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.

Thursday, March 31, 2011


We have had a busy few weeks. There has been lots of activity which makes life here in Guam interesting. Elder Clarke has pictures from another Boonie Stomp that he went on but I will let him post them seperately. He saw some really beautiful scenery.

The big announcement should be the winners of the Cleanest Apartment Award. We let the winners know who they were late last Friday and when I came into the office on Monday morning they had put up their own poster announcing the winner. They were so excited that they couldn't wait for me to make it up. The winners were the Assistants and Office Elders. Theirs is the only apartment with 4 missionaries living together. In the past, this has actually been one of the worst apartments. They are justified though since they are the ones that have to house the extra elders coming in from the other islands for meetings. Last Leadership Training they actually had about 12 elders in their apartment. Well, they have been trying so hard the last few transfers to win the Cleanest Apartment Award. They had made such a huge effort two transfers ago that we gave them the Most Improved Award. It is the only time that award has been given out. Elder Tuaitanu had tried so hard to win before he went home last transfer but they just didn't quite make it. Sooooo, they really worked hard this time and it paid off. They did tell us that this was just a one time thing though. It is just too much work for them!

As I am writing this, I am listening to the sound of water pouring off of the roof. We had a beautiful day today but it is now very windy and rainy. We had just commented earlier in the evening about how much we like the rain here as opposed to the rain in Fresno. We have lots of little showers here but they are quick and over with. They also are in spots. It may be raining as we leave our apartment but not 3 blocks away. You can be driving and see that you will be in a little rain storm about 1/2 a mile away. It is like a wall. You drive a mile and you are out of it again. It is quite interesting. I looked up the rainfall stats for Guam. Jan, Feb and March are supposed to be the driest months with normal rainfall being about 4". Since the beginning of this year we have had over 18" of rain. Fresno is not the only one that is having a wet winter. But we do like it.

Our new Stake had their first Relief Society activity a week ago. They had a dinner for the RS Birthday. I wish I had had my camera with me but I got a ride and did not take my purse. The decorations were really nice, the attendance was surprising (they had to set up more places) and the program was so good. We had two excellent talks by the new Stake RS President and one of her counselors. The counselor had to fly in to attend - she lives on Saipan which is part of our Stake.

This was another person who flew in to attend. Well that wasn't really why she flew in. This is Sister Stutzman - she is Hannah's mother. They are from Madera. Hannah is an exchange student at University of Guam and Mama Stutzman came to visit. Hannah is returning to Calif. at the end of this semester. We will miss her.

Monday night for FHE we played Gospel Taboo. This is a game I downloaded off the computer and played last week after our Institute class. The kids had fun with it but I don't think they have the background knowledge of the gospel that helps in playing the game. The Senior Couples however did. Elder Hertzberg does not like to play games and so I have held off doing this in our FHE's. But I couldn't help myself. I just had to play a game. It actually turned out pretty good and I think he enjoyed it too. We played girls against the guys and the guys won but only by about 6 points. It is a really good game. If anyone is interested, just google LDS Taboo Game.

Today was transfers so that means that a couple of missionaries are going to be leaving. We will miss:
Sister Anitema who will be returning to Brisbane Australia. She will soon see Elder Mafile'o who went home several months ago. They are from the same Stake.

Elder Brandenberg will be leaving us also. Is it my imagination or does he look like he could be related to the Mechams?

Speaking of the Mechams, that is the name of the new Mission President who will be here July 1.
Steve and Angela Mecham are from Salt Lake City. We look forward to meeting them but will be sad to see the Dowdles go. We will work with President Mecham for one month before we too will head home.

We also lost Elders South and Standage two weeks ago. They both had been serving on other islands and so I did not get pictures of them before they left.

We welcomed Elder Richardson and Elder Davis to the mission today. We got to meet them when we went to the Orientation and talked about finances, housing and vehicle inspections. They are both off to other islands tomorrow. It is always nice to meet the new missionaries but we don't really get to know a lot of them if they are not assigned to Guam. They will usually stay on the other islands most of their mission since they have to learn a language. There are a few Elders who have actually been assigned to two different islands and are multi-lingual. I hope Elder South will get a chance to use his Pohnpeian and Chuukese languages someday.

Tonight was movie night at Institute. We are studying the Doctrine and Covenants and Church History this year. Since we had talked about the martyrdom last week, we decided to show the movie about Joseph Smith that was shown on Temple Square. The Seminary meets at the same time so we invited them to join us.

We had popcorn, carmel corn and sodas for them to load up on before the movie started.

We pulled all the couches and chairs from the foyers so everyone could get comfy.

Bishop Nicerio joined us. He is our Seminary and Institute Co-ordinator.

After the class time we set up for a game of Nertz. We have played this several times before but we always have new kids playing so once again I am trying to explain the game.

After a practice round they were off and running.

Audrey really was more interested in her music than the game so she finally left the game to the serious players and sat down to enjoy her sounds.

Audrey's brother, Curtis, is one of the serious ones. He and Cathy were doing well.

But the winners were Andrew and Gerald. Gerald is not usually on the winning end so even though he does not really look it, I think he was really excited. On the inside he really looked like Andrew does.

And so ends March. We look forward to General Conference. Unlike you who will be viewing it this weekend, we will have to wait until April 9 and 10 to see it - or we could get up at 2am Sunday and Monday mornings to view it live on BYU TV. I think I will sleep and wait for the rebroadcast.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Back By Popular Demand

Can you believe it? I actually received an email indicating that it has been too long since I posted! There is a good reason for that. In the beginning I was a little busy and then because I was so busy I got a little bit sick. 2 1/2 weeks later I finally think I may be getting over it. So, let's see if I can even remember what has gone on this month.

March is my birthday month so I celebrated my birthday by cooking for 30 missionaries. All of the Zone Leaders, District Leaders and Trainers gathered on Guam for 4 days of Leadership Training. Sister Dowdle and I shared the duty of feeding them lunch each day. Since she was off island until the night before I told her I would take it on the first day. It was an easy meal really -Hawaiian Haystacks and Mississippi Mud Pie - but I had had a cough for a few days and so over the next several days it got progressively worse.

We had done the Haystacks for Zone Conference the month before. There were 25 of us there and we had quite a few leftovers. I figured that for 5 additional people I would add just a little bit more and we should be fine. Oh was I wrong! We just barely had enough for everyone. Their plates were piled soooooo high. I could not believe how much food they were taking! Sister Dowdle had already done her shopping for the next day but she decided to go buy more. She prepared Cafe Rio (they made their own burritos or salad) and there was very little left over. I think they all have hollow legs!

The next day we had a Potato/Salad Bar day. I did the meal and I made sure we had plenty of potatoes. We actually ended up with quite a few leftover but I used them to make potato casserole for Saturday. We also had sour cream, cheese and green onion left over and so it went into the casserole also. Perfect. Sister Dowdle did the dessert on the potato bar day. The root beer floats were a great way to finish off the meal.

Even though there were tables to eat at, our missionaries get so used to sitting on the floor that it is the seating of choice.

It was really nice to hear several of the Elders playing the piano. Every once in a while I would hear hymns playing and I would comment to an Elder that I did not know that he played. He didn't! We have programmable pianos in our buildings and they like to just pretend that they can play.

The last day was on Saturday. Sister Dowdle had gotten some hams and she was doing rolls. I really was not feeling well by that time so I sent Wayne with my potato casserole, green beans and all the leftover fixings from the salad bar. We had gotten more romaine lettuce and he just did a big tossed salad. I was thankful not to have to deal with anymore leftovers.

By now we were thinking that I may have pneumonia but I had the shot before I left on our mission so I just kept saying I couldn't get it. After self diagnosing, I started taking antibiotic pills that we had brought with us (heaven forbid that I should go to a doctor here!) and hunkered down for several days of hibernation. I went back to work on Tuesday but by Friday I was down again. Another three days of rest. I went back to work on Tuesday and though I was slow, things gradually got better. I am so thankful that I am recovering. I just kept remembering that Elder Colemere had told us he had a dream about us going home early from our mission. I definitely did not want it to be because I got too sick to go on.

A week ago there was a Zone P Day. All of the Elders and Sisters gathered at Ipan Beach for a game of football.

Sister Smibert was excited to learn American football. She is an Aussie and they play a completely different game Down Under.

Elder Meldrum looks like a walking billboard for the food of choice here. I have never seen so much Spam in my life. There are pallets full of it in the stores. The locals eat it with rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Quite a few of our missionaries have acquired a taste for it and in Chuuk I think that it is their main source of food. Not the healthiest diet!

The Sileos family from the Talisay Ward bar-b-cued for the missionaries. They have done this before and the missionaries are always excited to have them cook for them. Lots of chicken and ribs and red rice.

Sister Sileos came prepared with a craft project. It is interesting to see all of the Elders who tried their hand at making these paper birds. Cute.

Sister Tuileto'a entertained on the ukalele and Elder Meldrum looked cool with his glasses!

This is Elder Matthews (one of our AP's) and Hafa Henry. Brother Henry loves the missionaries and has fed them well for years. He is an excellent cook and all the missionaries love him.

The AP's (Assistants to the President) have been teaching a Chamorro man since August. They asked us if we could visit him when they have had to go off island. Over the last few months we have gotten to know him pretty well. Wayne has gone hiking with him and last week he went to watch him play baseball.

The games are played in a stadium at Guerrero Field. The stadium is located across from Chamorro Village. The area is called the Paseo. It is a landfill area from bulldozed World War II rubble.

At the end of the Paseo there is a minature Statue of Liberty. Like the original that graces Ellis island, the smaller version stands on land touted as the place “Where America’s Day Begins” because of Guam’s geographical position as the first U.S. soil to receive the new day’s sunlight on the other side of the international date line.

These are pictures of our friend, Ken Sablan. He is the pitcher. We have not seen too much of him lately as he has been so involved in getting his team ready for baseball season.

Ready and waiting for Ken's pitch. Unfortunately, his team lost. But Wayne had a good time anyway.

We invited Ken and his wife, Joanne, to come over to our apartment and watch the video "The Testament". Ken had a photo shoot before coming to meet with us and he brought us the headbands HE had made for the event. Ken is a man of many talents. He performed as a fire dancer in a show here in Guam for many, many years. He "retired" 10 years ago when he married Joanne but he has a friend that he agreed to help out when needed so he still performs occasionally. That was what he was doing for the photo shoot. I wish I had a picture of that! He was showing us where the hairs had been singed on his arms and legs. The headbands were made with plumeria and they smelled wonderful.

One other thing I have done is a Sisters Newsletter. This was suggested by one of our sisters back in December. They are to get letters to me by the 10th of the month and I have tried to get the newsletter out on a monthly basis. In the beginning, we had only a few sisters who contributed to the newsletter. I had to fill in with recipes and pictures. This month I had letters from all but one of the sisters. I especially like reading their predictions for transfers. This time we also included contributions from the Senior Sisters. It has been a fun way to see what everyone is doing. When we are located on 7 different islands it is hard to feel connected. This is helping.

Our activity for this week is apartment inspections. We did three today - 6 more to go. We award a prize to the cleanest apartment and they get a poster put up in the office with their picture on it. It has become quite the competition. It is getting harder and harder to pick a winner. We are ending up with ties occasionally. Today it looks like it is going to be even harder to choose. We ask them when they last washed sheets and towels so we could break a tie if needed but they are all washing them the P Day before inspection so that does not help now. It is so good to see the improvement in the apartments. I actually can look in toilets without gagging now. The Elders and Sisters are doing such a good job.

Next week is transfers and I look forward to see what changes will be made. That is always a fun time.

Well, Leslie, I hope this will hold you for a while. I will try to post a little sooner this next time. I don't think there is a whole lot happening in April but we will keep our camera close at hand and be on the lookout for fun things to post.