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.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Monday Night Clouds and Sunset

Monday we planned to have our senior missionary family home evening group go to the beach for a picnic. It had been raining most of the morning and part of the afternoon and we were worried that it would spoil our outing. Well, we had faith the weather would be clear and we were rewarded with some wonderful clouds and a spectacular sunset. The rain resumed while we were walking back to the car. It was a great evening.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Weeks Happenings

Last Saturday we had a closing activity for Seminary and Institute. It seems the favorite thing to do here is to have a party at the beach. There is a really nice park situated on the beach between a couple of big hotels and they have some nice covered areas with tables. Fliers were sent out and we announced to all our students that we would gather at Ypao beach at 8:00am. Guess who has not adjusted to the island time schedule yet. We were there at 10 minutes to and of course no one else came until about 8:45. It is okay though because we had a nice quiet time to sit and meditate in nice surroundings.

It seems that the major activity at these gatherings is to just sit and visit but I had been asked to prepare some games. I had a Book of Mormon matching game on paper to have them do while we were waiting for enough kids to play the other games. These kids are so sharp. Every one of them got all the answers correct - I even had a hard time with a couple of the questions and I had the answer sheet!

I was simply amazed that the boys wanted to play football in the heat. Every time they would take a break from playing I would let them cool off a bit and then herd them over to play the games I had prepared. I wish I had pictures but someone else was taking them and I did not get copies. We played Gadianton Run Around, Teancum Tire Pull and Alma's Alphabet game. They were all team games meant to get the kids interacting with each other. This group loves games and these all went over better than I had hoped.

Towards lunch time food was brought in by one of the mothers and we had a feast. She is Filipino and so there was some great noodles and wonderful lumpia!

Last Sunday, before the Missionary Farewell, we had had all the sisters over to our house for dinner. I think I may have mentioned it in the previous post but I had not downloaded pictures yet. While the sisters were here, they noticed Wayne's ukalele and decided to sing at the farewell that night. They practiced in our apartment until we had to kick them out so we could go teach the temple prep class. It was so nice listening to them. There is a song called He Lives that seems to be a favorite here. It was sung at the Missionary Musical Fireside several months ago and since then has been sung at a baptism, branch activities, etc. It is especially nice sung with the ukalele.

Tuesday we were on our way in to the office when we noticed a big black plume of smoke off in the distance. We were still a couple of miles away from the office but we commented on how it looked like it was coming from that area. As we got closer it became apparent that it definitely was coming from that area. The fire was next door at the National Office Supply. We drove into our parking lot and found lots of cars and people there. Everybody always wants to see what is going on and we had a great place to watch from. We started to park in front of our office but were told that they did not want any vehicles by the building. I think they had been concerned that the Mission Office could catch fire. We were also told that we were not to go into the office.

You can see why they were concerned about our office. The buildings are quite close to each other. One of the counselors in the mission presidency was called at 5am and at that time there were flames coming out of the roof. The tree that you see in the background is quite brown and crisp on that side now.
This is the backside of the building. The biggest window that you see is where they think the fire started. It is the office of a member of the church. Everything was destroyed. The firemen fought the fire for 11 hours. It turned out to be arson. A homeless man had broken in and stolen all kinds of electronic equipment and then started the fire to hide the robbery. They actually caught the man. They found him in a jungle area living in a tent with lots of electronics inside. He had a camera that still had the memory card with lots of pictures belonging to the owner of the business. Sounds like an open and shut case to me.

Since we could not get in the office to work, we spent the morning looking for apartments to move the missionaries into. We have 5 elders in one apartment right now. It is two bedroom but only has one bathroom and they are anxious to have a little more room. We got back to the office about noon.

It was P-day and we felt bad that the elders had been told the office was closed so we did go in to the office long enough to get all the mail and set up shop next door in the branch meeting house. We thought we clever to have thought of that but when we went to turn on the air con we found that the power had all been turned off because of the fire. By that time we had sent out word to the missionaries that we would be in the church so we did not want to disappoint them. I don't know which was hotter, inside or out.

About 2:00 we decided that the fire looked controlled enough that we should not be in danger anymore so we went into the office with the idea of working. The backup generator had been going all day so the computers were working. Well, after being in there a minute or two I realized that there was a toxic smell. The smoke had seeped into the office and it was obvious that we should not be working in it. We decided to stay in the church and Elder Clarke opened windows in the office with the hope of airing it out. We did move the mailroom back in about 3:30 but after being in there for a half hour I was getting a headache and the office elders were saying they felt strange. We decided it was a good time to go to the bank and check out more apartments.

Thursday was our last Institute class for the Semester. Next Thursday we are having a going away party for a young man who is moving back stateside and another who will be leaving for a mission to Perth Australia. Then, starting the first week in June we will be having a Leadership class through the summer. It will be a short lesson and followed by an activity each week. I said these kids like to play games. They get all excited when you start talking about all the games we could do; spoons, left-right-center, etc. We are hoping that by keeping the kids active through the summer we will have a good group all ready to go for the Church History class next Fall.

Friday night we had a Branch party to say farewell to several families (one being the Branch Presidents), our young man leaving on a mission, one senior missionary couple and 4 of our full time missionaries attending the Barrigada Branch. There was lots of barbequed chicken and ribs, red rice and a ton of other food. Throughout the night people would perform impromptu. It was a fun evening but so sad to see everyone leaving.

Tonight we attended the Boy Scout fundraiser. It was a spaghetti dinner and Desert Auction. One of the other branches had theirs last week and made $900. I think we may have exceeded that amount.
Several items went for $100 or more and a lot went for around $50. My Mississippi Mud Pie went for $50. I was relieved that it was not ignored. The highest bid of $110 was for Banana Lumpia made by one of the Filipino brothers in the Dededo Branch. He made them for his branch last week. It was really interesting to see the action of the auction. One of our Institute students was the auctioneer and he did a great job. Most of the items were passed around as soon as they were bought. Very few went home with the winning bidders. All in all, it was a really fun night.

All of the scouts were involved and seemed to be having a great time.

There seemed to be a good sized crowd but the desserts outnumbered people and I really worried that they would not get enough bids. Boy was I wrong. The very first item went for $50. Nothing went for under $10.
This is our runner, Carlton and the auctioneer, Josten.

This was a $50 cake that was cut and passed around. Our missionaries made out great tonight. The sisters went home with a great chocolate cake from the bakery, cupcakes and various individual pieces of things that were passed around. The Elders had pooled resources and had $17 to spend. They had their eyes on a strawberry cheesecake and we told them they would not have enough money. Wayne gave them another $20.00. When the cheesecake came up, the Scout Leader egged them on to bid up to $50.00 and then he paid for the whole thing. The missionaries gave us our money back and then since they still had the pooled money, they kept trying to bid on things so they could get rid of the money. People kept bidding higher and so they never were able to get rid of the money. They too went home with piles of goodies which people had bid on then immediately took it over to them. We have some really wonderful people in our branch! They came to donate to the Boy Scouts and they had fun in the process.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Mission Office and Missionaries

I have realized that I have a lot of pictures that we had planned on posting but they just never seemed to be added so I am going to download a bunch and just do some quick identifying. I will do a few each day and maybe I can catch up after a few days.

This first picture shows the Barrigada Branch building on the left and our Mission Office on the right. Love those palm trees and there are Plumeria trees everywhere - they smell so good. The sisters like to pick up blossoms and them put in there hair before going into meetings.

When we have Zone Conference the parking lot is a sea of silver.

Guam Zone

Sister Anitema from Australia, Sister Jungblut from Hawaii and Sister Roberts from US. This was just before Sister Roberts headed for home.

This was the baptism of Susan Cudiamat. She is one of our Institute students and is FANTASTIC. There are three sister missionaries in the picture and the others are Susan's friends in the Branch. Of course everyone is Susan's friend!!

How many missionaries does it take to synchronize the clocks?

Since we deal with several different time zones we have clocks to show the times there and back home.

This is Elder Cook, one of the office Elders. He handles all travel arrangements and the ordering of supplies.

This is our other office Elder who moonlights as a barber. Elder Walpole will be going home next month and we will be so sad to see him go. He is an amazing young man. Elder B. Wood is getting his hair cut - we have two Woods.

This is the scene outside of the Mission Home on the evening of our Farewell Testimony Meeting. Not everybody was there yet so think double the shoes.

Sister Wingate, Sister Pikula, Sister Koivi from Papa New Guinea and Sister Anitema on the floor. There were 5 other sisters out of view.

The Elders were all on the other side of the room. Again, there are about 5 more Elders out of view. There was a total of about 35 missionaries present. We could have accommodated that many more. The mission home is huge.

Refreshments were served after the testimony meeting. The kitchen is also huge.

The testimony meeting was one of the sweetest I have ever attended. It was meant to be a time when the 15 missionaries who will be leaving have the opportunity to bear their testimonies. It ended up that just about all of the missionaries were able to say something. We have some of the strongest young people in our mission and I loved hearing them and feeling of their spirits. It will be very sad to see them go home but we have more coming in to take their place and I know I will feel the same about all of them.

Sister Pikula is the first to go. This was her last day in the field. She flies home to Salt Lake City tomorrow. As you can see, we are about the same size. She was so excited when we arrived because she had someone she could relate to. We have a lot of short little sisters here.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Afternoon With An Apostle

The Micronesia Guam Mission had the great opportunity of meeting with Elder D. Todd Christopherson today. He arrived Monday night and we had a member meeting with him on Tuesday night but today we were a group of about 35 missionaries and it was great. He had come to Guam to dedicate a new chapel on the island of Chuuk but he made sure that he was able to meet with us before going home.

Before the meeting started, Elder Christopherson had all the missionaries come by to shake his hand and tell him where we were from. He is such a warm, friendly man.

We started with some wonderful remarks by Sister Dowdle and President Dowdle, our mission president, followed by
Sister Stephenson and President Stephenson, the area president and then Sister Christopherson spoke. They all gave such good messages and the spirit was strong.

Elder Christopherson started his time by asking if the missionaries had any questions they would like to ask him. A few brave souls did ask questions and he proceeded to teach some wonderful principles as he answered. One missionary asked him about the Thursday morning meetings that the Twelve Apostles hold each week. He read from D&C 107 and talked about how every decision must be unanimous. Sometimes the brethren have differing opinions but they discuss things until they have enlightened each other and all have come to a decision in unity. After a few more questions and answers in this manner he went on to talk to us about teaching as guided by the spirit. The spirit definitely was with us as he taught.

We have such fantastic missionaries here in Guam but I am sure that after today they are going to be just a little better in their work. It was such an uplifting day and we have been so blessed to have had this time with an apostle.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

We are not Tourists

I am so relieved to have my talk finished for Sacrament Meeting tomorrow (Mother's Day of all days) that I am feeling like I can tackle the Blog.

I had a friend tell me that our Blog looks like we are tourists and I just have to say that we definitely are not tourists! We are lucky that we have been able to visit some really neat islands over the past few months but that has come to an end and we only have Saturdays to scoot around on Guam now. The rest of the week we keep very busy. A sample of the past week:
Last Saturday no sight seeing as we were moving all our small stuff to another apartment.
Sunday - 3 hours of meetings, dinner for 2 Elders, CES Inservice and teach Temple Prep
Mon - Fri 8:30 to 5:00 in the office
During the month of April I made payments for rent, utilities, missionary support,
etc., - that causes great stress when you are thinking you may have made an error.
Wayne is out looking for car parts etc. and shipping them off to the other islands.
I can't think of all the little things we do at the office but we keep busy all day
We have been looking for an apartment for the sisters and so we went to check out several
District meeting with the elders and sisters
Pick up and drop off cars at the airport for our traveling Mission President
Institute class
Senior Couples FHE
Moved into new apartment ourselves
Worked on talk for Sacrament Meeting
Prepared activities for Seminary and Institue event
Today - S&I activity 8-12, work on talk, Baptism, finish talk
Tomorrow - give talks and then work on lesson for Temple Prep class
We are looking forward to this weekend being over so that we can go back and clean the other apartment. We have had absolutely no time this week.

This past week we had a visit from Richard Heaton who is the director of training at the MTC. He conducted a workshop with all the missionaries on Guam and it was really good. We have some fantastic missionaries and it was good to hear their input.

This next week we have a visit from a General Authority. Elder Christopherson is coming to dedicate a new chapel on Chuuk. During his time on Guam he will speak at a member meeting and then we have the opportunity of meeting with him in a meeting with the missionaries on Guam and Saipan. That will be a group of about 40. We are really looking forward to that special opportunity. These missionaries are truly blessed to be able to meet with him in such a small setting.

Although we have not really had the chance to teach investigators, we hear the stories from the missionaries and we get to attend lots of baptisms. We get to interact with the young single adults. We are getting to know them better and are looking forward to a summer of activities with them. They are such a fun loving group and I can hardly wait to PLAY GAMES.

This mission is totally different than the experience we were expecting when India was the destination, but we are loving it. The interaction we have with ALL the missionaries has been so choice. We have such a good group of young people who are really dedicated and who have such strong spirits. I am amazed at the examples they set for us. I think that we were really meant to be here and India was just a delay tactic to get us here at the right time.

We were going to post pictures of our office and some of the things we do there but we have not taken any yet. So instead I am going to put in pictures of the Flora and Fauna here in the islands. Some I can name and some I can't so if you see something that is unnamed and you know what it is, please write back and let us know.

Mangrove. These grow thick on the shoreline of the waters of the other islands.

Plumeria. I love these and they are growing everywhere. They smell so good and you see a lot of the women wearing them in their hair.
Sego palms even grow here. We were surprised to see this one because it is the only one we have seen.
Of course there are bananas. We do not see as many here in Guam but the other islands are covered with them.
This is the trunk of a rainbow tree in Pohnpei.
The curse of the islands - Betel Nut.

Hibiscus also grows everywhere and is so pretty.

These were growing in a pond area. Maybe like a water lily?
These are yellow coconuts. We see a lot of this color here on Guam.
Bougainvilla is also very plentiful.

We are so lucky to have all of this color. A lot of the plants grow wild and so everywhere you go you see color of some sort. For someone who cannot grow flowers herself I really enjoy being able to see all the beauty.