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.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The End of February

Saturday, the 19th, we had a baptism in our Branch. We have not had any since November and so it was really good to watch two young ladies be baptized. The missionaries have been meeting with these two for quite a while and it has been a long road to reach this point. It was a wonderful baptismal service and the girls looked beautiful in our new white dresses. Of course I did not have my camera with me.

Sunday we had a wonderful Sacrament Meeting. It was High Council Sunday and the talks were really good but the highlight of the meeting was when they announced that we are now the Barrigada Ward. Our former Branch President is the new Bishop Kim. Since the Stake was formed the first part of December, we kept wondering why it was taking so long to form the Ward. They still have not sustained any Ward leaders. It is going to be interesting to watch the changes.

Monday we had the Guam Zone Conference. President Dowdle spoke on The Fall in preparation for the next Conference when he will talk about the Atonement. The meeting was very good and really gave the missionaries a boost to get out there and work.

Just a few of the 26 missionaries. We have opened two new apartments and so we have a few more missionaries than the last Zone Conference. It is great to have so many serving.

We always gather everyone together to get a Zone picture. Several of the elders were really slow in coming out for the picture and I snapped one of the rest of us waiting. Unfortunately, we did not get a picture of the whole group.

Font Row: Elders Rufus, Early, Cutler, Cook, Iglesia, Pres. Dowdle, Nelson, DeOcampo.
Back Row: Elders Meldrum, Valinotti, Bano, Coffey, Barlow, Clarke, Matthews, Adams, Hertzberg.

I did get a good picture of all the Elders though. The Sisters also posed but Elder Clarke was so busy taking pictures with the girls cameras that by the time I tried to give him our camera everyone had walked away. Just know that it was a really good looking group. We have such an awesome group of Sisters. There are 6 on Guam now.

That night we had Family Home Evening with the Hertzbergs. It is so nice that we have someone to meet with again. We were sorry that Sister Miyazaki has been sick and was unable to meet with us.

Thursday we had a good group at Institute. We set up the Badminton net and Ping Pong table and the kids were having a great time - as always. They played a little later than usual and when we were ready to leave one of the girls discovered that someone had broken into her car. The drivers side window was totally shattered. She had left her wallet in a bag with her school books, etc. All was missing. Elder Clarke called the police, gave the address of the church and then they hung up on him. We waited around but no one ever showed up and so we cleaned up the glass the best that we could and the kids all left. After they left, I discovered that a there was shattered glass a few parking places away from where Cathy was parked and there was a large piece of a broken window laying on the grass. We never heard anyone else say they had been broken into. We later found out that a couple of years ago there was a rash of break ins at the church. I think we are going to have to start patrolling the parking lot.

Friday night the Hertzbergs, Sister Miyazaki and us went to see Beauty and the Beast put on by the Father Duenas Memorial High School. We were so impressed with the sets and costumes and are still trying to figure out if they made them here or had them shipped in. Absolutely gorgeous. A few of the songs were not loud enough or clear enough to understand but the main songs were done really well.

Saturday we did a very un-missionary activity.

Since we sold our car before leaving on our mission, we are going to need to buy a car when we get home. Elder Clarke decided we needed to check out possibilities so we know what we want before we return home so we looked at a Hyundai Tuscon.

In the afternoon we went to a performance at one of the Malls. We are in the beginnings of Chamorro Month. The Natibu Dance Group was performing. It was all dances from Guam. Usually the dance performances we have seen have had all of the Pacific Islands dances in them. This performance gave us more of the local flavor. The following pictures are to show the variety of costumes worn. The video shows some pretty skimpy costumes but the dancing was all very good and interesting. Several of them showed the Spanish influence that is so prominent in the Chamorro culture.

They looked like sunflowers to me.

These were older women dancing. Very graceful.

We ended the week with a great Sacrament Meeting on Sunday. The Bishop had asked the missionaries who are new to our Ward to speak. Sister Tuileto'a (from American Samoa) spoke first followed by Sister Smibert (from Melburne, Australia). Their talks were so good and certainly brought the Spirit to our meeting. The third missionary was Elder Barlow (from Southern Calif.). Such a good meeting. Later we had Sister Smibert and her companion Sister Koivi over for dinner. We are only allowed to invite the missionaries who are proselyting in our area and it is nice to have the sisters here now.

It has been such a good week and we look forward to a great month ahead.

Hikes to the Anao Coast and Setti Bay to Sella Bay

During the month of February I went on two beautiful hikes.
At the beginning of the month the hiking group went to Anao
on the northwest coast of the island.

It started off with a half mile hike through the jungle.

We then arrived at the edge of the plateau and
could look down 500 feet to the coastline below.

Once at the coast we could explore up or down the shore
for some spectacular views. The trail was on very sharp
volcanic rock covered with a beautiful carpet of ground cover.

There were lots of beautiful views and I only have
several of them shown here.

This ground cover seemed to survive everywhere
even though there was no soil to be seen.

All along the coast there were great spots like this and I would
have taken more pictures except my camera started acting up.

Several weeks later the group went to Cetti and Sella
bays on the southwest coast of the island. This is not
far from the place that Ferdinand Magellan landed and
had the first European contact with the native Chamorro
people in 1521. This hike had its ups and downs. We
hiked down and then up the first big hill and down and
then to the top of the second hill with the tree at the top.

Almost to the top. You can even see the rope
near the top to help us up the steep slope.

We were rewarded with a great view of Cetti bay.

Once at the beach we stopped for lunch and some in
the group went snorkeling. After our rest break we hiked
north along the beach till we reached Sella Bay.

Hiking along this remote section of beach was quite peaceful
and serene. A nice break from the faster pace in central Guam.

At the head of the bay is a bridge that was built by the
Spanish in the 1600's. The car is now just a 40 minute
hike up the hill. My camera quit for good on this hike
and the last several pictures were taken by other hikers.
My new camera should be here next week.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Transfer Week

We have had one busy week. Actually, we have had two busy weeks but I already blogged about last week.

This was transfer week and we had 8 new missionaries coming in. We had already done all the paperwork last week for two new apartments to accommodate the extra numbers we will have in Guam. Monday was the day arranged to move furniture in. We had scheduled the Elders to move the big pieces of furniture but we still did not have keys. I had an appointment to meet our realator at one of the apartments at 10am so we let our morning Elders show up and load the truck. By the time they got to the apartment I had just gotten keys. We were unable to do a walk through though because none of the agreed upon work was done. We moved the furniture in and decided to wait for all the small stuff until after the workers would be done and no one would be coming in and out of the apartment anymore.

We had Elders scheduled for the second apartment but we had to reschedule because the realtor had not arranged for the manager to give us keys and he would not be home until 2pm. Elder Clarke enlisted the help of the Elders who were going to be moving into the Dededo apartment to help load and deliver a few more things up there. Meanwhile, I tried to catch up on some work at the office but there was a problem in Salt Lake with our finance program and I could not do anything. That to do? I went shopping instead! We still needed odds and ends for each apartment. At 2pm I was sitting waiting for the manager to get keys. Of course he was "stuck in traffic" and did not get there until 2:15. When we got into the apartment there was still no water or power and so we could not do the walk through here either. We did get the furniture moved in though.

Tuesday we felt we could move in the kitchen stuff, etc., in our Mangilao apartment. We thought all was well until I went to put in the shower curtain. The rod is installed so high that the curtain doesn't come close to being long enough. Hmmm, what to do? My nighttime activity that night was putting in a 10" insert on the shower curtain. Thank goodness I had decided to buy fabric shower curtains so the missionaries could wash them easier ( we have a bit of a mold problem in the islands ).

Wednesday - just a few little tasks to do for the apartments. Again, we ended up working most of the day getting the apartments ready. That was okay because now there was no internet at the office and I couldn't do anything anyway.

Late that evening, we drove the Presidents truck to the airport to transport the new missionaries luggage to the Mission Home. Unfortunately, we were not early enough to get pictures as the missionaries came out of Customs. They made it through in record time and it is just a good thing that the Assistants were there to greet them. At the Mission Home we pointed out to the President that there might be a problem with picking up the Sister that was scheduled to come in from the New Zealand MTC. She was to arrive at around 2am. There was one Sister and 5 Elders at the Mission Home and so Sister Dowdle had to stay there. That leaves President Dowdle alone with the new Sister. That is a problem. Problem solved. The Clarkes got to go pick her up. We ran home to get a few hours of sleep and then got up at 1:30am and headed for the airport. We took one of the extra missionary cars (there are no more extras after the transfer) because we have too much stuff in our trunk to carry luggage (we carry tools, light bulbs, smoke alarms, etc. in case needed). We get a few blocks from home and realize that the gas light is on - we are on EMPTY. It is 1:45am. Where are we going to find a gas station that is open? Not to worry. Shell is open!!!!!!!! I give a sigh of relief and we are on our way again. This is the time to go to the airport. No traffic anywhere. We get to the airport in plenty of time this time. We wait 15 minutes and then we see a beautiful smile coming towards us.

Sister Tuaileto'a is from American Samoa. She just graduated from BYU Hawaii with an English degree. She told us that in the New Zealand MTC they kept telling her to speak proper English. She is going to be such a good missionary and she DRIVES. We have had a shortage of Sisters who can drive and we were so excited to have two new Sisters who can both drive. No more walking for some of the Sisters.

We got Sister T up to the Mission Home and then headed home for a few more hours of sleep.

Thursday we had to be at the Mission Home to talk to the new missionaries about finances, housing and cars. But first, Elder Clarke headed to Mangilao apartment to put in the water filters. While there, he put up the shower curtain. Guess what. It was still too short.! It went into the shower stall but only by about two inches. I had added 10 inches. What were they thinking when they installed the shower rod? Where can you get curtains that are that long? Certainly not here in Guam.

We headed up to the Mission Home for the New Missionaries Orientation. What a great group of young men and women. I look forward to some great missionary work coming from them. From there we headed back to Mangilao to do the final walk through. Mission accomplished. One down, one to go. We head up to Dededo to meet our realtor and the property manager. Surprise, surprise. They have only installed the bedroom air conditioner and the apartment is sweltering. There are no screens on any of the windows, also no window coverings. We have missionaries moving in in a few hours. We did the walk through with the lady writing down everything that is to be done but I am now thinking I should not have signed it. We discovered the toilet leaks, they are supposed to install a medicine cabinet, there is no toilet paper holder, etc. etc. Oh well. I will just hope that everything is done by next week. Our Elders did move in. We put sheets on the windows and they stayed in the bedroom where the new air con worked great. The living room unit was to be installed the next day and they actually did show up as scheduled. I do not know if anything else has been completed yet, though.

Well, we had another whirlwind day what with the orientation, the two walk throughs and more shopping. I forgot that we needed to supply the apartments with cleaning equipment. We really would have liked to sit home and do nothing that night but we had Institute. I did not have time to make treats and so for the second week in a row they had
We had decided to put up the badminton net and ping pong table for games but when we got to the church they were decorating for the dance being held the next night. Bummer. What to do? I started writing scripture mastery clues and hymn names on slips of paper and we played pictionary after the lesson. I love watching these kids play games. They just enjoy being together and so it does not matter what activity I plan for them. They always seem to have a good time.

TGIF!!! I look forward to some slower days now. We have a baptism to attend on Saturday and we have Zone Conference on Monday. Just the thought is comforting. All we have to do is sit and be spiritually fed.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Seminary Saturday

Several months ago the Seminary and Institute Coordinator asked if I would be in charge of a Scripture Mastery activity for Seminary. The thoughts were for a competition of some sort but one of the Seminary teachers was concerned that her students would not come if it was a competition that focused on the individual. I had seen pictures of some of the activities that they had done on the island of Chuuk last year and so I borrowed several of the things they had done and added a few more. I tried out a few of the games in Institute to see if they would work and then I enlisted the help of my students to help me with those games.

Just like anywhere else, not everyone comes at the appointed time and so there were games set up for gathering during the first half hour. Students could choose what they wanted to do. They earned candy prizes as they played.

There was a concentration game. You had to match a Scripture Mastery reference with its clue words.

We played spoons. The teacher gave a reference and the group chased to find it in their scriptures. The first person to locate it reached for a spoon. As soon as the first spoon was taken the rest could grab for a spoon.

There was a ring toss. Each bottle had a number on it and if the ring landed around the bottle you were asked a corresponding question.

The bean bag toss had scripture references and scripture clues. The bean bags had to land in matching references and clues to earn the prize.

Here the kids were to put together scripture puzzles. Several Scripture Mastery verses had been put on paper and cut into puzzle pieces. Once they put the puzzle together they had to read the scripture to get their prize.

After a half hour of playing the pre-games we had an opening prayer and then went into separate rooms to play the team games.

This was the Jeopardy Game. They had to give the questions to Church History answers.

This game is called Bloody Knuckles. I think there were some disappointed kids that the game does not live up to its name. The teams had little slips of paper on the table that was either the reference or the clue words for the Scripture Mastery verses. The teacher would give either the clue word or the reference and the teams had to find both slips of paper for that verse then have a runner run to the chalk board, mark a big X on their side of the board and hand the answers to the teacher. When I was teaching Seminary, my students really liked this game but the kids here are too polite. It was a very calm version of the game.

The last game was "Seminarium". This is played like Cranium. They rolled a die to see if they would act out, sing, mold clay, give a one word clue, draw a picture or get to choose which one of the first five they wanted to do. This was with the Scripture Mastery verses. Not many of the kids really know their Scripture Mastery but I think they had fun with this and it was a good way to learn it a bit more.

We ended with lunch. The kids just hung around just visiting after the activities.

The Institute students used this activity as one of their YSA activities. They really helped me out and I appreciated all the help they provided. What a great bunch of kids and what a way to spend a Super Saturday.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Old Pictures

I don't really have any pictures to post of things we have done recently, but I have a couple of thoughts to post and I thought I would put a few pictures on that Wayne has taken on different Boonie Stomp hikes he has gone on. I just picked out a few that would show the variety of terrain here on Guam.

This first picture shows what the jungle looks like in some areas when it has been left on its own too long. There is a vine that is very invasive and eventually covers everything. There are power lines strung across the road where the vines have grown up the pole and is 3/4 of the way across the street on the wire. It has a pink flower that grows on it and is actually quite pretty at times.

From very dense jungle to what looks like desert. I believe this was in the southern area of the island.

On one of his hikes they went along the beach and there is an area where there are some old latte stones. These were the base of the houses in old Chamorro villages.

The orchids grow wild here. I have now had two very beautiful orchid plants that I have proceeded to kill off. I don't know why I can't grow them when they thrive on their own here.

There are little waterfalls all over the island. Wayne has hiked to several and plans on going on another hike to a waterfall this weekend.

We have not taken pictures of the things that have kept us busy the last few weeks. Most of it has been the routine office work but there was a Leadership Training last week for all the Zone Leaders, District Leaders and Trainers. They had four full days of instruction on the materials that have been added to Preach My Gospel. This is an ongoing training which will have our missionaries prepared by May when all of the new missionaries will have had this training while at the MTC. The special part of the training for us was that we got to fix lunch for them every day. I miss doing our family Sunday dinners and so I really was happy to do this but our refrigerator is apartment size and has very little room for planning big meals. We had to go grocery shopping every evening for the next days meal. It was fun, but I was glad at the end of the week. I haven't cooked since!

January had a 5th Sunday and the Missionaries are always in charge of Sacrament Meeting on 5th Sundays. We only have three sets of Missionaries assigned to our Branch and one set was off island so the Clarke's got to speak again. This was the 3rd time since May. I have talked more here in less than a year than I had in 10 years at home. Good experience but I hope more missionaries are in the branch next time a 5th Sunday comes around.

That evening we had a YSA Fireside to show the CES Broadcast that was aired at the beginning of the month. Elder D. Todd Christopherson spoke about Daily Bread. It was a really good talk. I wish more of our young people had been there.

Yesterday was our one year mark. It does not seem like we have been here that long. We miss family but we are really enjoying the work that we are doing. It has been a wonderful opportunity to see how the church grows in these remote areas. The young missionaries are great and they have baptized some awesome people. We have loved getting to know them and it has been so interesting being exposed to so many different cultures. Our mission is very unique with its seven different islands. I would highly recommend going on a mission to everyone who is able. It is an experience of a lifetime.