures and telling a little about all that we saw but please keep in mind that the pictures cannot do justice to the beauty of these islands. On Guam we do not really feel like we are living in a tropical paradise but while visiting the other islands we definitely got that feeling. Not only did we see some wonderful sites but we met the best people. We had such a good time with all the senior couples who showed us around their islands.

Since there are so many pictures I am doing this in 3 seperate posts. It is just about midnight and I want to finish this so the pictures are probably very much out of order. Not to worry. Wayne will correct me in the morning and I will come back and do some editing later.

The first island we visited was Chuuk.

Elder and Sister Duncan met us at the airport with some beautiful leis. The scent was wonderful. It was just so sad that in the hot, humid conditions they wilted quickly.

This is Elder and Sister Duncan. They are from Wyoming and they have 10 children. The conditions on Chuuk are somewhat difficult and we just kept getting the impression that they really love where they are and what they are doing.

From the airport we went straight to the Duncan's apartment for the weekly District Meeting. We had the best time. There was a little bit of fun, a lot of spiritual and a great lunch to finish it all off.

Immediately after the District Meeting we headed out to see the meeting houses, inspect missionary apartments and check out their vehicles.

On Chuuk this was pretty typical of what the chapels looked like inside. They are very simple and basic.

The inside of another chapel. The flooring was a little better in this building.

Thought I would throw in a picture of what you will find on all of the islands of Chuuk. There is no garbage pick-up and so the garbage is just thrown anywhere. Some areas are better than others but this is basically what you see.

This is the new chapel that is being built in Weno (pronounced woulda). The building was to be finished before now but the area president came to check out the building and saw that it did not have air conditioning so he ordered it to be put in and now the building is scheduled to be dedicated in May. Elder Christopherson will be coming and they are trying to plan some humanitarian projects to coincide with the dedication.
The building is beautiful and as the owner of the hotel we stayed at said, it is setting the standard for the island. Most buildings are never completed and there is no landscaping anywhere. The chapel looks wonderful and everyone talks about it. There is a project going on for road improvements and the man who is in charge of overseeing the work told Wayne that the road would go from the airport to the "Mormon Temple". He may have his terminology wrong but he at leasts recognizes it as Mormon.
Yet another chapel. This is the one that the new construction is going to replace. Only locals can own land and so the church leased this land and built the church and missionary apartment on it. The lease is up and the landlord is not renewing so this building will be torn down after the new church is finished. The landlord thought he was going to get a building the easy way. The new church land is owned by a member.
This was the view from our ocean view hotel room. We stayed at the Truk Stop Inn. Truk is the old name for Chuuk. Also at this hotel was the Hard Wreck Cafe. There are a lot of sunken ships in this area and one of the main tourist activities here is to go diving to the old wrecks.

We visited three of the outer islands. To do that we had to take a boat. The boat would drop us off and then we had to walk to where the church and apartments were. There are no cars on the outer islands. This is one of the paths we followed.

Another chapel with the ever present basketball hoop. I think I only saw one chapel that did not have a basketball court. The church grounds are usually a gathering place for the children in the area to congregate. They have flat surfaces that are kept clean.

This is an example of the apartments owned by the church and used for missionaries.

Every time we would get off the boat we would see children. These were especially friendly and wanted to have their picture taken. One little boy really took to Elder Clarke and was holding onto his hand for a while. When we returned later to get back on the boat there was the little hand reaching up again.

In these little village communities there is usually someone who will build a large structure such as this to use as a gathering place. It is used for family activities or sometimes a community activity.

This was the last island that we visited. As you came into the area the church was the main thing that you saw. This happened to be an island where the lady who lives next to the church was very anti-Mormon. She threatened the missionaries who were living in the nearby apartment and so they had to make a quick exit. The apartment is sitting empty until it is determined if it is safe to send missionaries to that island again.

This is the vacant apartment. You can see a couple of children in the picture. As I said, the church grounds make a really good place for the children to congregate.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


We met some kindred spirits when we landed in Pohnpei. The Holloways were just the best. When I told President Dowdle about the kindred spirit bit he told me that they were going to have to watch me carefully. Sister Holloway and I had such a good time together and Elder Holloway and Elder Clarke were not doing too badly themselves.

We stayed in the Joy Hotel. It was a small but nice facility and had a good restaurant on the ground floor.

The view from the hotel shows the feel for the streets in Pohnpei. They were good roads and were just so green and clean. If we had had time to go for walks it would have been a wonderful place for it.

This is a sample of the type of housing the missionaries live in. The insides were actually not bad.

Elder Clarke did not think I should include this picture of the refrigerator but I just wanted to show how the climate effects things. Unless air conditioning is running all the time (which is especially unlikely for missionaries) the damp air causes the appliances to rust. We found this to be the case in a lot of the apartments we inspected.

This is a church owned apartment that the sisters are living in. The area is quite pretty and their apartment was pretty well maintained.

This is the other apartment that the sisters live in. Beautiful tropical trees and such all around.

After a full day of inspecting apartments and vehicles, Sister Holloway kept insisting that we needed to hike to a waterfall. I was really tired and not to excited about the idea of a hike but it turned out to be a level pathway and was absolutely gorgeous.

A member of the church owns the property and has planted all kinds of flowers along the way. The area of this picture has you rock hopping and wading through the water and there is an "iron rod" to hold onto for support.

These pictures do not do justice to the beauty of the waterfall. I have never seen anything like it.

This is a first attempt at including a video so hopefully it works. It should show you just how beautiful the waterfall and the surrounding area was.

It was just a beautiful hike. I was just sorry we did not have more time and that we could not get in and enjoy the water. It was rather hot and sticky.

Pohnpei also is building a new church. The plan is almost identical to the one on Chuuk.

That night we went to The Village for dinner with Holloways and the Lomabardi's, another senior couple who are doing records preservation.

We had gorgeous views as we enjoyed our dinner and Elder Clarke was able to take a great picture of the sunset. Shortly after he snapped the picture we enjoyed the sound of pouring down rain on a thatched roof.

We went to see where the Lomabardi's spend all there time. They just sit there snapping picture after picture. She says you couldn't pay her to do what they are doing but this is their second mission here in the islands and they love what they are doing.

We had a few hours on Wednesday morning before we had to go to the airport so Sister Holloway took us to all the "best" shopping spots. We got Pohnpei Pepper, Coconut Jelly, mango icepops, Ivory Nut jewelry, etc., etc. I did not realize that the grass skirt she is trying on was only $10 or I would have been buying some. There are women on Pohnpei that make these skirts and send them to the Polynesian Cultural Center where they sell them for $70 and more. We found some really interesting souveniers.

Our last tourist stop was to see the Rainbow Trees. From the first picture you can see that the trees seem to have been planted along the road. You can not see the colors well in that picture but the other picture shows that the bark in multi colored. It was raining and we were told the colors did not show as well then but usually you can see all the colors of the rainbow in the bark. As you can see from the bark, the tree is related to the Eucalyptus.

Our last Kodak moment on Pohnpei was to get a shot of the Wal Mart. People get really excited when they are told that there is a Wal Mart there but as soon as they walk in the store they realize that you can't always believe what you see. This is just another small variety type store that does not come close to being a Wal Mart as we know it.


Elder and Sister Foote are technically Seminary and Institute missionaries but they are actually wearing many hats. Elder Foote has registered the Boy Scout troop with the BSA and they are a very active group. Sister Foote organized a girls camp and works with all the youth. They got a "Soles for Souls" project going where a boy in Arizona got about 5,000 pairs of Crocs donated and sent to Kosrae as his Eagle Scout project. Some of the colors were quite bright and you can see the results of this project walking around all over the island. Crocs are the shoe of choice since it is usually so wet here. Sister Foote got 15 keyboards donated by the church and she is teaching about 20 members how to play the piano. The list of what they do just goes on.

For all their hard work, they are blessed to be able to live right on the beach. When the tsunami hit several weeks ago the waves came all the way to the dirt driveway that you can see just barely by the house. They used to have a pristine white beach but it is now covered with dead coral. Isn't the little gazebo cute?

This looks like a Pepto Bismol house but it is where the elders live in Lelu. We have to give them kudos because they really had a pretty clean place. I wish I could say that about all of the apartments.

The Lelu chapel is very much like the new chapel in Chuuk. This is the inside of the chapel. The members were there cleaning and it was obvious that they loved their chapel and took great pride in maintaining it. It is a beautiful chapel and I loved all the framed artwork that lined the hallways. Just beautiful.

Here we can see the view from the breezeway of the chapel. There is no cultural hall and so when they have activities they set up tables in the breezeway and they can serve food from a window that opens out from the kitchen into that area. It seems to be a really well planned building.

While waiting for the Utwe missionaries to arrive for their apartment inspection, a group of mostly non-member children sang "Nearer My God To Thee" for us. Two of the boys are members. Sister Foote said that when they started having Choir practice on Wed. nights they had a few children who came and stood outside of the window and just listened. The next week there were a few more and then they invited them in to sing with them after that. They sounded beautiful.

This is the back of the Elders apartment. The tank is the rainwater storage tank. The children were waiting for the washing machine to drain again. They had been playing in the sudsy runoff.

This is the chapel in Utwe. It is the smaller of the two chapels on Kosrae.

We added this to show the native way of burying their dead. There is no cemetery. You just bury your loved ones on your property or in the case of an accident they are buried right then and there. The Footes have a grave very close to their home because when a man was killed in a drunk driving accident they just buried him where he was killed.

Very few homes have indoor bathrooms or kitchens. The thatched roof area is an outdoor cooking place. Sister Foote said that they do not have ovens and so they do not bake. They do like baked items though. She held classes to teach them how to make pizza. They love it. The Footes also held classes on gardening for a few people.

A lot of the food consumed on Kosrae is readily available by just walking out your door. They grow mangoes, papaya, breadfruit, green tangerines and oranges, sweet bananas and cooking bananas, pandanas and taro just to mention a few.

There is one paved road in Kosrae. It goes around the island but it only goes about 2/3 of the way around the island. You can see the driving is somewhat slow but it makes for less damages from accidents.

Although Kosrae has very little in the way of stores or modern conveniences, it is a clean and green island. Every where we went it was just beautiful.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

It's Pday Again

This is actually a picture from last Sunday. The missionaries presented a musical fireside. This was taken during rehearsal so there were a few more missionaries in the actual performance. They did a wonderful job. I was really surprised at the talent. The Elder in the front row all the way to the right is from Hawaii. He played the ukelele and also sang in several of the songs and it was really good. Some of the missionaries had fantastic voices.

One picture I wanted to post but I can't seem to find it when I browse is a group shot of the sister missionaries with one of the ladies that was baptized two weeks ago. Since we have been here, there has been a baptism every week. Most of those being baptized are young adults and I am so impressed with what humble, sweet people they are.

Some of you may have read my comment on Facebook about the crazy roosters here. This is a picture of one of the neighborhood roosters - probably the one who has his days and nights mixed up. I am a light sleeper and so there are many times when I wake up at 2 or 3am and I hear those crazy birds crowing. They are still doing it at 6:30am and then I usually get up and don't hear them anymore.

This is a picture of some of the roosters and their female friends. There are chickens everywhere here. You will be driving down the main roads on the island and there are a bunch of chickens walking around on the side of the road.

This is along the side road Wayne walks along in the morning. There is a house with caged roosters. Our friends told us that cock fights are a big deal here and so these may be some of the fighting roosters. They are not allowed to run loose.

This is a street street Wayne walks in the morning. It is a short cut from our apartment to another larger road that leads out to the golf course. He has found it a nice quiet route to walk on at 6:30am.

Wayne had me take take this picture to share with our friends the Brobergs who are serving in Copenhagen. They emailed us recently about their experiences there and commented on how cold it is. We checked out their blog and saw them all wrapped up in heavy coats and scarves. I don't think I will ever have a use for the light weight jackets that I reluctantly packed in my suitcase. Our weather right now is beautiful. I know the temperature will not vary much but we expect more humidity as the summer approaches.

Our Young Adults had a beach party today. Several of them got up a game of volleyball. In the far back court is Elder Westergard. He amazes me as he gets in and does whatever the kids are involved in. I stayed in the shade, which when I saw Elder Westergards sunburn tonight I was quite glad I had.

Several of the young men took charge of the cooking. These four were at the barbeque almost the entire activity. The meat was wonderful. They cooked ribs, chicken and hot dogs.

One young man decided that he was going to cook the hot dogs Tongan style. He had this tiny little barbeque and he had brought wood to burn to coals. The knife in his hand is a machete. Everyone has them here - there is even one in the back of our car. The machete is used to clear the jungle while hiking and as seen here for splitting the wood.

When the coals were ready, Cheech went down to the beach to get a palm frond. He then peeled the leaves off and made skewers of the palm rib.

The skewers were used to put the hot dogs on. When one side was cooked, all they had to do was lift the two ends of the skewer and turn the hot dogs over. How nifty! The girl on the end is Sarah Warner. She is the Branch Presidents daughter and the Young Adult Rep. She has planned some really nice activities for the YSA but we will be loosing her next month. She is moving back to Utah and joining the Air Force. Next to Sarah is Enrique. He turned his missionary application in several weeks ago and is anxiously waiting for his call. I love to hear him talk. He is such a knowledgeable young man, is friendly and has no problem leading out. He will make a great missionary.

Ahhhh, the finished product. They cooked so much meat and I thought it would never get eaten. Never underestimate the appetites of young men.