Thursday, May 30, 2013

Husband and Wife Retreat

Elder and Sister Rasmussen teaching
     Every two years, each church school in the South Pacific sponsors a husband/wife retreat for all of the school employees and their spouses.  Moroni High School held their's on May 16-17.  Elder Rasmussen and I were asked to present on Keeping our Marriage Covenants.  Elder Rasmussen is very versed in the Proclamation on the Family so we used it as our guide along with some other talks on marriage we found from the general authorities.  We had about 80 in attendance including Bruce Yerman, the Director of the South Pacific Schools, from New Zealand, and Michael Carthew, from Australia.  I’m not sure what his position is but he trains the teachers on Power School, the computer program they use for their attendance and grading.  We met in the cultural hall which is not air conditioned.  Elder Rasmussen and I only had to speak for about 45 minutes and thankfully we were first on the agenda.  The speakers were all good but it proved to be a long, hot day.

Teachers and Spouses

Sister Rasmussen and Mary Taitai, School Counselor
When we ended around 3:30 we came home and quickly packed for an overnight camping trip with the same group.  It was quite the experience. We were able to load our gear on this 12 foot boat plus 11 people and head out, slowly, for the island of Biketawa.  Because it was late in the evening  we arrived at Biketawa about an hour before sundown. That gave us time to pitch our tent between 2 palm trees, have a nice dinner provided by the school staff and funded by the seminaries and institute. One thing is for sure; when it comes time to eat----they eat! This island is not very big. You can walk around it in 20 minutes. It is owned by the government but managed by Otintai hotel. The school had made reservations thru the hotel at the cost of 4 dollars per person.  It is a well taken care of island. Several Buia’s (local sleeping houses, and a nice Maneaba.  Well used, but nice. We had to draw water from the well to flush the toilets but rain water was available for showers. Again from a bucket.

Unloading the boat

Elder Rasmussen in the 2 man tent

Preparing for breakfast

Preparing lunch in the Bouia

Fresh Coconut Juice
Add fresh Red Snapper to the menu

Playing games
The locals love to sing and laugh. So, it was quite nice to close the day with them singing and laughing and then  be awakened with the same gentle sounds of singing, hymns this time, and laughter.  During the rest of our Friday we played some couples games and ate and played some more games and ate.

Getting water to flush the toliet

Weaving hats to pass the time

Loading up to come home.  Don't forget the chicken!!!

Front of boat
 Coming back across the lagoon was scary a ride. We used what is called a WAH. It’s about 30 ft long boat with a deep hull (picture above), and it has an outrigger on the left (port) side. We had the hull completely full and 68 people standing and sitting on the top. Truly, from stem to stern was a mass of people.  The waves were choppy but the skipper was not in any race to get back to south Tarawa. He only had a 40 horse power motor.  When we were close to our destination we went aground. So, a few would abandon the boat and we could go a little farther towards shore until we decided to offload everything from the large boat to another smaller boat belonging to brother Tune. By the time we got back home on Fri. night we were exhausted, and grateful for a shower and an air conditioned apartment.

Back of boat


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Visit from the Jacobsens

Chinese Restaurant #1
On Mon. May 6, Elder and Sister Jacobsen came from New Zealand to spend a few days with us.  They came from New Zealand to see the school, classrooms, meet the teachers, and to watch us teach. We took them to lunch on Mon and then prepared dinner for them on Mon. night. 

Chinese Restaurant #2
There are only a few restaurants on the island and they are all Chinese. Then Tues. night the school Administration team took all of us to dinner to a different restaurant, Chinese.

Chinese Restaurant #3

 On Wed. the counseling class wanted to take us to dinner to thank Sis. Jacobsen who has been their teacher and we went to the same place we did on Mon., again Chinese.  We thoroughly enjoyed their visit but it will be a while before we go out for Chinese food.
Elder Osborne, Brother Tune, Elder & Sister Jacobsen,
Sister Rasmussen, Lita (principal)

Gloria teaching

Saturday, May 11, 2013


Outrigger canoe
Canoe ride across channel
On Sat. May 4 we went on a hike, a long hike. Well, it was actually across another atoll on the Tarawa chain. We, 11 of us, drove as far as we could to a place called Buota which is on the south eastern end of the atoll. Then we boarded a small canoe with a small outrigger on it. The canoe also had a small 4 horse power boat motor attached to the outrigger arm next to the canoe. You don’t sit inside the canoe; only on top because he had rails to sit on. The boat driver would sail back and forth all day long and only charge 50 cents per person one way. 

From Buota we sailed across a small channel to another atoll, Abatao.  There are no roads; only pathways for walking or biking. 

Village School
The first place we came to was a small school.  There were four grass huts with mats inside and a water tank in the middle. When we walked inside there were English alphabet letters and multiplication facts tacked to the stick walls. Tears came to my
eyes when I saw the humble educational environment.  Not too many people live there. It seemed like there were a lots of young children.

Inside school
Inside school

  We walked for about 45 minutes across the atoll to a place called “broken bridge”. This is a real old bridge made out of cement about 70 years ago. It crossed a channel to another atoll, Tabatuea. We were glad to finally make it back to Buota after our long walk. It was long and hot and humid. We both got sunburned a little. Not as bad as our last outing as we remembered the sunscreen this time.

Broken bridge

Pandana Tree

Battle Of Tarawa, WWII

April 13, 2013

Ammunition Bunker
Although we had driven past several of the WWII sites as we traveled into town, today we decided to stop and walk around the sites as well as many others that cannot be seen from the main road.

Ship to shore bridge

Japanese gun

Living quarters bunker

War Memorial

Friday, May 10, 2013

Conversion Story

Since being here we have had several opportunities to speak and a couple of times I have been prompted to share my conversion story. When I was a young child, my family was not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.   However, on Sundays my parents often took us to the nearest church.  When I was around 8 years old, I can remember going to a Sunday School class with several other children.  I enjoyed singing songs about Jesus, but when they taught us about God and Jesus Christ I can remember being very confused.  They taught us that God was so large he could fill the universe and yet he was so small he could dwell in our hearts. As most children are, I understood things very literally.  It just didn’t make sense to me that someone could be so large and so small at the same time.  Or was God magic and would change.  I remember being taught that God was a vengeful God and I learned to become afraid of him if I did something wrong. When I was nine years old we lived in Greenville, South Carolina.  One day two young men with dark pants, white shirts and ties knocked on our door.  They told us they were missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and they wanted to teach us about Christ’s church and His gospel.  My parents allowed them to come in.  For a few months they would come at least once a week and teach us about the Church.  As a nine year old I don’t remember much, but I do remember them teaching us about God.  It was so different from what I had been taught before in other churches.  They taught us that God was a kind, loving Heavenly Father who loved us and that I was His daughter and He wanted us to come back home to live with Him.  They taught us that Jesus Christ loves us and died for us so we could go back to live with Heavenly Father and Jesus. Even at nine years old, I can remember how grateful I was to find out that our Heavenly Father was a real Father that I could relate to.  I am thankful for that knowledge every day. My mother and I were baptized a few months later.  It took Dad a little longer as he had to give up his smoking habit. I can remember vividly the missionaries who baptized us, Elder Driggs and Elder Joseph.  Remembering that Elder Driggs was from the Phoenix, AZ area, we looked him up when we visited with Angie once.  He came over to her home and it was a delightful reunion after more than forty years.  I thought of Alma 17:2 when he met his brethren, the sons of Mosiah after serving a mission to the Lamanites for fourteen years. “He rejoiced exceedingly to see his brethren, and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord.”  I will always remember Elder Driggs and Elder Joseph and they will always be “MY” missionaries and I will be eternally grateful they served a mission and came to our home.  Those of you have served missions and will serve missions.  You will always be someone’s missionary.  We have been taught by President Shaw, our mission president, that all of the priesthood holders and many of the young women accepted a call to serve in the pre-earth life and that call needs to fulfilled and magnified.  Rich and I are just now fulfilling that calling and are so grateful to be here.

The Days Get Busier

The days get busier.  I’m now spending at least two class periods a day observing in classrooms so we can know best how to support the teachers.  The classes are warm as they do not have air condition just open windows on both sides and fans.  Most of the classes have a breeze that comes through which makes it nice. We introduced the Pacific Area Literacy program to the teachers at an inservice on Wed.  Their first challenge is to give the students at least two opportunities during each class to have every student express themselves in English through talking and writing.  For some it will be easy, and others will find it difficult.
Every day is a new adventure and we are learning more each day how to better magnify our calling. The Lord is truly blessing us with thoughts and ideas every day which I am grateful for.  Yes, there are challenges.  When we need to teach a class and what technology we have doesn’t work.  But then I think of the teachers who teach every day all day long with only a whiteboard and a marker.  They spend a lot of time writing notes on the board and the students spend a lot of time copying them. It seems so tedious to me, when we are so used to having a projector and internet with a smart board in every classroom.

Moroni High School 37th Birthday

April 20, 2013  Moroni High School celebrated its 36th year.  Many of the alumni came and they participated in marching, dancing, and each group or graduating year represented shared a table of food. It was a delight to see and most of it was edible. 

These people can sing, dance, and eat for hours.  After being outside for four hours we decided to be done and came back to the house.  They celebrated with a dance for the older alumni on Fri. night and a dance for the younger alumni (under 40) on Sat. night. We were planning on going to the dance on Fri. night but the music is sooooooo loud and crazy it hurts our ears. Because we live right in the middle of this small campus, we often go to bed at night with loud music blaring from the tennis court or cultural hall.  However, I love it when they are singing their cultural songs or church songs. 

Fruits of the island

Fresh Red Snapper

When the students celebrated the next week they too danced, played games and ate ice cream. Ice Cream is an extreme treat here on the island at $25 per gallon.  In fact, one teacher leaned over to me and told me Moroni was the only school on the island that would pay to give their students ice cream.  So know that your tithing money went for a great cause this week. Yes it kids is tithing money that supports the Seminary and Institute programs, which is what we are here. The kids loved it. 

Baby Gecko

Thursday, April 11, 2013
We had a baby gecko, about half the size of my pinkie finger, move into the bathroom about a week ago.  I first noticed him in the shower one morning and then every morning since he would just hang around in one of the corners. I decided that he just got lost and couldn’t find his way outside, but he wasn’t bothering us and hopefully he was eating a few mosquitoes.  However, this morning he was just a little too friendly and I decided it was time for him to go.  We put an old towel on the floor to step on when we get out of the shower and this morning he was on the towel and I almost stepped on him. I shooooed him off a couple of times but he kept crawling back on the towel right next to me.  That’s when I called Rich to try and catch him.  Although he was fast, Rich was successful and he is now outside where he belongs.