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, May 28, 2011

The Best Two (Hiking) Days of My Mission

For several months I have been looking forward to going on a Boonie Stomp that was scheduled for this Saturday then President Dowdle mentioned that he was going with a group that was climbing Mount LamLam on Friday. He saw my eyes light up and invited me to go along. The group was a bunch of church employees from the service/distribution center in Guam that have been working on their fitness and this was one of their goals.

We traveled to the Southern part of the Island to start the hike. Mount LamLam is 1,332 feet above sea level but from where we started hiking we only had to climb 750 feet in elevation to make it to the top. Mount LamLam is the highest point on Guam, and measured from the bottom of the Marianas Trench to the top of Mount LamLam makes this the largest gain in elevation on Earth, approx 38,300 feet. So I guess we climbed the tallest mountain on earth, no oxygen required!

The route follows another trail that goes to an adjacent peak
that has a display of several crosses at the top so our trail
had markers of the stations of the cross.

Other than the first quarter mile, that was very
steep, the trail was gradual and easy to climb.

We turned North and entered a jungle area
before the final climb to the summit

Pandanus tree & fruit.

Bill Davis, the service center director and
our fearless leader, is on the left.

The final climb to the top.

The top at last! Only took about 1.5 hrs.

Bill raised the Guam flag and we all paused for a snack.

This is towards the West, can you see the Philippines?

We could even see the Northern coastline
in the distance, and beyond that are
the Northern Marianas and Japan.

To the South is Papua New Guinea and Australia.

Back through the jungle.

The adjacent peak with a display of crosses.

I then drove home, cleaned up, and got back to the office by 1 PM. I love Guam. You can be in a beautiful remote area in the morning and get back to work by the afternoon. That evening we went to the Dededo Ward Boy Scout fund raising dinner and both ate way too much. My head hit the pillow and before I knew it, it was time to get up and get ready for Saturday's Boonie Stomp.

The Guam Boonie Stomp organization has been perfect for me. They have an organized hike each Saturday and go to all sorts of interesting places that I would never have gone to on my own. I have gone on one hike almost every month we have been on the island. This Saturday the hike was from Gun Beach North along the coast under Two Lovers Point ... and it was spectacular.

Gun Beach is named for (duh) a WWII
Japanese gun that is still pointed out to sea.

We hiked along the beach towards the Two lovers
Point lookout until there was no more beach.

It was low tide but there were still some places where
we had to walk through up to 8 inches of water. All
the mud from the previous day's hike magically
disappeared from my shoes.

In several places the surf has eroded the base of the cliff
and formed a ledge just wide enough to walk on
and avoid much deeper treacherous water.

The path is not slippery since the volcanic rock is sharp and jagged.

A beautiful view on a beautiful day.

Even with some moss the pathway was not slippery.

As on Friday, I made it home by noon and have been able to post this blog, help clean the apartment, wash clothes, and finish working on a talk for church tomorrow. Two great hikes on two beautiful days on this beautiful island. The best two hiking days of my mission.

I'm not counting the days till we leave, I'm ready to stay longer!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A VERY Busy Week

Friday the 13th. Now, since Wayne and I were married on a Friday the 13th, we always celebrate when one comes along. This month we had some conflicts though. The Ward had a Relief Society activity and the men had the Father's and Sons. Wayne does not have sons here but he and Elder Hertzberg decided that they would go just for dinner. So Sister Hertzberg and I went to the RS activity.

Unfortunately, there were not too many ladies in attendance. We were small in numbers but big in the fun department. It was an enjoyable evening.

The next day there was a baptism. Two primary age girls were baptized. Their mother brought a cake to celebrate Sister Koivi's birthday afterwards.

Monday was the start of another Leadership Training. This meant lunches for 32 missionaries for four days straight. That added a little bit more work than usual but Monday was also the first day with no Office Elders. They have been transferred out and the Senior Couple is the entire staff in the office now. We still were not sure about what and how to do all the extra jobs so this first week a few things got put on the back burner.

This is what the mothers of most of our missionaries can expect when they go home. They are so used to sitting on the floor with the islanders that it is what they prefer now. It is somewhat gratifying that when I went in to take the picture you could almost hear a pin drop. They were all concentrating on their food so much they were not even talking.

I was so lucky that Karen Knowles wanted to help me. She moved from Arizona to live with a son who is in the navy. Her husband is the one who plays the bagpipes. She is used to being very active with church, etc. Here in Guam she is not too busy. She has been put in the Primary Presidency and it is interesting to watch her efforts to tame the masses. The kids here run wild during meetings and it took weeks before this new presidency was able to corral the kids and get them to go sit in the Primary room. I think that they have had a lot of improvement.

We had a little bit of unexpected activity at the beginning of the week. One of the Sisters was showering Sunday night and saw a man looking in the bathroom window. Monday morning we were told that the Sisters had to move out of their apartment. The only option we had was to put them in the apartment that we had prepared for the arrival of the Andersons. Wayne moved their beds and dresser over on Monday and left the heavy stuff for later in the week. I went over and packed up all of the kitchen goods, etc., that we had gathered for the Andersons.
With the Sisters now living in the new apartment that only left their old apartment for the Andersons.

We were expecting the Andersons to come on the 24th but I got an email from them letting us know that they were coming on the 21st instead. We spent most of Saturday cleaning and getting the "new" apartment ready for them.

President Dowdle was in Pohnpei so we made the midnight run to the airport to greet our replacements and take them to their new abode.

I hope that the next two months go by quickly - for their sake. The following pictures will show how small the apartment is. It is a step up from a studio. I would guess that it has 300 sq ft. After cleaning and moving the furniture in, we decided that it is a COZY place. When we heard from the Sisters that they had killed 30 cockroaches in their new apartment the first day they were there, we decided that the Andersons may by lucky that we had to change housing for them.

This is taken from the entrance to the bedroom. There is just enough room to walk around the bed. It reminds me of the bedroom in one of my brothers first homes.

I was standing in the very corner of the living area to take this picture. The front door is about 2 feet from the edge of the futon. The wall you see is the back of the closet in the bedroom.

This is looking in from the front door. There are no drawers in the kitchen and very little cupboard space. One of the cupboards has the hot water heater which is about 3 feet high.

This is taken standing at the door to the bathroom. As you can see, part of the window looks right into the shower. A small pedestal sink is to the left. The shower is about 3 feet square. We know that the Andersons are going to feel like they have died and gone to heaven when we leave and they are able to move into our apartment.

Speaking of our apartment, there is a painting project going on here. We had a note left under the door saying that all plants, chairs, etc., had to be taken off the walkways starting on the 16th. Wayne moved his papaya tree into the apartment and it has been in here ever since then. In the picture you can see the old color on the right. It was kinda white with green trim. Where you see the burnt orange now it used to be green. They have now finished painting all the walls and railings. We saw a door upstairs that they had painted red. Maybe by the end of the week they will finish our building. For the sake of the papaya tree I hope they finish soon. It needs to be taken back outside. We are waiting to see if they are going to raise the rent after all the work is done.

The last couple of days we have had a lot of intermittent rain. Yesterday was P-day and we actually had one set of Elders who came to wash their car at the Mission Office. The skies opened up in the middle of the job and the Elders were as wet as the car. They were soaked through and through.

The count down has begun. We have 57 days left. Our task is to get the Andersons oriented to the ways of the office. Sister Anderson is trying to get us to extend and work along with them but I don't think that will happen. We are getting excited to see our grandkids!!!!!!!!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Hellos and Goodbyes

Today started very early for us. President and Sister Dowdle are in Tokyo this week and so we had the pleasure of meeting two new sister missionaries coming in from the New Zealand MTC. We love doing this but wish the flights would come in a little earlier in the night. The Assistants to the President met Elder Jones, new from the Provo MTC, at 11:50pm last night. The Sisters came in at 1:40am this morning. By the time they got through customs it was 2:30am so we finally got to bed at 3:00am.

We have been waiting for Sister Salaiau (from Papa New Guinea) and Sister Vano (from Vanuatu) for about 6 months. There arrival date had been changed multiple times. Our missionaries coming in from these areas always have such a long wait to get Visa's. It is so frustrating. We are so happy to finally have these sweet sisters with us.

After a few hours of sleep we were up early to head back to the airport. The Holloways (Senior CES Missionary Couple from Pohnpei) have finished their mission and are headed home. We had picked them up at the airport on Tuesday and had a fun filled two days with them before seeing them off this morning. We are going to miss them so much. They are such a fun couple.

While the Holloways were on Guam, the Senior Missionaries all got together for dinner and a stroll on the beach.

It was sunset and there were about 6 paddling teams out practicing. You can't see it to well, but that is an outrigger with 8 to 10 rowers. While we were there, one of the youth in the Dededo Ward came by and we learned from him that this is a sport in the schools here. Willie is on his High School team and had competed in a competition this past weekend.

We had a very busy day today. Since President Dowdle is away, the Assistants held the orientation for the new missionaries at the Mission Office. We got lunch for them and did our little part of the orientation. Later, all of the missionaries met at the Office for transfers. This was an interesting one. Our Office Elders were transferred to proselyting areas and so we will now be handling ALL the business of the Office. We have been working with Elder Adams for a week to learn the new duties and I think we can do it! I THINK I CAN - I THINK I CAN. At least this will keep us busy for our last few months.

Elder Adams has a birthday tomorrow but since he will no longer be in the Office anymore, I made cupcakes for all the missionaries and we sang Happy Birthday to him today. We will miss Elder Adams.

It is Thursday and so we had Institute tonight. We had decided that we would have a Farewell Hannah party tonight so we just ate and played.

We have a new student, Cassy, who has joined us from Yap. We look forward to getting acquainted with her. The first game we played was with a giant candy bar wrapped in multiple layers of wrapping paper. They had to try to get the paper off with a knife and fork while wearing gloves. The next person was rolling dice and when doubles came up they had to pass the gloves and candy along.

The next game was Left, Right, Center. They love this game. We also played the Thimble Game and that was a very BIG hit.

We had such a good group show up tonight. It was a fun night of farewell to Hannah who will be going back to the States next week and of welcoming to Cassy.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Surprise, Surprise

I know it will be a shock to a certain blog watcher, but I am posting again in less than a week. I decided I need to try posting more often then it is not such a long thing to read.

We have had a really good week filled with a variety of activities. As posted previously, the Kjars arrived at midnight on Saturday. The picture I posted was not real clear and I wanted to show what a wonderful couple they are so here is a picture of them in the Mission Office.

The Kjars were in Guam for 5 days. Sunday and Monday they had the use of a vehicle and they did a few things on their own but the rest of the time they did not have transportation so we tried to plan some things that would fill their time a bit. They had a meeting with the Seminary and Institute Director Tuesday morning and then they came to the office to use the wi-fi and Elder Clarke helped them set up their SKYPE. They had been walking in the mornings with Elder Clarke and Elder Kjar was wanting a hat like his. Even at 6:30 in the morning the sun is a little harsh on the head - especially if there is not much hair there. We went shopping for the hat and then took them to our favorite noodle house for dinner.

Tuesday we started training for the additional duties we are taking on in the office. The Office Elders are being transferred out and we will do everything that they now do. Elder Adams has been working with us a little each day and I am feeling confident that we will be able to do this. We will be on our own for two weeks but then the couple that will replace us will be arriving and the four of us will be working in the office for two months. By that time they should know if they will be able to continue without the office elders. I hope this works out because it will allow the elders to concentrate on proselyting more. I have really enjoyed getting to know the elders that have been in the office and I will miss that but they had a lot of down time and I have a LOT of down time so this should be good.

Wednesday we took the Kjars to the Central District with us to do housing inspections. After hearing about the condition of the houses and cars on Pohnpei, we were happy that we would be able to do some hands on training with the Kjars who will be doing the inspections on Pohnpei. Sister Kjar was pointing out the dirt in the corners under kitchen cabinets so I know that she is going to get the missionaries busy.

Wednesday evening we took the Kjars to Chamorro Village for dinner and show. It is always more fun when we can go with others. We were able to show them some of the cultural things of the island they will be going to. It is a beautiful island and I know they are going to have some great experiences there.

Thursday we did housing inspections in the Southern District and Friday we went up to the North District to finish up.

In the Zone Leaders apartment I noticed this white board. You may not be able to see it all but they were making their predictions for transfers. This seems to be a fun pastime of the missionaries. We have seen various methods of tracking their predictions. It is always interesting to see if they guess any of them. We will find out this coming Thursday.

After three days of inspections, the winners are............ the entire Central District. It was a three way tie. Even with our tie breaker questions (when did you last wash your sheets, towels, etc.) it was too close to call. We are so happy with the efforts that are now made on the apartments.

I thought I would throw in a picture of the craft that is going around the islands. This is a purse made out of the plastic grocery bags. After visiting the Mission in May, Sister Christopherson sent Sister Dowdle samples and directions for a tote bag. Several of our Senior Sisters have taught classes on their islands and all of the Senior Sisters here on Guam have been making them. I have one large tote, this purse and two small bags for the grandaughters. I have the missionaries saving bags for me now. I discovered that what I thought was a double crochet stitch actually is a single so my bag does not look like what others are doing but I like the tighter stitch and will continue to do it wrong. We had asked for double bags one night at the grocery store and told the checker why I wanted them. She wanted to see the tote and so Elder Clarke took it in the next day, along with a copy of the instructions. She now has a bag half done. Everyone seems to be amazed that you can make the totes out of the bags. Fun project.

Saturday we had a lunch meeting for Seminary and Institute Inservice. I wanted to take a picture of the Seminary teachers in our Stake but they had come casual and the ladies did not want their pictures taken so I just took a picture of Freddie Nicerio - our Co-ordinator. Freddie does a wonderful job of running the S&I program here in the islands. We are grateful for all that he has done. His job is a full time one which requires him to travel to the islands, he is the Bishop in the Dededo Ward and has three young daughters. A very busy fellow!

Saturday night was our Scout Spaghetti Dinner and Dessert Auction. Attendance was less than expected but it turned out to be a successful auction.

They picked the perfect auctioneer. Brother Del Valle was so good. He is Puerto Rican so with that wonderful accent he has he proceeded to make jokes and pull out high bids from the audience.

This was the first item that brought a bid that was over $100. There were one or two bids that won for $20 and $25 but most went for at least $50. Made it very hard for those who did not have the funds to participate. I had taken a tea ring that I bought at the bakery for $2.49. It was the back up if my pull apart did not work - which I thought it did not bake enough. The tea ring was the last item to be auctioned off and their was a bidding war between two people. When it got to $120, one of the bidders suggested that they cut it in half and each of them pay the $120. That tea ring went for 100 times its value! The activity is just a fun way for members to donate to our Scout troop.

Today is Mothers Day and it has been a good relaxing day. We enjoyed church - where they served spaghetti and lasagna after the meetings. All leftovers from the Scout dinner. We had a pleasant surprise when the Sisters knocked on our door and said they wanted to sing a song to me. Sister Koivi who is from Papa New Guinea taught some Pigeon to Sister Smibert and so they sang a Mothers Day song in Pigeon and English. It was lovely and I wish I had pulled the camera out to get a video. We had a SKYPE call from Jon's family in the middle of the song and so Margo and Caroline got to listen. We look forward to wishing all those at home tomorrow a Happy Mothers Day.

We also look forward to a full week coming up with lots of changes.